|The X-Files episode|
|Episode no.||Season 7
|Directed by||Gillian Anderson|
|Written by||Gillian Anderson|
|Featured music||"The Sky Is Broken"|
|Original air date||April 9, 2000|
|Running time||45 minutes|
|List of The X-Files episodes|
"all things" is the seventeenth episode of the seventh season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. Written by lead actress Gillian Anderson, it first aired on April 9, 2000, on the Fox network. The episode is unconnected to the wider mythology of The X-Files and functions as a "Monster-of-the-Week" story. Watched by 12.18 million people, the initial broadcast had a Nielsen household rating of 7.1. The episode received mixed reviews from critics; many called the dialogue pretentious and criticized the characterization of Scully. Fans of the show judged "all things" more favorably.
The series centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called "X-Files". Mulder is a believer in the paranormal; the skeptical Scully was initially assigned to debunk his work, but the two have developed a deep friendship. In this episode, a series of coincidences lead Scully to meet Dr. Daniel Waterston (Nicolas Surovy), a married man with whom she had an affair while at medical school. After Waterston slips into a coma, Scully puts aside her skepticism and seek out a medical alternative to save Waterston.
"all things" was the first episode of the series written by Anderson. Originally, the script was fifteen pages too long and did not feature a fourth act; it was only finished after Anderson worked with series creator Chris Carter and executive producer Frank Spotnitz. The episode was the directorial debut of Anderson—the first time a woman directed an episode of The X-Files. The cast and crew helped Anderson adjust to directing and were happy with the finished product, as well as her directing style. The episode has been analyzed for its themes of pragmatism and feminist philosophy.
FBI special agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is getting dressed in front of a mirror. The narrative flashes back to a few days earlier; after a series of coincidences, Scully arrives at a hospital and meets her former professor, Daniel Waterston (Nicolas Surovy), with whom she had an affair while attending medical school; he is currently ill and suffering from heart issues. Scully questions whether she made the right decision to leave him and abandon her medical studies to pursue a career in the FBI. Scully also meets Waterston's daughter, Maggie (Stacy Haiduk), who is extremely resentful of Scully for the effect she had on Waterston's family.
Fox Mulder (David Duchovny)—who is in England investigating heart-chakra-shaped crop circles—calls Scully and asks her to meet a contact of his to obtain some information. Scully is driving her car, and as she speaks to Mulder on her cellphone, a woman appears on a crosswalk; Scully brakes hard to avoid hitting the woman. As she does so, a diesel truck narrowly misses Scully; she realizes that, had she not stopped, the truck would have fatally collided with her. When she arrives to the house of Mulder's contact, Colleen Azar (Colleen Flynn), the latter observes that Scully is going through a personal crisis and tries to offer her guidance. Scully, however, is dismissive.
Later, Scully returns to apologise to Azar for being dismissive and to hear her ideas. Azar shares her knowledge of Buddhism, the concept of the collective unconscious, and the idea of personal auras; Azar believes these concepts might explain why Scully is experiencing strange occurrences. After a confrontation with Maggie at the hospital, Scully walks through Chinatown; seeing the woman who appeared earlier at the crosswalk, she follows her to a small Buddhist temple before the latter seemingly vanishes. Inside the temple, Scully has a vision of what is ailing Waterston. Scully returns to the hospital with Azar in order to visit Waterston.
Azar and a healer provide alternative treatment for Waterston, who then fully recovers. He proclaims that he still wants a relationship with Scully, but she realizes she is no longer the same person she was. As she sits outside the hospital on a bench, Scully thinks she sees the mysterious woman; she attempts to catch up to her, but when the person turns round, it is revealed to be Mulder. Later, Mulder and Scully sit in his apartment talking about the events of the last few days. Mulder begins to speak more existentially about what transpired with Scully, implying that fate has brought them together, but when he turns to her, he sees that she has fallen asleep.
Conception and writing
Around the time of sixth season of "The X-Files", Anderson received offers from several television networks to direct shows, although she had never directed a television series before. With a view to learning how to do so on "The X-Files" and then branching out, she approached series creator Chris Carter and asked to write and direct an episode. Anderson's own beliefs in the power of spiritual healing and Buddhism provided an inspiration. She wanted to write a script in which Scully pursued a "deeply personal X-File, one which in [she] is taken down a spiritual path when logic fails her". She wrote the basic outline of the story in one sitting, and pitched the script to Carter the next day; he approved of the "personal and quiet" characteristics of the story.
The first draft of the script was 72 pages—fifteen pages too long—and did not feature a fourth act. Carter and Spotnitz worked closely with Anderson, although the former two acknowledge that the majority of the work "was all Gillian". Despite her satisfaction with the final version, Anderson regrets a handful of the "necessary" script cuts and edits, most notably, the concept of Scully as "the other woman" in her relationship with Waterston. In the original script, the two came close to having an affair, but Scully ended the relationship when she discovered that Waterston was married. In the commentary for the episode, Anderson elaborated on Scully and Waterston's backstory: after Scully and Waterston came close to having an affair, Scully left to study at Quantico to become an FBI agent. After she left, Waterston become depressed and his family began to suspect that he was currently having an affair. The emotional turmoil was too much for Waterston's wife, who killed herself; this made Waterston's daughter, Maggie, resent Scully, as shown in the finished episode. Anderson felt that the removal of this backstory made it hard for the audience to understand why Maggie was so angry at Scully.
When Anderson first wrote the episode, she did not hint that Scully and Mulder spent the night together. Spotnitz and the production crew, however, felt it was natural to suggest that Scully and Mulder's relationship may have evolved into a romantic one. The idea of heart-chakra crop circles was included because Anderson wanted "whatever Mulder was involved in that took him away from me, away from Washington, to somehow tie into what it was that I was going through—the journey that I was going through". As such, Anderson dedicate much of her time researching about crop circles that had to deal with the "heart-chakra"; she later gave additional credit to Spotnitz, who she noted was heavily involved during the researching process as well.
Directing and music
The episode, being directed by Anderson, marked the first time a woman had directed an episode for The X-Files, and was also the first credit for Anderson. At the original script pitch, Anderson explained that she also wished to direct the episode. While Carter accepted the script, he wanted to take the "risky journey [of directing] one step at a time", by having her first write the episode. After the script was accepted, Anderson was approved as the director. Being new at directing, Anderson worked with seasoned series' director Kim Manners for a majority of the episode; she noted that, "if I had any questions, I would go to Kim". Manners helped Anderson by giving her directing homework, such making a shot list of every scene in her script.
Anderson's directing helped to energize The X-Files production, because the cast and crew were "pushed extra hard" to make sure that everything was in order for her directoral debut. Production designer Corey Kaplan made sure that the episode featured a Buddhist temple at Anderson's request, and casting director Rick Millikan helped Anderson pick actors and actresses for her episode. Millikan later noted that, "I loved working with Gillian. It was fun for me to watch her go through the casting process because it was all new to her". On set, Anderson's directing style was described as "right on the money" by Marc Shapiro, in his book all things: The Official Guide to The X-Files, Volume 6. He later wrote that "Anderson wielded a deft hand in her directorial debut, prodding the actors to her will, making decisions on the fly, and handling the complex special effects sequences". Fans of the show later sent in calls and letters to express that they were impressed with Anderson's directing abilities. Anderson was also involved in post-production editing, in which she was forced to cut the final conversation scene between Scully and Daniel Waterston by 10 minutes. This massive cut was necessary because the maximum length of the episode was 42 minutes.
The meditation scene required various clips from previous episodes to appear in a flashback. Paul Rabwin and the special effects crew first cut the various scenes and placed them in animated bubbles. According to Rabwin, "we really didn't know, it was all just experimentation". Eventually, the crew decided that the bubbles looked too "hokey", so they adopted a more standard slit-scan effect. In order to create the sequence of Scully visualizing Waterston's heart condition, Nicolas Surovy had to lie naked on a platform surrounded by a blue screen. A spherical ball was then matched via motion control as a marker for a prosthetic beating heart that was crafted and filmed separately. The two shots were then combined together into one scene.
Once, when driving home from work, Anderson heard "The Sky Is Broken", a song from Moby's 1999 album Play, and immediately wanted to include it in the episode. She later explained that it was important that it be used because the song's word "fit with [the] idea that was unfolding for the script". The first shot after the opening credits, which involved dripping water, was something Anderson wanted to include to create a "continuation of sound, rhythmic sound", because it was important for the musical part of the show. Anderson also worked with composer Mark Snow in the post-production process of the show. After filming the episode, she sent Snow several CDs of music and asked him to compositions that were similar in style and feel to the songs she was sending him. The music that they worked on together for the episode eventually became "Scully's Theme", which was not broadcast until the eighth season episode "Within". "all things" also featured many instances of a "gong" sound, which Anderson called "very Tibetan" and "appropriate for this episode."
In the chapter "Scully as a Pragmatist Feminist" of the book The Philosophy of The X-Files, Erin McKenna argues that "all things" represents an "important shift" in Scully's approach to science, knowledge acquisition, and the pursuit of the truth. She reasons that the events of the episode open her mind to news ways of knowing, specifically citing, "auras, chakras, visions, [...] and the importance of coincidence". McKenna notes that Scully's shift in perspective deliberately mirrors the shift in American pragmatism, a beliefs that views reality as ever-changing. Pragmatists believe "the truth is out there"—the motto of the series—in a manner similar to Mulder. In "all things", Scully begins to embrace pragmatism, although she clings onto her skeptic roots. Mixing the two, Scully evolves from a mere skeptic who demands proof to prove a truth, to an empiricist who wants proof but is open to other perspectives.
When Mulder and Scully talk at the end of the episode, Mulder questions the fact that he left "town for two days and [Scully] spoke to God in a Buddhist temple and God spoke back." Scully retorts that, "I didn't say God spoke back". McKenna proposes that this is an example of Scully's rational scientific approach meshing with her newer, feministic pragmatism, which "are to be seen, not as competing systems, but as complementary, as are Scully and Mulder themselves." McKenna concludes that this is represented in the opening scene, in which Mulder and Scully are implied to have slept together; this is meant as a metaphor, showing the full merging of Scully's and Mulder's different pursuits into pragmatic feminism.
In addition, McKenna reasons that "all things" is heavily influenced by feminist philosophy, a school of thought that tries to criticise or re-evaluate the ideas of traditional philosophy from within a feminist framework. According to McKenna, feminism rejects dualistic ways of thinking. Feminist philosophy, instead, calls for a pluralistic way of thinking, noting that there is not one consistent set of truths about the world, but many. In the episode, Scully starts out "sure of her more rational scientific view and approach". As the episode progress, however, she decides to branch out and engage in other acts of investigation. Eventually, she brings in a spirit healer to "corroborate or nullify the new beliefs she is encountering".
Broadcast and reception
"all things" originally aired in the United States on the Fox network on April 9, 2000, and was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on Sky1 on July 9, 2000. In the U.S., the episode was watched by 12.18 million viewers. It earned a Nielsen household rating of 7.5, with a 11 share. Nielsen ratings are audience measurement systems that determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the U.S. This means that roughly 7.5 percent of all television-equipped households, and 11 percent of households watching television, were watching the episode. In the U.K., "all things" was seen by 580,000 viewers, making it the channel's seventh-most watched program for that week. On May 13, 2003, the episode was released on DVD as part of the complete seventh season.
Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club awarded the episode a "C" and called it "a curious failure". He felt that the writing was "pretentious" and composed of "some weird, weird bullshit". VanDerWerff wrote that, although the episode was not successful, there was something "pure and unadorned at its center that I can’t outright hate it". Furthermore, he admired the show and Anderson for "making the attempt". Kevin Silber of Space.com gave the episode a negative review. He was critical of the script and characterization and said "nothing much seems to happen, and what does occur is substantially driven by coincidence and arbitrariness". He did not like Azar and disapproved of Scully's philosophical "reverie", calling it "facile, and hard to reconcile with the determined rationalism she's displayed over the years in the face of events no less strange than those that occur here".
Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, rated the episode one star out of five, calling the premise and characters dull. The two criticized Anderson for looking at the "minutiae of life too intensely", which resulted in many of the actors and actresses coming off as ciphers. Furthermore, Shearman and Pearson were critical of Anderson's directing style, calling it "pretentious" and noting that the plot's significance was drowned out by needless flourishes. Paula Vitaris from CFQ gave the episode a negative review and awarded it one star out of four. She called Anderson's directing "heavy-handed" and bemoaned the storyline because, according to her, it "plays havoc with Scully's motivations and character as established in the past seven years".
Not all reviews were negative, however. Tom Kessenich, in his book Examinations, gave the episode a largely positive review and called it "wonderful". He praised Anderson's tenacity to present a darker moment from Scully's past and favorably compared the episode to "The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati" in terms of character development. Kinney Littlefield of The Orange County Register wrote that the "wistful, meditative episode" was "not bad for Anderson 's first directing effort". He did, however, comment that it was not as "sly as the episode about an alien baseball player that Duchovny directed awhile back". The Michigan Daily writer Melissa Runstrom, in a review of the seventh season, called the episode as "interesting". While the episode received lukewarm reviews from critics, fans of the show reacted generally positively to "all things", and the show's received calls and letters explaining that viewers, "loved the vulnerability and quiet determination that Scully revealed in the unusual episode".
- Manners, Kim, et al (booklet). The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season (Liner notes). Fox Home Entertainment.
- "The X-Files, Season 7". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
- Shapiro (2000), pp. 204–214.
- Shapiro (2000), p. 214.
- Anderson, 15:05–15:15.
- Anderson, 14:02–14:47.
- Shapiro (2000), p. 215.
- Anderson, 14:25–16:18.
- Anderson, 16:19–16:47.
- Anderson, 0:15–040.
- Anderson, 2:45–3:14.
- Anderson, 3:20–3:35.
- Harris, Will (March 30, 2012). "Gillian Anderson". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
- Anderson, 13:50–14:01.
- Paul Rabwin (2000). Special Effects with Paul Rabwin: Scully's Meditation (DVD). The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
- Anderson, 2:07–2:35.
- Anderson, 1:27–1:40.
- Anderson, 8:50–9:05.
- Anderson, 9:40–9:50.
- Anderson, 11:55–12:00.
- McKenna (2007), p. 126.
- McKenna (2007), p. 127.
- McKenna (2007), p. 138.
- Gatens (1991), passim
- McKenna (2007), p. 133.
- McKenna (2007), p. 136.
- McKenna (2007), p. 137.
- Shapiro (2000), p. 281.
- "BARB's multichannel top 10 programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Retrieved January 1, 2012. Note: Information is in the section titled "w/e July 3–9, 1999", listed under Sky1
- Kim Manners, et al. (2006). The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
- Silber, Kevin (April 10, 2000). "On 'The X-Files' Scully Contemplates 'all things'". Space.com. Techmedia Network. Retrieved May 15, 2010.
- Shearman and Pearson (2009), p. 221.
- Vitaris, Paula (October 2000). "The X-Files Season Seven Episode Guide". CFQ 32 (3): 18–37.
- Kessenich (2002), pp. 125–127.
- Littlefield, Kinney (April 9, 2000). "Scully Comes Out in Front in Special 'X-Files' Outing – Review: She Gets Mystical and New Age-y in a Gentle Episode Written and Directed by Gillian Anderson". The Orange County Register (Freedom Communications). Retrieved September 19, 2012. (subscription required)
- Runstrom, Melissa (June 8, 2003). "Seven 'X-Files' season complete and thrilling". The Michigan Daily (University of Michigan). Retrieved November 7, 2013.
- Anderson, Gillian (2005), "all things": Commentary, The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Gatens, M. (1991). Feminism and Philosophy: Perspectives on Difference and Equality. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253281906.
- Kessenich, Tom (2002). Examination: An Unauthorized Look at Seasons 6–9 of the X-Files. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 9781553698128.
- McKenna, Erin (2007). "Scully as a Pragmatist Feminist". In Kowalski, Dean A. The Philosophy of The X-Files. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813124549.
- Shapiro, Marc (2000). All Things: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 6. Harper Prism. ISBN 9780061076114.
- Shearman, Robert; Pearson, Lars (2009). Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen. Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 9780975944691.
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