Lazarus (The X-Files)

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"Lazarus"
The X-Files episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 15
Directed by David Nutter
Written by Alex Gansa
Howard Gordon
Production code 1X14
Original air date February 4, 1994
Running time 43 minutes
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"Gender Bender"
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"Young at Heart"
List of season 1 episodes
List of The X-Files episodes

"Lazarus" is the fifteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on February 4, 1994. It was written by Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, directed by David Nutter, and featured guest appearances by Cec Verrell and Christopher Allport. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-Week" story, unconnected to the series' wider mythology. "Lazarus" earned a Nielsen household rating of 7.6, being watched by 7.2 million households in its initial broadcast; and received mixed reviews from critics.

The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. After an old partner of Scully's is wounded in a bank robbery, Scully and Mulder come to believe that the injured man has been possessed by the spirit of the dead bank robber.

In the episode's original plot, Dupre was to have jumped into Mulder's body. There was, however, a belief at the time that neither Scully nor Mulder should directly experience such phenomena. After Fox and the studio argued against the idea of using Mulder in such a way, the producers agreed to make the change. The opening bank robbery scene was filmed on location in Vancouver, where Jason Schombing's acting led some bystanders to believe that robbery was a real one.

Plot[edit]

Dana Scully assists a fellow FBI agent, Jack Willis, in apprehending violent bank robbers Warren Dupre and Lula Phillips. Following an anonymous tip, the two agents corner Dupre during an attempted robbery. Dupre shoots Willis with a shotgun, but is himself shot by Scully. Dupre dies, but Willis is eventually revived; however, Dupre's corpse is seen reacting to the jolts from the defibrillators used on Willis.

Willis wakes up a few days later, but now has a more sinister personality. He finds Dupre's body and cuts off his fingers to retrieve a wedding ring before fleeing the hospital. Scully explains to Fox Mulder that Willis has been obsessed with the Dupre-Phillips case for the past year, and admits to dating Willis while he was her instructor at the FBI Academy. It is discovered that left-handed shears were used to cut off Dupre's fingers, despite the fact that Willis is right-handed, leading Mulder to believe that Willis' body is inhabited by Dupre's consciousness. The agents visit a University of Maryland medical professor who theorizes that during near-death experiences, an energy release can occur that could radically change someone's personality.

Willis, who finds Dupre's tattoo appearing on his arm, confronts Lula's brother Tommy and kills him, believing that he sold him out to the FBI and caused his "death". When Mulder and Scully investigate the next day, Willis arrives. He passes the tests that Scully gives him, but when Mulder asks him to sign a fake birthday card for Scully—whose birthday is months away—he signs it. Scully is skeptical of Mulder's claims that Dupre is in Willis's body, believing that he is under stress due to his near-death experience.

When a landlord calls the FBI to tip them off about Phillips' location, Scully and Willis move in to capture her. However, when Scully corners Phillips, Willis holds Scully at gunpoint and forces her to instead handcuff herself. Scully is taken to Phillips' house, where she is beaten and handcuffed to a radiator. Willis then successfully convinces Lula that he is actually Dupre. Willis calls Mulder to tell him that he and Phillips are holding Scully hostage, leaving Mulder frustrated and angry.

After seeing Willis/Dupre consume a large quantity of soda, Scully reveals that Willis is a diabetic and will require insulin to survive. Phillips and Willis/Dupre rob a pharmacy to obtain the necessary insulin. However, Phillips refuses to let Willis use it, revealing that it was she who betrayed him, having fled the scene the night of the botched bank robbery. Phillips calls Mulder, demanding a $1 million ransom for Scully. By using audio of a plane nearby, Mulder and his task force are able to track their general location, and a disguised cop going door to door spots Phillips.

Willis/Dupre feigns death, and when Phillips drops her wedding ring on him, he grabs her gun and kills her. He dies seconds later due to the lack of insulin. Mulder, who has just arrived on the scene, releases Scully. Later Scully retrieves Willis' possessions from the morgue, including a watch she gave him for his thirty-fifth birthday. The watch stopped at 6:47, the moment Willis died after the bank shooting.[1][2]

Production[edit]

"Pacing was the key for [Lazarus]. It was the opposite of 'Beyond the Sea'. I thought a lot of movement had to happen. The camera was moving, the actors were moving, all of which was designed to move the script along. It wasn't one of the more involved scripts. Just a pretty basic, straightforward story."

–"Lazarus" director David Nutter.[3]

In the episode's original plot, Dupre was to have jumped into Mulder's body. There was, however, a belief at the time that neither Scully nor Mulder should directly experience such phenomena; Fox and the studio argued against the idea of using Mulder in such a way. With more than a little reluctance, the producers agreed to make the change. As writer Howard Gordon later recalled, "We'd wanted Mulder to experience the soul switch".[4] Eventually, however, Fox's stance was changed; most notably, in the two-part sixth season episode, "Dreamland", when Mulder's consciousness is exchanged with government agent Morris Fletcher.[5] Gordon ultimately came to believe that the final decision was almost certainly for the best and saw the benefit of introducing Scully's former boyfriend as it provided a welcome opportunity to delve into her history.[4]

The opening bank robbery scene was filmed on location in Vancouver, where Jason Schombing's acting led some bystanders to believe that robbery was a real one.[6] Interior shots set in Dupre's basement were filmed in an asbestos-lined apartment building, where a translator was required to interface with the mostly-Asian tenants.[7] This episode features the first of several occasions in which Scully is abducted.[4] Her birthday, February 23, is revealed for the first time in this episode;[4] though the year of her birth, 1964, would not be established until the second season episode "One Breath".[8]

Reception[edit]

"Lazarus" premiered on the Fox network on February 4, 1994, and was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on January 5, 1995.[9] The episode earned a Nielsen household rating of 7.6, with a 12 share and was viewed by 7.2 million households, meaning that roughly 7.2 percent of all television-equipped households, and 12 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode.[10]

Series creator Chris Carter had a very positive opinion of the episode, stating that it was "a very good and well-acted episode. I like it because it actually seemed too real to me. It played less as a paranormal science fiction show than as whether or not something could really happen. The entire cast was wonderful. Overall that was a terrific episode".[11] In a retrospective of the first season in Entertainment Weekly, "Lazarus" was rated a C+, being described as "as exciting as Scully's taste in men (not very)". The episode's supporting cast, however, was described as "solid".[12] Zack Handlen, writing for The A.V. Club, rated episode a B-, finding that it had "no real thematic resonance". He found that the episode left its premise "largely unexplored", and would have benefited from a stronger focus on the relationship between the characters of Willis and Dupre.[13] Matt Haigh, writing for Den of Geek, reviewed the episode negatively, feeling that it "wasn't up to much", and that it "plays more like an episode of Diagnosis Murder than anything else". However, the exploration of Scully's character history was cited as a positive aspect of the episode.[14] Anna Johns, writing for TV Squad, was critical of "Lazarus", stating that its opening scene was "the only good part" of the episode.[15]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Lowry, pp.134–135
  2. ^ Lovece, pp.81–82
  3. ^ Edwards, p.64
  4. ^ a b c d Lowry, p.135
  5. ^ Kim Manners & Michael Watkins (November 29 & December 6, 1998). "Dreamland". The X-Files. Season 6. Episode 4 & 5. Fox.
  6. ^ Gradnitzer and Pittson, p.43
  7. ^ Gradnitzer and Pittson, p.44
  8. ^ R. W. Goodwin (November 11, 1994). "One Breath". The X-Files. Season 8. Episode 2. Fox Broadcasting Company.
  9. ^ The X-Files: The Complete First Season (booklet). Robert Mandel, Daniel Sackheim, et al. Fox. 
  10. ^ Lowry, p.248
  11. ^ Edwards, pp.63–64
  12. ^ "X Cyclopedia: The Ultimate Episode Guide, Season 1 | EW.com". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 1996. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  13. ^ Handlen, Zack (July 18, 2008). ""Beyond the Sea" / "Gender Bender" / "Lazarus" | The X-Files/Millennium | TV Club | TV | The A.V. Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  14. ^ Haigh, Matt (November 13, 2008). "Revisiting The X-Files: Season 1 Episode 15 - Den of Geek". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved August 1, 2011. 
  15. ^ Johns, Anna (August 20, 2006). "The X-Files: Lazarus". TV Squad, AOL. Retrieved August 8, 2011. 

References[edit]

  • Edwards, Ted (1996). X-Files Confidential. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-21808-1. 
  • Gradnitzer, Louisa; Pittson, Todd (1999). X Marks the Spot: On Location with The X-Files. Arsenal Pulp Press. ISBN 1-55152-066-4. 
  • Lovece, Frank (1996). The X-Files Declassified. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-1745-X. 
  • Lowry, Brian (1995). The Truth is Out There: The Official Guide to the X-Files. Harper Prism. ISBN 0-06-105330-9. 

External links[edit]