|The X-Files episode|
The psychic photograph. A majority of the episode is spent discovering the purpose or meaning behind the mysterious image.
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Rob Bowman|
|Written by||Vince Gilligan|
|Original air date||October 27, 1996|
|Running time||44 minutes|
|List of season 4 episodes
List of The X-Files episodes
"Unruhe" is the fourth episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 27, 1996, and was the first episode to air on Sunday night when the show was moved from Fridays to Sundays. "Unruhe" was written by Vince Gilligan, directed by Rob Bowman, and featured a guest appearance from Pruitt Taylor Vince. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-Week" story, unconnected to the series' wider mythology. "Unruhe" earned a Nielsen rating of 11.7, being watched by 19.10 million people upon its initial broadcast.
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. In this episode, Mulder and Scully investigate a man who kidnaps women and lobotomizes them. The agents' only clues to catching him are distorted photos of the victims taken just before their kidnapping.
Gilligan wrote the episode after being inspired by stories of serial killers he read as a child. Other inspirations include the concept of thought-photographs, and common fears associated with dentist chairs. The episode received a generally positive reception, though critics criticized the plotline featuring Scully being kidnapped. Critical attention also expressed a positive opinion of how scary the episode was in nature. Guest actor Taylor Vince received positive reviews as the episode's antagonist.
In Traverse City, Michigan, Mary Lefante goes to a local pharmacy to get her passport photo taken. Realizing she has forgotten her wallet, she returns to her car and finds that her boyfriend has been murdered. The killer, clad in a hooded raincoat, renders Lefante unconscious with a hypodermic needle, then kidnaps her. Meanwhile, in the pharmacy, the elderly clerk peels open Lefante's developed photo, which shows her screaming amidst a distorted background.
Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are assigned to the case. Discussing the photograph, Mulder tells Scully about Ted Serios, who was famous for making photos which showed what was in his mind. He takes pictures of his gloved hand using a camera found in Lefante's apartment, and they all appear the same as the one from the pharmacy. Mulder deduces that the kidnapper has been stalking his victims.
Lefante is found wandering on a roadside, but appears to have been given an improperly-performed lobotomy. Another woman, Alice Brandt, is later kidnapped. She wakes up bound to a dentist's chair, with her kidnapper brandishing an ice pick and speaking in German. Mulder returns to Washington, D.C. to digitally analyze the photos and finds no evidence that they were doctored. By closely examining the photos, he finds the face of an old man as well as the shadow of the kidnapper, who appears to be abnormally tall.
Scully, finding a construction company referenced at both crime scenes, investigates the possible lead, meeting Gerry Schnauz (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who worked near both scenes of the kidnapping. Schnauz, who is wearing stilts that make him very tall, attempts to flee, but Scully pursues and arrests him. The agents interrogate Schnauz, who was once institutionalized for beating his father with an axe handle in retaliation for the abuse his sister suffered at their father's hands. When questioned on the location of Brandt, Schnauz claims she is safe from the "howlers". Brandt is soon found in the woods, lobotomized. Mulder believes that Schnauz thinks he is rescuing his victims from howlers and that the photos show his nightmares.
Schnauz escapes police custody by killing an officer and then robs the pharmacy from the opening, taking the passport photo camera, film, and an assortment of drug-related materials. While investigating the robbery, Scully is rendered unconscious and kidnapped by Schnauz. Mulder heads to the office where Schnauz's father used to work as a dentist, and finds the exam chair missing. Scully awakens bound to the chair with Schnauz claiming he's going to kill the howlers in her head. Schnauz takes a photo of himself, the result of which greatly disturb him, then prepares to lobotomize Scully. Mulder, having found a clue in a photo of Scully from the drugstore's photo booth, finds a trailer in a cemetery and realizes it belongs to Schnauz. He manages to break in and shoot Schnauz in the nick of time. Mulder looks at the photo Schnauz took of himself, in which he is lying dead on the floor.
Writer Vince Gilligan was inspired to write the episode based on Time-Life mail order books he read as a child discussing the lives of serial killers. One of the books featured mass murderer Howard Unruh. The episode was also inspired by Ted Serios, whose thought-photographs were mentioned by Fox Mulder in the episode. The use of the dentist chair where Schnauz sat his victims was included considering people's common fear of the dentist. Gilligan had written the role of Schnauz with Taylor Vince in mind when he saw him in the Adrian Lyne film Jacob's Ladder. Vince had been approached to be a guest star on the show in the first season but declined the role due to it being too small.
Most of the scenes featuring Schnauz on plasterer's stilts were shot using stuntmen. In the scene where Scully meets Schnauz using them a safety cable was attached to Vince to keep him upright that was edited out in post-production. Ken Hawryliw created the lobotomy instrument Schnauz used from scratch when he was unsuccessful with his attempts to borrow one from a doctor or hospital. The title of the episode, "Unruhe", is the German word for "unrest" or "anxiety". When Scully talks in German to Schnauz, she says "Ich habe keine Unruhe" (literally "I do not have anxiety"). The episode prominently features the drug scopolamine which can cause people to quickly become unconscious, and twilight sleep, which is a condition that can render people unconscious following great moments of pain.
Broadcast and reception
"Unruhe" premiered on the Fox network on October 27, 1996. This episode earned a Nielsen rating of 11.7, with an 18 share, meaning that roughly 11.7 percent of all television-equipped households, and 18 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 19.10 million people. This episode was the first episode in the series that was broadcast out of order in the series' production schedule. Once the producers of the show knew that they would be moving to Sundays starting with the fourth episode of the season, they decided to push this episode back, feeling that it would be an excellent representative of the show for its first Sunday night episode and a better representative than the fourth episode of the season filmed, "Teliko".
Entertainment Weekly gave the episode a "C", feel that the "interesting concept" of the psychic photographs were ruined by "boilerplate Scully-in-distress shtick". Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club was more positive, grading it as a "B+". He felt that its "greatest virtue" was being terrifying and that it worked for being an "urban fairytale". However, he also criticized it for putting Scully in danger. Sarah Stegall awarded the episode four stars out of five, praising the writing by Gilligan, who she commented was "genius for tight confrontation scenes", complimenting the atmosphere and presentation of the episode. She criticized the final scene featuring Scully tied up with duct-tape, commenting that the way she was loosely tied up was un realistic. The fact that the episode's "absurd concept" was simply a "side-story" also drew positive attention, summarizing her review with, "otherwise a creepy and engaging detective story".
Taylor Vince's performance as Gerry Schnauz received positive critical attention. Writer Barbara Barnett in her book Chasing Zebras stated that he was memorable as a "psychotic killer". John Kenneth Muirin his book Horror Films of the 1990s wrote that Taylor Vince portrayed one of the "memorable and frightening serial killers" of the series. In a later book, Terror Television American Series 1970–1999, Muir praised the episode as a whole, writing that the episode "is nightmare provoking because it subjects a wonderful individual to a terrifying situation which will remove all traces of individuality from that character". Television Without Pity ranked "Unruhe" the sixth most nightmare-inducing episode of the show.
- Meisler (1998), pp. 36–37
- Soter (2001), p. 204
- Gradnitzer (1999), p. 120
- Stegall, Sarah (1996). "The Light of Reason". The Munchkyn Zone. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
- The X-Files: The Complete Fourth Season (booklet). R.W. Goodwin, Kim Manners, et al. Fox.
- Meisler (1998), p. 298
- "X Cyclopdia: The Ultimate Episode Guide, Season IV". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 1996. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (October 16, 2010). "'Unruhe'/'The Judge' | The X-Files/Millennium | TV Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
- Barnett (2010), pp. 36–37
- Kenneth Muir (2007), p. 80
- Kenneth Muir (2001), p. 258
- "Photo Gallery – X-Files: The 11 Most Nightmare-Inducing Episodes Ever – TV Shows & TV Series Pictures & Photos". Television Without Pity. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Barnett, Barbara (2010). Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. Harper Prism.
- Gradnitzer, Louisa; Pittson, Todd (1999). X Marks the Spot: On Location with The X-Files. Arsenal Pulp Press.
- Kenneth Muir, John (2001). Terror Television American Series 1970–1999. McFarland & Company.
- Kenneth Muir, John (2007). Horror Films of the 1990s. Virgin Books.
- Meisler, Andy (1998). I Want to Believe: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 3. Harper Prism.
- Soter, Tom (2001). Investigating Couples: A Critical Analysis of the Thin Man, the Avengers and the X-Files. McFarland & Company.
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