Talk:The X-Files/history/Season 2

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Season 2 (1994–1995)[edit]

As the series ended its first season, a problem had arisen for the producers: the pregnancy of Gillian Anderson, who played Dana Scully. Some network executives wanted the role recast, which Carter refused to do.[1] Another problem arose for Carter, who was unable to finish his planned season opening extravaganza. Morgan and Wong were asked to come up with a lower-key replacement,[2] but their "Little Green Men" was nevertheless the first episode to actually show an alien and got the show's best ratings thus-far (with a 19% audience share).[3] The early part of the second season solidified Mulder and Scully's close relationship, even as the two had been separated on drudgery assignments in different departments when the X-Files had been closed at the end of season one. Due to her pregnancy, Anderson was largely demobilized from active scenes with Duchovny, which matched her character's confinement to teaching medical students at Quantico. During early episodes of season two, Scully is typically pictured only in closeup, at a desk, or conducting autopsies — one of her usual roles on The X-Files due to her training as a medical doctor.

Flukeman in "The Host", played by future writer Darin Morgan under prosthetics. The episode, like several others, was inspired by classic sci-fi B-movies.

The beginning of the second season saw an increasingly frustrated and hopeless Mulder, having been reassigned at the FBI to tedious wiretaps. He also had his prior informant taken away and replaced by the far more reluctant and less friendly Mr. X (Steven Williams), who never fully revealed his true allegiances. Carter's script "The Host" somewhat symbolized Mulder's frustration and loss of hope. In the episode, he is given what he thinks is a dead-end assignment in Newark, New Jersey, literally sifting through sewage, which actually turns out to be an X-file — a giant mutant Flukeman who breeds in nuclear waste. Critics felt The X-Files of this period often consciously resembled classic B-movies in containing environmental and political morals,[4] as in Carter's earlier "Darkness Falls" (about ancient forest bugs who exact revenge on Pacific Northwest loggers), Morgan and Wong's "Blood" (dealing with mind control from electronic devices and pesticide spraying), and Howard Gordon's script for "Sleepless" (about Vietnam veterans who had been guinea pigs in a cruel government experiment in sleep deprivation). Notably, "Blood" was the first episode whose story credit went to Darin Morgan, the actor who had portrayed Flukeman and the brother of writer/producer Glen Morgan (of the Morgan and Wong writing team). "Sleepless" was the second X-Files episode directed by Rob Bowman, who would become one of the most prolific X-Files staff members behind the scenes, directing dozens of episodes as well as the 1998 feature film. "Sleepless" introduced Agent Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) as Mulder's new partner. Their partnership would last only into the next two episodes, "Duane Barry" and "Ascension", which proved crucial to the fate of the series. Searching for a solution to the now acute problem of Anderson's pregnancy, Carter and his writers decided to have Scully abducted by Duane Barry (Steve Railsback), himself a likely alien abductee, in the episode, "Duane Barry." The episode was both written and directed by Carter (his debut) and received several Emmy nominations the following year.[5]

Anderson was not featured at all in the episode "3", but reappeared when Scully mysteriously returned in Morgan and Wong's "One Breath" (directed by R. W. Goodwin), an episode which consistently scores among the highest in fan ratings.[6] Scully's abduction provoked an existential crisis in Mulder. Although the show left it up in the air for years as to who was directly responsible (aliens, the government, or some combination of both), the earlier episode "Sleepless" had foreshadowed the events with the Cigarette Smoking Man's declaration that "every problem has a solution" (referring to Scully). Scully was now seen to be firmly on Mulder's side in the larger conflict, regardless of her original role as a debunker and her continued skepticism towards the paranormal.

After Scully's recovery (and the birth of Anderson's daughter, Piper), Mulder and Scully returned to work on the re-opened X-Files, investigating cases ranging from Haitian zombies ("Fresh Bones") to animal abductions ("Fearful Symmetry") and exorcism ("The Calusari"). This period would see the show gain more mainstream appeal, often earning winning scores during its Friday night timeslot.[7] Its Nielsen ratings rose to their highest peaks thus-far with the occult-themed "Die Hand Die Verletzt" and the epic "Colony"/"End Game".[3] The latter was a two-part episode introducing the idea of colonization, the Alien Bounty Hunter, as well as the characters Bill (Peter Donat) and Teena (Rebecca Toolan) Mulder, Fox Mulder's parents. "Die Hand Die Verletzt" was Morgan and Wong's final X-Files script until the fourth season, as they departed to start their own series Space: Above and Beyond, but at the same time there was new involvement behind the scenes. The episode also marked the X-Files directorial debut of Kim Manners, who would stay with the show until its end and direct the largest number of episodes of the series. On "Colony", star David Duchovny collaborated with Chris Carter on the story, the first of Duchovny's involvements in writing for the show. Frank Spotnitz, a new story editor brought on by Chris Carter, wrote "End Game", the second of the two-part episode; Spotnitz would be a producer and writer on The X-Files and other Ten Thirteen projects for years and had a key role in shaping the mythology. The middle of the second season also saw "Irresistible", an episode directed by David Nutter and written by Chris Carter, which Carter later credited as a blueprint for his even darker show Millennium.[8] This was the first non-paranormal episode of The X-Files, dealing with the trauma of investigating Donnie Pfaster, a "death fetishist" (so named instead of "necrophiliac" to get past the FOX censors).[9] A sequel, "Orison", was made in the seventh season.

During its second season, The X Files finished 64th out of 141 shows, a marked improvement from the first season. The ratings were not spectacular, but the series had attracted enough fans to be classified as a "cult hit," particularly by Fox standards. Most importantly it made great gains among the 18-to-49 age demographic sought by advertisers.[7][10] The show was chosen as Best Television Show of 1994 by Entertainment Weekly and named best drama by the Television Critics Association, and it received seven Emmy nominations, mostly in the technical categories, with one nomination for best drama series.[11] In 1995, The X-Files won a Golden Globe Award for best television drama, winning out over several more established series such as ER, Picket Fences and NYPD Blue.[12]

The last weeks of season two brought more changes, beginning what some saw as The X-Files' peak creative period.[13] The Edgar Award-nominated "Humbug", an unconventional standalone episode about a small town inhabited by circus sideshow performers, was the first script fully written by Darin Morgan. At the time it was also considered a risky experiment, as it was the first outright comedy episode. Gillian Anderson famously swallowed a real cricket in one ad-libbed scene.[14] Eventual senior writer Vince Gilligan also offered his first episode, the darker sci-fi "Soft Light", guest starring Tony Shalhoub as a remorseful physicist whose shadow kills people.

Season two ended in May 1995 with "Anasazi" (co-written by Carter with David Duchovny), which attracted widespread attention with its cliffhanger ending[7] and put the future of the mythology up in the air. In the episode, Mulder and Scully are contacted by a computer hacker who has gained access to the Majestic-12 documents. Now-free agent Alex Krycek also made his first reappearance since "Ascension". The episode began a three-part arc, the show's most ambitious mythology episodes thus-far, which extended into the third season and centering around Navajo former code talker, Albert Hosteen (Floyd Red Crow Westerman).[15] The show could not afford location filming, so a rock quarry in British Columbia was painted to match the desert hues of the American Southwest.[16] Outside the U.S., The X-Files was by now one of the most popular shows in the world,[13] and was being broadcast in (approximately) 60 countries.[17]

  1. ^ Gillian Anderson biography. [1]
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference xwr was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference RATINGS was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Kellner, Douglas (1999). "The X-Files and the Aesthetics and Politics of Postmodern Pop". The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 57 (2): 161–175. doi:10.2307/432310. 
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference awards was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ "Assortment of unofficial reviews of "One Breath."". 
  7. ^ a b c Powers, William F. (1995-09-17). "X-Files: Signs of Intelligent Life — Cult Favorite Gains a Following Among the Masses". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference SALON was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ Patterson, Kevin. "X-Files Season 2 reviews". 
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference cult was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ Cite error: The named reference xffaq was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  12. ^ Oldenburg, Ann. USA Today, review of Golden Globe Awards. January 23, 1995.
  13. ^ a b Wei, Eugene. "Amazon.com editorial review of Season 3". 
  14. ^ Vitaris, Paula (1995). "Making 'Humbug'". Cinefantastique.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  15. ^ Hersey, Eleanor (1998). "Word-healers and code talkers: Native Americans in The X-Files". Journal of Popular Film and Television. 
  16. ^ Cite error: The named reference details was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  17. ^ Cite error: The named reference CBC was invoked but never defined (see the help page).