Transcript of the DVD Audio Commentary by R. W. Goodwin for the episode 'Talitha Cumi'

Transcribed by: Libby
Edited by: X_Follower

Hi, I'm Bob Goodwin, and I directed this episode, 'Talitha Cumi'.

[A busy fast food restaurant. A man, Galen Muntz, sits at a booth, talking to himself, very upset about his work situation. He becomes agitated and eventually pulls out a gun.]

This opening sequence was a challenge because I really wanted to show the chaos at the moment this guy, Hrothgar Matthews played this guy Galen who was obviously deeply troubled, right on the edge, and what happens here, of course, is chaos.

So you can see that it was pieced together with hundreds of little, tiny little cuts, I just wanted as many, as much movement and sort of frenetic feel to all of this thing, so we did it handheld for the most part, bumpy, except for the gentleman. The gentleman was played by Roy Thinnes who, you know, was a wonderful guy, great actor. He'd done a series way back in the 60s called "The Invaders" and was very familiar with this sort of genre. You see, every movement there, every shot has this little sort of subliminal movement and then, of course, outside things were starting to get a little scary as the SWAT team moves in, and the snipers.

[Another customer, Jeremiah Smith, tries to calm the situation down and almost persuades Muntz to hand over the gun. But a man and a woman, standing at the door and seeing that the police have arrived, try to escape. This draws the attention of Muntz and he fires, hitting the man in the abdomen, then shoots two other people.]

Over at the door, there's this young man who decides he's going to get the hell out of there. It's… makes a big mistake. That was a young guy named Angelo Vacco who actually worked in the offices in Los Angeles, he worked with the writers down there as a writers' assistant, I think, and he had ambitions to be an actor and he got the part. We flew him up to Vancouver.

[A sniper fires his weapon and hits Muntz in the chest.]

This was, when it first appeared, was a fairly shocking sequence, you know, blowing away women and a room full of, you know, families and this introduced this character of Jeremiah Smith, Roy Thinnes played, who would later keep returning. He really sort of struck a chord with everybody and he was such an integral part of the mythology and the unraveling of the mythology.

[Jeremiah Smith puts his hand on Muntz's chest and the wound disappears.]

[Main Titles]

"The truth is out there" - in our first season the New Yorker did a big article about us which was very flattering and we were all so excited and proud and everything, and one of the things they said in the article was, "no one is really dead on The X-Files," and I think here's a really good example of how that comes to be.

[Mulder and Scully arrive at the scene to find that all the wounded have been cured and Jeremiah Smith has disappeared.]

You notice the credits: Jerry Hardin, Peter Donat, these were characters, you know, Mulder's father, Deep Throat, who are dead; they were killed off in earlier episodes. Brian Thompson is back, he was one of our bad guys. But look at this:

Here's Angelo.

[Scully talks to the man who was the first to be shot. He has a bullet hole in his T-shirt but no mark on his abdomen.]

No one is every really dead on The X-Files. This guy, Hrothgar, who is just a wonderful actor, you know, and obviously played a really troubled, sort of psychotic character, is in a point of fact one of the sweetest, most gentlest people you'll ever meet in your life. He has a wonderful family and is very quite and soft spoken, but has this ability to draw upon this sort of angst and troubled feeling that just projects this great odd character.

[Mulder talks to Muntz who thinks he was saved by God.]

But no, Mulder is not buying into that one, you know. Again, another one, this was written... the story was, David Duchovny and Chris wrote the story, a wonderful script.

[Scully informs Mulder that Jeremiah Smith has vanished without a trace. Elsewhere, Mrs. Mulder visits the summer house at Quonochontaug.]

'Vanished without a trace.' They always figured, they always came up with these great place names. They're all real places, you know. Quonochontaug, this was the Mulder summer house in Quonochontaug, Rhode Island. Years later, not that many years later, but a year or two later, Sheila and I were driving on a vacation, driving from New York up to Cape Cod and we actually went through Quonochontaug and I stopped the car and called Chris Carter and I said, 'Chris! Guess where I am!'.

[Also at the summer house is the Cigarette-Smoking Man.]

The interesting thing about this mythology is all these layers upon layers of all these relationships and things, and of course the question was always in the back of everyone's mind, is it possible that the Cigarette-Smoking Man was actually Mulder's father, because clearly there was some relationship between these two, Mulder's mother and the Cigarette-Smoking Man.

And he makes a couple of intimate sort of suggestions here.

I love that. (laughs) 'He's not as good a water skier as I was and that could be said about so many things.' And clearly it has a deep meaning to her, one she doesn't particularly want to hear.

[Mrs. Mulder and the Cigarette-Smoking Man continue their argument, but are seen at some distance so their words cannot be heard. The person watching them takes photographs.]

What a creep, huh? And again, nicest guy in the world, Bill Davis. You know, it seems like these guys that play bad guys, they just in reality, many of them were just really wonderful, warm people, who for some reason can tap into a sort of darker side just to portray that. And I love the intrigue that sets in there because obviously they're being watched through a viewfinder, so who's watching them and what was going on there?

[Back at the restaurant, the detective says that while he was questioning Jeremiah Smith he just briefly looked down at his notebook but when he looked back up, Smith had disappeared.]

So now we not only have a very gentle, sweet man who was able to miraculously save the lives of all these people but he's able to disappear - what's going on? I mean, very intriguing setup for this.

[Mulder gets a call from Skinner to say that his mother has been taken to a hospital.]

Now the mystery deepens. What's wrong with her, what happened to her, how did she end up in the hospital, is she going to live? I mean, so many people have come and gone in the series, it was one of the things that The X-Files did that was so shocking, you know, I mean after the first season or so, people sort of came to expect the unexpected, but it was not unusual that all to just kill off some really key characters that were heavily involved with the mythology and the story. This nurse is Bonnie Hay, Bonnie was with us for years and years and years, she was Gillian's stand-in, and was a really good actress and I don't know if this was the first time that we gave her a few parts, and I think she's done a few things since then.

The mother was played by this really sweet lady, Rebecca, we called her Becky.

[Mrs. Mulder isn't able to speak but writes a word in Scully's notebook.]

And this is, again, a great moment, the clue "palm", "palm". What does that mean? It's obviously important, she's trying to tell him something but it's hard to figure out.

Poor Mulder, you know, it's like his quest for finding out the truth just seems to be leading to more and more tragedy. He's lost his father and now he may be on the verge of losing his mother.

[Mulder suggests to Scully that there's a connection between what his mother wrote and the mystery at the crime scene.]

Is that the answer? The palm of his hand? Hmm. Or is it a palm tree. I mean, this again, this is Scully's hardheaded sort of skepticism and, you know, real approach to life. And again Mulder must be just making these strange leaps, you know, what's he thinking.

[Scully says there could be several reasons why his mother wrote that word, but Mulder points out that the miraculous healing can't be explained, nor how the healer disappeared.]

She can't deny that. I mean, that happened.

Again, I don't know if you noticed, if you go back and play this and look at it, all those little tiny moments that all sort of add up, when Mulder was talking to the detective there, he glanced out the window and saw the news camera, the newsman, leaving and clearly finding something in his mind why he went and got this material. Look at this:

[Mulder and Scully are reviewing a videotape shot by a news crew and it shows the detective and Jeremiah Smith talking, then someone walks in front of the camera and then a different man is shown where Jeremiah Smith was standing.]

He's wearing the same clothes.

[Several men, including the Cigarette-Smoking Man, go the office of the Social Security Administration, where they find Jeremiah Smith.]

This was a, this location was an abandoned department store in Vancouver and we took it over. This was the main floor, so apparently there used to be a lot of ladies' underwear and stuff around here, but we turned it into the social security and had this wonderful moment with Jeremiah Smith being pursued by the Cigarette-Smoking Man and all of his minions.

[Jeremiah Smith attempts to escape but is caught.]

Nope. Not going to get away this time. What an evil man this is, clearly he's enjoying this too much.

[Jeremiah Smith has been taken to a prison.]

This was a nice moment. This was a set that Graeme Murray designed and Rob Maier, the construction department, built a beautiful prison set and of course they have to keep Jeremiah completely confined and immobilized because they know that he's so slippery and can, you know, turn into what he needs to turn into and disappear on them. But here's where you see that adage for New Yorker magazine, you may come back again.

[Mulder goes to the summer house at Quonochontaug.]

Back to Quonochontaug, Rhode Island. I know this place looks like a mess but it was actually a wonderful charming house right there on the bluff overlooking the water that we went into and pretty much trashed it up and, you know, theoretically the Mulders have not been to this place in many, many years, and of course never thought of ever selling it, they just let it sit there - and someone's been inside.

Who's there? Somebody. Steve Williams played the character of X.

[X gives Mulder photographs that he had taken when CSM and Mrs. Mulder were arguing.]

Again, I was just fortunate enough to be able to direct Steve in a number of episodes. He had, you know, some really terrific stuff and one of the best scenes, one of the early scenes that was so sort of exciting and I actually got to Steve to show a chance of what he could do with those scenes in episode called 'One Breath' where he confronts Mulder in the parking garage of a hospital, holds a gun on him. And these two guys, they always had a lot of fun together. They did just really work well together.

Oh, so, it was X obviously who was watching through that viewfinder.

And then, of course, a couple of seasons later, I directed that episode where X was killed. I got a feeling a lot of these actors when they saw I was directing got a little a nervous because too many characters were killed off by me.

[X says that he couldn't hear what the two were saying because he needed to keep his distance but he believes CSM wanted something that Mrs. Mulder had hidden in the summer house.]

But whatever it is that was here, that she was here for, must have had something to do with that word "palm".

[At the FBI headquarters, Jeremiah Smith arrives.]

Now, see, this is one of those wonderful intriguing things, here's Jeremiah Smith. Last time we saw him he was strapped to a gurney and dumped in a jail cell.

Is he who you think he is, or who is he?

[Smith is being interviewed and says he has no recollection of the events at the restaurant.]

As this unfolds and you start to realize what's going on, you see that Roy Thinnes' challenge was he was playing more than one character and it became, you know, interesting how he presented himself in each case.

Obviously he's a very sweet and charming man and you should trust him implicitly, shouldn't you? I hope so. Maybe not.

[Mulder starts searching the summer house.]

Now this sequence again, a deceptive shooting sequence in which you do a searching of house like this because you want to build up the moment, so you what to have as many different little actions and searching things as you can, so it takes a lot longer to film than you would think because all these different angles on him and different parts of the house and finding different things, you know, to get a montage going, you know, you have to shoot a lot of little pieces. What does that mean, "palm", "palm", that must have something to do with what she was talking about, something to do with what's hidden here. I guess I kind of like it because I like anagrams and crossword puzzles and things like that, so figuring it out, I mean, I don't know if anybody got ahead of this one. But Mulder's gonna figure it out.

[Having failed to find anything, Mulder sits on the couch and looks at the paper his mother had written on.]

I think it's gonna come to him now.

"Palm". It's an anagram.

["Lamp". He smashes a table lamp against the wall but finds nothing inside.]

Mm-hmm. That Mulder, boy, he is so clever.

The problem is there's a lot of lamps. Not enough, though, because as you'll see in a second, they're all created by the prop department, they're breakaway lamps and, you know, you want to be able to do more than one take, so we had a supply, but just barely enough to be able to make this thing work. And of course he's gonna find something that by now is a familiar item to fans of The X-Files. We've seen this before. This is the alien's weapon, the Bounty Hunter.

[In a second lamp, he finds the stiletto.]

So, now, here we're going to find out how those dead characters who were killed off in the previous years can suddenly reappear.

[CSM visits Jeremiah Smith where he is being held captive.]

This, again, is a process called morphing which nowadays is as easy as pie, you know, you can get the software probably at any office supply store but back in these days it was a relatively new effect, it required having two cameras, excuse me, two monitors, so you'd line up the first shot with Roy Thinnes, then make sure that you had him placed exactly in the right part of the frame, and matched it with the incoming actor.

Of course, if this guy is still here, who was that guy at the FBI?

[CSM says that the Syndicate gives people happiness and the people give the Syndicate authority. And that men can never be free because they are weak, corrupt, worthless and restless.]

So clearly this is a devious, mean man that's involved with a very overreaching and evil plot. But here, watch this.

Watch. Deep Throat.

[Smith morphs into Deep Throat and asks what the cost is for CSM's selfish benefit and how many must die to preserve his stake in the Project.]

Jerry Hardin was the first of the regular characters to be killed. He was Deep Throat in the first season and he was killed in the last episode, 'The Erlenmeyer Flask', and that article about… the New Yorker saying that no one is ever really dead on The X-Files actually came out that day that he was flying to Vancouver. He didn't know at the time that he was gonna be killed, and so I had the article ready and I pointed that line out to him immediately. I'm not sure he believed me, so it was kind of fun to see him come back for this.

[Mulder goes to Skinner wanting to know everything about the Smoking Man. He shows Skinner and Scully the photographs of CSM and his mother.]

Now, see, I'm not sure that Mulder should be pursuing this. Does he really want to know what the Cigarette-Smoking Man had to do with his mother? I kept asking Chris, is the Cigarette-Smoking Man Mulder's father? He just sort of smiled.

[Mulder tells Scully and Skinner that CSM is trying to kill Jeremiah Smith. Scully tells him that Smith came in the FBI the day before. Mulder and Scully go to the Social Security Administration and find him.]

All right, so now, who is this guy, because we've already seen him dragged out of this room and he's in prison.

[Smith goes with Mulder and Scully but dives into a crowd of people and they lose sight of him.]

And again, there's an interesting sideline to this little scene. It was shot after hours in the city… Vancouver City Hall, and in all the years I was on The X-Files I always wanted to get a good picture of myself with David and Gillian, and I never really did. I got good pictures with each but not with two of them together. And I was in an X-Files convention and a young man came up when I was signing autographs and asked me to sign an autograph of a picture of me and David and Gillian in that Vancouver City Hall lobby, obviously taken when I redid that scene and I had no idea who took the picture. It was a very good picture, by the way. Another X-Files mystery.

[CSM and Smith in the cell, again.]

Clearly the Cigarette-Smoking Man's been shaken by this.

So, it's clearly a very devious plot that's going on. This mythology, this is amped here in this episode. Oh, look who's back. Mulder's father.

[Smith morphs into Mulder's father.]

This must be very disturbing for Cigarette-Smoking Man, especially with this chequered past with this character who he knows is dead.

[Smith morphs back to his normal self. He says that CSM is dying of lung cancer.]

Pretty heavy duty.

[CSM says that's a lie.]

Actually, it makes you kind of feel sorry for the Cigarette-Smoking Man, the bastard.

[Outside the penitentiary where Smith is being held.]

This was an old mental institution called Riverview that had been partly abandoned, and we used it many times over the course of the series. I actually, on the pilot, when Chris was shooting up here in Vancouver, I had done another pilot that same place. I had to restore that building and I loaned him the use of it for some scenes that they did in the pilot.

[A bearded man, dressed just like Jeremiah Smith when Mulder and Scully lost him, arrives outside the penitentiary. Then he morphs into the Alien Bounty Hunter.]

This isn't good. This is not good. This is clearly not a good thing. This is a bad guy going into this prison and we don't know what he's about to do. But unfortunately for him, he won't be able to do anything.

So, now we have a whole bunch of those Jeremiah Smith characters running around out there. We don't know which ones are which.

[Mrs. Mulder's hospital room. The doctor gives a poor prognosis.]

Poor Mulder. Looks like he's about to become an orphan. Unless, of course, a miracle happens.

[The doctor leaves and Mulder sits by his mother's bed, very upset.]

David, of course, was very touching in this. He's, you know, the character he'd played for most of the time was so stoic and cool and emotionless, that when he got a chance to play scenes like this where he was either very, very upset or as he's about to become very angry, I think he really relished that opportunity.

[Mulder leaves his mother's room and sees the CSM and slams him against the wall. CSM tells him he's known his mother since before he was born, and calls him by his first name.]

Uh-uh. So far, the only one that's called him Fox was his father, or at least thought it was his father.

[CSM tells him that his mother had contacted him for something she was looking for, and that CSM had information, possibly, on the whereabouts of Samantha.]

So now we go back to, of course, the sister that was abducted as a child. And the Cigarette-Smoking Man's playing all the cards here.

[Mulder asks where she is but CSM says the man who had the information has disappeared. CSM walks to the nurse's station and asks to see Mrs. Mulder.]

I don't know, see. I don't know if I'd trust that guy in that hospital with her, although I suppose there's nothing to do if she's about to die.

[Elsewhere, Scully is searching on her computer, looking for information of Jeremiah Smith. Her search shows five men with the same name and face, but all in different parts of the country.]

So now we start to see there's not just two Jeremiah Smiths out there, there's hundreds of them, all over infiltrating all kinds of departments of the government in different parts of the country. Clearly this is a disturbing piece of information.

[Scully picks up her phone and dials Mulder's number. Mulder is sitting in his car in a parking lot. His phone reads "no service".]

You know, in The X-Files, that little shot of the phone saying "no service", that's a good example of how a lot of the storytelling was done through clever inserts and uses of just visuals. I mean, a lot of the storytelling is very visual although the writing was always excellent, still you had to make sure that a lot of these key story points were noted in a visual manner as well.

[Mulder has got out of the car and is confronted by X who asks for the object Mulder found in the summer house.]

These two guys really did like each other, they really enjoyed working together, but they were always forever at each other's throats and always were ever battling away.

[The two fight, very intense.]

Oh. Oh. Oh. David always liked to do his own stuff whenever he could. I mean, there were occasions with stuff like jumping off of bridges onto trains and things where we finally just had to tell him no, we couldn't. But fights and things like that, as much as he could, he liked to do his own stunts. He's very athletic, he was also very fast, you know, you'd try and do his… I remember trying to shoot a scene with him running down an alleyway and I had a golf cart that I was going to track alongside of him, well, he got round that golf cart so fast that he, like, disappeared into the night, so we ended up having to be on the back of a pickup truck to actually keep up with the guy.

[They end up aiming their guns at each other. Mulder says that if X shoots him, he'll never find it. Eventually they walk away, X saying that Mulder is a dead man, one way or the other.]

It's amazing how Mulder was able to keep himself alive all those years with all these enemies out to get him. He never could turn a corner.

[Scully arrives back at her apartment. She picks up her phone and dials, but is interrupted by a knock at the door.]

Now, if I were Scully, and I heard that knock, I'd be understandably nervous.

[It's Jeremiah Smith. She takes out her gun and lets him in, keeping the gun trained on him.]

So, who is this, is this the good Jeremiah or one of the bad Jeremiahs, or is there a good Jeremiah? The great thing about Roy Thinnes was he has such a gentle, nice quality about him. He was able to play this character in such a way that it was hard not to trust him, given the circumstances that they're in.

[The phone rings, it's Mulder, driving in his car. Scully tells him Jeremiah Smith is with her and he tells her to get out of her apartment and meet him at Bond Mill Road.]

This was a lumber mill in North Vancouver and this became one of those great cliffhangery episodes again. This was the end of season 4, or season 3, excuse me, this was the end of season 3 and Chris and the gang, the writers, always designed these stories in such a way that people really wanted to come back after the summer to find out what was gonna happen to their heroes. So we wanted to leave them in the most dangerous, threatening situation.

[Scully and Jeremiah Smith meet up with Mulder. Mulder is suspicious of Smith who says he has a long and complicated story to tell. Mulder says that first he wants Smith to go with him to see his mother. Smith nods but then another car arrives.]

You probably know who that is, I mean you know it's not good, and we also know that he has bad intentions.

[The Alien Bounty Hunter gets out of that car and takes out the stiletto. Smith tells Mulder and Scully that the bounty hunter is here to kill him.]

Oh, got to come back after the summer.

["To Be Continued"]