Transcript of the DVD Audio Commentary by Kim Manners for the episode 'Patient X'

Transcribed by: Libby
Edited by: X_Follower

[Mulder's monologue.]

Hi, this is Kim Manners. This is an episode called 'Patient X' which I directed, up in Vancouver. There's a great Russian acting community in Vancouver, British Columbia, and we tapped into that resource and really some fine, talented actors out of the USSR I believe at the time, and they had defected and somehow gotten to Canada. But these two boys are Russians.

[Dmitri and his friend see a bright light come down from the sky. They return to a clearing where the other members of their group were and see burning cars.]

This was tricky because we've had children working with these burning cars, we had to be very, very careful. We had huge safety precautions. There were guys with extinguishers all around the camera, all around these kids, stunt guys ready to go in and get them. These are all propane fires, these burning cars, and it took forever to get them lit. I wanted to run this shot here, I wanted the camera right through the flame, so we had to fireproof the camera. I've got a half a million dollar camera on a crane, wrapped in asbestos, and we were running it right through the flames. They all thought I was crazy.

[The boys see a man who is on fire.]

This is a very dangerous gag. It's called a full burn, and this man is wearing a fire suit and you're going to light him, and we probably did a 25 or 30 second burn for that shot, which is considered a very long time because he can't breathe, obviously, if you breathe in that fire that's the end of you, so it's really tough and it gets awful darned hot. They cover him in a fireproof gel but, hell, I would rather direct than be on fire.

[Next day, UN vehicles arrive.]

Veronica Cartwright and I, when I was a child actor years and years ago, we worked together on something. We both remembered it but we never did figure out what it was.

[Marita Covarrubias gets out of a vehicle. Soldiers are extinguishing the remnants of the fires. Dmitri is watching them secretly when men arrive. The leader of these men is Krycek, who speaks to him in Russian.]

Nick Lea was so nervous doing this. He had to learn Russian which is a very difficult language and he worked very, very hard to pull this off, both he and Laurie Holden who plays Marita Covarrubias.

[Krycek and Marita dispute jurisdiction over the situation. Krycek and his men take Dmitri away. Elsewhere, a video of Cassandra talking about her abduction experiences is shown at a conference.]

This is one of those scenes that as a director can scare you to death. You've got a bunch of people sitting on a panel. Nobody moves, and they're going to talk for four or five pages of dialogue, so you've got to shoot a lot of coverage, move the camera, you've got to keep it alive so that the editors will get plenty of film to work with. Different sizes - loose, wide, tight, mediums.

[Panel members respond to what Cassandra has said. Mulder argues against the view that there are extraterrestrials making contact with humans, and asserts that Cassandra's story is the result of the power of suggestion.]

This is the point where Mulder's character… I think that the FBI put up so many roadblocks for Mulder here that now he's starting, he's already started, he's now doubting everything that he used to believe in. And this was quite a challenge for David and Gillian, who was always the skeptic, now suddenly it's David. And it was a challenge for me to find the correct way to play this.

[The panel question Mulder's new views that there is no conspiracy with aliens, just a government agenda.]

I guess Mulder believed that he was set up as the mouthpiece to spread that idiocy of little green men and I guess this is for Mulder… he's trying to break that, I guess he feels he was a stooge here.

[At the end of the conference, Mulder talks with a member of the audience, Dr. Heitz Werber. Mulder says he's come to distrust the memories Dr. Werber helped him to recover.]

This was a big turn for this show.

[Dr. Werber thinks that, despite Mulder's doubts, Patient X is credible. He is her doctor, and he suggests that Mulder meets her and that he might change his mind.]

[Tunguska Gulag, Russia.]

This is a set that we built at North Shore Studios, they did a fantastic job building this Russian gulag and we had a lot of fun shooting it. The light was gray and it was so dark, it was so dank, it's just scary. Graeme Murray, he was a fantastic production designer. He always did terrific work. But then we all had the luxury of the proper tools and the proper money and it was a wonderful experience to work on a show that Chris Carter just nurtured; a feature experience every week on television, it was quite a privilege to be part of that.

[Krycek issues orders to a doctor to begin experiments on Dmitri. The boy is in a bad condition, having been beaten. While the doctor is examining Dmitri, Krycek takes a vial of liquid from the doctor's tray.]

And there was the vaccine. This was the vaccine that supposedly will counteract the Purity, the black oil.

[The doctor tells Dmitri that they will be carrying out a test on him.]

[Dr. Werber takes Mulder to see Patient X, Cassandra Spender, in her hospital room. She is delighted to meet Mulder. She says he's a hero and relates what she knows about Duane Barry. She says she has been a multiple abductee for years.]

This shot, this shot shocked Veronica Cartwright - she said, 'you're not really going to get that tight on me now, are you?' I said, 'Yes, Veronica, I really am. Welcome to The X-Files.' (laughs)

[Mulder suggests that Cassandra checks herself out of the hospital and start living her life. Cassandra disagrees as she's experiencing the sensation that she will be abducted again soon. She tells Mulder that the various alien nations are in upheaval. Mulder says that Duane Barry died at the hands of men from the government. Cassandra says Mulder is the man who can do something about the aliens. Mulder refutes that.]

[In the gulag, Dmitri has been put on a bed and covered with chicken wire.]

This was very, very difficult. These are steel beds that we built, covered this young boy in chicken wire.

[Black oil drips down onto him and the oil enters his nose and mouth.]

As I recall the story, all these actors from Russia were very, very big on stage in Russia.

[Inside the ship, Krycek takes water to Dmitri whose eyes and mouth have been sewn shut.]

This was a set again in North Shore - no, no, this was a warehouse in an industrial complex in Vancouver, and we turned it into the bowels of the ship. And this young boy, now his eyes were sewn closed, his nose, his ears, his mouth. He worked 12 hours, 14 hours, all day long and he had no idea where he was, and when they dismissed him at the end of the day, he went to the make-up trailer, it took almost 2 hours to take his make-up off, and he came back to the set - we were still shooting - and I said, 'What are you still doing here?' He said, 'I just wanted to see where I've been all day.' This boy could not see at all, he could not open his mouth, we've put a very small straw through his lips to give him any water. I had to literally move his head so that he knew where to look because his ears were sealed, it was… so… it was horrible.

[Spender talks to Scully, because he can't reach Mulder. He tells her about his mother, Cassandra, and says he would prefer that Mulder not talk to her.]

A big moment for The X-Files here. Meeting Jeffrey Spender, finding out that Veronica Cartwright is his mother. We'll later find out that Bill Davis is his father. Eventually find out that he and Mulder in fact are half-brothers as The Smoking Man is also Mulder's father.

[Spender says that his mother is a very disturbed woman.]

[Marita reports to the elders, having returned from Kazakhstan.]

This, I think, is the first time we had a woman in the Syndicate room and I wanted to make Laurie, or Marita Covarrubias, her character, I wanted to make her as strong as these men, these images of these men that were in control of almost everything the government was doing at the time, and it was kind of interesting.

[Marita shows them two implants that had been removed from victims. She speculates that what happened wasn't planned by the aliens but was set in motion as an act against the Syndicate and their plans. She tells them that Krycek was at the burn site and that he captured a boy.]

If you'll notice in a sequence like this, there really is no master, we did some wide shots, but the whole secret to the Syndicate was to pack the frame with images of these powerful men, and introducing Marita Covarrubias into this setting was interesting, again there was very little movement with the actors so you needed a lot of angles, a lot of sizes so that editorially you could keep a scene like that interesting. Because, again, there's a lot of exposition, there's a lot of storytelling in that Syndicate office and you have to listen carefully, or you've got to keep your audience interested, so you need interesting angles and packed frames and a lot of film.

[Scully and Mulder. Mulder explains his change of mind to Scully. Scully points out that Cassandra Spender was abducted at Skyland Mountain, the same place Duane Barry took her. Later, at Skyland Mountain, a stream of cars drive along the road.]

We were very lucky, we got this shot on take one. If we were to have had to back these cars up, we'd have been there forever.

[A man arrives at the toll gate, later than the others.]

This was shot at… this is kind of the Hollywood back lot of Vancouver, it's called the GVRD, the Greater Vancouver Water District, and it's a demonstration forest and everybody that shoots up there, if you need the forest, this is where you go, and I believe they've just closed it to filming recently. But I've spent many, many, many nights up there, not only on The X-Files but on almost every series I've ever shot in Vancouver.

[Scully visits Cassandra in her hospital room. Cassandra says she remembers Scully.]

This is a big turn for Scully here, because she's now feeling the connection with Cassandra Spender and she knows that chip in the back of her neck has now got something to do with an alien, something to do with aliens, real aliens.

[Cassandra says that the aliens have so much to teach us, and suggests that Scully was taken because she is a healer.]

[The driver who stopped at the toll gate now makes his way to the top of Skyland Mountain. Through the fog he sees burning cars.]

This is back up at the GVRD. Driving through the forest and our stunt coordinator, Tony Morelli, he's going to come out and do a spontaneous burn here.

[The driver stops and sees a frightened man running frantically towards him shouting for help.]

That's Tony right there, and he's about to go up in smoke.

[A faceless man reaches the car and sets the frightened man on fire.]

Poor guy, we had to light him about half a dozen times to get those different angles because I had to do a reverse, normally when you do a burn like that you just get three or four cameras out and they don't look at each other, but when I had to do it, a direct reverse to get the driver's reaction, so we had to keep lighting Tony on fire, put him out, light him up again.

[Next morning. Officials are at the site. Scully reports on the investigation so far to Mulder.]

This was a huge show, this opened a whole new chapter now with the faceless aliens, aliens that had mutilated their own faces so that they could not be infected with the Purity or the black oil. This was a huge turn for the series, not only for David's and Gillian's characters but for the entire evolution of the mythology.

[Scully asks Mulder for his theory. He says no, he's going to give an explanation.]

[Back with the Syndicate. They don't know what has happened. Claim of sabotage. They need to stop it before the colonists intervene.]

[News report on the mass deaths. Scully visits Cassandra who says the mass deaths were not supposed to happen. She knew the people who died. She tells Mulder he has to stop it but she doesn't know who is responsible.]

[Spender and Mulder meet. Spender tells him his mother was in a UFO cult who believed they were going to be carried to immortality. Scully glances back into Cassandra's room and sees fingerprints on the window in the shape of a constellation.]

These fingerprints on the glass are a constellation, I believe, that Scully's now recalling, that maybe that might have been where they put the chip in her neck when she was abducted.

[Unbeknownst to Mulder and Scully, they walk past Quiet Willy, one of the elders, who walks into Cassandra's room.]

[Back on the ship. Marita approaches Dmitri's cell where Krycek is giving him some water. Krycek grabs her and they kiss passionately. Marita leads him away, leaving Dmitri unguarded.]

[Scully's bedroom. Night. Through the window she sees the constellation in the night sky. She looks at it then feels the back of her neck.]

Here's the constellation.

[Krycek walks through the ship and opens Dmitri's cell door, to find that the boy is not there. Then the Well-Manicured Man arrives and asks where the boy is.]

I think you can tell almost all these sets, when you see the light shining, rays of light, almost all these sets are somewhat smoked up, we worked in smoke constantly to get that light to bleed through that top window there, even in Mulder's office, there was always either a thin layer of smoke or a thick layer of smoke.

[X-Files office. Mulder shows Scully x-rays of random victims, each with small pieces of metal in the neck. Scully suggests he shouldn't rule out what Cassandra says.]

That was a huge moment for Scully's character right there.

[Marita phones Mulder. She mentions Kazakhstan. She has a lead. He is to go to a phone booth and await her call for directions but is distracted when she sees the oil seeping from the boy's eyes and mouth. Subsequently Mulder goes to the phone booth where he sees traces of the black oil.]

This is in a place called Burnaby, outside of Vancouver. There's a psychological hospital here, this is part of their property, a psychiatric hospital, and we shoot there quite often. It's very institutional and we use it for government buildings, hospitals, psychiatric lockdowns, we shot a lot there.

[Mulder phones Cassandra's room. Spender answers. Mulder is looking for Scully. Spender says she's not there, neither is his mother.]

[The bridge.]

Now this sequence, we shot this up in north of Vancouver at a huge lake behind that dam, and it was quite cold. There was a big crane shot here over this bridge, and the people that ran this facility for us, they kept turning the dam water on, every time I'd look toward the dam they'd turn the water on for me. This was really quite a fun sequence to shoot. We had a helicopter with what they call a night sun on it and when we introduced the spacecraft here, that helicopter would come fly over a hill and keep his night sun trained right in our lens so that it kept flaring out the lens and then Paul Rabwin and all of his visual boys, they got ahold of it and they did the visual effect that turned the helicopter into a spaceship. It was really a lot of fun to shoot this.

[Scully arrives at the bridge, walking through the crowd.]

Chris Carter directed part two of this episode, called 'The Red And The Black', and we actually built this entire bridge and that transmission house the spaceship's about to fly over, we built it on a sound stage. The only thing we didn't have was that water flowing behind them. So we recreated the entire bridge on a stage for Chris' show, Red and Black.

[The single light now changes to many smaller lights.]

Now it's that light right there, that interactive light, that's on a crane that we're floating over the top of the bridge.

[Everyone watches as the lights fly over and past them. Scully sees Cassandra with the elder Quiet Willy. Suddenly they see a man who is on fire. Faceless men then arrive. People are screaming and trying to get away.]

["To Be Continued"]