Transcript of the DVD Audio Commentary by John Shiban for 'The Pine Bluff Variant'

[Transcribed by: X_Follower
Edited by: Libby]

Hi, this is John Shiban. I was co-producer of The X-Files during Season 5 and I wrote this episode you're watching called 'The Pine Bluff Variant'.

[Mulder is running through a park.]

This was supposed to be Folger Park in Washington, DC. There's the Capitol. This was actually shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. We chose this park because of the cherry blossom to match Washington, DC and the Capitol Dome was put in... those are CGI shots that we did two of, there, which worked pretty well.

[In the surveillance truck.
Skinner: Mulder, make for the west entrance.]

I always wanted to do a story that was a thriller and a great thing about The X-Files is that you can do different genres. We did comedies, we did horror, we did drama, we did the... the paradigm of The X-Files can stretch to do a lot of things and we hadn't done a thriller like this in a long time or ever at this time and I was inspired by the movie 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold', the Martin Ritt movie from 1965, based on the John le Carré novel, and I actually had been thinking about doing a story like this for a long time. I had a three by five card up on my bulletin board in my office that said 'Mulder undercover'. And a couple of years went by before we found the right moment in the history of the show to do it.

[Skinner: Hold your positions.]

I was inspired by that and I was inspired by the movie 'Heat' which had a lot of good action sequences and some surveillance sequences and we talked about just doing something very different from the beginning. In fact, what's great about this to me is from the start you're questioning Mulder. And that was the thing about Season 5. I'm starting with the season ender from the previous year and 'Redux' and 'Redux II', the two episodes that started where Mulder has faked his own suicide. There's a tension between Mulder and Scully from the beginning of the season. And that was the idea, to sort of mix it up, and so that we don't know... Scully doesn't know whether to trust Mulder in a way this season. She doesn't know what his motives are and she's still dealing with her cancer, so... of course, his motives were pure, he was trying to find a cure for her cancer as well as the truth but that environment was perfect for this episode.

[Still in the surveillance truck.
Scully: What's happening?
Skinner: I don't know what the hell happened.]

The way this is shot, too, was very different for an X-File. Rob Bowman directed it and did an amazing job. You can look at all the pieces that are in this teaser which is the piece that starts the show before the main credits.

[Skinner: Go, go, go!]

The long lens surveillance-type shots mixed in with Steady-Cam shots mixed in with traditional close-ups... it just makes for really exciting... there, there's action Mulder. We like to say 'Action Mulder' when we were coming up with these stories and the great thing about Mulder is that... and about David Duchovny... is you can... he can play a lot of roles. He can... he's great with comedy, he's great with action, he's great with the cool, sort of detached cynical character that Mulder is. But it was always a pleasure to see, to get him out there running, get him to... in fact, I understand he quite enjoyed this episode because he got to play a different side of Mulder. This is all about paranoia and so is The X-Files in a lot of ways. Um, but what was exciting about this story for all of us was that this is Scully... the first half of this story is Scully's paranoia about Mulder. And it's set up here in the teaser where she sees him do something that is very un-Mulder-like which is apparently conspire with this terrorist.

[Scully running through the park, seeing Mulder standing by a car.]

This shot here is actually not David Duchovny, it's his double. Unfortunately, when you're on a TV schedule you have to pick up shots at different times and sometimes the principals are off shooting the next episode already so we had to do that piece without Mulder. It works... it works pretty well, though, in the context, I don't think you would notice.

[Scully: What do you mean?
Mulder: He got away.]

[Main titles]

The thing about 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold' is that it's an intricate mystery, lies upon lies upon lies. The audience doesn't know who to believe and we were trying to do that here in 43 minutes which is the running time of the television show... real time, not counting the commercials. And I think we did a terrific job of telling this kind of intricate story. The first half is, in a lot of ways, is Scully's. And it starts with this scene that you're watching right now that, uh... she wants to know the truth from Mulder, and Scully's character is such that she would just ask him. And what is I think shocking to the audience and to... and part of the fun of this is that Mulder won't tell her. He's got a secret. And in the context of Season 5, you really believe that might be true. Um, this episode also calls back to an episode... I think it was number 13 called 'Patient X' where Mulder spoke at a UFO conference and that was kind of... and that's actually spoken about during the course of the show, as the point where possibly Mulder was recruited by these government-hating domestic terrorists to join them and that's actually mentioned later by our bad guys.

[Joint FBI/CIA Counter-Terrorism Council. Amongst the many people are Mulder, Scully and Skinner.]

One thing that I also... to keep an eye out in this episode, and again in praise of Rob Bowman, it has a very movie-like feel. And if you look at the wide shots contrasted with the long lens tight shots that he does a lot of tie-ins, it's really amazingly directed especially considering that you shoot these things in about 8 days where you shoot your average movie in maybe three, four, five, ten times that, so it was really a pleasure. The other thing that is special and a little different when you look at other X-Files in that season and throughout is the score by Mark Snow. He chose a very sort of thriller-like... where I would characterize The X-Files as usually having a haunting and moody, scary type of music. This drives throughout which I was very pleased with and I think it works very well.

This character that is leading the briefing, this character that is leading the briefing is US Attorney Leamus and the name Leamus actually is from 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold'. That was the name of the character that Richard Burton played in that movie. That was my little nod to that. Myself and the other writers like to put in little nods in these things whenever we can. I'll point out a couple as we go.

The title 'Pine Bluff Variant' comes a little from truth. There is a government lab in Pine Bluff, Arkansas that up until the late 60s was part of the bioweapons program in the United States. And as mentioned in the episode, as much in the episode that lab was... the bioweapons program was shut down by President Nixon but the speculation that we're doing here is that maybe it wasn't. This harkens back to something that Chris Carter has been saying since the beginning of the show, which is it's only as scary as it's real. So, we make a lot of effort and do a lot of research to try to give the illusion that this could be happening. I was pleased with the response, the Internet response that I got to this episode because a lot of people said things like 'oh, yeah, vampires are scary but I don't think I'm gonna meet a vampire, but this thing could really happen, this could happen to me'.

[Leamus: The media gets a sniff, we're going to disavow.]

Watching this episode again in light of the World Trade Center attack sort of underscores... I tell you the truth, it's a creepy feeling because as a writer and storyteller you try to push the envelope and make things as scary as possible and when they come true, it makes you think about your role as a storyteller. I still believe drama is supposed to face those things in the world that are scary. It's how we deal with it.

[A movie theater. A man, Bremer, walks up to the ticket booth outside.]

This movie theater is a real theater, the Dunbar is in Vancouver. The actress playing the ticket-taker is Kate Braidwood, daughter of Tom Braidwood who plays Frohike on our show. She actually read for the part and was very good so we cast her - Frohike's daughter.

[The foyer of the theater.]

This kind of shot here I love and it's very Rob Bowman, that wide shot in the lobby that sets a mood. I remember him calling me from the set saying 'I just did a Kubrik shot. You're gonna love it,' and in a lot of ways it is. It's unconventional for television but it really works to set this man Bremer who is the bad guy, August Bremer, just makes him scary to the audience because, placing him in that environment, putting some distance to him, has that effect. And these kind of shots are so efficient that go from an close-up to this tight on this little canister. Really careful about props on The X-Files.

[Outside a motor court.]

Oh, I should say this Aaron Burr Motor Court was my little nod to the history books there for another American traitor. I'm hoping people got that, I assume a lot did. The whole idea in this episode is: is Mulder a traitor, and it's fun to make those little comments whether in character names or place names, etc.

[Mulder drives up to the motel lobby to check in. Scully pulls in a little way behind and watches him enter the office.]

This is a motel that we've actually used several times in The X-Files, if you watch the show carefully. Vancouver is a great place to shoot. There are a lot of locations to choose from but sometimes when you try to match America you end up using the same places again and again because there aren't that many motels in the same style that we have in the States, etc., that kind of thing.

[Mulder is on the phone with Haley.]

The character that Dan Von Bargen plays, Jacob Haley, who is talking to Mulder right now, is Mulder's contact with the domestic terrorist group called the New Spartans. He's done a lot of movie acting, he actually has a role in the Fox show 'Malcolm in the Middle'. He's a terrific actor.

[Back to the exterior of the movie theater.]

We're back at the Dunbar theater and my inspiration actually for this moment... I spent many years working as an usher at various movie theaters in Los Angeles and I always wanted to do something in a theater. We were a little nervous about this moment because one thing Chris is always talking about, we always try to do on The X-Files, is keep it from looking like a conventional horror movie, again, to keep it real, the more real it is the scarier it'll be. And I think that's true. But the make-up department and the way that Rob Bowman shot this I think worked tremendously well. 'Die Hard With A Vengeance' is what's playing on this screen because it's a Fox movie. To be perfectly honest, we can get it cheap so we picked that. It also had a terrorist theme to it so it fit.

[In the motel lobby, Scully speaks to the manager, referring to a Mr. Kaplan.]

Here's another little nod of mine. We hear the name George Kaplan here as Mulder's alias. And that is a nod to 'North by Northwest'. That's the mysterious character that Cary Grant is following and is mistaken for in that movie. It's another one of my little references.

[The phone in Mulder's room rings and he picks it up. It's Bremer.]

And here's the point when Mulder gets fully sucked in. He is inside, the terrorists have accepted his excuse for what happened in the park and why they were nearly caught. And now he's going to be taken into their inner sanctum. And this is when the story begins to shift although not until later in this act do we completely go to Mulder's side of things but up until now, through this scene I should say, we're still in Scully's head and this is still: is Mulder a traitor? Is he... has he gone that far and this is the moment now... this is what we call an act-out. When you do a TV show as opposed to a movie... movies have acts as well but in TV they're divided by commercial breaks, what we call an act-out when we're boarding the story, building the story, outlining, is you want to engage the audience and to bring them back so they'll want to know what happened. And this is a perfect example of it. Men with guns and coming out to stop Scully... what does it mean, is it the terrorists, is it the government, is she in trouble? We don't know and it's a good place to end an act because hopefully then the audience says: 'wait, I've got to tune in to see what happens, and we do'.

[Scully is being escorted down a hallway by four men. They stop at a door. Inside the room are Leamus and Skinner.]

Again, we're in Vancouver. This was a building downtown, and our art department came in and actually painted the hallway and this entire office. Graeme Murray's palette and this deep green, really, it's interesting to me because not only is it spooky but it gives it a government feel, it gives it an officialdom feel and he was very good at that, at playing with the palette of the show but keeping it dark and moody at all times. This is the scene here where the first deception is sort of unveiled. And this is... Scully learns that Mulder is undercover, but what's fun and what we've tried to do is make this seem the truth. And it is the truth to a certain extent as far as Skinner's concerned but as you learn, as you peel back the onion you see more layers in this thing and hopefully you're shocked at the end to learn that this isn't the whole truth. Of course, on The X-Files we were blessed with an amazing cast and not only the principals but we had some excellent casting people who always found great guest cast and you'll see actually that we used some of the same people several times because of that, because when you find a good actor, you try to keep him.

[Scully: Including letting this man Haley get away with murder? Sir, we know nothing about this bioweapon. We don't know what they want to use it for.]

I've been on The X-Files... I started at the top of Season 3 and we, the show, has grown not only technically, I think, the technology's gotten better, the digital technology's gotten better, the effects that are in here, the CGI of the Capitol Dome, the man with the flesh-eating bacteria that you saw in the teaser was also CGI. That kind of thing's gotten so much better in a small amount of time, it's amazing to me. But what also happens because the show was such a success, as it continues you need to find ways to make it grow in directions that are unexpected and interesting to keep it alive, and also to keep your actors interested to be perfectly honest. You don't want to play the same thing every week and what I think is great about this episode is that both Scully and Mulder, David and Gillian, got to play different things for their characters.

[Mulder, blindfolded, his hands being strapped to a table top.]

This moment here, the torture of David, is something I... not the torture of David personally, I want to deal with the torture of Mulder, we just wanted to do an intense scene. This line here, by the way, that he says, 'Is this the Pepsi Challenge?', was David Duchovny's improvisation and we loved it so much we put it in the show. David actually did a lot of that over the years. He came up with some great Mulder lines that we would use but other things that have changed... so, what I was saying was as the show grew and has grown and the characters have changed, we tried to challenge ourselves and the actors with the new direction like Season 5 which did have a lot of distance between Mulder and Scully, opened up, dealt with Scully's cancer in new ways. If you don't do that... Chris Carter's feeling and our feeling was that if you don't mix it up even though sometimes the audience worries that the show's gonna change, if you don't mix it up I think the show stagnates and wouldn't have continued on to be as successful and as good as it was. I always loved that head butt and David, I believe, loved doing that too, it's something you never see on The X-Files but it's very cool for Mulder to have that kind of guts. You want a hero like that. I thought this scene in particular was marvelously edited by Lynne Willingham just to keep the tension going and to make your stomach hurt for grabbing the man's finger and breaking it. We had a quite a debate among the writing staff over which finger was the scariest, whether it was the thumb or the fourth finger and we finally... I went for the pinky because it was so easy to break and somehow it just seems so fragile but that's the kind of stuff you talk about when you... for hours and hours... when you are on the writing staff on The X-Files... what's the scariest 'this', what's the most disgusting 'that' - so it's a fun job in that way, it really is if you have a slightly twisted point of view. When we broke the finger in act two, we didn't anticipate that it would become so important but as we actually started shooting, and one thing about shooting a television show is you need a new script every eight days because you have to fill 20 to 22, 24 episodes of television so the crew keeps shooting and the staff keeps writing. And we were still working on the script, I was still rewriting as we were shooting and there was a plot point that we just couldn't quite figure out. I remember talking to Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz and how would Scully recognize Mulder in act four on the videotape that is taken at the bank robberies. And suddenly it just occurred to us, 'wait a minute, that finger, he broke his finger', so we have a cast. That's one of the serendipitous things that happens a lot especially in television because you don't have the time always to outline as much as you'd like or to write as carefully as you'd like and you have to keep making it better as you go.

[Inside the movie theater, Scully and Skinner shine their flashlights over the bodies which have now been covered with plastic sheets.]

I loved the way that this scene in the... Scully and Skinner search of the movie theater was handled. The danger in television and any sort of dramatic art, in the movie making, etc., you don't want to be too graphic that your audience is turned off but you want to be graphic enough that it's scary and impactful and one of the things that Rob did well here was cover the bodies in plastic and then use the famous Xenons, there is a specific Xenon flashlight that, sort of, The X-Files made famous and you see a lot on this show. That piercing light that cuts through the smoke. I thought that the way that was handled really, really played not only the scare but also allowed us to show it on television... there's Standards and Practices and they will, you know, prevent you from showing things that are too graphic although we often argue with them about what that means.

[Mulder enters his dark apartment. He closes the door and looks at his broken finger. He's startled when Scully speaks from the shadows.]

Now, here, toward the end of act two, again we're hoping to turn the tables on the audience and instead of just ending on this nice Mulder and Scully scene where they actually come together and Mulder in a way admits what's going on because Scully has been informed, but instead of letting the act end there and the audience think, 'okay, things are gonna be better because Mulder and Scully at least are talking now', you take it away from the audience by showing that August Bremer is indeed outside listening and we know our characters are in danger, even though they're in concert now.

[A view of Mulder's window. Then we see Bremer sitting in his van, listening to the conversation via a listening device. He's smoking a cigar.]

The X on the wall is a reference to earlier in the year when Mulder actually removed the X he used to put up whenever he would want to speak to Deep Throat or X, so that tape residue which in retrospect probably looks a little too obvious but that was our little nod to that moment and here you see that the bad guy really knows what's going on. The cigar was the actor's idea and I think it actually worked for his character, although it's something that never would have occurred to me but he said, 'Can I smoke a cigar in this scene?' and Rob said, 'Sure.'

[Mulder walks down the hallway and enters the briefing room.]

Well, you just saw a legend go by there saying FBI Headquarters, 3:14 a.m., that's another big thing we debate about in the writers' room about what's the right time to put on these legends and sometimes they mean something, sometimes they're birthdays, other times it's... it just sounds right, and 3:14 for some reason sounds better than 3:15. It's really a taste thing but it's one other writer thing we debate about. This scene, the part of the purpose of it is not only to drive the plot forward, to learn what the terrorists intend to do which is rob a bank, but it also plants the seed and it's in Skinner and you can see it right there. He begins to question Leamus' plan here. You know, he's protective of his agents, that's one of the great things about Skinner, even if he disagreed with Mulder and Scully, he's very protective of them and even though it's not his jurisdiction to alter this... he lets him know that he's worried about it. And this is not only... it's a writer's way of planting the seed that will later play off at the end of the show. And this nice ending shot of Mitch Pileggi as Skinner lets you know what's going on in his head really.

[Center for Disease Control.]

This is our patented Scully science lab scene which we do actually less and less over the years, again to mix up the show and do things differently. But she is a scientist and this is her specialty, and this is why she's on The X-Files in a lot of ways, and Gillian is very, very good at it, at playing these scientific mumbo-jumbo talk scenes. They're actually not only just for clarity but I think emotionally Scully is really concerned with this because to her this is the key, this is how you're gonna solve an X-File, is by the science.

[Tech: Dermal contact activates the contagion. It's ingenious in its own evil way.
Scully: Developed by the Russians?
Tech: I've seen everything in the Russian arsenal. They've got nothing this sophisticated.]

A couple of the shots in this scene where there are things on the monitor – we did what we call a burn-in because when the scene was shot by Rob Bowman in Vancouver, they didn't have the playback, what they call playback, which is what goes on the monitors, didn't have the materials, the cells dividing, etc., so what they do they project a little blue onto the screen and then later in post-production we actually burn-in or rotoscope in the image on that screen. That's one great thing that has changed over the years, is digital technology gets better and better, it makes it easier and easier to solve problems and fix errors and do things on a television show that you never could do before. So you do feel like you're watching a movie which is great and it's a challenge and a lot of fun for all of us to do a new movie every week.

[Another motel room. Mulder enters. Haley is there.]

Jacob Haley here, the Dan Von Bargen bad guy, says a very important line here which is another subtle clue that something else is going on in the show, where he talks about lies within lies and that was kind of the heart of the episode - what's the truth, who do you believe, who knows what and in a way everybody in this show, in this episode, is lying. Mulder's lying because he's not a sympathizer with these terrorists and this character Jacob Haley is lying because he suspects his leader August Bremer to be actually a government agent. And August Bremer is lying in a way that unfolds at the very end. So it's... we were afraid the audience might have some trouble following the lies within the lies actually but I think once... because we plot it so carefully and it was shot so well, I do believe that you're taking on the experience with those characters rather than running behind them and not understanding what's going on.

[Skinner's office. Scully and Skinner talk on the phone. Initially, the conversation takes place on speaker phone until Scully asks Skinner if he's along, which he isn't, so Skinner speaks into the handset so the other person, Leamus, cannot hear what Scully is saying.]

Oh, here, here, too, Skinner also... his suspicions mount because he keeps some information from Leamus. He has his lies as well. It's a very paranoid, it's a very paranoid story and it's taking the paranoia that is inherent in The X-Files to trust no one that ends every... that has been sort of behind the show for years, what I liked about this episode is that it makes it just about that, you can't trust anyone in this show, in this episode. It's sort of the... in a way... even though it's a stand-alone episode... what we call stand-alones versus mythology... mythology episodes dealing with... starting with Samantha's abduction and the conspiracy and the government, Cigarette-Smoking Man, Deep Throat, and then the stand-alones were the Monsters of the Week is what we call them. And even though this is the stand-alone it still plays on the basic themes of the show.

[Abandoned farm buildings. Inside a nearby greenhouse are lots of men with guns. Haley enters with Mulder. Bremer is already there.]

This location was fabulous. It's an abandoned greenhouse outside of Vancouver, actually near Vancouver airport. And Rob Bowman, when we were scouting, the minute that he saw those... the sheets of plastic that are hanging from the... I guess were arbors for the vines, etc., he saw those and that sort of became a theme that he had the art directors run through the show and keep the hanging plastic which... not to sound like a film student but it's hard to see through it, it obscures, it's, it's... and that's kind of what's behind this show. You'll see a lot of this hanging plastic, it's used at the end with the Hazmat team, it's used right there behind Mulder, it's used during the death march scene which is coming up, so it's a way to... and it was inspired by that location, it didn't occur to anybody until we saw that location and how cool that looked.

[Bremer tosses to Mulder a rubber Dracula mask.]

The terrorists use these masks and the Dracula mask actually was David's request. In the script, I wrote a wolfman mask. And he called us and said that Dracula was one of his favorite characters when he was growing up and could it be a Dracula mask and those masks were terrific, you see more of them very shortly as the bank is robbed, but it was a notion that was kind of inspired from a couple of sources, 'Clockwork Orange' probably the earliest one or 'The Killing' actually before that had masks, another Stanley Kubrik film. We were a little wary about it, we didn't want to look comical but these masks were just great and we went for the Christopher Lee sort of Dracula version. And I'd loved the skeletor mask that this fellow has, who is known in the script as the Skin-Head Man, the man who breaks Mulder's finger.

[Inside a bank. A man wheels a trolley on which are a number of money bags.]

This bank was a real depository in Vancouver that once held, I believe, several billion dollars. It was closed when we took over but all the vaults were real and the actual vaults in the place.

[A manager walks through the bank to where a security guard opens a security door. The manager walks through to the loading docks.]

This is an amazing shot that Rob Bowman designed and executed. It's one shot that takes you from that money all the way to bring the terrorists out of the van and not only is it artistically beautiful and filled with tension but it also makes it produceable on a television budget and schedule. Television is very tight. And to get this kind of scale he had to design some things that were done as what we call oners, which means one shot. And that's what that was and it works so well that you don't miss that you're not getting close-ups, or you're not getting things to cut to.

[The terrorists are now inside the bank.]

This bank robbery scene in particular for me at least as the writer was inspired by 'Heat' and a number of other bank robbery films. You always try to do things your own way, you always try to bring new wrinkles to it and obviously Mulder being in the middle of this and having to... how far does he go? That was what was interesting about this for all of us, which is how far would Mulder go? Will he let innocent people get killed? Will he kill an innocent person himself to keep his cover? It's, it's a great quandary and what comes up here is a different type of act-out. It's something we call a play-through and when this poor teller gets shot for trying to push the little red button there, which, actually, the button if you'll notice it's red and flashing. They added the flashing afterwards in post-production because you couldn't see it in the original shot, so that was a way to help tell the story again through digital technology.

[Haley orders Mulder to kill the teller, who tried to activate the alarm.]

But, here Mulder is faced with a dilemma and what we often try to do but usually change our minds at the last minute, is what's called the play-through which is the same piece of action... Mulder with the gun... aiming the gun at this man and when we come back after the commercial break which you'll see in just the second we're back where we left off. Those do not always work, to be honest, because it's sort of an old-style television, 'Mission: Impossible' kind of thing to do. Part of the problem for me at least is that when you do those this tension can go out, it doesn't feel real, you've been away from the show and you're coming back to this point, but I felt here it worked and we all agreed that it felt like the best thing to do because the tension was so high and you're moving so fast when you return that I don't think that the audience feel like they missed anything.

[Mulder aims the gun again.
In the vault, some money has been stuffed into bags, and Bremer sprays the rest of the money with an aerosol can.]

This, of course, is Mulder's moment of truth and will he shoot this man? And again, in a story about lies and deception somebody saves Mulder from that decision.

[Haley again tells Mulder to fire but Bremer steps in, saying that Mulder's gun is traceable. He pushes Mulder aside and fires his own gun.]

Part of the reason I chose money as the delivery system for this biotoxin as the centerpiece of this terrorist act, is again what Chris had always said to us which is 'it's only as scary as it's real'. And he actually said to me while we were boarding this story, 'I want people to open their wallet and be afraid to touch their money thinking there could be biotoxin on this.' There's actually research that shows that the most of the large bills in American circulation right now probably have microscopic bits of cocaine on them just because they'd been passed through some drug dealers' hands. And we wanted to play on that idea that it wouldn't take much. Again, it's scary in that America has been attacked by terrorists. In retrospect, it's kind of creepy to think that we talked about things like that but again, drama is here to deal with our fears and to help the audience deal with their fears.

[Later, back at the abandoned farm. A bonfire has been set. Mulder throws his Dracula mask into the flames. Then Bremer puts the stolen money on the fire as well.]

Again, here we are, August Bremer is burning the very money that they apparently robbed the place for and this is where we, where Mulder figures out that the whole idea of the heist was a deception. That it seemed like we were working toward that, that's what the FBI thought and the government thought but, nope, it's to put the biotoxin on the money to facilitate a larger terrorist act. And then another deception is revealed here. And this was a very hard scene to write actually because of the amount of twists and turns, where Jacob Haley now is accusing... he saves Mulder from being executed by Bremer, then he levels his accusations at Bremer, then Bremer counters with the tape of Mulder that he took from Mulder's apartment if you remember back at the end of act one. So it's a back-and-forth that can be convoluted and luckily I have... when you're a writer on this show, it's quite collaborative, we always give notes, help each other to make each other's scripts better and I can recall doing a lot of drafts of this one and getting a lot of notes trying to make this scene and this moment as strong as possible.

[Bremer plays part of the tape he made of the conversation between Mulder and Scully in Mulder's apartment.]

And this is the moment when, now, Haley realizes that Mulder has set him up and both of them are going to die.

[Scully enters the command centre and speaks to Leamus and Skinner.]

This is the moment I spoke about earlier where... how do we show Mulder's... how does Scully recognize Mulder on the tape? He's in a Dracula mask, she can't know that and that's where the inspiration of the broken finger came to us just about the last minute before they were gonna shoot. This is another example, too, of the efficient shooting of Rob Bowman. The first shot that shows you all the screens and brings Scully into the room... it's just wonderful and it makes it produceable.

[Scully moves to look at the monitors showing the security tape from the bank robberies.]

And now the deceptions are beginning to unravel and be exposed and it looks like, and what we want the audience to think is, now Mulder's in danger. And one of the things we did here was we didn't have her find the finger yet, we saved it so you leave the audience hanging - she doesn't know, will she know?

[Mulder and Haley kneeling on the ground. Bremer places a leather pouch of keys on top of Haley's head.]

This scene and the scene that follows we called Mulder's death march. Rob Bowman kept saying 'Mulder's death march', we talked a lot about it and actually we were all in a weird way excited to do because it's very hard in a returning TV series to put the audience in a frame of mind that they think a character, a main character, might get killed. So they know these are the stars, this is David Duchovny, he's gonna be back next week so kind of the trick is how do you make it as tension-filled as possible and solve that problem because the audience knows you're gonna solve it, they know you're gonna figure out a way to save Mulder because the show's, you know, coming back.

[Bremer has let Haley go. He marches Mulder off through the greenhouse, accompanied by the Skin-Head Man.]

This long Dolly-shot I think was the longest section of Dolly track ever set up at The X-Files before or since and it's very simple. All the coverage was done with this Dolly but it's just beautiful that it tracks through again these haunting layers of plastic.

[Mulder's point of view through the greenhouse.]

This was done with the Steady-Cam which is different than the Dolly and we try to use all of the tools of film-making that we can on The X-Files. But again, the trick here and I think it worked pretty well, is to make the tension for the audience be how do they solve this, how do they get Mulder out of this? And things look worse and worse and worse. And hopefully you have no suspicion at this point in the story that Bremer has a secret, too, and that's the heart of the show and that's kind of what was at the heart and what excited me about 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold', my original inspiration for this episode, in that it was the spy that Richard Burton is trying to catch actually turns out to be working for us, he's a bad man but he's working for us and it's something, it's a moral dilemma that, you know, that every country has to face, I mean, do you work with these types of people who swim in these dark waters in order to try to stop others? And that's kind of what Mulder has to face here.

[Bremer has made Mulder kneel down. The Skin-Head Man stands behind Mulder and cocks his gun. There's a gunshot, but it's from Bremer's gun and the Skin-Head Man falls to the ground.]

So August Bremer has saved Mulder, the very man that he started the show to thwart, the leader is actually, Mulder realizes, working undercover for the government. But again, there're still layers here that have yet to be uncovered.

[Mulder runs over a rise to a car that Bremer has parked there for him.]

I always liked that shot that leads Mulder away and I wish... one of the restraints of television is you're limited to about 43 minutes of screen time and in movies you can be more flexible and that shot went on for much longer and I wish we could have kept it but unfortunately the networks won't let you do that.

[Mulder has gone back to the bank, where plastic sheeting has been set up to contain the crime scene.]

Again the plastic that I talked about, just as a design element. And here's something coming up that is always a joy to write and to see for Scully's character because Scully's always been reasonable, scientific, very, very, very smart character and then every once while on the show we would allow her to get angry. And when she does, and Gillian is so good at it, not only is it shocking for us as audience members who love Scully to see her... what we like to say 'Scully taking names'. She gets in there and she goes off on the government lawyer here and it's always nice to see that in her. You don't want to see that every week, it's not Scully's personality, she's usually the rational one but it's great when it happens. And here we leave... what we liked to do often on The X-Files is not to answer all the questions for the audience and not...

[Scully: You knew about this all along! You knew about this the whole time!]

There, she is taking names... not, we don't always want to tie the loose ends and we left the audience with the moral dilemma here, and a question for Mulder, it's like do you... what are you trying to do, Mr. Mulder, with your quest for the truth? And if your quest for the truth means exposing this government operation that is trying ostensibly in theory to stop terrorists, are you gonna actually help terrorists? It's a very interesting quandary for the character of Mulder, it's something for the audience to consider and to me the best of The X-Files is that you can do that in the context of a fantasy, science fiction, whatever you want to call it, show that you can actually deal with real world dilemmas. How do you fight these people and do you fight them using their own weapons?

[A country road. Haley is driving, but the car starts to wander, then stop.]

And just our little denouement here, is the demise of Jacob Haley. As you recall, August Bremer gave him car keys that we hope the audience gets, and I think they do, that the car keys were tainted with the biotoxin. And here's some... we have a wonderful, we've always had great make-up departments on the show and once again you get a hint of what you know is there in the white flesh, and the last lie is supposedly exposed but hopefully the audience is left with some questions to ponder.

[End credits]

I was very, very happy with this episode. Not only in the directing and the acting and art-direction but also in where it fit in The X-Files, in the grand scheme of The X-Files. I felt there was a nice twist, a nice change of pace for Mulder and Scully and a nice place to step off for next week when hopefully the audience came back.

Thank you for watching.