Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man


Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man
"Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man"
The X-Files episode
Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man TXF.jpg
The Cigarette Smoking Man and Deep Throat standing in front of an alien
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 7
Directed by James Wong
Written by Glen Morgan
Production code 4X07
Original air date November 17, 1996 (Fox)
Guest stars
Episode chronology
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"Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" is a 1996 episode of The X-Files television series. It was the seventh episode broadcast in the show's fourth season. "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" features Frohike finding a magazine story that he believes reveals the history of the Cigarette Smoking Man.

Contents

Plot

The Smoking Man, armed with a sniper rifle and surveillance equipment, spies on a meeting between Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, and the Lone Gunmen. Frohike claims to have discovered information about the Smoking Man's mysterious past, stating that his father was an executed communist spy and that his mother died of lung cancer, causing him to be raised in various Midwest orphanages.

The narrative changes to 1962. The Smoking Man is an Army captain stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He talks to a friend and fellow soldier, Bill Mulder, who shows him a photo of his infant son, Fox. The Smoking Man is summoned to attend a meeting with a general and several strange men in suits. They assign him to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. In 1963, posing as a "Mr. Hunt", the Smoking Man frames Lee Harvey Oswald and shoots Kennedy. Oswald kills J. D. Tippit and is arrested in the Texas Theatre as the Smoking Man watches.

In 1967, the Smoking Man writes a novel entitled Take a Chance: A Jack Colquitt Adventure, using the pen name "Raul Bloodworth." After hearing Martin Luther King, Jr. give a speech criticizing America's attitude towards the distribution of wealth at home and social revolutions abroad, the Smoking Man meets with a group of men, including J. Edgar Hoover. He convinces them to have King assassinated and volunteers to perform the task. In April 1968, he frames James Earl Ray and shoots King in Memphis, Tennessee. Shortly thereafter, a publishing company rejects his novel.

In 1991, the Smoking Man meets with subordinates, discussing his orchestration of the Anita Hill controversy and the Rodney King trial. He orders that the Buffalo Bills not win the Super Bowl. He further reveals his drugging of a Soviet goalkeeper to ensure the outcome of the "Miracle on Ice" hockey match. Before leaving the meeting, he surprises his subordinates by giving them Christmas presents. One of the Smoking Man's subordinates invites him for a family dinner. Although flattered, the Smoking Man declines the invitation and states that he is scheduled to visit family. He is next seen walking past Fox Mulder's office.

Later, while at home, the Smoking Man receives an urgent phone call from Deep Throat, who meets him near the site of a UFO wreck. An alien from the UFO is alive. Deep Throat and Smoking Man reminisce about the multiple times they changed the course of history. As per an agreement, they are required to immediately terminate the alien. However, neither wish to perform the act due to a crisis of conscience. They flip a coin over who is tasked to kill the alien survivor. Deep Throat loses, and thus reluctantly shoots the alien.

A few months later, in March 1992, the Smoking Man attends the meeting where Scully is assigned to the X-Files and eavesdrops on the agents' first meeting. In 1996, he receives a letter telling him that his novel will be serialized in the magazine Roman a Clef. He types up a resignation letter, and excitedly finds the magazine at a newsstand. However, he finds that the ending has been changed. Bitter, the Smoking Man sits on a bench with a homeless man, giving a monologue that puts a nihilistic spin on the "life is like a box of chocolates" line from Forrest Gump. He tears up his resignation letter and leaves the magazine at the bench.

Back in the present, Frohike tells Mulder and Scully that what he's told them is based on a story he found in a magazine he subscribes to. He leaves to verify the story. As he leaves, the Smoking Man has a clear shot. However, he decides not to kill him and quotes the last line from his unpublished novel: "I can kill you whenever I please, but not today."[1]

Production

The episode was inspired by the DC Graphic Novel Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography. Glen Morgan stated that he wanted the episode to show that the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) was the most dangerous human being alive.[2] The episode was the first in the series for which Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) did not appear on screen, and featured Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) only in archival footage from the "Pilot". The episode was not intended to give the actors a week off, but ended up that way, which Duchovny was very pleased with.[3] Davis was happy to have an episode of his own, but was puzzled at some of the contradictions in the script, such as having him assassinate John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, but being concerned with something as minor as keeping the Buffalo Bills from winning the Super Bowl. Chris Carter said "I had to speak with Bill several times; I spent hours with him on the telephone talking about the character something that it wasn't. I tried to explain to him, as I think Jim and Glen were trying to express, that even if your mission in life is a destroyer, that you still have some hope in the back of your mind that you can be a creator - and that this all of a sudden, this vanity, is his vanity. And we see that so clearly here and it makes him sort of a silly person."[3] Davis said of James Wong's direction, "Jim Wong's direction was a big help, too. A lot of the stage directions point toward farce, but Jim told me to play against that and just let the situation play out. The Forrest Gump scene was difficult, too. When I prepared it and did it the first time, I was almost Shakespearean in my approach. Jim made me toss it off more, and it worked fine."[3] Chris Owens who portrayed the Young Cigarette Smoking Man spent time watching how Davis smokes to ensure that he did it just like him. Owens later appeared as a young version of the Cigarette Smoking Man again in the episode "Demons" and as his son Jeffrey Spender.[3]

The episode contains several references to Morgan and Wong's former series Space: Above and Beyond including the name of the Cigarette Smoking Man's novel, Take a Chance, the reference to "classified compartmentalized" and the name Jack Colquitt. In addition, Morgan Weisser, who played Lee Harvey Oswald was an actor who appeared on that show.[3] U.N. Resolution 1013, quoted by Deep Throat, is a reference to Carter's birthday and production company.[3] Walden Roth, the editor who buys the Cigarette Smoking Man's novel, is a reference to 20th Century Fox executives Dana Walden and Peter Roth.[3] The Cigarette Smoking Man's ambition to be a novelist was based on Howard Hunt. [2]

Producer J.P. Finn coordinated the sequence where the Cigarette Smoking Man assassinates John F. Kennedy. It was filmed in a downtown Vancouver, Canada location doubling for Dealey Plaza. The show's costume designer contacted the costume designer for the film JFK and borrowed a reproduction of Jackie Kennedy's pink suit used in the film. The Lincoln Continental limousine ridden by Kennedy was created by picture vehicle coordinator Nigel Habgood.[3] The episode was originally intended to end with the Cigarette Smoking Man killing Melvin Frohike, but the show's executive staff vetoed the idea.[2]

Reception

This episode earned a Nielsen household rating of 10.7, with a 15 share. It was viewed by 17.09 million people.[4] Few viewers picked up on the notion that the events of this episode were not necessarily factual. Story editor Frank Spotnitz said "In the closing scene Frohike tells Mulder and Scully that the whole story was something he read in a crummy magazine. A lot of people didn't pick up on that subtlety. They thought that this was indeed the factual history of the CSM. As far as I'm concerned, it's not. Some of it may indeed be true, and some of it may - well, never mind."[3]

James Wong earned the show's first ever Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for this episode.[5]

Author Phil Farrand was critical of the episode, rating it as his fifth least favorite episode of the first four seasons. He criticized the episode for being uninteresting in the first half, the usage of the John F. Kennedy assassination being cliche, and the fact that viewers didn't have any way of knowing whether the content of the episode really happened. [6]

Footnotes

  1. ^ Meisler,Andy (1998). I Want to Believe: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 3. Harper Prism. pp. 75–82. 
  2. ^ a b c Hurwitz, Matt, Knowles, Chris (2008). The Complete X-Files. Insight Editions. pp. 94–96. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Meisler,Andy (1998). I Want to Believe: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 3. Harper Prism. pp. 82–83. 
  4. ^ Meisler,Andy (1998). I Want to Believe: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 3. Harper Prism. p. 298. 
  5. ^ "Primetime Emmy Awards Advanced Search". Emmys.org. http://www.emmys.org/awards/awardsearch.php. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  6. ^ Farrand, Phil (1997). The Nitpickers Guide to the X-Files. Dell Publishing. p. 222,289–290. 

External links


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