all things

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"all things"
The X-Files episode
A redheaded woman is being inundated with bright, yellow light.
Dana Scully enters a mystical reverie. The episode was based on Gillian Anderson's belief in spirituality and Buddhism.
Episode no.Season 7
Episode 17
Directed byGillian Anderson
Written byGillian Anderson
Featured music"The Sky Is Broken"
Production code7ABX17[1]
Original air dateApril 9, 2000 (2000-04-09)
Running time45 minutes[2]
Guest actors
  • Colleen Flynn as Colleen Azar
  • Stacy Haiduk as Maggie Waterston
  • Stephen Hornyak as Dr. Paul Kopeikan
  • Victoria Faerber as First Nurse
  • Nicolas Surovy as Dr. Daniel Waterston
  • Carol Banker as Carol
  • Elayn Taylor as Second Nurse
  • Cheryl White as Third Nurse
  • Scott Vance as Healer[3]
Episode chronology
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"Chimera"
Next →
"Brand X"
List of The X-Files episodes
 
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"all things"
The X-Files episode
A redheaded woman is being inundated with bright, yellow light.
Dana Scully enters a mystical reverie. The episode was based on Gillian Anderson's belief in spirituality and Buddhism.
Episode no.Season 7
Episode 17
Directed byGillian Anderson
Written byGillian Anderson
Featured music"The Sky Is Broken"
Production code7ABX17[1]
Original air dateApril 9, 2000 (2000-04-09)
Running time45 minutes[2]
Guest actors
  • Colleen Flynn as Colleen Azar
  • Stacy Haiduk as Maggie Waterston
  • Stephen Hornyak as Dr. Paul Kopeikan
  • Victoria Faerber as First Nurse
  • Nicolas Surovy as Dr. Daniel Waterston
  • Carol Banker as Carol
  • Elayn Taylor as Second Nurse
  • Cheryl White as Third Nurse
  • Scott Vance as Healer[3]
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Chimera"
Next →
"Brand X"
List of The X-Files episodes

"all things" is the seventeenth episode of the seventh season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. It was written and directed by series co-star and lead actress Gillian Anderson. The installment is a "Monster-of-the-Week" episode, a stand-alone plot which is unconnected to the overarching mythology of The X-Files. Originally aired by the Fox network on April 9, 2000, "all things" received a Nielsen rating of 7.5 and was seen by 12.18 million viewers. The episode received mixed reviews from television critics, with many deriding the episode's pretentious dialogue and the characterization of Scully. However, the entry was generally well received by fans of the show.

The X-Files centers on Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents Mulder and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. Mulder is a believer in the paranormal, and the skeptical Scully was initially assigned to debunk his work, but the two have developed a deep friendship. In this episode, Scully is led by coincidences to Dr. Daniel Waterston (Nicolas Surovy), a married man with whom she had an affair during medical school, and a look at the life she did not choose, forcing her to make choices about her future. After Waterston slips into a coma, Scully decides to put aside her rational skepticism and find a medical alternative to save the man she once loved.

"all things" marked the first time series star Anderson had written an episode of The X-Files. Originally, Anderson's draft was fifteen pages too long and did not feature a fourth act, but after working with series creator Chris Carter and executive producer Frank Spotnitz, the script was finalized. The installment also marked the directing debut for Anderson as well as the first time a woman directed an episode of The X-Files. The cast and crew helped Anderson adjust to directing and were happy with the finished product. Anderson's directing style was later positively critiqued by crew members of the show. Furthermore, the episode has been analyzed for its themes of pragmatism and feminist philosophy.

Plot[edit]

FBI special agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is getting dressed in front of a mirror. As she leaves the bedroom, her partner Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) lies in his bed, half his body covered by bedsheets. Flashback to a few days earlier: a series of coincidences bring Scully into contact with her former professor, Daniel Waterston (Nicolas Surovy), with whom she had an affair during medical school. Scully has an existential crisis when she questions whether she made the right decision to leave him and medicine to pursue her career in the FBI. Scully also meets his daughter, Maggie (Stacy Haiduk), who is extremely resentful of Scully. Mulder, who is in England investigating crop circles, contacts Scully and asks her to go to meet a contact of his to obtain information.

Scully talks to Mulder on her cell phone as she drives, and a woman appears in the crosswalk, forcing Scully to hit the brakes to keep from hitting the woman. As she does this, a diesel truck nearly collides with Scully. When Scully arrives to the house of Mulder's contact, Colleen Azar (Colleen Flynn), she recognizes her as a woman that she had seen earlier that day in the hospital. Azar observes that Scully is going through a personal crisis and is tries to offer her guidance, but Scully is dismissive.

Later, Scully decides to return to visit Azar to apologize for being so dismissive and to see what she has to say. Azar tells her about the Eastern philosophies of Buddhism, the collective unconscious, and her own personal aura that might explain why she is experiencing these strange occurrences. After a confrontation with Maggie at the hospital, she walks through Chinatown and sees the same woman who had appeared in the crosswalk before, so she follows her. The woman goes into a small Buddhist temple and seemingly vanishes. Scully, who has followed the mysterious woman into the temple, has a vision while looking at the statue of the Buddha. Scully returns to the hospital to visit Waterston, accompanied by Azar.

Azar and another healer provide alternative treatment for Waterston, who man fully recovers. He proclaims that he still wants a relationship with Scully, but she realizes that she is no longer the same person she was ten years ago, and she leaves the room. As she sits outside the hospital on a bench, she sees the mysterious woman from the crosswalk and the Buddhist temple, and chases her down. When she catches the woman and the woman turns around, she sees it is Mulder. Later, Mulder and Scully sit on the sofa together in his apartment talking about the events of the last few days. As Mulder begins to speak more existentially about what transpired with Scully and seemingly implying that fate has brought them together, he turns to her to see that she has fallen asleep.[3]

Production[edit]

Conception and writing[edit]

A redheaded woman, who is smiling at the camera.
"all things" marked the first and only time Gillian Anderson directed and wrote an episode of The X-Files.

Anderson originally approached series creator Chris Carter about writing and directing an episode of the series during its sixth season. At the same time, Anderson was getting offers from various networks to direct shows, despite having never directed an entry of television before. She decided to "learn the ropes" with The X-Files and then branch out from there.[4] The inspiration for a majority of the episode came from Anderson herself. Long a believer in the power of spiritual healing and Buddhism, Anderson crafted a script that would see Scully pursuing a "deeply personal X-File, one which in [she] is taken down a spiritual path when logic fails her".[4] Anderson had only a rough outline of the script until one day she wrote a majority of the story in one sitting. She explained, "A certain concept began to form, [and] I just wrote the entire outline for 'all things' right then and there. It all just kind of came together on the page".[4] The next day, Anderson pitched the script to Carter, who approved of the "personal and quiet" characteristics of the story.[4]

The first draft of the script was fifteen pages too long and did not feature a fourth act; Anderson turned in about 72 pages for the first three, when four acts usually comprised only 50.[5] Carter and Spotnitz worked closely with Anderson, although the former two acknowledge that the majority of the work "was all Gillian".[4] Despite her satisfaction with the final cut, Anderson regrets a handful of the "necessary" script cuts and edits that were made, most notably, the painting of Scully as "the other woman".[4] The final conversation scene between Scully and Daniel Waterson was reduced in length by 10 minutes. Anderson had to cut out the scenes during the editing process due to the maximum length of 42 minutes.[6]

Originally, Anderson did not want it to be implied that Scully and Waterston had had an affair. In the original script, they came close to having an affair, but Scully ended the relationship when she discovered he was married to another woman.[7] She explained that, "what had actually transpired [...] was that there had been an attraction and that they were starting to spend some time together. [...] It started getting heavier and Waterston began talking about divorce. [...] Scully didn't want that to happen because she didn't want to be a homewrecker".[4][8] In the commentary for the episode, Anderson elaborated on Scully and Waterston's backstory: after Scully and Waterston got close to having an affair, Scully left to go to Quantico and study to become an FBI agent. After she left, Waterston become depressed and his family began to suspect that he was actually having an affair. The emotional turmoil was too much for Waterston's wife and she killed herself. This is the reason that, in the episode, Waterston's daughter, Maggie, resents Scully so much.[9] Anderson, in fact, felt that the removal of this backstory confused the plot and made it hard for the audience to understand why Maggie was so angry at Scully.[10]

When Anderson first wrote the episode, she did not try to hint at the fact that Scully and Mulder may have spent the night together. But Spotnitz and the production crew felt it was natural hinting that Scully and Mulder's relationship had evolved into a romantic one.[11] The crop circle idea was included because Anderson wanted "whatever Mulder was involved in that took him away from me, away from Washington, to somehow tie into what it was that I was going through—the journey that I was going through".[12] She and the production crew started researching crop circles which had to deal with the "heart-chakra". Spotnitz was heavily involved during the researching process during this episode's development.[13]

Directing[edit]

I was happy that it had an essence of what I was intending. [...] It veered quite a bit from what my original intention for it was [...] but the overall experience was a good one..

Gillian Anderson, expressing her satisfaction with the episode[14]

The episode, being directed by Anderson, marked the first time a woman had directed an episode for the show, as well as the first credit for Anderson. At the original meeting that Anderson pitched her idea for "all things", she iterated the fact that she wished to direct the episode too. While Carter accepted the script, he wished to take the "risky journey [of directing] one step at a time".[4] He originally told Anderson to write the entire script for "all things", and then he would determine whether or not she would direct the episode. After the script was accepted, Anderson was approved as the director.[4]

Being new at directing, Anderson worked with director Kim Manners for a majority of the episode. She noted that, "if I had any questions, I would go to Kim".[8] Manners helped Anderson by giving her directing homework: he told her to make a shot list of every scene in her script. Anderson's directing helped to energize The X-Files production. The cast and crew "pushed extra hard" to make sure that everything was in order for the series star's directorial debut. Production designer Corey Kaplan made sure that the episode featured a Buddhist temple at Anderson's request and casting director Rick Millikan helped Anderson pick actors and actresses for her episode. Millikan later noted that, "I loved working with Gillian. It was fun for me to watch her go through the casting process because it was all new to her".[8] On set, Anderson's directing style was described as "right on the money".[8] Marc Shapiro, in his book all things: The Official Guide to The X-Files, Volume 6, noted that "Anderson wielded a deft hand in her directorial debut, prodding the actors to her will, making decisions on the fly, and handling the complex special effects sequences".[8] Fans of the show later sent in calls and letters to express that they were impressed with Anderson's directing abilities.[8]

Music and effects[edit]

A bald man with glasses is looking intently at a camera.
"all things" featured the song "The Sky Is Broken" from electronica musician Moby's 1999 album Play.

Once, when driving home after work, Anderson was listening to "The Sky Is Broken", a song from Moby's 1999 album Play, and immediately wanted to include it in her script for the episode. She noted, "I was driving home one night after work and listening to ["The Sky Is Broken" by Moby] and this song started playing and it was [...] important that I use it and I was determined that we were going to use this track. And the more I actually listened to the words and the dialogue the more it fit with my idea that was unfolding for the script".[15] The first shot after the opening credits, which involved the dripping water, was something Anderson wanted to include to create a "continuation of sound, rhythmic sound".[16] She added that it was important for the musical part of the show.[16]

Anderson was heavily involved working with composer Mark Snow in the post-production process of the show. After filming the episode, she sent Snow several CDs and asked him to "come up with something that had certain flavors to it".[17] The music they worked on together for this episode eventually became "Scully's Theme", which was not broadcast until the episode "Within".[18] The episode featured many instances of a "gong" sound, which Anderson called "very Tibetan" and "appropriate for this episode."[19] According to Snow, "the idea of using a solo female voice, where there was certainly no lyrics, just incantations" was meant to represent Scully's alienation and loneliness.[20] Originally, the song featured the lyrics "we are near, we are near", but Carter did not want the song to feature words and asked Snow to change it into a more ambiguous "oscillating sound".[20]

The meditation scene required various clips from previous episodes to appear in a flash back. Originally, Paul Rabwin and the special effects crew cut the various scenes and placed them in bubbles. According to Rabwin, "we really didn't know, it was all just experimentation".[21] Eventually, the crew decided that the bubbles looked too "hokey" so they adopted a more standard slit-scan effect. In order to create the sequence of Scully visualizing Waterston's heart condition, Nicolas Surovy had to lie naked on a platform surrounded by a blue screen. A spherical ball was then matched via motion control as a marker for a prosthetic beating heart that was crafted and filmed separately. The two shots were then combined together into one scene.[21]

Themes[edit]

In the chapter "Scully as a Pragmatist Feminist" of the book The Philosophy of The X-Files, Erin McKenna argues that "all things" represents an "important shift" in Scully's approach to science, knowledge acquisition, and the pursuit of the truth.[22] She reasons that the events of the episode open her mind to news ways of knowing, specifically citing, "auras, chakras, visions, [...] and the importance of coincidence".[22] McKenna argues that Scully's shift in perspective deliberately mirrored the shift in American pragmatism, a view that believes reality is ever-changing. In this manner, pragmatists believe "the truth is out there" much like Mulder.[23] In "all things", Scully begins to embrace pragmatism, although she clings onto her skeptic roots. Mixing the two, Scully begins to represent "the pragmatist approach to knowledge and the truth".[23] Scully soon evolves from a mere skeptic who demands proof to prove a truth, to an empiricist who wants proof but is open to other perspectives.[23]

In addition, McKenna reasons that "all things" is heavily influenced by feminist philosophy, a school of thought that tries to criticise or re-evaluate the ideas of traditional philosophy from within a feminist framework.[24][25] According to McKenna, feminism rejects dualistic ways of thinking.[25] Feminist philosophy, instead, calls for a pluralistic way of thinking, noting that there is not one consistent set of truths about the world, but many.[26] In the episode, Scully starts out "sure of her more rational scientific view and approach". However, as the episode goes on, she decides to branch out and engage in acts of investigation. Eventually, she brings in a spirit healer to "corroborate or nullify the new beliefs she is encountering".[27]

When Mulder and Scully talk at the end of the episode, Mulder questions the fact that he left "town for two days and [Scully] spoke to God in a Buddhist temple and God spoke back."[28] Scully, however, notes that "I didn't say God spoke back".[28] McKenna proposes that this is an example of Scully's rational scientific approach meshing with her newer, feministic pragmatism, which "are to be seen, not as competing systems, but as complementary, as are Scully and Mulder themselves."[28] McKenna concludes that this is represented in the opening scene, in which Mulder and Scully are implied to have slept together; this one scene shows the full merging of Scully's pragmatism with feminist philosophy.[28]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

"all things" was originally broadcast on the Fox network in the United States on April 9, 2000.[1] This episode earned a Nielsen rating of 7.5, with a 11 share, meaning that roughly 7.5 percent of all television-equipped households, and 11 percent of households watching television, were tuned into the episode.[29] It was viewed by 12.18 million viewers.[29] The episode first aired in the United Kingdom on Sky1 on July 9, 2000 and received 0.58 million viewers and was the seventh most-watched episode for that week for that channel.[30]

Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club awarded the episode a "C" and called it "a curious failure".[14] He felt that the writing was "pretentious" and composed of "some weird, weird bullshit".[14] VanDerWerff wrote that, although the episode was not successful, there is something "pure and unadorned at its center that I can’t outright hate it".[14] Furthermore, he admired the show and Anderson for "making the attempt".[14] Kevin Silber of Space.com gave the episode a negative review. He was critical of the script and characterization and said "nothing much seems to happen, and what does occur is substantially driven by coincidence and arbitrariness".[31] He did not like the character of Colleen and disapproved of Scully's philosophical "reverie", calling it "facile, and hard to reconcile with the determined rationalism she's displayed over the years in the face of events no less strange than those that occur here".[31]

Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, rated the episode one star out of five, calling the premise and characters "dull". The two criticized Anderson for looking at the "minutiae of life too intensely", which resulted in many of the actors and actresses coming off as "ciphers". Furthermore, Shearman and Pearson were critical of Anderson's directing style, calling it "pretentious" and noting that the plot's significance was drowned out by needless "flourishes".[32] Paula Vitaris from Cinefantastique gave the episode a negative review and awarded it one star out of four.[33] She called Anderson's directing "heavy-handed" and bemoaned the storyline because, according to her, it "plays havoc with Scully's motivations and character as established in the past seven years".[33]

Not all reviews were negative, however. Tom Kessenich, in his book Examinations, gave the episode a largely positive review and called it "wonderful". He praised Anderson's tenacity to present a darker moment from Scully's past—her affair with a married man—and favorably compared the episode to "The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati" in terms of character development.[34] Kinney Littlefield of The Orange County Register wrote a moderately positive review of the episode, and wrote that the "wistful, meditative episode" was "not bad for Anderson 's first directing effort".[35] He did, however, note, that it was not as "sly as the episode about an alien baseball player that Duchovny directed awhile back".[35] While the episode received mixed reviews from critics, fans of the show reacted generally positively to "all things".[8] The X-Files staff received calls and letters explaining that viewers, "loved the vulnerability and quiet determination that Scully revealed in the unusual episode".[8]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season (Media notes). Fox. 1999–2000.
  2. ^ "The X-Files, Season 7". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Shapiro (2000), pp. 204–214.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Shapiro (2000), p. 214.
  5. ^ Anderson, 15:05–15:15.
  6. ^ Anderson, 13:50–14:01.
  7. ^ Anderson, 14:02–14:47.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Shapiro (2000), p. 215.
  9. ^ Anderson, 14:25–16:18.
  10. ^ Anderson, 16:19–16:47.
  11. ^ Anderson, 0:15–040.
  12. ^ Anderson, 2:45–3:14.
  13. ^ Anderson, 3:20–3:35.
  14. ^ a b c d e Harris, Will (March 30, 2012). "Gillian Anderson". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ Anderson, 2:07–2:35.
  16. ^ a b Anderson, 1:27–1:40.
  17. ^ Anderson, 8:50–9:05.
  18. ^ Anderson, 9:40–9:50.
  19. ^ Anderson, 11:55–12:00.
  20. ^ a b Carter, Chris; Patrick, Robert; Spotnitz, Frank; Gish, Annabeth (2001). The Truth Behind Season 8 (DVD). 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. 
  21. ^ a b Paul Rabwin (2000). Special Effects with Paul Rabwin: Scully's Meditation (DVD). The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. 
  22. ^ a b McKenna (2007), p. 126.
  23. ^ a b c McKenna (2007), p. 127.
  24. ^ Gatens (1991), passim
  25. ^ a b McKenna (2007), p. 133.
  26. ^ McKenna (2007), p. 136.
  27. ^ McKenna (2007), p. 137.
  28. ^ a b c d McKenna (2007), p. 138.
  29. ^ a b Shapiro (2000), p. 281.
  30. ^ "BARB's multichannel top 10 programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Retrieved January 1, 2012.  Note: Information is in the section titled "w/e July 3–9, 1999", listed under Sky1
  31. ^ a b Silber, Kevin (April 10, 2000). "On 'The X-Files' Scully Contemplates 'all things'". Space.com. Techmedia Network. Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  32. ^ Shearman and Pearson (2009), p. 221.
  33. ^ a b Vitaris, Paula (October 2000). "The X-Files Season Seven Episode Guide". Cinefantastique 32 (3): 18–37. 
  34. ^ Kessenich (2002), pp. 125–127.
  35. ^ a b Littlefield, Kinney (April 9, 2000). "Scully Comes Out in Front in Special 'X-Files' Outing – Review: She Gets Mystical and New Age-y in a Gentle Episode Written and Directed by Gillian Anderson". The Orange County Register (Freedom Communications). Retrieved September 19, 2012.  (subscription required)

Work cited[edit]

External links[edit]