Three Words (The X-Files)

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"Three Words"
The X-Files episode
FightTheFuture ThreeWords.jpg
The titular "Three Words": Fight the Future. The phrase is an important recurring motif in The X-Files universe and was the subtitle for the 1998 film.
Episode no.Season  8
Episode 16
Directed by Tony Wharmby
Written by Chris Carter
Frank Spotnitz
Production code8ABX18
Original air dateApril 8, 2001
Running time44 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
 Previous
"Deadalive"
Next 
"Empedocles"
The X-Files (season 8)
List of The X-Files episodes

"Three Words" is the sixteenth episode of the eighth season (and the 177th episode overall) of the science fiction television series The X-Files . It first aired in the United States and Canada on April 8, 2001, on Fox. It was written by executive producers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, and directed by Tony Wharmby. The episode explores the series' overarching mythology and earned a Nielsen rating of 7.6 and was viewed by 7.77 million households, receiving mixed to positive reviews from television critics.

<i>The X-Files</i> (season 8) season of television series

The eighth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files commenced airing in the United States on November 5, 2000, concluded on May 20, 2001, and consisted of twenty-one episodes. Season eight takes place after Fox Mulder's alien abduction in the seventh season. The story arc for the search of Mulder continues until the second half of the season, while a new arc about Dana Scully's pregnancy is formed. This arc would continue, and end, with the next season. The season explores various themes such as life, death, and belief.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. It has been called the "literature of ideas", and often explores the potential consequences of scientific, social, and technological innovations.

Fox Broadcasting Company American television network

The Fox Broadcasting Company is an American free-to-air television network that is a flagship property of the Fox Corporation. The network is headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, with additional offices at the Fox Broadcasting Center and at the Fox Television Center in Los Angeles.

Contents

The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and John Doggett (Robert Patrick) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. In this episode, Mulder secretly conducts his own investigation after a man is gunned down on the White House lawn attempting to inform the President of a planned alien invasion. However, he is soon in over his head as he tries to expose further evidence of colonization.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Governmental agency belonging to the United States Department of Justice

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes.

Fox Mulder fictional character and protagonist of the television series The X-Files

FBI Special Agent Fox William Mulder is a fictional character in the Fox science fiction-supernatural television series The X-Files, played by David Duchovny. Mulder's peers consider his theories on extraterrestrial activity as spooky and far-fetched. With his FBI partner Dana Scully, he works in the X-Files office, which is concerned with cases with particularly mysterious or possibly paranormal circumstances that were left unsolved and shelved by the FBI. Mulder was a main character for the first seven seasons, but was limited to a recurring character for the following two seasons. He returns as a main character for the tenth and eleventh seasons.

David Duchovny American actor, writer, producer, director, novelist, and singer-songwriter

David William Duchovny is an American actor, writer, producer, director, novelist, and singer-songwriter. He is known for playing FBI agent Fox Mulder on the television series The X-Files and writer Hank Moody on the television series Californication, both of which have earned him Golden Globe awards.

The episode was written as a way to signal Mulder's exit from the FBI. The producers and writers felt that, if Mulder's character was given a clean exit, the show could more easily focus on the characters of John Doggett and Monica Reyes in the following season. Former series star and recurring actor David Duchovny later declared that he had been happy to see his character depart in this manner.

Monica Reyes Fictional character from the television series The X-Files

Monica Julieta Reyes is a fictional character in the Fox science fiction-supernatural television series The X-Files. Monica Reyes is portrayed by Annabeth Gish. At first a Field Agent before becoming a Special Agent with the FBI, she works with her longtime friend and partner John Doggett in the X-Files office, which is concerned with the investigation of paranormal cases, dubbed "X-Files". Introduced in the series' eighth season, Reyes would become a main character throughout the entirety of its ninth season, before returning for a single-episode guest appearance in the tenth season finale, and later in a recurring capacity during season eleven.

<i>The X-Files</i> (season 9) season of television series

The ninth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files commenced airing in the United States on November 11, 2001, concluded on May 19, 2002, and consists of twenty episodes. The season takes place after Fox Mulder goes into hiding, following the events of the eighth season finale, "Existence". As such, the main storyarc for the season follows Dana Scully, John Doggett, and Monica Reyes on their hunt to reveal a government conspiracy involving the elaborate and malevolent creation of the "Super Soldiers".

Plot

Under the cover of darkness, an unidentified man jumps over the fence to the White House and is intercepted by Secret Service personnel. As he struggles with them, he pulls a gun and accidentally shoots himself. Bleeding on the ground, the man hands over a computer disk, begging them to give it to the President. Three words are written on the disk: "FIGHT THE FUTURE".

White House Official residence and workplace of the President of the United States

The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. and has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. The term "White House" is often used as a metonym for the president and his advisers.

United States Secret Service U.S. federal law enforcement agency

The United States Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security charged with conducting criminal investigations and protecting the nation's leaders and their families. Until 2003, the Secret Service was part of the Department of the Treasury, as the agency was originally founded to combat the then-widespread counterfeiting of US currency.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

While still at the hospital, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) recalls how he was tortured on the alien ship. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) enters with Dr. Lim and they give him surprisingly good news: The neurological condition that was killing him, before his disappearance, is gone and he is in perfect health. Mulder returns to his apartment with Scully and he congratulates her on the pregnancy she had sought for a long time. Meanwhile, in prison, an inmate librarian gives former UFO cult leader Absalom a book about the apocalypse. Hidden inside is a newspaper article about the man who jumped the fence. Absalom later escapes during a work detail by attacking a guard with a board with a nail in it.

Without (<i>The X-Files</i>) 2nd episode of the eighth season of The X-Files

"Without" is the second episode of the eighth season of the science fiction television series The X-Files. The episode first aired in the United States and Canada on November 12, 2000, on Fox and subsequently aired in the United Kingdom on February 18, 2001. It was written by executive producer Chris Carter and directed by Kim Manners. The episode helps to explore the series' overarching mythology and continues from the seventh season finale, "Requiem", and season eight premiere, "Within", in which Fox Mulder was abducted by aliens who are planning to colonize Earth. The episode earned a Nielsen rating of 9.0 in the United States and was seen by 15.1 million viewers. As with the previous episode, "Within," it was generally well-received by critics, although some detractors criticized various plot points.

Dana Scully fictional character and protagonist of the television series The X-Files

Dana Katherine Scully is a fictional character in the Fox science fiction-supernatural television series The X-Files, played by Gillian Anderson. Scully is an FBI agent and a medical doctor (M.D.), partnered with fellow Special Agent Fox Mulder for the first seven, and the tenth and eleventh seasons, and with John Doggett in the eighth and ninth seasons. In the television series, they work out of a cramped basement office at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. to investigate unsolved cases labeled "X-Files". In 2002, Scully left government employment, and in 2008 she began working as a surgeon in Our Lady of Sorrows, a private Catholic hospital – where she stayed for seven years, until rejoining the FBI. In contrast to Mulder's credulous "believer" character, Scully is the skeptic for the first seven seasons, choosing to base her beliefs on what science can prove. She later on becomes a "believer" after Mulder's abduction at the end of season seven.

Gillian Anderson American film, television and theatre actress, activist and writer

Gillian Leigh Anderson, is an American-British film, television and theatre actress and activist. Her credits include the roles of FBI Special Agent Dana Scully in the long-running series The X-Files, ill-fated socialite Lily Bart in Terence Davies' film The House of Mirth (2000), and DSU Stella Gibson on the BBC crime drama television series The Fall. Among other honours, Anderson has won a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. She has resided in London since 2002, after earlier years divided between the United Kingdom and the United States.

At FBI Headquarters, Deputy Director Alvin Kersh informs John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) that Mulder has applied for reinstatement to the X-Files. He intends to deny the request, claiming a higher percentage of success with Doggett. Kersh ignores Doggett and Skinner's defenses of Mulder, perceiving him to be a crusader unfit for proper Bureau work. Doggett later finds Absalom waiting for him at home with a gun, demanding that Doggett show the back of his neck to confirm his identity. He tells Doggett that the man killed at the White House, Howard Salt, died for what he knew about an alien invasion.

Alvin Kersh

Alvin D. Kersh is a fictional character in the Fox science fiction television series The X-Files, played by James Pickens, Jr.. He serves as a figure of authority within the series, first introduced as an Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is later promoted to the post of Deputy Director. Kersh acts as an antagonist who bureaucratically prevents Special Agents Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, John Doggett and Monica Reyes from investigating cases dealing with the paranormal, dubbed X-Files.

John Doggett fictional character in the television series The X-Files

FBI Special Agent John Jay Doggett is a fictional character in the Fox science fiction-supernatural television series The X-Files. With his FBI partners Dana Scully and Monica Reyes, they work on the X-Files together, which is concerned with cases with particularly mysterious or possibly supernatural circumstances that were left unsolved and shelved by the FBI. John Doggett is played by Robert Patrick. Doggett was a main character from the eighth to ninth seasons (2000–2002), replacing David Duchovny's character Fox Mulder. Doggett appeared in the opening credits and every episode from the season eight premiere to the final episode of season 9.

Robert Patrick American actor

Robert Hammond Patrick Jr. is an American actor and voice actor. Known for his portrayals of villainous characters, Patrick is a Saturn Award winner with four nominations.

Absalom duct tapes his gun to Doggett's back in a plan to get Salt's information, with Doggett used as a hostage. The two attempt to sneak into the census bureau's database, which Absalom claims contains data showing the aliens are already here. Unfortunately, the plan fails when an X-ray scanner detects the gun. Absalom is shot and killed by security. Mulder later accuses Doggett of deliberately attempting to cover up the truth by setting up Absalom to be killed, to which Doggett takes great offense. Doggett later meets with his liaison, Knowle Rohrer, who reveals the password to the census bureau is "Fight the Future."

Scully, on Doggett's request, tells Mulder that the disk was labeled “Fight the Future.” Mulder realizes that this is the password and breaks into the census bureau with the help of The Lone Gunmen, searching computer data. Doggett soon arrives, realizing that the password leak was a trap. After a bitter argument (and upon both Scully and the Gunmen revealing to Mulder the arrival of black ops mercenaries on the scene), they are forced to leave. Doggett confronts Rohrer about the false tip, but Rohrer claims he was just trying to help Doggett learn the truth. As Doggett and Skinner leave, strange protrusions are seen at the back of Rohrer's neck. [2]

Production

"Three Words" was written by executive producers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, directed by Tony Wharmby [3] and saw Nelson Mashita reprise his role of Doctor Lim, having appeared in the previous episode "Deadalive". [4] Judson Scott also made his third appearance in the series as cult leader Absalom, reprising the role from both "Deadalive" and "This Is Not Happening". [5] The baseball field scene was filmed at Cheviot Hills Park, in Los Angeles; the park had previously been used in the sixth season episode "The Unnatural" and would be later re-used in the ninth season episode "Lord of the Flies". [6]

In the episode, Mulder prepares to submit his application to be reassigned to X-Files division. Meanwhile, Mulder's boss, Deputy Director Kersh, informs Doggett that he intends to deny the request. [3] As season eight was nearly over, the producers and writers decided to refuse Mulder re-admittance into the FBI as a way to segue John Doggett and Monica Reyes into the series as the new main stars of season nine. David Duchovny agreed with this method, noting, "I completely thought it was correct that they should be trying to focus elsewhere, and that, since I was going to come back for the second half of season eight, if you were to refocus on whatever Mulder's up to, you'd be in the same lousy situation at the beginning of season nine." [7]

Broadcast and reception

The episode first aired on Fox on April 8, 2001, [8] earning a Nielsen household rating of 7.6, meaning that it was seen by 7.6% of the nation's estimated households. [9] "Three Words" was viewed by 7.77 million households and ranked as the 32nd most-watched episode for the week ending April 8. [9] [nb 1] Fox promoted the episode with the tagline "Who will control the X-Files?" [10] The episode was later included on The X-Files Mythology, Volume 4 – Super Soldiers , a DVD collection that contains episodes involved with the alien super soldiers arc. [11]

"Three Words" received mixed to positive reviews from critics. 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 five stars out of five, calling it "extremely well-performed by all concerned." Shearman and Pearson felt that the episode was similar to the earlier "Per Manum" and was somewhat formulaic; however, they noted that this was a necessary and positive step towards redefining the series after the changes made in its last two seasons explaining "the point of all this is only to emphasise how different The X-Files universe now feels, the familiarity of the ingredients only making us more aware that the mix is never going to be the same again". [12] Writing for Television Without Pity, Jessica Morgan rated the episode a "B", although she felt that by this stage the series' mythology was moving "in concentric circles of pain and confusion". [13]

Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club awarded the episode a "B+" and wrote that the episode, "finds Duchovny back on his feet and ready for action, and he brings a new energy to the part." [14] He enjoyed the way the show presented the story as one wherein, "we spend as much time watching Mulder from the outside as we do seeing events from his perspective," because it "makes things interesting." [14] Handlen also wrote that while the episode did not hit the emotional notes that its predecessor, "Deadalive", did, it was nonetheless "stronger plotwise" and built to an "inevitable conclusion in classic X-Files style". [14]

Not all reviews were positive; Tom Kessenich, in his book Examinations, gave the episode a mixed review, writing, "This was an episode that had tremendous promise and Carter and Spotnitz almost got it right. Sadly, they failed to invest themselves fully and intelligently into Mulder's return." [15] Paula Vitaris from Cinefantastique gave the episode a largely negative review and awarded it one-and-a-half stars out of four. [16] Vitaris wrote that, despite opening "with tremendously affecting acting from [David] Duchovny", the episode lapses into "a lost opportunity to explore the psyche of a person who has suffered torture". [16]

Notes

  1. At the time of airing, the estimated number of households was 102.2 million. [9] Thus, 7.6 percent of 102.2 million is 7.77 million households.

Footnotes

  1. "The X-Files - "Three Words"". TheXFiles.com. Fox Broadcasting Company. February 2002. Archived from the original on 7 February 2002. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  2. "Three Words". BBC Cult. BBC . Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  3. 1 2 Tony Wharmby (director); Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz (writers) (April 8, 2001). "Three Words". The X-Files . Season 8. Episode 16. Fox.
  4. Tony Wharmby (director); Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz (writers) (April 1, 2001). "Deadalive". The X-Files . Season 8. Episode 15. Fox.
  5. Kim Manners (director); Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz (writers) (February 25, 2001). "This Is Not Happening". The X-Files . Season 8. Episode 14. Fox.
  6. Fraga, p. 82
  7. Hurwitz and Knowles, p. 193
  8. The X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season (booklet). Kim Manners, et al. Fox.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. 1 2 3 Associated Press (April 2000). "Prime-Time Nielsen ratings". Associated Press Archives.
  10. Three Words (Promotional Flyer). Los Angeles, California: Fox Broadcasting Company. 2001.
  11. Kim Manners et al. The X-Files Mythology, Volume 4 – Super Soldiers (DVD). Fox.
  12. Shearman and Pearson, pp. 243–244
  13. Morgan, Jessica (April 13, 2001). "Three Words". Television Without Pity . NBCUniversal. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  14. 1 2 3 Handlen, Zack (November 23, 2013). "The X-Files: 'Deadalive'/'Three Words'". The A.V. Club . The Onion . Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  15. Kessenich, p. 169
  16. 1 2 Vitaris, Paula (April 2002). "The X-Files Season Eight Episode Guide". Cinefantastique . 34 (2): 42–49.

Bibliography

This article incorporates material derived from the "Three Words" article on the X-Files wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License (March 7, 2012).

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