02 August 2007

Season 6: Tithonus (6X09)

Written by: Vince Gilligan
Directed by: Michael Watkins

Relegated to doing background checks, Scully and Mulder are bored stiff. Assistant Director Kersh finally calls Scully up and pairs her with New York City field agent, Peyton Ritter, for a special assignment. While scanning old crime scene photos into the computer, Ritter stumbled upon inconsistencies in the times that the photos were taken. He feels that the man who took the pictures, a stringer named Alfred Fellig, is responsible. Ritter theorizes that Fellig kills people, takes their picture, then shows up later when called to do the crime scene photo job for the wire services.

In a dark alley in the Bronx, a mugger tackles and kills his victim. Mid-crime, the mugger looks up to see Fellig on a fire escape, taking pictures. The mugger then turns on Fellig and knifes him in the back. Fellig falls to the concrete, dead, and the mugger takes off. Minutes after he's gone, Fellig pulls the knife out of his back and staggers off into the night.

Fellig is brought in for questioning but denies killing anyone; he was just there for "the shot". And since they have no proof that Fellig committed the crime, they release him. But Ritter begins 24-hour surveillance on Fellig. Scully relieves Ritter late at night, only to realize shortly after Ritter leaves that Fellig is watching her. Exasperated, she confronts Fellig about his involvement in the murders that he photographs. He invites her to come for a ride and he will show Scully how he happens to be johnny-on-the-spot when a murder is committed.

After driving around for hours, Fellig finally stops and points to a hooker. He tells Scully that the hooker will be dead within the hour. Not believing him, Scully confronts the hooker, who backs away from Scully, heads into the street and is run down by an oncoming truck. Scully, in shock at what she may have just caused, looks up in time to see Fellig drive off.

Mulder does some low-tech research on his own and calls Scully to tell her that Fellig has a penchant for changing identities, the farthest one dating back to 1849. This makes Fellig 149 years old. Scully, not wanting Fellig to have another identity crisis, goes to Fellig's apartment where he ushers her into his darkroom. He explains that he was marked for death a long time ago, but somehow Death missed him. Fellig has been taking photos of dying people ever since in hopes of capturing the visage of Death on film so that he can look into Death's face and die as well.

During the conversation, Fellig realizes that Scully is marked for Death and readies to take her picture. Agent Ritter arrives and fires instinctively into the darkened room. The bullet hits Fellig as well as Scully. As Ritter moves into the other room to call for help, Fellig takes Scully's hand and tells her not to look into Death's face. She closes her eyes and Death finally takes Fellig.

Tithonus is a character from Greek Mythology. He was a mortal man who fell in love with a goddess and begged Zeus to grant him immortality to be with her.
Zeus did as was asked but neglected to give him eternal youth, so Tithonus continued to shrivel and grow feeble as the years went by.

Some of the New York scenes were filmed on sets borrowed from "NYPD Blue", located on the other side of the Fox lot from the X-Files sound stages.

In this episode we get a sort of explanation why Clyde Bruckman in the season 3 episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" told Scully that she wouldn't die.

Alfred Fellig was named for Arthur 'WeeGee' Fellig. WeeGee was a New York City photographer in the 30's, 40's, and 50's who covered the police murder beat. He took graphic photos of the victims, which the newspapers usually printed along with their stories.

Scully: Mr. Fellig, I know that you know more about photography than I do, but this is just a lens flare.
Fellig: You're right, I do know more about photography than you do.

Ritter: You know, Kersh warned me about you.
Scully: He did?
Ritter: Yeah — you and your partner. God knows his reputation precedes him so I guess I should have seen this coming. You muck up my case, and Kersh'll hear about it. Are we clear, Dana?
Scully: Scully. (Cellphone rings) And we're done with this conversation. (Answering) Yeah?
Mulder: Hey, Scully, uh, how's that X-File coming? And before you tell me that it's not an X-File...
Scully: It is.
Mulder: What happened?
Scully: Alfred Fellig seems to know an awful lot about death.
Mulder: Oh, yeah? Well, that's not surprising, given that he's reached the ripe old age of 149.
Scully: Excuse me?

Mulder: But you still think Fellig's a murderer, huh?
Scully: I don't know what to think. He's, uh... unusual.
Mulder: As in he plugs up like a cork when you stab him?
Scully: Mulder, where are you getting this stuff?!
Mulder: Well, young man Ritter has been sending progress reports to Kersh. My computer may have inadvertently intercepted a few of those. He's got nice things to say about you, though.... mostly. Why don't you let me do a little background check on Fellig for you?
Scully: Mulder.
Mulder: Come on. It's, you know, it's what I do now. I'm getting good at it.

Scully: Mulder...
Mulder: Mm?
Scully: What are you doing?
Mulder: Being nosy. Eating my heart out. They're sending you on an X-File.
Scully: It's not an X-File.
Mulder: That's not what I'm reading. I'm thinking murder by telekinesis, I'm thinking maybe a shamanistic death touch, I'm thinking about the Muslim superstition that to photograph someone is to steal their soul.
Scully: Thank you. All very helpful.

Highlights from ''Tithonus''

Episode Number: 127
Season Number: 6
First Aired: Sunday, January 24, 1999
Production Code: 6X09

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