TV - The X-Files Season 4, The Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man

The X-Files

After his Top Five earlier today, Steve Taylor-Bryant delivers his verdict on what he believes is Season 4's outstanding episode. The Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man...

This episode had little to do with any current story arc that the show was peddling but at the same time I feel was essential to the mythology of the tale. We had seen the mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man a lot, we had learned what kind of power he held, the people in his group and what they do, but we knew very little about the man himself. I remember at the time my friends hated this episode, they didn’t like the fact that at first glance this particular story doesn’t fit anywhere, but the real beauty of Musings is that it fits everywhere and nowhere at the same time, which is incredibly intelligent writing often missing in today’s shows.

We start with CSM setting up some spying equipment. Mulder and Scully are in a flat with the Lone Gunmen and Frohike is about to tell a story to the agents about CSM. As Frohike tells his story we see the narrative played out by CSM's own memory. A young non-smoking man recruited to shoot the President and Martin Luther King Jnr, taking up smoking, controlling the outcome of a Superbowl and the Olympics, taking phone calls from Saddam Hussein, asking Deep Throat to shoot an alien, pretty much everything we thought CSM was capable of was played out by either the younger version (Chris Owens) or by the superb William B. Davis.

The X-Files

The relationship CSM has with the Mulder's becomes more obvious, his fascination with Fox Mulder almost creepy and his pleasure at having Scully invited into the X-Files, which should contain Mulder a while, obvious. This is a man with a calling, a cause that he doesn’t necessarily believe in but patriotically carries out. From killing JFK, when he started smoking, to the present day listening to Frohike, it is apparent that more secrets are to come. Whilst we are all supposed to despise CSM, the small parts about Frohike getting all the information from stories published in pornographic magazines saddens me and I start to feel for CSM, whose main target for life was to have a novel published but no one wanted his brand of alien conspiracy, deeming it too much of a flight of fantasy. CSM is one of the most powerful men in the world and yet I find myself feeling sorry for a writer that never found a deal and took up this walk of life because he had nothing else left.

The Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man humanised the character for me. No longer did Davis play a shadowy government official elbow deep in conspiracy, he played a broken man that knows no other way of getting things done. I liked that, and I liked him.

Image - XFiles Wiki.