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Bardsmaid's Cave: Encounter with CSM

The Cave’s X-Files Commentary Archives:  Encounters with the show
Title: Encounter with CSM
Author: Zuffy

[Original article here]

William B. Davis was speaking the merest ten minutes from Zuff’s own abode this evening (5-5-99), so off she went with family in tow. He was very entertaining and very relaxed. Here’s the report (apologies if you’ve heard or read some of these things elsewhere).

First, William B. Davis looked just like CSM. No cigarette though. Nice to see that he is the same face without the makeup. Very smiley though. That was a little discomfiting. You know he’s up to no good when he smiles.

CSM attempted to convince us that he was the hero of TXF and not Mulder. He suggested a comparison on several grounds. 1) What would happen if they each got what they wanted? If Mulder finds out the truth, he intends to broadcast it. That would horrify everyone and create panic on “Independence Day” scale. If CSM gets his way, there will be a massive cover-up. No one will feel bad because we’ll never know. 2) Who sacrifices more? Mulder is basically doing what he wants to do, has a cushy job with the FBI, and works with a beautiful woman. Maybe he’s given up his personal life, but then we haven’t seen any sign that he is capable of a personal life, so maybe it’s not a true sacrifice. CSM, he said, has sacrificed his health, personal life, wife, son, maybe other unacknowledged children. 3) Acts of love: Sure Mulder goes chasing off after Scully when she gets abducted, but what happened when Skinner put his career on the line for Scully’s cure? Did Mulder offer to take the burden? CSM thinks not. CSM risked his standing in the Syndicate and with the project to get the Bounty Hunter to cure Mrs. Mulder. 4) Thoughtfulness: Mulder is impetuous. Always acting without considering the consequences. Waves his gun around a lot. CSM is always thinking, trying to come up with the best strategy. Doesn’t even carry a gun as far as he recalls. 5) Eyesight: Every time it’s a little dark, Mulder has to get out a flashlight. CSM, though, he *lives* in the dark. 6) Potency: Frankly, he thinks Mulder is a virgin. Well, in the shower scene, he finally took a look at Scully, but then he seemed to grimace. What was that? CSM, well, it’s still possible that he is Mulder’s father, it’s been intimated that he is Samantha’s father, he is Spender’s father.

So, pretty much across the board, he thinks CSM comes out ahead. So why do people prefer Mulder? Lighting. If they bathed CSM in pink light and played ominous music when Mulder appeared, it would be a different show.

Davis also had some things to say about the choices made to cooperate with the aliens. He compared it to Vichy France where compromises were made to forestall invasion and attempt to save the population from a worse fate than occupation. It may not have been the right choice in retrospect, but it was a situation of people trying to make the best decisions they can. He sees X-Files as a show without true heroes, only people trying to take actions as best they can in light of some terrible options.

Davis gets very much into his character. He plays him as human whose actions make sense, not as evil incarnate. In fact the way he plays CSM, he sees Mulder as the bad guy. [Zuff’s note: I think that’s one thing that makes the character so effective.]

He talked for a while about people who believe in aliens and the power of hypnotic regression to create false memories, etc. He’s not a believer himself, that was clear. He also said that from what he could see TXF didn’t create much belief in the paranormal. But it does feed into the present moment when people have stopped being certain about what they know. A post-literate time in many ways. There is more information, but also more skepticism growing out of the fact that people have come to distrust information that they sense is associated with some sort of power structure. He polled the audience (several hundred people, mostly college students) about belief in aliens and in alien abduction. Almost no one raised his/her hand. Then he asked whether the government was engaged in conspiracies and almost everyone did. He said some things suggesting that he did distrust some of the info we get from authorities (he was talking about Kosovo and the rationales for bombing), but he also said that in general large bureaucracies are too incompetent to pull off real conspiracies for any length of time.

Someone asked about “Musings.” He said he was really surprised when he read the script and found out this was what he character had been up to. It seemed inconsistent. Writing a novel? That really surprised him. Anyway he interpreted the ep as Frohike’s version as told to M&S, not necessarily the truth. In the original script CSM was supposed to shoot and kill Frohike, but CC nixed it.

He thinks Scully is too good for Mulder. Actually, with her rational, scientific approach she would be a much better match for CSM. CC has said no Mulder-Scully relationship, no Skinner-Scully relationship, no Mulder-Skinner relationship, but he hasn’t said anything about CSM-Scully. [Stay away, fanfic writers. Do not go there.]

Davis has finally decided to write a script himself and hopes that something might be produced next year. It was really hard work to come up with an idea and he has great admiration for the writers who do it over and over.

Unlike some series that start out with a plan for where the plot will go, XF had nothing. The stories have developed as they’ve moved along. It’s been amazing.

When he auditioned for the show it was for the senior FBI post. That character had three lines! He felt that CSM had developed as a really long audition. They thought he did pretty well at standing around smoking, so they gave him a line. He handled that pretty well, so they gave him some more.

What does he smoke on the show? He’s a spokesman for the Canadian Cancer Society, so he smokes herbal cigarettes instead of tobacco. They taste pretty bad, but the smoke smells like marijuana, so kids if you want to surprise your parents…

Why did he burn the X-Files office? He really didn’t remember. He was angry about something—maybe about being shot–really angry, so something had to burn. That’s all he recalls.

Why does he hang around with Diana Fowley. Well, like all men, he has no judgment when it comes to women. [Sorry, Hobrock. Those are his words.]

Someone asked how he could play some of the scenes knowing that what happens is going to be contradicted. What about the scene in Redux with Samantha, for example? Well, he certainly thought she was the real Samantha and that’s how he played it. Then a year later, he heard someone say, “No that wasn’t her,” and his reaction was “huh?”

What would he like to be remembered for? Mostly being Canadian national water-ski champion!

There were a variety of miscellaneous comments and questions, but these were the ones that stuck in my mind.

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One Response to “Bardsmaid's Cave: Encounter with CSM”

  1. […] Consider the short sequence with Samantha Mulder at the diner. Actor William B. Davis believed that this was the “real” Samantha at the time, and was shocked when it was ultimately revealed that it was not: […]