Frohike recounts what he thinks he found out about the life of the Cigarette-Smoking Man. Orphan with a communist father executed at the electric chair, CSM liked literature and disliked movies and cigarettes. While a Captain in the Army, he murdered John F. Kennedy. Later, he came to kill Martin Luther King, climbing in the hidden conspiracies ladder. He finally reached a post from where he could influence anything from world politics and military salvages of extraterrestrials to Saddam Hussein and football results, overseeing the opening of the X-Files by who seems to be his son, Fox Mulder. His second identity was a failed writer of Tom Clancy-like autobiographical conspiracy novels. When he finally got published, he decided to change his life but came to when he discovered he had been published by a rag that had warped all the ending of his story. The CSM, listening to Frohike all this time, ends up sparing Frohike's life.
Let's get clear on one point right from the beginning: since all of the episode is a dramatization of what Frohike believes to be the truth, we can't be sure if any of this is true. As he says, "this is based only on a story I read in one of my weekly subscriptions": Frohike read Second Chance: A Jack Colquitt Adventure (the follow-up to the unpublished Take A Chance: A Jack Colquitt Advenure) in "Roman à Clef" and built CSM's story around that, considering Raul Bloodworth (CSM's would-be nom de plume) writes autobiographical novels. So everything that is told here is not canon, and even worse, comes in contradiction with what was previously known. According to Frohike, CSM would have been born on August 20, 1940. That would make him 13 in 1953, at which time he's already a valuable governmental agent gathering information on the alien menace (3X16: Apocrypha). Jack Colquitt is a name M&W use often (Space: Above And Beyond, The Boys Next Door).
The concentration of popular conspiracy theories (based more or less on reality) in this episode is very high. JFK's murder, MLK's murder, Saddam Hussein in touch with the USA, football games manipulated from above... it's so much that it's difficult to believe that one person is involved in so much, even in the world of the X-Files: despite its poetic beauty, this is almost a spoof of conspiracy theories. A very beautifully written episode by Glen Morgan (James Wong is only credited as director, but I bet he had some part in writing the script too), but not part of the canon mytharc. M&W created Skinner and gave CSM his first line of dialogue (1X20: Tooms), they wrote some of the most memorable character episodes (1X02: Squeeze, 1X12: Beyond the Sea, 1X16: E.B.E., 2X01: Little Green Men, 2X08: One Breath) and atmosphere episodes (1X07: Ice, 2X14: Die Hand Die Verletzt). They believed in William B. Davis's acting abilities when everyone else was doubtful; in season 1 CSM wasn't much of a character, now he even gets a whole episode around him (and Duchovny & Anderson get a week off). Chris Owens, apart from being a Carter favourite and playing in 5X06: Post-Modern Prometheus and portraying CSM's son Jeffrey Spender (and in a MillenniuM episode), will reprise his role as young CSM in 4X23: Demons. The actor of the 3X16: Apocrypha teaser wasn't used again.
What refers to X-Files lore in Musings is of course his scene with Deep Throat (well, "Roland" that is). A UFO was shot down and the occupant is in critical condition. Deep Throat: "The craft matches the dimensions of the vehicle spotted over Hanoi when I was in Vietnam with the Company that the Marines couldn't shoot down." This echoes Deep Throat's 'confession' to Mulder in 1X16: E.B.E.: "I was with the C.I.A. in Vietnam. A UFO was sighted for five nights over Hanoi. The marines shot it down and brought it to us.", the execution of the alien by Deep Throat would be what made him question his allegiances and ultimately help Mulder. Obviously on of these two accounts is false. Given that "a lie is most convincingly hidden between two truths" and Deep Throat's melodramatic description of the dying alien doesn't match his character, the Musings version of the events is more likely. Perhaps Deep Throat was retelling Mulder of the Musings execution. We get a 1013 reference with Deep Throat explaining the official (ie non-Syndicate related) governmental stance relating to aliens: "Security resolution council 10-13 states 'Any country capturing such an entity is responsible for its immediate extermination'." Another important sentence: CSM: "A living E.B.E. could advance Bill Mulder's project by decades." We don't know what that project is yet, but later it will be revealed to be the search for a vaccine against the Black Oil. A visual detail that comes to confirm what the alien autopsy of 3X09: Nisei showed is the green blood splashing against the plastic when Deep Throat shoots him. So the greys that in essence 'are' Black Oil do have green blood streaming in their...veins.
Morgan & Wong continue teasing the audience with CSM being the father of Fox. CSM keeps a photo of Teena and baby Fox during all his life and when he says he has to "see some family", he stops by Mulder's office at the basement. Fox's first words at age 1 would have been "J.F.K."!
The Lone Gunmen's office proudly presents a sign labelled "Publishers of The Magic Bullet Newsletter". The Magic Bullet is a reference to the Warren Commission that investigated JFK's assassination, which concluded that one single 'magic' bullet was responsible for all the damage done to President Kennedy and to Governor Connally; three shots were fired, and one bullet can't be responsible for everything. The Lone Gunman is also a reference to the Warren Commission, the only explanation to the JFK assassination that doesn't involve a conspiracy; Lee Harvey Oswald would have acted alone, a lone shooter.
The references on conspiracy theories and historical events are very dense. Let's go part by part.
Introduction : "For nothing can seem foul to those that win"Henry IV, Pt 1, Act 5, Sc 1 (William Shakespeare)
Frohike: "August twentieth, 1940, Mexico City. A Stalinist agent assassinated Leon Trotsky with an icepick." The real death of russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.
Frohike: "The father was an ardent Communist activist. During the Nazi-Soviet pact, he kept the N.K.V.D. informed about American plans to enter World War II." NKVD was the Soviet Union's People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs. The Nazi-Soviet pact was a nonagression pact that lasted from its signature in 1939 to the invasion of Russia by Germany in 1941.
Frohike: "He was executed under the Espionage Act of 1917." This act was passed during World War I, making it a crime to actively oppose the actions of the US military.
Part I : "Things really did go well in Dealey Plaza"
"Fort Bragg, North Carolina, October 30, 1962" Those who assign the mission of JFK's assasination to CSM are a US Army General, a man from some governmental agency (Agent Man), a man that speaks spanish (most likely Cuban, credited as Cuban Man), and another (credited as Mob Man). Among the theories on JFK's assassination is that it was casued by military and powerful politicians and businessmen that were unsatisfied with JFK's actions as a President. General Francis: "Last week, Captain, this country was brought to the brink of nuclear annihilation, a situation which never would have arisen had the individual in question, as Commander-in-Chief, provided an umbrella of air support during the invasion of Bahía de Cochinos." The Cuban Missile Crisis, where the USA blocked naval routes to Cuba because the Soviet Union was installing nuclear missiles on Cuba, happened from October 16 to 28, 1962. The scene takes place on October 30.
"Premier Khruschev, we want you! We're going to kick your rang-a-dang-doo." Nikita Kruschev was the First Secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party from 1953 to 1964, after Stalin's death.
Fidel Castro, we want you! We're going to kick your rang-a-dang-doo." Fidel Castro made Cuba into a communist country in 1959 and has been ruling it until today.
CSM reads Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate, a political thriller about brainwash published in 1959. Bill Mulder: "Why don't you just go see the movie?" The book was made into a critically acclaimed movie by John Frankenheimer in 1962.
Agent Man: "In January, 1961, did you aid Congo President Kasavuba in the arrest and assassination of Patrice Lamumbra?" In 1959, the first free elections in Congo made Joseph Kasavubu the President and Patrice Lumumba the Prime Minister. Tensions between them resulted in the dismissal of Lumumba; Lumumba was killed on January 17, 1961. Musings appearantly says that this move was backed by the USA.
Agent Man: "Were you involved in the training of Cuban nationals during 'Operation Zapata', also known as 'The Bay of Pigs'?" After the overthrow of the US-backed Batista by Castro on January 1, 1959, many Cubans were exiled in the USA. The Bay of Pigs in Cuba was where were landed many armed Cuban exiles, trained and financed by the USA, in April 15-19, 1961.
Agent Man: "On May 31st, 1961, did you aid Dominican locals in the assassination of Rafael Trujillo?" The oppresive politics of Rafael Trujillo, President of the Dominican Republic, made the CIA afraid that another communist-friendly uprising would take place, like in Cuba. It is rumored the CIA helped with Trujillo's assasination.
JFK was murdered on November 22, 1963, during a visit of Dallas. At 12:30pm he was crossing Dealey Plaza, with the Book Depository directly on it. It is said right before the shooting, a man moved his umbrella as if he was making a sign. Lee Harvey Oswald is the "patsy" of the story, as he himself has claimed; he worked in the Texas Schoolbook Depository and was arrested 8 minutes after the JFK shooting for killing Police Officer J.D. Tippit when the latter tried to question him. Two days later, Oswald was shot dead in public by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner with links to the mafia. Oswald calls CSM "Mr. Hunt". A certain CIA agent E. Howard Hunt was said to have participated in the JFK conspiracy; he was one of the five men arrested in the Watergate apartments, triggering the famous Watergate scandal. Hunt also wrote espionage novels that might have been autobiographical. Oswald: "I bought some curtain rods just like this from a mail order back in March." CSM: "You did? Or A.J. Hidell?" Oswald: "Well, Mister Hunt... Fidel's defenders have to be careful." Alex J. Hidell was the alias Oswald used in the 'Fair Play for Cuba Committee', the pro-Castro grassroots activist group; Oswald really did buy rifles in March 1963, perhaps the rifles that were used to kill JFK. After killing Tippit, Oswald entered the Texas Theatre, where War Is Hell (a war film taking place during the Korean War) was playing; he was arrested there.
Part II : "Just down the road aways from Graceland"
Martin Luther King was marked by the FBI and the House Un-Americans Committee as promoting communist ideas and having links to the Communist Party (a file on King was opened as early as 1958). Among other conspiracy theories, JE Hoover was said to have held meetings with people from the CIA and the military intelligence within weeks before MLK's assassination. In Musings, CSM meets with JE Hoover, his Aid and a Major General. It is funny to see the FBI founder and Director J. Edgar Hoover, who at the time was extremely powerful, having to calm his temper and bow down to CSM.
Aid: "We called Ramsey Clark to receive a go-ahead on tapping King's phone, but he refused." William Ramsey Clark served as Attorney General under Lyndon B. Johnson. He was opposed to the use of surveillance wiretaps while Hoover fancied them. Thus, "Our behind-the-fence operations on Willie".
Major General: "King's ally Stokely Carmichael is recruiting a Negro army to wage war on white America." Carmichael promoted non-violence and was a leader of the Black Panther Party.
CSM: "If this were only a civil rights issue, I'd vote for a King/Benjamin Spock presidential ticket." Benjamin Spock was a best-selling pediatrician promoting free medical care; he was prosecuted by Ramsey Clark.
CSM: "And if he convinces Negroes not to fight in Vietnam, we'll lose... and the first domino will have fallen." A great deal of the draftees for the Vietnam War (1965-1973) were black. JE Hoover: "We must step up our efforts to discredit him." The FBI's vendetta against King led to many efforts to discredit him. CSM: "Like your ridiculous suicide project? 'There is but one way out for you.' That dumb letter attempting to drive King into despair only alerted him to the level of our surveillance." A letter 'advising' King to commit suicide before his Nobel Peace Prize nomination was sent to him by the FBI, menacing to release tapes revealing his extramarital affairs.
MLK was assasinated on April 4, 1968, in room 306 of Lorraine Motel, Memphis. James Earl Ray was later arrested and confessed for the murder; but eventually he came to support he was but "another patsy", manipulated by someone called Raoul, who told him to come to Memphis and rent a room (right behind MLK's room) but got framed when Raoul left a rifle with Ray's fingerprints on it. Ray: "Raul. Got the binoculars you sent me out for." Indeed, two hours before the assassination, Ray bought binoculars. CSM: "Our gun buyer's coming by to look at the rifle." Raoul made Ray believe they would make a deal with a gun buyer. CSM: "Leave the Mustang, I'll need it." Ray is said to have bought his white Mustang with money given to him by Raoul. Raoul then deposited a package with a rifle, clothes and binoculars ("Just put them down by your clothes.") and used the Mustang to flee. Newscast: "Memphis police found a rifle wrapped in a blanket, as well as some personal belongings believed to be that of the assassin, in the doorway of the Canipe Amusement Company." The Mustang was found empty day later, and Ray captured in England two months later.
Part III : "The most wonderful time of the year!"
"Washington D.C., December 24, 1991" CSM holds a routine meeting with a board of four younger conspirators (Lydon, Matlock, Jones, another) that believe in America and World Domination.
Lydon: "the Anita Hill thing has lost steam since October." CSM: "Well, let it go. We played it right. Unfounded allegations will be flying around in no time." Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Thomas had been nominated for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he was black. He took his seat in October 23, 1991.
Matlock: "The Rodney King trial has been moved to Simi Valley, just as you instructed." Rodney King was a black motorist that was arrested and violently subdued by policemen on March 3, 1991. The defense successfully changed the place of trial from Los Angeles (where the events had happened) to Simi Valley (a richer suburb with fewer blacks and more policemen).
Readout: "Saddam Hussein Line Two" CSM: "Call back." Iraqi President from 1979, through the 1990-1991 Gulf War and the economic sanctions of the 1990s, Hussein was officially labelled as an evil tyrant during the 'Invasion of Iraq' in 2003. But the poular conspiracy theory is that Saddam has been a faithful puppet of the CIA all along, the USA guaranteeing him his place as ruler as long as he kept the islamic radicals on a leash. Osama Bin Laden was also a CIA trainee.
Jones: "Bosnia-Herzegovina is set for a February vote on independence from Yugoslavia." A February 1992 referendum was boycotted by the Serbs who wanted a union with Yougoslavia. War and massacre ensued, and Yougoslavia dissolved.
Lydon: "I'm working on next month's Oscar nominations. Any preference?" The Oscars of 1992 saw the triumph of The Silence of the Lambs, whose atmosphere and strong female character inspired The X-Files.
CSM: "What I don't want to see is the [Buffalo] Bills winning the Super Bowl. As long as I'm alive, that doesn't happen." Morgan & Wong are Bills fans, but they have yet to win a Superbowl.
Jones: "Buffalo wants it bad." CSM: "So did the Soviets in '80." Jones: "What're you saying? You rigged the Olympic hockey game?" CSM: "What's the matter? Don't you believe in miracles?" Lydon: "The boss gave the Russian goaltender a pre-game good luck pat on the back... unseen novocaine needle on a bogus wedding ring. Goalie's a little slow on the stick side... four-three, home team." In the winter Olympic Games of Lake Placid, New York, on February 22, 1980, the american hockey team made of amateur players won at impossible odds the professional soviet team. This came to be called the 'Miracle on Ice'.
CSM: "Payback's a bitch, Ivan." Ivan was the nickname for the Soviets during the Cold War.
Readout: "Gorbachev Has Resigned". Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 to his resignation, which finished to break down the Soviet Union and effectively ended the Cold War. Matlock: "There's no more enemies."
Deep Throat: "Our Aurora spy planes confirmed the Russians tracked entry and have pinpointed touchdown." The Aurora aircraft is said to be a secret hypersonic aircraft developed by the USAF in the '80s and '90s. Some say it was developed in Area 51 using alien technology.
Part IV : "The X-Files"
Easter egg: with a frame-by-frame analysis, we can see that the text Scully's thesis looks more like something out of a top secret MJ-12 document than a skeptic's prose.
The "life is like a box of chocolates" scene is of course a parody/variation on Forrest Gump, a film where we also see modern american history through the life of the main character told in flashbacks.
Frohike: "I don't utter another
syllable until the CSM-25 countermeasure filter is activated."
Young CSM: "I'd rather read the worst novel ever written than sit through the best movie ever made."
General Francis: "Cigarette?"
Martin Luther King: "Therefore,
communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and
follow through with the revolutions that we initiate."
CSM (on killing King): "I'll do
myself. I have too much respect for the man."
(Deep Throat pulls out the gun.)
CSM: "A living E.B.E. could advance Bill Mulder's project by decades."
Deep Throat: "Security Resolution council 1013 states 'Any country capturing such an entity is responsible for its immediate extermination'. I'm the liar. You're the killer."
CSM: "Your lies have killed more in a day than I have in a lifetime. I've never killed anybody."
Deep Throat: "Maybe I'm not the liar."
CSM: "I have a chance to go an entire lifetime without killing anybody or any thing."
Deep Throat: "With all of our work in the past thirty years, all of our victories, if the world were to see this... it would destroy all we've gained in a few hours. Tonight, we have a new enemy."
(CSM pulls out the quarter.)
(Heads it is.)
CSM: "Go ahead. Make history."
(While Deep Throat executes the alien, CSM pulls out his nicotine patch and lights a cigarette.)
CSM's monologue: "Life is like a
chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever
asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back is another box of
chocolates. So, you're stuck with this undefinable whipped mint crap
that you mindlessly wolf down when there's nothing else left to eat.
Sure, once in a while, there's a peanut butter cup, or an english
toffee, but they're gone too fast, and the taste is...fleeting. So you
end up with nothing but broken bits filled with hardened jelly and
"I can kill you whenever I please, but not today." (a line in CSM's would-be novels, and CSM while pointing his rifle at Frohike)