Lexicon Exclusive

"The Final Jest"

The X-Files Lexicon’s interview with Darin Morgan about “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”.

Conducted via e-mail, circa 2/27/2018 by Matt Allair

Darin Morgan remains one of the most beloved X-Files writers within the fandom. We had the privilege of conducting a straight forward interview with him in 2016, and had stayed in touch, so approaching him came with ease. But something interesting happened along the way, while he had been in the midst of press junkets about his new X-Files episode, which he once again wrote and directed, we had trouble co-coordinating a date to speak with him, after we had sent him the questions, in advance, in anticipation of an interview, he decided to do something unique and something that felt very much like him, and while he offered some straight answers to an upcoming feature for Den of Geek, He in effect, and with the greatest affection kind of ‘hijacked’ the interview for the Lexicon, and went off on his own tangent. While he answered the spirit of the questions about “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”, he did so with a fresh slant.

So, dear reader, bear in mind that the interviewee is not ‘Matt Allair’, but a kind of satire. Those who are familiar with the history of The X-Files Lexicon, might find this quite funny as it runs into sheer contrast of what people know about the site. We have added footnotes at various points for clarification. Yet again, Darin’s protein talent is coming through in an ‘interview’, so we present this word for word.  

[Note: What follows is an accurate, word-for-word, swear-to-god, transcript of an actual interview by The X-Files Lexicon with X-Files writer/director/flukeman Darin Morgan. The conversation was conducted over the telephone, even though both parties claimed they were communicating telepathically. ]

Matt Allair: Greetings, Maestro Morgan! It is I, doth Grand Inquisitor of the X-Files Lexicon! Regarding thou’s most recent risible tale, bestowed with the inscrutable moniker, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” the thrust of my initial query must be that which proved most ponderous to the phrenic faculties of a plurality of X-Philes: Whither Daggoo?*

Darin Morgan: Aw, god -- is this how the whole interview’s gonna go?

X-Files Lexicon: Sorry. Before we begin, I’d like to clear up something. I recently read an otherwise excellent interview with you, in which you were described as being 68 years old. And I’ve since come across other online articles where you’re reported to be 69 or even 70. Now, I know the Internet is never wrong, but...these are all wildly incorrect, yes?**

Darin Morgan: Yeah. I’m old, but not that old.


X-Files Lexicon: So, how old are you?

Morgan: Uhm...25.

X-Files Lexicon: Well, I’m glad we cleared that -- hey, wait a second. That means you wrote the episode “Humbug,” when you were only...2 years old?!

Morgan: Uhm...yeah. That probably explains why that episode is a little rough around the edges.

X-Files Lexicon: Nevertheless, I find it hard to believe that a 2 year old could have written it!

Morgan: Okay...I’m 33.

X-Files Lexicon: Thank you for your honesty. Now, your new X-Files episode displays on obvious love for The Twilight Zone. Do you have an all-time favorite episode of that show?

Morgan: In “Forehead Sweat,” I somehow managed to pay tribute to all my favorite episodes: “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up,” “The Howling Man,” “To Serve Man,” and even a couple shots were homages to “Eye of The Beholder,” which nobody seemed to pick up on.

X-Files Lexicon: And your all-time favorite episodes of "The Dusky Realm"?

Morgan: Besides, obviously, “The Lost Martian,” I love “Nightmare at 20 Feet,” the one where the high diver at a public swimming pool sees a gremlin on his diving board, but no one -- not even the lifeguards! -- believe him.

X-Files Lexicon: And who can forget that twist ending -- the gremlin was real, but the water in the pool wasn’t!

Morgan: Classic "Dusky Realm"! I’m also particularly fond of the infamous pilot episode, “Where’d Everybody Go And Which One Of You Took My Pants?”

X-Files Lexicon: Turning now to the X-Files...David (Duchovny) has publicly stated that he harbored a suspicion that you were always secretly trying to destroy the entire series from within. Do you know if Gillian (Anderson) had those same suspicions?

Morgan: Oh, no. Gillian didn’t suspect at all -- she knew that’s what I was up to you.

X-Files Lexicon: What do you mean?

Morgan: Well, whenever I asked to her say some ridiculous line of dialogue or to do some silly bit of business, she wouldn’t say: “I’m not going to do that because it’s completely out of character for my character to say that,” or “I’m not going to do that because it’s so silly it would destroy the entire series. ” Instead, she would simply nod, and then whisper to me: “That’s right, baby -- let’s burn this motherfucker to the ground!”***

X-Files Lexicon: Odds bodkin!! You mean, she was in cahoots with you the whole time?!

Morgan: I...I’ve said too much already. Next question.

X-Files Lexicon: I find the Mandela Effect fascinating. Have you ever experienced the Mandela Effect yourself? And what made you want to write an episode about the fallibility of human memory?

Morgan: You already asked me that question.

X-Files Lexicon: Did I?

Morgan: I think so.

X-Files Lexicon: How did you answer?

Morgan: I don’t recall.

X-Files Lexicon: Oh, wait -- now I remember. Your answer really made me laugh!

Morgan: Thanks.

X-Files Lexicon: Could you tell me a little about your choice of locations for the scene between Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dr. They (not David Duchovny)?

Morgan: After setting most of the episode in the clichéd, conspiratorial confines of shadowy parking garages, I wanted this pivotal scene with Dr. They to take place in a polar opposite location -- a sunny and public park, with wide open spaces. And we had found the perfect location, but on the morning we were scheduled to shoot, we showed up and found that someone had put a bunch of these gigantic, laughing men statues everywhere! We couldn’t believe it! And we couldn’t move them -- they were bolted down or something! It was too late to find another location. So...I used all the skills I possess as a director to shoot the scene in such a way that the audience wouldn’t notice them. How’d I do?

X-Files Lexicon: You failed miserably****.


Morgan: Damn it!

X-Files Lexicon: No, but that’s okay -- I thought those statues were perfect symbols for everything that scene seemed to be about! Their “laughter” encapsulated Dr. They’s trickster persona, and their incongruity seemed to express Mulder’s confusion and uncertainty about...well, everything. In fact, the end of that scene...with Mulder standing in front of the “shrugging” statue...why, I’d almost be willing to say that shot is one of the most profoundly beautiful in the entire run of the series, if I hadn’t already read an online comment that said you were a very pedestrian director.

Morgan: Thank you, that’s almost very kind of you. And I’m happy you picked up on exactly what I was going for by using those statues in the way that I did. In fact, I had written that scene with those very statues in mind.

X-Files Lexicon: Uhm...but you just said you hadn’t meant to use them at all.

Morgan: No I didn’t.

X-Files Lexicon: In your previous answer -- you said you didn’t even know the statues were going to be there, and that you even tried to shoot around them.

Morgan: Fake news!

X-Files Lexicon: Speaking of “fake news,” I noticed in this episode you never actually say “our current president” by name. Why not?

Morgan: To be honest, I’ve been so busy the past couple years working on these X-FILE episodes that I don’t actually know who is president.

X-Files Lexicon: I...I find that really hard to believe.

Morgan: Harder to believe than who actually is president?

X-Files Lexicon: Touché.

Morgan: Perhaps at this point in the interview, I could entertain your readers with a fond memory I have of working with this season’s talented and charming Canadian cinematographer, Craig Wrobleski?

X-Files Lexicon: Uhm –

Morgan: We were shooting the scene where the Elvis cape-wearing and Herman Munster-booted Alien descends down his flying saucer’s escalator, only to then gets on his “hover-scooter. ” Me and Craig couldn’t stop cracking up during the takes. Eventually, Craig turned to me and said: “I can’t believe someone is actually paying us money to shoot this!” (Oddly enough, this was the identical reaction the Fox Network executives had when they saw the dailies*****. )

X-Files Lexicon: And is it true that having the Alien get on his “hoverscooter,” wasn’t in the script or even something you had planned? That the scooter actually belonged to the actor who played the Alien (the brilliant Keith Arbuthnot), and you had simply seen him riding around on it while in his costume and make-up, and you just decided on-the-spot to use it in the scene?

Morgan: Yeah.

X-Files Lexicon: If anyone has until now ever doubted your genius, I think this proves they no longer can.

Morgan: Agreed.

X-Files Lexicon: Regarding this scene, are you disheartened at all that “You’re free to explore Uranus all you want,” has failed to catch on as a catch phrase?

Morgan: More than you’ll ever know...

X-Files Lexicon: I’m suddenly feeling kind of lazy. Instead of questions, I’m just going to start saying people’s names and ask you to react, thus doing my job for me.

Morgan: Uhm—

X-Files Lexicon: Brian Huskey (Reggie Something/Murgatroid)?

Morgan: Funny as Hell. Very nice guy. What more could you ask for?

X-Files Lexicon: The legendary Stuart Margolin (Dr. They)?

Morgan: A wonderful experience that was not unlike working with the legendary Charles Nelson Reilly. Someone you watched on TV as a kid, back when you couldn’t have dreamed that someday you would not only be working with them sometime in the future, but they’d be saying lines you had written in a way that was so much better than when you dreamed they would someday do it back when you were a kid, and not dreaming about any of this.

X-Files Lexicon: Wait, what--?

Morgan: Plus, I think Stuart enjoyed saying the line, “The bitter end!” almost as much as I enjoyed writing it.

X-Files Lexicon: Alex Diakun (Buddy/Devil) and Dan Zukovic (Martin)

Morgan: I’ve worked with both these guys multiple times in the past, so it was kind of special to have them both be in the opening "Dusky Realm" scene. Actually, they were both in one of my Millennium episodes, wherein Alex played another devil, who was tormenting a character played by Dan, but the two didn’t have any actual scenes together.

X-Files Lexicon: What the hell was Millennium******?

Morgan: Oh, that was another one of Chris (Carter)’s series. I did a couple episodes for it back in the day.

X-Files Lexicon: Never heard of it.

Morgan: Not many people remember it. But I recall with great fondness the time Vince Gillian told me how much he liked this particular episode that Alex and Dan appeared in.

X-Files Lexicon: Vince Gilligan?! Did he ever write an episode of this so-called Millennium show?!

Morgan: You know, I don’t think he ever did.

X-Files Lexicon: Then that show will never exist for me.

Morgan: Fair enough.

X-Files Lexicon: (Production Designer) Mark Freeborn?

Morgan: He’s the best. In fact, Freeborn was the production designer on my two episodes of Millennium.

X-Files Lexicon: NOBODY CARES ABOUT THAT SHOW!!!

Morgan: Okay, sorry.

X-Files Lexicon: What was it like to fulfill the lifelong dream of Mitch Pileggi (Skinner), by letting him appear in one of your episodes?

Morgan: Well, the weird thing is...in the script, I had written a huge monologue for Mitch that was about 3 1/2 pages long. Skinner was not only going to explain how he knew Reggie, but then went on to explain how Reggie was connected to William and the Cigarette Smoking Man, and even Doggett(!) and...well, Skinner’s long speech not only retconned the entire series but also went on to explain what the hell “retcon” means, and it was all suppose to be delivered with the same passion as Howard Beale’s “I’m mad as Hell” speech, all the while being on his knees and punching the ground with his fists like Charlton Heston at the end of the Planet of the Apes.

X-Files Lexicon: So...what happened?!

Morgan: Mitch showed up that day, took one look at the script, and said: “Why don’t I just say, ‘Where the hell are they taking Reggie?’” The rest is history.

X-Files Lexicon: ’d like to ask you a question about the sequence where Reggie is inserted into old X-FILE episodes.

Morgan: (to himself; wearily) Here comes the “sugar boobs” question....

X-Files Lexicon: I found it interesting that you included “Teso Dos Bichos,” the infamous “killer cats” episode. Mainly, because that episode has always been my all-time favorite –

Morgan: Okay, this is all starting to make sense now...

X-Files Lexicon: -- and yet, I’m acutely, painfully aware that most fans don’t share my appreciation for it. I have a theory as to why you included it*******.

Morgan: This...this is going to be good...

X-Files Lexicon: Much of the criticism about the revival is that the episodes simply aren’t as good as the episodes produced back when the X-Files was at its “creative peak.” But, like someone suffering from the Mandela Effect, perhaps some people are not remembering just how many episodes during those “peak years” were not exactly...“peak X-Files,” if you know what I mean.

Morgan: Well, I sort of see what you’re getting at. I mean, I was only there for a short time at the start of the X-Files “peak period,” but even back then I was pointing out that consistency was not the show’s strong point. And I guess it never will be. After all, not every episode we’ve produced during the revival can claim to be “peak X-Files,” either.

X-Files Lexicon: Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed.

Morgan: Are...are you being sarcastic?

X-Files Lexicon: (sarcastic) No.

Morgan: Uhm...nevertheless, that’s seriously not the reason I used that clip from “Teso Dos Bichos. ” I was merely-

X-Files Lexicon: --And, thus, you’re sort of asking people to consider what the critical reaction to one of these “not peak X-File” episodes would be if -- instead of airing during the show’s initial run -- they had aired during the revival. I mean, take your episode, “War of the Coprophages”-

Morgan: Hey--!

X-Files Lexicon: I seem to recall that episode was actually pretty warmly received when it originally aired during the third season.

Morgan: Entomologists everywhere loved it!

X-Files Lexicon: Exactly. But are you really going to tell me that if it aired in Season 10 or 11, that an episode about...what was that one about again--?

Morgan: (embarrassed, weary SIGH) Robotic, dung-eating, killer cockroaches from outer space maybe.

X-Files Lexicon: You’re going to tell me that if that episode had aired this current season, critics wouldn’t point to it as “Exhibit A,” that the X-Files was not only “not as good as it used to be,” but was now completely, creatively bankrupt?!

Morgan: Hmmm, I don’t know -- the cockroach crawling across the screen is still a pretty good gag.

X-Files Lexicon: You’re telling me! The first time I ever saw it, I threw a shoe at my TV!

Morgan: Really?!

X-Files Lexicon: No, but I suspected you’ve been wanting to hear someone say that for 20 years now.

Morgan: You’re right!

X-Files Lexicon: Conversely, even though some people have pretended to “like” your revival episodes, they still seem reluctant to say they’re as good as anything done back in the X-Files’ heyday. But if, instead of the cockroach episode, either “Were-Monster” or “Forehead Sweat” had originally aired during season 3, don’t you think a lot of people would have --without any hesitation -- declared that you had hit the Trifecta?

Morgan: Well, maybe all that did happened...in a parallel universe.

X-Files Lexicon: Were not doing that parallel universe, Sci-Fi gobbledygook nerd boy, so just drop it.

Morgan: (LAUGHS.)

X-Files Lexicon: What are you laughing at?

Morgan: You were quoting one of the lines from the episode.

X-Files Lexicon: I was?

Morgan: (pause) Do you have any more questions?

X-Files Lexicon: I have one final question for you about “Forehead Sweat”.

Morgan: Okay.

X-Files Lexicon: A lot of people really hated this episode********.

Morgan: (pause) Is that your question?

X-Files Lexicon: A lot of people really hated this episode?

Morgan: Oh, sure, without a doubt. But dealing with people’s hatred of your work was actually one of the valuable things I learned from working on the X-Files.

X-Files Lexicon: You learned not to give a shit?

Morgan: Oh, no, not exactly. I mean, of course, you care about how others respond to your work. And you want everyone to like it. But that’s just never going to happen. Everyone’s tastes are different, so no matter what you do, there’s always going to be somebody that won’t like it. And that’s true about anything. But with the X-Files -- in addition to those natural dissenters -- you also had large segments of your audience that had a very specific idea of what constitutes a good X-Files episode, and any deviation from that was not to be tolerated. Some people only liked the mythology episodes. Some only liked the stand-alones (or monsters of the week. ) Some people only liked the episodes that focused on Mulder & Scully’s relationship. Some people liked the “funny” episodes, but a lot of people didn’t. So, you simply had to accept that a larger-than-normal portion of your audience was already set to hate whatever you did, regardless of how it came out. Therefore, you learned to just try to make something that you, yourself, would like, and hope there were enough people like you out there that might also like it, too.

X-Files Lexicon: I think you’re seriously underestimating just how many people really hated this episode.

Morgan: Probably, but...who gives a shit?

X-Files Lexicon: Mr. Morgan, you seem wise beyond your years.

Morgan: Not really. After all, I’m 90.

X-Files Lexicon: Speaking of imminent death, are you currently working on any new projects?

Morgan: Actually, I’m excited to say I’m working on something with David!

X-Files Lexicon: Hey, what’s with this “David” stuff? It’s somewhat well known amongst fans that David gets irritated that you always refer to him in interviews -- somewhat derisively -- as simply “Duchovny. ” What gives?

Morgan: Well, that’s part of the new project. David promised me that if I started to call him “David” in interviews...then I could be in his rock ‘n’ roll band! So...“David” it is*********!

X-Files Lexicon: I see. Well, what instrument do you play?

Morgan: Tambourine!

X-Files Lexicon: (An awkward, silent pause.)

Morgan: I haven’t been playing it for too long, but already I’m pretty proficient. I can shake it. I can hit it with my hand. I can hit it with my hip. Not in time, mind you. But that will come with practice. Speaking of which, my dear David is suppose to call me soon, and tell me when the band’s going to start rehearsing for our upcoming tour of New Zealand and Australia!

X-Files Lexicon: Uhm...I think he’s already on that tour.

Morgan: Wait, what--?!

X-Files Lexicon: Yeah, he’s been playing shows there for a couple weeks now. In fact, the tour’s probably already over with.

Morgan: That fucking Duchovny!!!


[And -- with what sounded like a very angry fist being punched through the skin of a tambourine -- our interview came to an end. The bitter end.... ]

Thank you to Mr. Morgan for using his protein talent to conduct this ‘interview’. We hope others will see that it penetrates the heart of the issue regarding fan reaction to the eleventh season in various circles. We hope no one, or few, were offended by his candor. We wish Darin the very best with whatever he pursues next.

*We are respectful, but not to that degree! Fake news source! But Daggoo will never fade away!

** We’d never ask about their age, nor about what they earn per episode (unlike a fan 1998 who asked that to Mitch Pileggi at a fan convention, how much he earns, we were there!)

*** This belief about Darin hating David has been mirrored in our other interview, but likely just good set production and office ribbing!

**** We’d never say that, we’re not insane!

***** This, we might likely believe, it’s a good thing Chris Carter is there.

****** Oh, we are very well versed in Millennium, Darin’s “Jose Chung’s ‘Doomsdays Defense’” and “Somehow The Devil Got Behind Me” are brilliant!

******* Nope, we would never claim we love “Teso dos Bichos”, the prop killer cats were a little much for any fan!

********We’d never say that!

********* Sorry, this isn’t really true, Darin isn’t joining his band, and regretfully, Darin and David aren’t working on a show project. Wow!...We created half a Christmas tree with these footnotes!

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