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Life and Art: The View from the Grassy Knoll

by Plaguepuppy Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2002 at 8:53 AM

Another look at the first Lone Gunmen episode, broadcast March 2001, in which a shadowy group within the government arranges the remote-control hijacking of an airliner to be flown into the World Trade Center. Includes excerpts of some crucial scenes, and some general observations about life, art and 9-11.



The Lone Gunmen Episode 1: Pilot

In which the intrepid conspiracy theorists, led by Byers not-so-dead father,

stop the events of 9-11 six months before they happen...


Byers: [voiceover] "My name is John Fitzgerald Byers. I was named after our 35th president, and I keep having this beautiful dream. In my dream, the events of November 22nd, 1963, never happened. In it, my namesake was never assassinated. Other things are different, too, in my dream. My country is hopeful and innocent; young again. Young in spirit. My fellow citizens trust their elected officials, never once having been betrayed by them. My government is truly 'of the people, by the people, for the people'. All my hopes for my country, for myself... all are fulfilled. I have everything a person could want; home and family... and love. Everything that counts for anything in life... I have it. But the dream ends the same way every time. I lose it all." [Byers is left standing alone in the desert holding a wedding ring]



Chris Carter says:  "Every show I do I seem to introduce a "myth arc."  It kind of comes about on its own.... Something I learned with HR is not to introduce it too soon. Give people a chance to get to know the characters and setup.... before you get into the heavy stuff. 


Lone Gunmen Episode 1 - Not Really A Pilot

...but a story about a pilotless hijacking

Ashes supposedly belonging to Byers' father are launched in an Estes rocket at the conclusion of his funeral as his Company brethren look on 



1AEB79 Pilot

Rating: 13 million
Air Date: March 4, 2001
Written By: Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz
Directed By: Rob Bowman 


A father-son reunion and chat about scenario 12-D

Byers is surprised by his father as he goes through his house looking for clues to his disappearance.  His father is less than happy to be found, knowing that Overlord will use his son to find him.  Confronting his father with his suspicions that Scenario 12-D is connected to his disappearance, Byers learns of an impending staged terrorist action, the bombing of a domestic airliner.


An unscheduled stop at the corner of Liberty and Washington...

Boarding the plane expecting to find a bomb,  they learn that the plane is the bomb, and is being flown by remote control.  Hacking into the plane's navigational computer, Langley and Frohike learn its true destination.



Flying by wireless - Byers' father breaks into the cockpit and turns off the autopilot to convince the pilot that he is not in control of the plane.  Back in Tacoma Park Langly struggles to decrypt the control signal but "my CPU's are pegged!" 



Final Approach   - The plane is closing rapidly on the WTC North Tower.  The pilots struggle vainly to override the remote control signal, while Langly struggles to decrypt it.  Frohike has gone to plead with Yves, who has the "Octium" chip stolen at the opening of the episode.  After he threatens to divulge her true identity (her full name is an anagram of "Lee Harvey Oswald", though it is never clear what this implies) she agrees to patch in with her superchip and help them decrypt the signal.  Somehow magically joining forces with Langley in the few seconds remaining (Maryland must have really good DSL connections) remote control is defeated in a predictable but nicely-done CGI near miss.



Dnouement  - some final words of encouragement.  Bert explains to his son why he does not intend to go public with what he knows about Overlord, and why they should both accept getting out alive as the best achievable outcome.



What does it all mean?

Does life imitate art?  Did Carter and his associates know something specific about what was planned, and use the high-profile first episode of a new series to make it public, and so perhaps keep it from happening?  Little did they reckon with the ruthless efficiency of our new era of Total Awareness Control, and how quickly and efficiently inconvenient information can now be flushed down the memory hole.  

Or was it just one of those things that was "in the air" at the time, an expression of the zeitgeist?  Great and traumatic events always seem to be preceded by strange foreshadowings, like the upstream standing waves that form behind a rock in the streambed.  Perhaps this is just another in the endless string of odd synchronicities surrounding the events of 9-11, peculiar juxtapositions of events that must eventually strain the credulity of even the most seasoned Coincidence Theorist.




If only it were true...



Brought to you by:


(His evil twin?)


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