The Most Dangerous Man In the World
"Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man" Plot Summary:
Oblivious to the fact their subject is listening with an electronic device, Mulder and Scully listen as Frohike tells the life story of Cigarette-Smoking Man, who was orphaned as a child when his father was electrocuted as a spy. In 1963, CSM was in the Army - a friend of Bill Mulder - when a government agent recruited him for a special assignment: the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He shot from the grassy knoll and killed the president. Though he was always opposed to smoking because of his mother's death from lung cancer, he lights a cigarette afterwards.
In 1968, CSM helps engineer the Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations. He has power even over J. Edgar Hoover, and is shielded from the elected officials of the government. But his fantasy is to leave real-life spying and write potboilers. Only a constant stream of rejection letters keeps him in the live detective business.
By 1991, CSM is frustrated: the Soviet Union's collapse has made the official government strong, and he's bored with rigging elections, the Oscars, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and the Rodney King trial. There aren't any interesting wars to start. When a survivor is found in the wreckage of an alien craft and executed by Deep Throat, CSM has a new enemy to fight. His two young recruits Mulder and Scully have no idea they're being manipulated by him.
In present time, CSM finally has one of his stories accepted in a magazine, and prepares to resign from his job. Then he discovers that the magazine is a sleazy rag, and that the editors rewrote his story's ending. Crushed, he sits on a park bench and compares life to a cheap, tasteless box of chocolates. Then he smiles slightly and lights another cigarette. As Frohike finishes telling this story, CSM lurks in a nearby building with his rifle, prepared to shoot the Lone Gunman, but decides not to bother.
HOWL! I don't think we were supposed to believe for a minute that this is CSM's true history, but it sure was a blast. The idea that the consummate government agent would rather write bad spy novels than live them has great appeal. Hey, CSM really wants to be Chris Carter! No wonder he didn't shoot Frohike; the man paints his legend wonderfully. CSM should hire the Lone Gunmen to write his autobiography. No, wait; he should hire them to write his novels.
I really like the idea that all the conspiracies of our age were engineered by one man, and all the assassinations carried out by the same individual. Makes the world seem a whole lot simpler and safer in some ways if there's just a single agent of evil in the entire U.S. government. Conspiracy theorists, who seem to enjoy focusing on the power of the individual to change all of history rather than on large social movements and trends, ought to eat this up.
There's not much profound to say about this episode on a technical level; nice balance of humor and suspense, and William B. Davis was superlative as always underplaying the mysterious character. I particularly enjoyed his Forrest Gump-ism at the end. I guess it will take awhile before we know how much of this story, if any, is true. The only notable omission for me was an answer to the question we all want to know: is CSM Mulder's father, and if so, what was his mother thinking?
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