|The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat||Credits||Gallery||Transcript|
"The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is the fourth episode of the eleventh season of The X-Files. It is written and directed by Darin Morgan.
The episode explores “the idea of The Mandela Effect, in which large groups of people remember an alternate history, Mulder and Scully find out how the X-Files themselves may really have originated.
After turning down Scully for dinner, Mulder receives a signal to meet someone. In the parking lot, he meets a man named Reggie who claims to know him. The man claims that someone is trying to erase him from society and to prove his point refers to Mulder's childhood memory of watching The Twilight Zone episode "The Lost Martian" (which in reality is non-existent), to Mulder's surprise. Scully later matches his disbelief when Reggie (now going by the last name "Something") gives her a container of a cherry-flavored Jell-O rip off brand called Goop-O A-B-C, which she remembers from her childhood. Mulder and Scully, and eventually Reggie, argue over whether these events are an example of the Mandela Effect or as Reggie refers to it, the Mengele Effect. Mulder and Scully are shocked to remember that Reggie Something was formerly a member of the X-Files team, and in fact started working on them alongside Mulder and was there on the day in 1993 when Dr. Dana Scully arrived in the basement office. After going over their past cases (with Reggie now part of many iconic past moments from the series), they learn that the "they" Reggie keeps screaming about as the orchestrator is a memory-manipulating cretin named Dr. They. He not only meets with Mulder but does so in an obvious public place, explaining somewhat cheerfully that the age of people covering up their sins is over and Mulder should just "believe what you want to believe–that's what everybody does now anyway". Dr. They also appears to threaten Mulder when he says "you're dead" but then grins and says that he means Mulder's purpose via the X-Files and chasing down conspiracies is dead.
Reggie is revealed to be a longtime government employee turned mental-ward patient named Reggie Murgatroyd, whose past besides the X-Files included being a lethal drone pilot, waterboarding terrorists, working IRS forms longhand, and sleeping through a stint as a fraud detection officer. Finally, the three of them come to their last X-Files case together: an encounter with a Trump-like alien who brings the remnants of the Voyager spacecraft and says that humanity is horrible and the rest of the universe has banded together to build a wall in outer space that will prevent mankind from ever getting near them. The alien says that despite some good people, human beings are unique in the singular negative sense that they constantly lie. He gives Mulder a book with "all the answers" and wishes them a less-than-fond goodbye and good riddance. Mulder is apparently distraught with the idea of there being no more answers to seek and breaks down into a childish tantrum as Reggie and Scully embrace. In the present, Reggie is taken back to the mental institution; as Skinner witnesses this, he apparently recognizes Reggie and asks why he's being taken away, much to Mulder and Scully's surprise.
Back at Mulder's house, they watch "The Lost Martian" after Mulder figures out it was a real episode from a cheap sci-fi knockoff show, and just as Scully begins to eat some Goop-O, she stops and she says "I want to remember how it all was".
- Past episodes were recreated using Reggie such as "Pilot ", "Tooms", "Home, Pennsylvania ", "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Small Potatoes".
- Darin Morgan on recreating old scenes: "Well, that was the last thing I wrote. My script was due, so at like 3 in the morning, I was going through old episodes. [Laughs] I thought it would be much easier than it turned out to be. Some of the episodes that I thought I was going to use, or certain scenes that I wanted to use that were famous for fans, the problem was those scenes, I remembered them incorrectly. Which I guess is in keeping with the theme of the episode. But so many of the important scenes are played out in tight close-ups between Mulder and Scully. There was no place to fit Reggie in. So I ended up [choosing] certain episodes, and how I could fit Reggie into a particular shot sort of dictated it. And like I said, it was like 4 in the morning, so I ended up picking a handful and letting it go at that."
- On the Twilight Zone references: "The last thing I wanted to ask you about was that final scene with the alien on the Segway, where you reference the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.” That’s where the episode goes into full farce. Walk me through how that scene came together." "The most interesting thing with that was that it was not intended to be on the little scooter. The actor [who played the alien] was in full makeup and costume when we started setting up the lighting and stuff, and that’s his own little scooter. That’s how he gets around. He was riding around on that thing, and it just looked hysterical. I grabbed the DP, Greg, and I go, “Greg, we gotta use this. It just looks too funny.” So that was sort of an unexpected special treat. When we were shooting that, I couldn’t stop laughing. Fortunately, the alien speaks telepathically, so it didn’t matter that I was ruining takes by laughing. That made it all worth it, just to shoot that thing. Usually shooting this stuff is really hard, but shooting that scene… I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time."
- In the episode "Unusual Suspects" from Season 5 in a time before the events of the show, Mulder answers the phone and greets a man named "Reg". Reggie from this episode claims, he worked with Mulder even before he met Scully. It is possible, the authors named Reggie after that man on the phone.
- David Duchovny as Special Agent Fox Mulder
- Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Scully
- Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Walter Skinner
- Brian Huskey as Reggie
- Bill Dow as Pangborn
- Stuart Margolin as Dr. They
- Dan Zukovic as Martin
- Alex Diakun as Buddy/Devil
- Keith Arbuthnot as Alien
- Susan Wright as Reggie's Mom
- Antonio Cayonne as FBI Agent
- Wolsey Brooks as FBI Agent #2
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- Ryan Hesp as Henchman #1
- Shane Dean as Henchman #2
- Charles Andre as Detainee
- The ambulance which takes Reggie away is from the "Spotnitz Sanitarium", which is a possible reference to Frank Spotnitz.
FBI Agent: "The legend I've heard so much about would have already figured this out. You start as a rebel. Then you get fat and the next thing you know, you are deep state. It's sad."