Baltimore: a nice place to be introduced to The Conspiracy.
At least that's how Fox Mulder of "The X-Files" has come to regard Charm City. For it was right here, in a Fells Point warehouse, that Mulder was transformed from your run-of-the-mill, bad-guy-chasing FBI agent to the guy who sees conspiracies everywhere and the truth nowhere.
Tomorrow night's episode of "The X-Files" (9 p.m.-10 p.m. on WBFF, Channel 45) takes a break from the season's litany of conspiracy twists -- Is Cigarette-Smoking Man really dead? Was it her faith or a computer chip that rid Scully of cancer? Will Mulder's sister ever show her face again? -- to impart a little history.
Set in 1989, the show opens with Baltimore's favorite conspiracy-minded homicide cop, John Munch (Richard Belzer, on loan from NBC and "Homicide: Life on the Street") questioning Byers, better known to X-Philes as the best-dressed of The Lone Gunmen, that trio of computer geeks frequently consulted by FBI Agent Mulder (David Duchovny).
It seems Byers and his cohorts were found in a blood-strewn warehouse by city cops, who have left it to Munch to find out who these three are, what happened and why the fourth guy found inside was a naked FBI agent screaming about aliens.
What follows is a mystery wrapped in an enigma -- nothing new for "The X-Files" -- that clues viewers in on who The Lone Gunmen are, how they met Mulder and how they turned him on to The Conspiracy.
"The script does sort of imply that we got him started," actor Bruce Harwood, who plays Byers, says with a laugh. "I thought that was a little odd, what with all that stuff about his sister," whom Mulder believes was abducted by aliens as a child.
Still, Harwood considers The Gunmen's role in Mulder's transformation a badge of honor and is thrilled with a script that gives the trio (including actors Dean Haglund and Tom $l Braidwood) their meatiest roles yet.
"When I read the script, I was pretty pleased to have all this information about who we had been and why we got together," says Harwood. "I always figured there had to be some way [Mulder] gets into the underworld, the conspiracy."
Fine, fine. But why Baltimore? Why not Washington, where Mulder always hangs out, anyway? Or New York, the source of pretty much all the world's evil (think Yankees)? Or even Vancouver, where the show is filmed? (Note to the producers: Baltimore's hometown newspaper is The Sun, not The Guardian. Munch could've told you that.)
Harwood says he doesn't know why Baltimore was chosen -- "Maybe the writers already had the crossover in mind," he suggests. And Mulder's partner, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), did get her medical degree at the University of Maryland. But anyone who's paid attention to events in Baltimore these past few months knows the real story.
Look at Davey Johnson's resignation from the Orioles, the convention hotel proposed for way out there by Little Italy, the sinkhole on Park Avenue and the Hubble Space Telescope connection. And do you think it's an accident John Waters calls Baltimore home?
No way. It's all The Conspiracy.
What: Episode set in Baltimore, with Richard Belzer of "Homicide"
When: 9 p.m.-10 p.m. tomorrow
Where: WBFF, Channel 45
Pub Date: 11/15/97