First appearance: “E.B.E.”
You know the type. A working knowledge of quantum physics-but unable to pull off matching socks. Equal parts geek and genius, the three conspiracy theorists who produce the magazine known as The Lone Gunmen (named after the alleged second assassin in the Kennedy assassination) are wired into a netherworld of secrets, shadows, and coverups-where everything is dangerous and nothing can be trusted.
For Mulder and Scully, Byers (Bruce Harwood), Langly (Dean Haglund) and Frohike (Tom Braidwood) form an alternative think tank, where they can go to test their weirdest ideas and confirm their worst fears. Accounting for their extreme popularity, Braidwood calls the Gunmen “technology renegades,” and Haglund observes that, “deep in our heart we all want to be rebels.” Indeed, the three have returned several time since their debut in “E.B.E.”, appearing in “Blood,” “One Breath,” “Fearful Symmetry,” “Anasazi,” “The Blessing Way,” and “Paper Clip.”
While they are similarly obsessed, the three have quite distinct personalities. Haglund’s Langly is the rock n’ roll computer genius, Byers the academic, and Frohike the Dirty Old Man (as well as one of Scully’s most devoted-if awkward-admirers). Braidwood does double duty on The X-Files, also appearing behind the camera as a first assistant director. The story goes that when the auditioning for Frohike stalling out, director Billy Graham lamented, “We need somebody slimy. Somebody like Braidwood.”
The fourth member of the group is heard, but never seen. The genius hacker known as “The Thinker” is an homage to a fan, one Yung Jun Kim, who so impressed writer Glen Morgan with his erudite e-mails on everything from aircraft weaponry to high fashion that he got written into the show. On The X-Files, anything is possible!
As the episode “Unusual Suspects” is all about the Lone Gunmen and how they got together, I won’t repeat everything from that episode in here. Please refer to the episode summary for details of where they met, and how they initially got on with each other.
Episodes they’re in: EBE, Blood, One Breath, Fearful Symmetry, Anasazi, Blessing Way, Paper Clip, Nisei, Wetwired, Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man, Memento Mori, Redux, Ususual Suspects, Kill Switch, The End, The Movie, Triangle, One Son.
What they do: The Lone Gunmen are the publishers of a magazine called “The Lone Gunman,” so called in reference to one of the many Kennedy assassination theories. This appears to be a fairly wide ranging publication, covering anything we’re likely to find in the “X- Files.” In “EBE,” Mulder calls them an “extreme government watchdog group.” Some of their ideas are first rate, he tells her, but some are “downright spooky.” After meeting them, Scully pronounces them the most paranoid people she’s ever met, and says not one word they say is remotely plausible.
There is some confusion on what their magazine is called: “The Lone Gunman” or “The Magic Bullet” as we see on their door in “Musings…” Unless they publish two…
In “Blood” , it is definitely called “The Lone Gunman,” rather that “The Magic Bullet,” and is monthly. We also see “The Lone Gunman” in “Kill Switch,” revealing it to be a large broadsheet-sized newspaper, with lots of text on the front page. In Dreamland II, we see the magazine, called “The Lone Gunman: The Newsletter For Those Who Want to Stay Informed and Alive.” The magazine’s apparetnly been going for ten years, since their November 1998 issue (featuring an article of Saddam Hussein and Monica Lewinsky, a mandroid) is Vol. X No. 11. It’s published monthly at a dollor an issue, ten dollars a year or the bargain rate of twenty five dollars for three years.
[In the computer game, though, Mulder is seen reading an old issue of “The Magic Bullet” – old but relevant to his case, showing he keeps his back-issues. The Magic Bullet logo in top left. This is the cross- hairs of a gun sight, in a slightly shaded background. “Magic” is written in a stamp like font diagonally across the middle, and “Bullet” underneath. “The Magic Bullet” is then written large, across the whole of the top line. Under it, it says, smaller, “The newsletter for those who want to stay informed and alive.” Beneath that, we learn that this issue, August 2nd 1994, is volume 9, no. 415, and it is a monthly publication. (What? So it’s 35 years? So, the LGM didn’t set it up themselves?) It costs a dollar.
This issue has two articles on the front page. One, by “E.P.,” concerns UFO activity in the north-west. Ellen’s air force base (Deep Throat), and Eisenhower Field (End Game) are mentioned, as if “Project Pounce,” an adjunct to Project Falcon (Fallen Angel). UFO lights are explained away by being the aurora. Medical and intelligence information is collected from the fallen UFOs, and is run by the government’s Project Aquarius.
The other article is by “Frederick Allingham,” and explains how the governemtn is co-operating with the aliens, willingly surrendering. Already, “walk-ins” are common, by which the alien assumes a human host body. “We must fight!” he urges, but the useful field guide to the various species of “hostile reptilian forms” is over the page, and we don’t get to see it.]
They have produced a black jacket with the Lone Gunman logo on it, in red, on the breast pocket. In “Kill Switch,” Esther “borrows” it when she escapes from their office.
They got their name from Mr X in May 1989 (Unusual Suspects), when he said, referring both to the Kennedy assissination and to the cover-up they’d just witnessed, “I heard it was a lone gunman.” Refer to the summary of that episode for details on their first meeting and first adventure.
The Lone Gunmen are useful for providing Mulder with background information on any subject that he may need background information on, and are invaluable to writers as they can always be relied upon to know something that can advance a plot when it reaches in impasse.
Despite this, they claim that Mulder’s theories are weirder than their’s. (EBE)
There is also a fourth member, who joined them shortly after “One Breath” and was killed about six months later. This was the “Thinker,” aka Kenneth Soona, who was too secretive to actually appear in the office with them, but can be consulted via email. This is the hacker who got access to the MJ files at the start of “Anasazi.” Despite giving the tape to Mulder, he was still executed.
Their office: Rather like Mulder’s office, the Lone Gunmen’s office is packed with books, files, computers etc. The outside of the building is seen in “Musings” and the staircase (bare and metallic) up to their office is seen in “Paper Clip.” Unlike Mulder, they appear to live high up rather than subterranean.
From “Musings” we see that the building is definitely in a run-down neighborhood. CSM has rats and broken windows in his building across the street (or alleyway). The address is in black above the door: 566 No street name given Building itself is wood-planked. At the right of the building we see what is either a column or a new building made of cinderblock. To the right of the door are two metal, round garbage cans – the kind that homeless people build fires in. They are full of garbage. The door is wood and has no doorknob, per se, just a knob on the right that does not turn or lock. Presumably the door locks from the inside. There is a professionally done sign on the door all in caps, reading:
THE LONE GUNMEN
“THE MAGIC BULLET”
[In the novel “Ruins,” though, there is no identifying label on their door, which actually seems to fit better with their paranoid natures. Their phone number is unlisted. Their latest issue is a special “All Elvis” number. “No conspiracy is beneath us” Byers says, proudly. (They believe that Elvis sightings are staged, in order to create a fanatical new cult, with Elvis as the new messiah.) Their mailing list, for their magazine, is split into three, and each of them only keeps a third of the names, not letting the others have access to the lists.]
In “One Breath” their screen saver features Nixon, saying “I am not a crook.”
They seem to livein their little office, too. In “Kill Switch,” we see Scully taking a nap in what appears to be their sleeping room, but it is proved in “The End,” when Scully visits them at night. Byers wears traditional pajamas, Langley seems to wear sweats, but Frohike appears to wear a bullet-proof vest to bed – or else to have hastily put it on before opening the door.
They also have a vast amount of locks on the door.
[In the computer game, their phone number 202 555 0149, though, knowing them, they would have changed it after Willmore phoned them. ]
Their van: In “Triangle,” they drive an old battered pale blue Volkswagen van. With fake driving licenses, I trust…
Melvin Frohike (first name from Ususual Suspects) is the oldest of the Lone Gunmen – or, at least, he looks like it. He’s middle aged, short and tends to wear a hat. Sometimes he wears a furry vest type thing, and fingerless gloves. (In Dreamland II, he even cooks with the gloves on – and an apron and bandana.) According to the “Official Guide” he serves as the photographic and operations guru of the bunch. In his pre-Lone Gumen life he was a computer hacker (so not much change there) who had a business called Frohike Electronics Corporation.
He seems partial to Scully, pronouncing her “hot” when he first sees her (“EBE”), a sentiment he repeats with even more conviction after hearing her expound about the CIA. This leads Mulder to say “Settle down, Frohike.” He asks with interest about her when she and Mulder are split up, calling her “tasty” and insisting on getting her phone number in return for the loan of night vision goggles (“Blood”), and turns up at her hospital bed bearing flowers in “One Breath.” This shows his interest in her is more than mere lust, as he takes the trouble to dress up in a suit and tie, and enquires after her with respect and concern. In “Fearful Symmetry” he’s back on form, asking Mulder to tell the “lovely Agent Scully” that he’s been working out: “I’m buff,” he says. In “Blessing Way” he’s once again rendered serious and supportive by tragedy, turning up at Scully’s apartment to commiserate on Mulder’s supposed death.
He is also fairly close to Mulder, although upon first meeting was very hostile to him.(When they believe Mulder is a girlfriend-batterer, Frohike just wants to “kick his ass.” When he thinks Mulder’s dead, he calls him a “true friend. A redwood among mere sprouts.” He embraces Mulder when he finds out he’s still alive.
He does have something of a partiality to drink, as witnessed by his nocturnal visit to Scully’s apartment in “Blessing Way.” As soon as she sees him she asks him how much he’s drunk, and he shows her an empty bottle. He probably shares Mulder’s interest in…. er…. videos that aren’t his. When Mulder returns from the dead in “Blessing Way,” he tells Frohike that he’ll have to wait a bit longer before inheriting his video collection. He could be referring to serious scholarly videos on paranormal theories, of course. Could be….
In “Dreamland II,” Frohike seems quite domestic, cooking huevos rancheros for breakfast. (He says he would have made more salsa if he’d known Mulder was coming.)
Frohike doesn’t like it when Morris (in Dreamland II) calls him “Melvin,” and presumably likes it even less when he calls him “sneezy.”
As with all the Lonegunmen, Frohike seems to be a polymath, always able to come up with the correct information on everything. In “Emily,” Mulder asks him if he knows anything about pharmaceuticals. (“medicinal, or…. recreational?” Frohike says furtively, from which could derive dozens of fanfic about his knowledge of the recreational type, I suppose) and, not surprisingly, he does, despite the fact that it appears to have nothing to do with his computer software background. Oh well…
Ringo (? – this name was in the script but never seemed to make it to the final version of “Unusual Suspects”) Langly is the one who looks like Garth in “Wayne’s World.” He has long blond hair and wears glasses. According to the “Official Guide,” he is the communications expert for the group. He tends to wear a dark t-shirt showing various rock bands such as the Ramones. In his pre-Lone Gunmen life he was (and maybe still is) and avid player of Dungeons and Dragons. At the computer exhibition in Baltimore where the three all met, he had a stall labelled “Langly Vision.”
According to “Fearful Symmetry,” he has a philosophical objection to having his image bounced off a satellite, which we are supposed to accept as the reason why only two of the Lone Gunmen were available to talk to Mulder over the satellite teleconference thing.
He is also the member of the group who answers the phone and insists on recording things (“EBE,” twice) despite assuring Mulder that he isn’t. This communications stuff goes even further. When the Gunmen help Mulder in “Memento Mori,” Langly is the one who keeps in contact with Mulder and Byers, talking to them and relaying messages.
Dreamland II shows that Langly can’t pronounce Spanish, but Byers and Frohike can. “Three of a Kind” shows that Langly can not stomach watching an autopsy. He gets greener and greener, before running from the room to be sick. (“You know, blood and guts can bother some people,” he says, afterwards, when he finds Scully passed out on the floor.)
Byers is the one who wears a suit and tie and has a nicely cropped beard. In “Unusual Suspects” he reveals that he is “John Fitzgerald Byers, born 11/22/1963. I was named after JFK – before the assassination my parents were going to call me Bertram.” According to the “Official Guide,” he is the military and information systems expert. He certainly seems to know a lot about a lot of things – such as being able to analyse Scully’s chart in “One Breath.”
Before he was a Lone Gunmen he was working for the Federal Communications Commission where he was “versed in computer networks.” Langly and his friends, meeting Byers for the first time, called him “the Narc.” Persumably, though, being arresting and realising that there was a large conspiracy afoot made him give up or lose this job. (A thought – are these people Lone Gunmen full time? Or do they have day jobs?)
Not surprisingly, given the fact that he was the one with the establishment job, Byers was the most law-abiding back in those early days. When he saw his fellow stall holder being arrested, Byers wanted to give himself up – something Frohike would never have done.
In “Memento Mori,” he goes into action with Mulder, revealing there is more to him than meets the eye. He does, however, look rather terrified when Mulder asks him to go out by himself and tell Scully to stop her treatment. Scared at the thought of being alone in a hostile building, or scared of having to bring bad news to a dying woman? When some baddies turn up, he presses himself against the wall, looking terrified, though he does manage to elude them.
Even when breaking into secret installations, he wears his usual clothes and a belted grey raincoat. When Mulder suggests the Gunmen wear something “black and sexy” he fingers his tie and looks puzzled. Mulder can fit into Byers’ clothes. In the movie, the gunmen order Byers to strip, so Mulder can get into his clothes and this sneak out of the hospital, disguised as Byers (without the beard).
He is also revealed as something of an expert skater (“Apocrypha”) unlike his colleagues.
When undercover in a casino in Las Vegas (“Three of a Kind”), Byers not only manages to get himself and frohike thrown out, but also loses three thousand dollars on the game, suggesting he is not cut out for either undercover work, or for gambling. (Langly: “It should have been me in there playing, why does Byers get to do all the undercover?”)
Byers wears a wedding ring (in every scene he is seen in, plus publicity shots.) It is not known if he is married, divorced or widowed, though. In “Unusual Suspects,” though, which is set in 1989, he is not wearing the ring. He does go all romantic and gallant on us, getting involved in possibly dangerous things for the sake of a damsel in distress (Susanne Modeski) and getting quite smitten with her.
Even ten years later, Byers is still smitten, having recurring dreams about her:
From “Three of a Kind”: “My name is John Fitzgerald Byers. I was named after our 35th president, and I keep having this beautiful dream…” As he narrates, two cute little girls run out to greet him. Carrying one and holding the others’ hand, Byers enters the house and the narration continues.
“In my dream the events of November 22, 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, are fulfilled. I have everything a person could want. Home and family. And love. Everything that counts for anything in life, I have it.”
As he moves through the perfect house, a golden retriever greets him, and follows him out into the backyard where he greets his dream wife, who we see to be Suzanne Modeski. They’re kissing, and the camera moves in close to blackness as Byers continues his narration. The camera pulls out to find Byers is now standing in the desert, alone in the hot sun, holding a ring.
“But the dream ends the same way every time. I lose it all.”
When Suzanne returns, in this episode, she asks him to run away with her. He declines, since his life is now with his friends and his work, but he is obviously very very tempted.