Fight the Future. (Photo: Flikstorage on Flickr)
The truth is out there… probably somewhere in Vancouver.
Many television and film crews have used the various landscapes of Vancouver, Canada as a cheaper stand-in for far-flung locales, and The X-Files was no exception. During the first five seasons of their globetrotting investigations into the paranormal, (the production moved to LA as of season six), Agents Mulder and Scully racked up a fictional travel bill that must have surpassed the national debt at some point. But the actors and production crew rarely ever left Vancouver’s rainy climes.
Among all of the locations the show used to portray the agents’ adventures, there is one forest that worked overtime. Throughout the first five seasons the show wanted us to believe that the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR, previously known as the Seymour Demonstration Forest) in Northern Vancouver was actually everywhere from Puerto Rico to Siberia. And we viewers did.
Although the resurrected The X-Files recently returned to Vancouver to shoot more episodes, there is no word as to whether the Seymour Forest will be returning along with series stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. In the meantime, let’s look back at some of the forest’s greatest hits, and unravel the truth behind the conspiracy of the forest that was everywhere. (For this list we used the terrific location guide X Marks the Spot as relayed here.)
Check out all of the places the LSCR has “been.”
Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot
The LSCR makes an appearance in the very first episode, and is in fact the very first location used in the entire series. Standing in for the Collum National Forest in Oregon, the woods saw the abduction of Billy Miles and the introduction of Scully to the world of the X-Files.
S1, E4: “The Jersey Devil”
This time the location stands out as a forest outside of Atlantic City where police officers try to gun down a hirsute beast woman. They fail.
S1, E9: “Fallen Angel”
Now a gravel pit (which will become an especially favorite location for the series) in the forest takes us to Townsend, Wisconsin, where an unfortunate police officer (and later Mulder) have a run-in with a downed UFO.
“Mulder, if this is about watches again…” Scully gets suspicious in E.B.E. (All screencaps property of Fox)
S1, E17: E.B.E.
In this episode, the agents investigate an alien attack in rural Reagan, Tennessee, represented by the pine trees of the LSCR. Despite Mulder using his old favorite example of missing time, Scully still refuses to believe.
S1, E19: “Shapes”
Werewolves! In the course of their investigation of attacks by a wolf-like creature, Mulder and Scully attend a Native American funeral rite in Montana. Just kidding, it was filmed in the LSCR.
S1, E20: “Darkness Falls”
One of the weirder cases Mulder and Scully have ever fallen into, they are terrorized by prehistoric, neon green mites of some kind. Here the LSCR transports us to the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.
S2, E1: “Little Green Men”
For the first time in the series, but not the last, the LSCR stands in for a location not even on mainland America. In one of the series’ classic episodes, Mulder travels to the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico and finds an extraterrestrial transmission there in the jungle. The “jungle” being the LSCR.
Scully’s Vancouver purgatory from One Breath.
S2, E8: “One Breath”
After being abducted by lovable madman Duane Barry, and subsequently by aliens, Scully is mysteriously discovered lying in a coma, in a hospital. The trustworthy LSCR stands in for none of this, instead it is used as Scully’s dreamscape, as she sits in a metaphysical boat on the real-life Rice Lake, deciding whether or not to die.
S2, E9: “Firewalker”
Coming back down to Earth, the Seymour Demonstration Forest is here used as Mount Avalon, again in Washington State, where a supremely silly lava monster lives.
S2, E14: “Die Hand Die Verletzt”
The LSCR is here used as a bucolic New Hampshire forest where Satanic ritual killings take place, placing the investigating agents in between a fight among devil worshipers and a witch.
S2, E22: “F. Emasculata”
CONTAGION! This time a careless doctor in the faux-jungles of Costa Rica contracts a really gross disease from a dead boar. It’s disgusting, but the LSCR is as convincing as ever.
S2, E24: “Our Town”
Back in the U.S. of A, fake-Arkansas to be exact, another forest murder takes place. Here by a killer in a tribal mask that has ties to a chicken processing plant. In the X-Files, the woods are the most dangerous place to be.
“A fat, little, white, Nazi, stormtrooper.”
S3, E4: “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”
Of course one of the best episodes of the series features one of its favorite locations. This time a gas tank on the grounds of the LSCR, described in the show by fatalistic psychic Clyde Bruckman, as “a fat, little, white, Nazi, stormtrooper” plays a key role. According to the episode, the location is in Glenview Lake, Minnesota.
S3, E8: “Oubliette”
Back to Washington State, the LSCR stand in for the woods near a town called Easton, in this episode where a mentally-disturbed woman shares a psychic connection with a kidnapped teenager.
S3, E10: “731”
Oh no! Mulder’s trapped on an alien autopsy train that’s rigged to explode! But first, the LSCR is used as a covert government research station in Perkey, West Virginia where a group of test subject are executed by the military.
S3, E18: “Teso Dos Bichos”
Break out the pan flutes. In this episode the LSCR stands in for the titular archeological site in Ecuador where locals unearth a cursed urn that makes its way to the States.
Lord Kinbote appears!
S3, E20: “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”
Another series highpoint, the Seymour Forest is used as the Klass County, Washington backroad where Air Force pilots dressed as aliens encounter a cyclops from the inner Earth by the name of Lord Kinbote. A series highlight.
S3, E22: “Quagmire”
In one of the far too few X-Files episodes about water monsters, the LSCR is just one of the locations used to represent the land around Heuvelmans Lake, home of rampaging sea monster, Big Blue. Specifically it is seen when the shopkeeper gets killed while creating fake monster tracks.
S4, E9/10: “Tunguska/Terma”
In season four, the show finally traveled to the site of the famed Tunguska incident, but really just decided to stay in Vancouver. While on screen it looks like Mulder is stuck in a Siberian work camp where he is forcibly infected with an alien life form, he was really just running around the oft-used gravel pit in the LSCR.
S4, E13: “Never Again”
Oh boy. It was inevitable that the X-Files would eventually go to the “living tattoo” well, but no one could have predicted how terrible the episode would be. The LSCR can be seen as a highway in Tennessee during the course of this tale about the time Scully got a tattoo. Let’s just forget this one.
Scully has had it with these woods in Detour.
S5, E4: “Detour”
Nearly this entire episode is filmed within the LSCR as Mulder and Scully traipse through a Florida forest with guest star Anthony Rapp, looking for invisible, prehistoric forest people with red eyes. The soundtrack is almost entirely the sound of cicadas.
S5, E13: “Patient X”
And finally we have the Seymour Demonstration Forest’s magnum opus. In this episode, the location stands in not just for a Kazakstan forest where some unfortunate teens have a run in with aliens, but also the Skyland Mountain National Park in Virginia. That’s two international roles in the same episode. Truly the LSCR is one of the finest locations of its generation.