"Nothing Important Happened Today" is the collective name for the ninth season premiere and the 183rd and 184th episodes of the science fiction television series The X-Files. Part 1 first aired on November 11 and Part 2 aired on November 18, 2001 on Fox in the United States. The episodes were written by executive producers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz. "Nothing Important Happened Today I" was directed by Kim Manners and "Nothing Important Happened Today II" was directed by Tony Wharmby. The episode helped to explore the series' overarching mythology and earned a Nielsen rating of 6.5 and was viewed by 10.6 million viewers, whereas the second part earned a rating of 5.9 and was viewed by 9.4 million viewers. Critical reception to the episode was largely mixed.
The show centers on FBI special agents who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files; this season focuses on the investigations of John Doggett (Robert Patrick), Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish), and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). "Nothing Important Happened Today" is a storyline milestone for the series. It introduced both the story arc about baby William which would continue to develop throughout the ninth season and AD Brad Follmer, a recurring character for the show's ninth season. Part 1 deals with the investigation of Deputy Director Alvin Kersh by special agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Doggett's related investigation into the death of EPA official Carl Wormus. In Part 2, Scully, Reyes, and Doggett are led to a ship, where they find evidence of experimentation on human embryos.
The episode was supposed to mark the first appearance of recurring regular Lucy Lawless as Shannon McMahon, a female Super Soldier, but Lawless' high-risk pregnancy prevented her from returning to the show. These episodes marked, however, the first appearance of recurring regular, Cary Elwes as Brad Follmer, an FBI Assistant Director. The phrase "Nothing Important Happened Today" comes from King George III's supposed diary entry on 4 July 1776, the same day that America declared Independence from Britain.
Carl Wormus, an EPA official, picks up a beautiful woman, Shannon McMahon (Lucy Lawless), in a Baltimore bar. While he is driving her home, she forces the car off a bridge and holds Wormus underwater until he drowns. Later, Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) meets FBI Assistant Director Brad Follmer (Cary Elwes) in his office, where he hands her two videotapes from the night Dana Scully's (Gillian Anderson) son was born. The tapes show no evidence of the paranormal events John Doggett (Robert Patrick) has reported. Doggett goes to Fox Mulder's (David Duchovny) apartment to consult him, but finds it empty. Meanwhile, McMahon surfaces at a water reclamation plant and drowns a worker there.
Scully refuses to disclose Mulder's whereabouts to Doggett, and urges him to drop his investigation of Deputy Director Alvin Kersh's (James Pickens, Jr.) actions against the X-Files. Doggett tries to contact some of his old friends from the Marine Corps to find out what happened to Knowle Rohrer (Adam Baldwin); one of them turns out to be McMahon. Meanwhile, at FBI headquarters, an unseen figure slips Wormus' obituary to Reyes. Scully's baby causes the mobile of his crib to spin without touching it. Scully is shocked, contacts Doggett, and retracts her request, telling him to continue his investigation. Scully also performs an autopsy on Wormus' body, where she finds fingerprints on his ankle. After leaving, Scully and Reyes see McMahon, who removes the body from the morgue. Follmer, whom Kersh has ordered to rein in Doggett, arrives at the scene and accuses Scully and Reyes of moving the body.
The Lone Gunmen find that Wormus had been receiving data from Roland McFarland, the drowned reclamation worker. Doggett breaks into McFarland's office with Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and finds files on chloramine, a mutation-inducing chemical, but Follmer arrives. Doggett slips into a filtration tank to hide, but is pulled deep underwater by McMahon.
A captain of a navy ship delivers a communication to Doctor Nordlinger, who orders the ship's captain to return the vintage WWII vessel to its base. Follmer leaves the water reclamation facility after failing to spot Doggett, who is still underwater; Shannon McMahon keeps him alive by passing air from her lungs into his. Back at FBI headquarters, Reyes warned by Follmer to distance herself from Doggett and his investigation of Kersh. Reyes believes that Follmer simply wants to get Doggett out of the FBI and storms out of the office. Doggett wakes up at his home to find McMahon, who tells him that both she and Knowle Rohrer are Super Soldiers, and that they cannot be killed, part of a military program. Doggett calls Dana Scully to his house, and McMahon tells them that the program is to be expanded by adding Chloramine to the water supply. The navy ship is now docked in Baltimore and the Captain leaves the ship against security rules to call Carl Wormus, who was previously drowned by McMahon.On his return to ship Knowle Rohrer approaches the captain on board the ship, informing him that he is now second-in-command. He later queries the captain as to the vessel's mission. The body of the original officer is found in the water nearby.
Scully examines McMahon and finds her to be physically normal, Doggett thinks that they may be onto something whilst Reyes remains sceptical. Doggett is then suspended of his duties with the FBI by Kersh and Follmer. Reyes tries to find out more about McMahon's history and learns that she is a Department of Justice employee and had been contacted by Wormus and McFarland in their attempts to expose the plans to contaminate the water supply. The Lone Gunmen intercept a call from the captain to Wormus, who tells him to contact the FBI, Knowle Rohrer is nearby eavesdropping. The captain then pulls a gun on the Navy Seal guarding the entrance to the lab, demanding that Nordlinger surrender the project's data. He does not notice Rohrer creeping up behind him. After hearing Reyes' findings, Scully, Reyes and Doggett go to the ship. They expect to meet the captain, but instead find Rohrer. Just as Rohrer is about to crush Doggett's skull, he is decapitated by McMahon. Rohrer is presumed dead, but soon awakens and stabs McMahon. Both bodies tumble into the water. The three agents board the ship, which is abandoned, and find the captain's decapitated body. Scully gains access to the now empty lab and finds evidence of manipulation of ova. However, she is forced to leave when Doggett finds a time bomb on the bridge. The agents narrowly escape the explosion.
Later, Doggett confronts Kersh, who was not implicated in the conspiracy. Kersh explains to Doggett that he left the evidence that helped Doggett, and that he had told Mulder to flee, but ultimately it was Scully who actually convinced Mulder to do so. Meanwhile, Scully dreams of McMahon's and Rohrer's lifeless bodies below the harbor. Suddenly, she sees McMahon's eyes snap open. Scully wakes up and the episode cuts to William's mobile; it begins to move on its own accord.
The style of the opening credits in "Nothing Important Happened Today" were changed from the original credits, which, more or less, had been the same for the previous eight seasons. The credits included new graphics as well as new cards for Annabeth Gish and Mitch Pileggi. As Pileggi was absent from the following episode, "Dæmonicus", the opening titles were altered and only featured Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick and Gish. This version was used for all the episodes in the season without Pileggi.
The phrase "Nothing Important Happened Today" comes from King George III's supposed diary entry on 4 July 1776, the same day that America declared Independence from Britain. The first part of the episode marks the first appearance of Assistant Director Brad Follmer, who was named after Chris Carter's writing assistant. Five different actors portrayed Baby William: Rikki Held, Rowdy Held, Ashley Knutson, James Riker and Travis Riker. The tagline for Part 2 is "Nothing Important Happened Today", replacing the usual phrase "The Truth is Out There".
After learning about the 2001 cancellation of Xena Warrior Princess, Lawless was approached by the producers of The X-Files for a spot on the show. According to Lawless, one reason why she made an appearance on the show was that her daughter was a "mad X-Files fan". She further commented that she knew about the show and based her character Xena on Fox Mulder.
Originally, Shannon McMahon was to be a recurring character and was due to be featured in "The Truth", the series finale of The X-Files. However, Lawless, who has a history of miscarriages, became pregnant shortly after part two of these episodes was filmed; her high-risk pregnancy prevented her returning to the series for future episodes. Carter called Lawless "hot stuff", saying it was "fun" having a female Super Soldier, something that had never occurred to him or to the show's production crew.
In the first underwater scene, most of which was shot at the water tank at Universal, Lawless had to be seat-belted into a car that was supposed to be submerged thirteen feet. In actuality, the water tank was four feet deep. Lawless, being six feet tall, had to kneel and breathe into a hookah while filming the scene. For the special effects team, one of the hardest parts of the episode was to hide the fact that Lawless was wearing a swimming suit.
"Nothing Important Happened Today, Part 1" earned a Nielsen household rating of 6.5 share, meaning that it was seen by 6.5% of all 18- to 49-year-olds, of the nation's estimated households. The episode was viewed by 10.6 million viewers and ranked number 55 for the week ending November 11 and subsequently became the second most watched episode of the ninth season behind the series finale "The Truth". Part 2 earned a rating of 5.9. The episode was viewed by 9.4 million viewers ranked number 63 for the week ending November 18. The first part of the episode, which aired on Sunday, November 11, competed with Saving Private Ryan which aired on ABC. The second part of the episode earned the lowest rating on the night of November 18, receiving lower ratings and viewership numbers than The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle. When talking about the ninth season, Carter stated, "We lost our audience on the first episode. It's like the audience had gone away, and I didn't know how to find them. I didn't want to work to get them back because I believed what we are doing deserved to have them back".
The episode was later included on The X-Files Mythology, Volume 4 – Super Soldiers, a DVD collection that contains episodes involved with the alien super soldiers arc.
The episode received mixed reviews from critics. Daryl H. Miller of Los Angeles Times wrote positively of the episode, claiming it "is craftily written, solidly acted and moodily photographed". Michael R. Farkash of The Hollywood Reporter gave the first part of the episode a largely positive review. Farkash called it "entertaining and appealing" and noted its "suspenseful plot twists and fascinating visuals". An unnamed staff writer of Airlock Alpha was mostly positive about the episode, with the exception of Cary Elwes as Brad Follmer, calling Elwes' acting "forced". Rob Lowman from the Los Angeles Daily News said that Carter had been able to "breathe new life" into the series mythology arc, and had a positive view of Lucy Lawless' performance. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave the episode a B+. Starpulse named the changed credits the "Most Shocking Moment" in the series run, writing that the most drastic moment "came with the opening credits for season nine, a complete re-design that saw Annabeth Gish and Mitch Pileggi added to the opening sequence and the familiar graphics totally scrapped. These credits looked like they belonged to a different series and at that point, it was."
Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club awarded the first part a "C", and the second part a "C–". He argued that the series was unable to figure both out how to re-situate itself after the events of September 11, and deal with the permanent departure of Duchovny. Ultimately, he wrote that the episodes as a whole represent "a limp piece of storytelling that has maybe enough good ideas for three-quarters of an episode but is stretched across two for no particular reason."Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, rated both episodes one star out of five. In a review of the first part, the two noted that "this isn't quite the dullest season opener to The X-Files [but] this episode […] has all the passion of a wet Monday morning." In a review of the second half, the two noted, "there is at least the semblance of drama here, but this second episode isn't significantly better than the first." Marisa Guthrie from the Boston Herald felt that Gillian Anderson's character, Dana Scully had been "rendered impotent".
- Kellner, Douglas (2003). Media Spectacle. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26828-1.
- Kessenich, Tom (2002). Examination: An Unauthorized Look at Seasons 6–9 of the X-Files. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1553698126.
- Shearman, Robert; Pearson, Lars (2009). Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen. Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 0-9759446-9-X.