On March 21st, we witnessed the finale to Season 11 of "The X-Files". Is it the end or is it a beginning? Depending on who you ask... so this is why we sat down with Chris Carter to deconstruct quite a few of the elements of this episode.
Go ahead to read the full interview and recap of "My Struggle 4"
** Recap by Keva Andersen**
‘Previously on The X-Files’
Chris Carter starts us off, perhaps for the last time. We get a recap of what we saw in “My Struggle II” and “III.” Scully’s visions of a world coming to an end and her race to stop it. Mulder’s race to understand conspirators both old and new, and to learn what they want from their son. The CSM drops his parental bombshell all over again, and Scully reminds us William is the key. The boy at the center of it all holds his head in agony.
Returning to present day, it’s William’s turn to share his thoughts in an opening monologue. “My name is Jackson Van de Kamp. That’s what my parents called me when they adopted me 17 years ago.” (The continuity nitpicker in me is already annoyed. William was born May 20, 2001, so he’s not yet 17, and was adopted almost a year later in April 2002.) He says he knows his name was William, and that he can sense his mother, even if he’s never met her. He sees the horror of the coming plague in his visions and wants no part of it. He describes a childhood that started as Scully had hoped for him. He was happy, for a while. But, as he realized he was different, things went terribly wrong.
When William turned 11, his powers grew. One of his first truly violent episodes landed a bully in the hospital. He changed schools and eventually ended up being sent away after criminal behavior. One incident found him changing traffic lights and causing a nasty car accident. In therapy, he made up stories, told therapists what they wanted to hear. Until eventually one day someone from the government came to talk to him and he decided to “cool it.”
When William returned home, every day there would be a car outside his home, watching him. He thought he was being smart, but his “mistake” of the terrible prank on the girls we saw in “Ghouli” lead to his downfall, and the death of his adoptive parents. The same men that killed his parents are tracking him. What William wants most of all right now is answers about who and what he is. He wants to ask his “real mother” these questions but thinks the truth can only come from his father. He’s seen that man in his visions and knows he’s someone he “already hates.” The man he sees is the CSM.
In his vision, the CSM is talking to Mulder about ending his life. Mulder says he doesn’t think he can do it... and old Smokey fires the gun.
Credits roll, and we see once again the tagline has changed. Salvator Mundi. Latin for “Savior of the World.”
Mulder’s Mustang pulls up to the Timberland Motel in Norfolk, Virginia. He asks the manager if a teenager checked in earlier. The man confirms, says he paid in hundreds. Is he a criminal? No, Mulder says. “The boy is my son.” Mulder knocks on the door of another room. Someone peers at him through the blinds. But before the door opens, we cut away.
“Have you seen the internet?” Deputy Director Kersh barks. You might want to get more specific than that, Sir. Mulder has apparently gone on the Tad O’Malley Show about a conspiracy to wipe out humanity. Kersh rages at Skinner for not keeping a tighter leash on his agents. Skinner offers to try and find Scully. Kersh tells him to “shut her down.” He says he’s closing the X-Files and wants Mulder and Scully’s badges. The clip of Tad O’Malley keeps playing and describes a violent military-style attack at the motel. We see Mulder walking through the shot. Skinner asks, “what if it’s not just fake news?” Kersh doesn’t care and says it’s someone else’s problem.
As Skinner leaves Kersh’s office, his phone buzzes. Old Smokey is back on the other end of the line. He’s about to release the contagion if Skinner doesn’t find William. Skinner asks if the plague will stop if he finds him. The CSM is cagey as always and instructs Skinner again to “find the boy.” Monica Reyes sits beside him, an unreadable look on her face.
Scully finds Skinner just as he ends the call. She’s been trying to reach him, why hasn’t he answered? “Because I’ve been getting my ass chewed.” Skinner grouses. Thanks for being in character, Sir. Scully has once again come to ask for his help to save Mulder. She tells Skinner that Mulder is with their son, and they’re being pursued. Skinner explains that he’s been asked to take their badges, to shut them down. Scully suspects Kersh and makes a move to go confront him, but Skinner stops her with a sharp “Dana.” Skinner says the claims Mulder made on the internet got him in big trouble. But Tad’s source wasn’t Mulder. It was Scully. Who says the claims aren’t outrageous. Skinner pauses and asks, “Where are they?” He can’t help her if she keeps him in the dark. Scully flashes on a memory.
Fifteen hours earlier she charged into the Unremarkable House, phone in hand. Mulder is sitting at his desk reading and looks up in surprise. It’s Monica Reyes on the phone, with information about William. He’s on a flight that will be landing in Maryland in two hours. Scully looks uncertain as Mulder writes down the details. Monica tells Mulder it may be their last good chance to find William, that whoever controls him controls the future. But Scully is convinced William isn’t on that plane. Mulder disagrees and asks what if this really is their last chance. Scully wrestles with this and finally tells him, “just come back alive.” Mulder hesitates but finally nods, and leaves Scully behind.
The plane Monica described taxis to a hangar in Braddock Heights, Maryland. Mulder watches through binoculars from a distance, but William doesn’t appear. Instead, we see Mr. Y, first introduced to us in “My Struggle III.” Mr. Y and his band of merry armed men make their way through the hangar where we get a look at a craft similar to the one Mulder saw in “My Struggle I.” Mulder sneaks into the building while the guards are distracted, but they soon catch up with him. One of them holds Mulder at gunpoint, but he quickly overpowers the man.
In his office, Mr. Y hears four gunshots ring out then Mulder bursts in. So he’s shot four people already, let’s see how high the body count goes this time. He’d thought Mr. Y was lying about his secret space program, but it’s pretty clear they’ve got some of the technology to make it happen. Mulder tells the man he needs to do a better job protecting his ass. Despite all the space toys, Mulder is only there for his “boy.” Mr. Y says they couldn’t catch him and Mulder demands to know why everyone wants William. Mr. Y says William has what everyone wants, what people would kill for. But before he explains further, another guard approaches. Mulder shoots him through the glass door. Mr. Y then pulls a gun on Mulder, who shoots him in the head. There goes your answers, Mulder. As he leaves, we see the Purlieu logo on the wall.
Cut to commercial.
William is huddled in the dark in some type of warehouse. Men in tactical gear charge into the building, one yelling “I see him!” A long chase ensues, William leads them along rooftops and along the waterfront, eventually ending when he blends in with homeless people in an encampment. This is apparently a really long chase as it starts in the light and it’s pitch black by the time he evades them.
Back to Scully at the Unremarkable House. She’s on the phone with Mulder who tells her he had some “payback to….pay back,” and that William wasn’t on the plane. Scully shares that she thinks William is in Northeast Tennessee based on a bunch of winning lottery tickets that were sold. Mulder pulls a super fast U-turn, brought to you by Ford, and speeds off in the direction he came.
Mulder makes quick tracks to Tennessee and questions a gas station employee about the lottery winner. She shows him surveillance footage, and boom, there he is again. William can be seen getting cash, and apparently shares it with the lottery clerk. Which is the only nice thing he does the entire episode.
Scully is at home in the bathroom leaning over the sink. She looks in the mirror as another vision triggers. Images of present-day William, her giving birth, an ultrasound photo, Ghouli, and Monica Reyes saying “the person who controls your son controls the future.” It continues with the CSM and his global contagion, William getting into a semi-truck, and Mulder lying on the ground. Her phone rings and she charges downstairs to answer.
“It was him, wasn’t it.” Mulder is on the other end again and confirms this. The surveillance video shows William getting in the same truck Scully saw. Mulder thinks he’s about two hours behind them and assures Scully he’ll find William. While he’s inside talking, a man, dubbed “Watching Man” in the credits, (Joseph Patrick Finn, former X-Files producer) walks over to Mulder’s Mustang and places a tracker on the car, which, of course, Mulder doesn’t discover.
Interstate 81 in Virginia. William and the truck driver (Mark Acheson, The X-Files “Quagmire”) have made some progress northbound, with Mulder closing the distance. William shows off some of his more mundane powers before scaring the crap out of the guy by transforming into Ghouli. As this is happening, Scully places a phone call to Tad O’Malley. She’s got a conspiracy for him. A virus will be unleashed, people’s immune systems will be decimated. Tad takes a little convincing but “man-made contagion from an alien pathogen” sure gets his attention. Is Scully prepared to go on air with this? Not quite. She tells Tad, “a federal agent is your source.” He asks if Mulder will go on record. Scully channels her inner Leia and says, “Agent Mulder is our only hope.” Our only hope managed to get the truck stopped, only to find William escaped. He speeds off again, right past the drainage ditch where his son is now hiding. Scully hangs up the phone and has another vision of William hiding in the ditch, a chase, blood everywhere, the CSM shooting Mulder. It ends on a tight shot of her eye as we cut to break.
Back on the phone again Mulder explains how William got away. Scully tries to warn him to back off, that she’s seen how it ends and that he’s in danger. Mulder argues with her as we see Watching Man closing the distance between them. Mulder blows by the guy who then pulls over. While he waits, William comes out from hiding and crosses the road. Despite Scully’s pleas, Mulder tells her he has to go and continues his mission. The last Mulder ditch of the series? Watching Man pulls up alongside William and offers him a ride. William accepts and asks to go to Norfolk.
Mulder has also made his way to Norfolk, stopping first at Brianna’s house, one of William’s girlfriends. There’s a knock on the door which transforms to William knocking on the door of his other girlfriend’s house. Sarah and her sister Maddy (West Duchovny) answer the door, and neither are too pleased to see him. At Brianna’s house, she tells Mulder she hasn’t seen William and that he’s “asking the wrong girl.”
Back at Sarah’s house, William wraps her in a hug and tells her he can’t live like this. Much to Maddy’s dismay. He tells Sarah he can’t continue living like this and begs her to leave with him. She eventually promises to meet him at the Timberland Motel. William leaves out the back as there’s another knock on the door. This time it’s Mulder. As he’s asking Sarah for William’s whereabouts, Maddy joins her. He tries to convince her by saying he can protect him, that he’s William’s father. Maddy looks at him and says “I don’t believe you’re his father,” inspiring a long look from Mulder. Which is hilarious given that it’s David Duchovny looking at his own daughter.
In a dark alley, a military vehicle pulls up behind a car. Four people approach it, the windshield covered in spattered blood. Erika Price looks in the window, and we hear the beeping of the tracker again from when Mulder was being followed. She’s found Watching Man’s car, and he clearly didn’t survive his interaction with William.
Mulder knocks on a motel room door. William is inside and peers at him through the blinds. “What do you want?” he asks. “My name is Mulder. I’m your father.” William slowly opens the door and father and son size each other up. Mulder looks amazed and tells him, “I’ve been looking for you forever.” Mulder pulls him in for an awkward hug, but William is unimpressed. Mulder tries to convince the teen he can protect him, but William just laughs.
Back at that same car, Erika is taking a closer look at the body. The guy’s face is plastered to the window. Erika reaches over Watching Man’s splattered intestines to find the device he used to track Mulder. Good thing she’s wearing gloves. We cut to commercial.
We’re back with William and Mulder, who asks his son why he hid from him and his mother. William says that he’s a danger, that the people who want him will never stop hunting him. And he’s right. The military vehicle carrying Erika and her minions have arrived at the motel. William explains that he’s seen the future, and how many people will die if he’s captured. Mulder tells him Scully shares those same visions. William asks why Mulder doesn’t share them too. Mulder considers this for a beat or two. William continues, saying he doesn’t want to live in that world, maybe he shouldn’t exist. Mulder assures him that it’s not his fault, that he can help him stop it. But William says he can’t because Mulder dies too.
Outside, Erika tells her associates she wants the boy alive. William and Mulder continue arguing when he realizes it’s too late, he’s been found. Mulder tries to defend him as they burst through the door. As the men hold Mulder at gunpoint, William warns him to stay down, then explodes all four of them in spectacular fashion. Blood and guts cover the room. Father and son share one last look before William takes off into the night. Mulder tries to follow him but no luck.
“I can’t help you, Agent Scully... if I don't’ know what’s going on.” Skinner and Scully are outside Kersh’s office, the same scene we saw before the flashback. Before she can answer him, Mulder calls. He’s lost William, but Scully says she’s coming down there to meet him. She insists William will listen to her. She tries to leave, but Skinner says he’s supposed to reign them in. “This is about our son,” is enough to change Skinner’s tune, who says he’ll drive.
Tad O’Malley is on the air warning of the coming contagion. He shows video of the motel and harps on the “military-style incursion” that happened there. Monica Reyes steps into the action, identifying herself as a federal agent. Tad narrates the gore at the scene while the CSM finds the tracking device in Erika’s car.
It’s a scene of dueling cars and phone calls. Scully is trying to reach Mulder, Kersh is blowing up Skinner’s phone with texts, and Mulder is talking to Maddy about where William might go to feel safe. Scully asks why Skinner would risk his whole career to help them find William. Skinner says he’s made that pretty clear, alluding to their conversation in “Kitten.” She presses further, demanding to know who he was on the phone with earlier. He hesitates, then says there’s something she needs to know but may not want to hear about William. And who his father is.
Meanwhile, Mulder DRIVES VERY FAST BROUGHT TO YOU BY FORD. He’s on the phone and convinces Maddy to tell him where William could be. She relents and tells him about the old sugar factory in the harbor. Back to Skinner and Scully, where he’s told her about CSM being William’s father, but we don’t get to see it. Scully’s only reaction is to tune him out, the audio buzzes and is punctuated by her tense breathing. Mulder’s car speeds by and snaps her out of it. Skinner takes off after him in his own car; I think it’s a Dodge Charger. Clearly, middle-aged male FBI agents prefer muscle cars.
Scully and Skinner arrive at the sugar factory just behind Mulder. Scully makes her way inside, but Skinner hangs behind and watches another vehicle pull into the alley. Inside, Scully runs through the corridor, calling for Mulder and William. The beam of her flashlight lands on Mulder who says, “it’s me.” She tells Mulder she just saw their son. Back outside, Skinner approaches the SUV with his hands up, then pulls out his gun. Inside the SUV we find the CSM and Monica. Cut to commercial.
Monica stares at Skinner then throws the SUV in reverse. The CSM fights her for control, puts the car in drive and stomps his own foot on the pedal. They speed towards Skinner who fires through the windshield, hitting Monica in the head. In the factory, Mulder and Scully hear the shots. She moves to go to Skinner, but Mulder stops her. Back outside, Skinner tries to get away and dives under the car as the SUV hits it.
Mulder is telling Scully that William is there, but that he doesn’t want to be found. Scully is adamant that she just wants to talk to him, that she knows what he’s afraid of. Mulder says it’s no use and asks her to let him go. Scully, in Fierce Mama Mode, says they can protect him but Mulder insists they can’t, that no one can. “He knows that you love him.” Scully looks at him in shock and asks how William could possibly know that. Mulder brushes his forehead; a little tell that he may not be Mulder at all. It looks as though the realization is starting to dawn on Scully when the real Mulder runs up the corridor yelling, “Scully!” That’s all the distraction William needs to take off running again as Scully looks on in shock.
Another foot chase ensues, both parents taking off after William. He runs out a side door with Mulder close behind. Outside, the CSM climbs out of the SUV, takes Skinner’s gun from him, and looks at the fallen AD’s shoes.
The chase for William continues for long moments, with Mulder close behind. He may not lose his gun in this episode, but he does drop his flashlight. Mulder rounds a corner, and there’s the CSM who says, “you really don’t give up, do you?” while pointing the gun at Mulder’s head. “But then you have so much to lose,” he continues. “It’s what we have in common.” “We have nothing in common,” Mulder yells. CSM demands William, saying, “the boy is mine.” (Cue the chorus from Brandy and Monica.) Mulder replies, “the boy would rather die, now that he knows the truth.”
The truth being that the CSM is his creator. Mulder listens to this and looks at his surroundings, looking like he’s about to throw up. Scully is still running to catch up with him. Mulder and the CSM continue their verbal smackdown with the CSM saying he never imagined when he gave Mulder life he would also have to end it. “I don’t think you can do it.” Mulder taunts. “Then you don’t know me very well,” the CSM replies, and he pulls the trigger. Mulder takes a bullet to the head and falls back into the water.
CSM moves to the dock’s edge, and stares as Mulder’s body floats away. His contemplation is interrupted by a screamed, “HEY!” This time it actually IS Mulder, who wastes no time firing multiple rounds into the old man, then pushing him into the water. Mulder watches his body float away, a crazed look in his eyes which then fades into grief.
Scully runs up to him, looking into the water too. Devastated, Mulder says “He’s gone, Scully. He shot him. He shot me.” They both stare in disbelief for a few moments, then Mulder throws his gun into the water. He starts to walk away then turns to Scully, who looks like she’s about to fly apart. She whispers, “he wanted us to let him go… he wasn’t meant to be.” Angry, Mulder yells “he was our son,” but Scully shakes her head. He was an experiment.
Mulder can’t believe what he’s hearing. “He was an idea, born in a laboratory.” Scully can barely choke it out. “But you were his mother,” he replies. Scully struggles to say this next part. “I carried him, I bore him, but I was never a mother to him.” Her voice drops even further. “William wasn’t… he wasn’t…” she’s shaking her head and can’t even say it out loud. Mulder struggles to respond.
“For so long, I believed,” he finally replies. “What am I now if I’m not a father?” A mixture of emotions crosses Scully’s face. Anguish, confusion, joy? “You are a father,” she gasps, sounding almost hysterical. Mulder asks her what she’s talking about, looking like he’s barely holding on. Scully grabs his hand and places it on her abdomen. A look of wonder crosses Mulder’s face for a split second, and then it crumbles. “That’s impossible,” he says. Scully is breaking down. She knows it too. “It’s more than impossible.” Mulder pulls her close as she sobs, her face a mix of anguish and happiness. He rocks her gently, all the while looking utterly stunned. His eyes close, does he join her in crying too?
The shot pulls away from the two of them huddled together on the dock. A variation on “The Surgery” from “I Want to Believe” plays mournfully and changes as we fade to black. But there’s one last moment. Focused on the water, bubbles form and William emerges from below. His expression almost seems like a smile. Four notes of the famous X-Files whistle play, and we end.
I’m writing this lengthy review knowing that it will come in late and that it will be wordier than the rest you would have read. EW, The Hollywood Reporter, The Mary Sue, Gizmodo, Variety, TV Guide, TV Insider, and even E! will or have reviewed “My Struggle 4” and I know what to expect of such reviews. Some will be incredibly honest to the point they almost feel tipping on the verge of malicious, some will be fair and truthful to how far they can go with their opinions, and some will respect their relationships and claim that this finale was bold, and it made for a storyteller that makes exciting choices and who doesn’t like exciting?
We at XFN have never wanted to be any of those outlets, for a number of reasons. Starting with the fact that we’d never wanted to skimp on delivering what we’re known for, good or bad… and then because for all that there’s to say about fan sites and fan production, it has always been our aim to go beyond the stigma and prove that our conversations go beyond passion, but embrace logic and the high expectations that this show taught us to have.
So, this might actually be my last X-Files review, and I don’t know that I ever imagined it would be this one. It hurts.
When Chris Carter and I speak, and I don’t honestly know if it’s a privilege or a rarity, for all the interviews that he does, for as much as we may not agree to anything, I can never fault him for not wanting to talk through all of the questions and complaints. We always end up with more to share than any other outlet to the point that we can’t always include it all. And while at the end of the day for me this is not a competition of who gets to have the longer rant with the creator of the most iconic show of TV history… when it comes to the aftermath of this season’s finale, it is possibly relieving and, in some ways… almost redeeming that there’s nothing but generosity in this hour-long conversation and no punches are held back.
It is also hard for me to get into a conversation like this with a person that over the last years – apart from conflicting sentiments about what we’ve gotten on the revival, and how personal those feel to all of us – he has opened his door to us so many times, with a niceness to him that is genuine, but almost too hard to confront when all you want to do is yell at him about your frustrations on how you think this experience should have been different. And better.
So, we have silently come to this agreement, after we both realized a while ago that we don’t do the fake thing and that he knows neither will please the other with false pleasantries: that I’ll ask questions that he may or may not have answers for, and if he does… I don’t actually have to agree with him after his explanations. And I don’t have to feel bad when I don’t. I promise to be the most honest I can muster, and we’ve grown to know each other enough to know when a certain type of snicker or snort after a reply is there because I’m just not buying that Alien DNA can be the explanation to all and everything.
So, when we start this conversation, we remind each other of that agreement and appreciation, sort of touching our gloves before each retreats to each other’s corner, and someone, somewhere, dings the bell of yet another X-Files championship fight.
Round 1 – William’s Struggle
“So what did you think?” He asks, and I can already feel he’s holding on to whatever is near, preparing for my answer.
I tell him that approaching this finale was difficult, to begin with, because I was already in disagreement with choices made in “My Struggle 3” and “Ghouli.” To you, reader, I don’t have to repeat much of what my position was regarding those episodes, but I clarify at least to him that it is discombobulating to accept a portrayal of William that isn’t quite what we as a collective had somewhat agreed to see in this miracle child.
I gather Carter tried to adopt sort of the antihero posture for his take on William; a teenager with conflicting needs and opinions about what his life should be, with morals that lack empathy at times. This is sustained by the silent notion that maybe this has happened because Mulder and Scully didn’t get to raise him. At the end of the day, as much as it pains all of us, when we last saw William, he was a baby, so any reference of what he should be is brand new and unexplored territory. Anything goes. But still, I explain to him that this is sort of a hard thing to accept, and that has bigger ramifications in terms of the story he wants to tell.
“Wasn’t there a hesitance to make the finale of the season (and possibly the show) about someone that we haven’t gotten to know – and care – enough for? Did you ever consider how people would respond to having a finale based on him?”
“Yeah, we learn about his life and how hard it’s been for him, we learn how he’s lived with this realization that he’s not a normal person. I think for me that comes through, that he feels this connection to his mother, and that he feels a connection to CSM and his terrible plans, I think that all comes through for me.” But it's one thing to understand, and another entirely that we care or even want to hear this story.
Portraying William in the way he did and making MS4 about him, creates a problem because, essentially, indeed, I do not care about him. I don’t know him enough; I haven’t gone through his road enough. And to add insult to injury, we also have the looming fact that we are made to accept that CSM is his father and that Miles Robbins was cast for this pretty significant role and now we have to deal with it.
And this last was a decision that, for as much praise and justification that both Jim Wong and Chris Carter have thrown at him, and I have nothing personal against Robbins, he was not the right fit for this character. I don’t care for his performance, he doesn’t look nor talk like a teen, and his delivery lacks a depth of believability. Even in the finale, given that he has now had more time to explore how to approach it, he still didn’t live inside the character. But at the end of the day, and to be fair to Miles’ limitations, what he says and how he says it isn’t totally on him. It all goes down to dialogue and direction. So, I’m sorry, but this is one punch that you cannot dodge, Chris Carter. The dialogue in this episode is poor. The story as a whole is not the problem; it's the level of development and the way it has been told.
The weight of what we learn about William is put on the teaser of the episode, something that has become a solid helper for Carter to either recount or give more angles to facts or opinions that we already had about the characters in his previous character studies (MS1, MS2, and MS3). Those work almost pleasantly because we already know these characters.
Having said that, this is not the case with William. We know all that we know from this presentation, but we have no time to commiserate with his plight, or create bonds, or even understand why he’s evolved into a guy with somewhat sadistic tendencies when it comes to the use of his powers. After all, playing the joke on his girlfriends was definitely out of touch, crashing cars ala DPO is also showmanship of a lack of empathy… so there’s a lot of work expected from us as a viewer or as simple humans to care.
It doesn’t help either that we’re now given no choice but to accept the fact that CSM is William’s father. As a punch to the gut that you knew was coming but couldn’t stop, William claims how much he hates him, and how he’s sickened by him. And we can agree to that with you, William… but there’s not enough meat there to pad the impact of the notion that we’re still talking about medical rape and glazing over it. He thinks of CSM as an awful person, but for all the things that Carter chooses to fixate on, this is not one he will clarify as to why it should be awful.
And then we land on the fact that for this to be a true character study, the POV should be more on the subject and through the subject than it is. And this is a problematic thing, because given that we know William so little, drawing the attention away from Mulder and Scully proves to be antagonistic to the audience. This is a rock and hard place choice for a finale.
This 4th character study has a lot going on against it.
After that introduction and a couple of well-connected lefts like those, Carter hums, beginning to understand why I don’t get to the place he wants me to be.
Additionally, I explained that by making a choice such as that, up until this moment of the story, he has stripped Mulder and Scully of the very few rewards that they can claim for their lives. There’s no autonomy over their bodies of any kind. At this point, their owned legacy - whether professional or human – is almost non-existent. The importance of the X-Files has dwindled as they see themselves grow old. They’ve pointed at that many times. The job is important but is no longer the life or death situation it used to be. They have privileges by being federal agents but at the same time… by documenting and solving these cases, what is the real benefit they will provide to the world if this information cannot be used for the good? As Skinner has put it, the information that they worked so hard on has been scanned and shared with entities that aren’t entirely ethical.
So… when you have so little to hang onto, it would be natural to cling on to things. And for the longest time, I thought we had. Mulder and Scully, looking for their son to protect him. Regardless of doubts and fears. But apparently… that’s not a thing.
Since MS3, we’ve lived with the moment of realization and possible confrontation that Scully would have with Skinner when he reveals the truth about William. And we pondered just how far he would go with disclosing what he has been doing. But we’re cheated out of this moment.
“She has an intuitive connection with her son, so she has some sense of this before (Skinner) ever tells her,” Chris said. But I don’t feel that it comes across enough. The factual information is on the teaser, what William thinks of CSM is there, but we needed more coming from Scully about what she felt about this. How did she negotiate herself into this acceptance, into changing something that defined her for so long, and now getting to the point where she realizes it's better to let him go.
“Yeah, but you get that from Skinner,” he says.
“Hmm, yeah?” I reply, unconvinced. “But you cheated me out of that moment.”
“It doesn’t matter. We already knew, Skinner already knew, we’ve said it so many times that we didn’t need to hear it again,” he justifies.
“Okay, Chris. Let’s go with that one.” I laugh, he laughs. But why am I laughing? Mostly because I know this is a dangerous door to open when talking with me. Because it will eventually lead to the medical rape conversation and the fact that we’re playing dancing chairs with motherhood as well.
“William is still a miracle – Scully was barren – so even if he was made, he was still a miracle.”
“But it was made by CSM’s intervention which draws away from it being a “miracle” by whichever definition of a miracle that you may have, that most of the time people peg to a magical sort of force,” I counter. “Now that Scully doesn’t get to claim that William is a miracle in the sense of what they had made peace with, but he’s an experiment, why go back to the whole miracle concept? Why now have this second miracle? I have a series of objections about the feasibility of a 54-year-old woman getting pregnant.”
“70-year-old women have become pregnant…” he proposes, and I defend that these people go into therapy for this. He claims that Scully has Alien DNA… and I snort.
“Dude, there’s just so much stuff that you can peg to Alien DNA to explain Dana Scully’s life,” I say between laughs, and he laughs too. “I mean, sure, okay, I’ll go with that.” I try to compromise, trying to sober my laughs. “Oh…science fiction… how convenient.”
In this fictional boxing match, that was a fancy punch from him that didn’t land, and I’m sitting here trying to figure out if he’ll be trying again. Spoiler alert: he does.
“Are you prepared for the amount of criticism that you’re going to get about this? Making her pregnant at this stage of her life and is this really what they want to have?“
“I don’t know; they’re both in shock. I am – as a viewer, and as the creator of the show – I’m standing with them at the end of that pier wondering what the hell just happened. And for me is not the end of something, is the beginning of something.”
Part of me wants to say that he’s the writer of this story and that for as much as I like to romanticize that the characters speak to us, there is also a more grounded sense of ownership that comes out of the process of writing that one should assume. As I told him in our conversation about ‘My Struggle 2’, there should be more responsibility about leaving a story at this stage when we don’t know if we will ever get to come back to it. But he goes even further. “Could this be true? Is it true that Scully is pregnant? Is it a miracle? Is it an impossibility? What’s going on? So, it is like it’s always been with The X-Files, the truth is out there.”
Many have argued that at least this episode was a finale and had a discernible plot and that it gave closure to many things, but I wonder what is it that people found closure or growth on? Because opposite to that, I found that once again, the choices of who was a participant of actions that had any agency was reserved to a male-dominated landscape.
Round 2 – The Parenthood
The truth of the matter is that the biggest problem I have regarding the pregnancy, aside from the fact of questionable logic, is that Scully is just so inconsistent and illogical. It isn’t even the pregnancy. Scully would never dismiss William’s existence over him being an experiment. She didn’t do it for Emily – whom she’d known for a totality of 1 week and didn’t bear – and you’re about to tell me that she would dismiss and change her mind about William with this “ease”?
Chris makes the argument that she’s had the time to make peace with it because she’s known through William’s visions… but this is an important moment of this character that we’re also cheated out of. She also wouldn’t offer her new pregnancy as a token at this moment when they may have lost someone that truly defined her. Because of that link between Scully and William, the one that he so conveniently uses to justify leaps, she has actually gotten to know him, more than Mulder would ever. So, this tool, Chris Carter, makes your other argument a bit… problematic.
I’ve been mulling over this question since we were on set, and I wondered if he had a better version than this answer.
“Why didn’t Scully join Mulder in the search for William?” I ask.
“She sensed that she was pregnant and that she would have put herself in danger,” he says.
It turns out that I wasn’t really going to get a better answer. Back on set, both Gillian and David wondered as well about this choice… and I’ll just leave it at that. He seems to be conveniently forgetting that Scully not only wandered the desert looking for Mulder, fought a few shapeshifters, a crazy cult with a special maggot, a man-sized bat, ran through the woods to find Mulder dead on the ground… all of this while pregnant. Maybe she learned her lesson and thought that she might not get lucky a second time around… as fitting as that statement sounds, but it just seems overboard and unnecessary to try to rationalize this choice. Let Scully have some agency. Let her be mad at revelations she actually gets to hear. And while we’re here, the other woman in this story – Monica Reyes – also needed more justice than she got.
“So, as you claim, we get to have Scully’s own relationship with William through the visions that she’s had that they share. But Mulder’s position on his own role as a father has been one that’s very different, and stand-offish.” And there’s no argument to this, and he can come – and will come – to fight me on it. Has there been wonderment about William’s life? Yes, but never to the sizeable magnitude of its’ weight on Scully’s life. I continue. “The search for William is definitely something that didn’t define him, while for Scully it was a lot more defining… as a character, the decisions she made, the things that would affect her. Mulder, on the other hand, has always had a very contentious relationship whether it be with his own paternity or in terms of the father that created him or the father that raised him—
“Hmm, I think you’re reaching…” He says.
“Am I reaching a little bit?”
“You’re really reaching out, I would say…” And this is the first time he doesn’t laugh when we don’t agree on something, and I wonder why. I don’t laugh either… because I can count and cite the number of times that Mulder’s reactions to Bill Mulder’s involvement in the syndicate, in the outcome of Samantha’s life, has been discussed under not so favorable acceptance. And, I don’t need to even work too hard to elaborate on his opinion of CSM. So, am I reaching? What is the homework done for this character by his creator, when faced with the momentous shift of becoming a father himself? Have we forgotten about ‘Amor Fati’? Did Fox Mulder ever come to the traditional moment that every man or woman goes through when naively planning what kind of parent they’d be, when they claim they’ll never repeat the mistakes of their parents?
But I digress, I let him land that punch that we all know the ref didn’t call as illegal when it should have been, and move on.
“You claim that this experience defined Mulder, even though he has never experienced parenthood. Why claim that “he doesn’t know what to be, if he’s not a father”? Where’s that coming from?” I ask.
“Well, he had to believe - when he was chasing William - he had to believe he was the father because no one else could have been. In his mind, deductively or reductively, he was the only person because he had not been privy to the information that was given to Skinner, and ultimately to Scully,” he attempts.
“I get that, but if you’re going to claim that something has defined you like this, it is because you’ve been able to live through the outlook of those eyes, of being a father and what that means…” being a parent isn’t just an idea, it comes with a texture that gives weight to it. “How much of an experience does he have besides that brief moment?”
“Right, but remember, in episode 8, he says he has a grown child. So, this is what he believes,” he says, and this is a punch that doesn’t land in even the most remote of ways. I can accept to claiming that he’s going through the motions of giving William a shape of existence that’s far more tangible and believable than the little baby he once saw. I can accept that by enforcing such statement to live within him, it is nullifying any kind of meandering thought. It is accepting that existence into his life… but there’s not much beyond that that isn’t a naïve approach and actually reaching, for real. So, I take a deep breath and prepare my footwork for a comeback.
“Okay… I’m going to tell you why that doesn’t work for me,” I begin, and he mutters ‘oh boy’ under his breath. “If you were to take my father, that has been my father for 36 years, and tell him tomorrow morning that he’s not my father - regardless of biology – he’s had the experience of those years, being there for every moment of my life to understand what it means for me that he’s my father and what it means for him to be my father. Regardless of what you claim, he will always be my father. That doesn’t go away.”
I don’t even wait for him to do a leap to dodge the next one.
“Mulder doesn’t have this experience, and neither does he know or understand what it would have been to raise William or know what he felt and why he felt it. He wouldn’t know how he would feel when confronted with every aspect of his son’s life. He doesn’t know how to be his father for that experience to define him.”
And if Mulder, in all the depth of his own character, claims that what he had set up in his head was enough for it to define him, then he’s in for a rude awakening… because whatever notion he has, it's just imaginary, and he has effectively been living in a worse condition than all of us. Where we all knew that William’s existence was a construct of our wishes, we knew that this is indeed a fictional character, Mulder is taking that construct to a point where then this imagined experience - that he doesn’t have rights to own - has illogically shifted his path and his self-worth. Boy, and people worry about us being too intense about these characters; no one was looking at Fox Mulder.
“I mean, okay, you’re right.” Wait, what? Did he just say that? “Mulder and Scully didn’t raise him. But if he felt that he was the biological father, he would wake up every day with that idea, so I know what you’re saying, that he wasn’t the person that raised him, and he didn’t have that kind of fatherhood, but he believed that one day he would be reunited with him.”
Well, I also believed in that reunion, but here we are. It turns out that Mulder and Scully have a hell of a lot in common with us, in the sense that we’re all looking at Chris Carter and going: “Are you for real?”
Round 3 - The Conspiracy and the Contagion
“After we get to the sugar plant, the threats of the contagion and the conspiracy, for me, sort of go off the edge…” I say. “We get there, and CSM is resolute to get to William, because he claims he belongs to him… but in reality, I don’t quite know what’s the need to have him, what makes him so valuable, or how he would be used. There’s no definition.”
“Remember…” he starts. “CSM wants to wipe out humanity and start it anew. We’ve already established that Scully and him are immune to the virus, Monica Reyes has immunity to it… we don’t know who else has immunity to it. But the fact is that they have an immortal child, as we’ve shown, is what they want to use to start the planet again, with that immortality to him.”
At this point I’m listening to him, but also wondering about the number of people that didn’t get that, or why are they always assuming that they can replicate what they’ve so vehemently claimed was a miracle. He continues.
“So why they need him, and why Mr. Y needs him, is because of what everyone wants… what does every man and woman want? They want to live forever. That’s the holy grail. So, to start the planet anew, as he says that he’s going to do, with – in his mind – the golden child, that’s all that matters right now.”
I don’t know, man. I don’t think everyone wants to be immortal. I’d be feeling quite a case of claustrophobia. And I can see where he can claim to that, but as we saw in My Struggle 3, part of the plan was to also convince Scully of the viability of this as the future, and this is not tackled at all in this episode. Scully needs to ‘see the beauty of it’ and accept to collaborate with CSM. No biggie. That will happen, right?
“Right now there may be a bigger rift between Scully and William than there ever was.” I follow his claim with this. “And I feel that instead of the investment that we put into foot chases and car chases, we should have put that screen time into those situations to address that.” Or to let us live longer in scenes that needed room to breathe.
“Well, everyone wants William, right? For their own reasons. They want to protect him, as Mulder says to him in the motel room. And Scully wants to protect him too, as she says at the sugar plant.” She thinks at the time that she’s been speaking to Mulder but in reality, it was William. “They think they can protect him, and that’s what the chasing around is about. So, everything else, for me, you have to piece and put together, which for me is good storytelling, as all these questions you have are answerable with the information you’re given…”
Riiight. So, we’ve gotten to the point of this fight that you don’t want to punch me anymore, but instead, I should run into your fist? The point of my criticism is completely lost. We didn’t need minutes upon minutes of showcasing the Mustang’s amazing stability to do donuts in the middle of rural Vancouver, or a huge budget for stunt coordinators and stunt players to have a parkour exhibition that goes on too long and that consumed a whole lot of the day of shooting at this location. Good storytelling is also economy of the story. Where, while I enjoy a good bout of heart-pumping action, it should come out of more justifiable circumstances and not in detriment of other scenes and moments that need more development.
Can we also touch upon the fact that no women were at the point where they led their own path in this episode, never mind being part of any of these action sequences? Not Reyes, even when she was driving, CSM took the wheel and pushed the pedal. Scully gets driven. Erica Price utters three words before William gives her a head blasting migraine. Scully running toward William wasn’t quite enough. She’s running after the guys.
“At the beginning of the episode,” he prompts me to remember. “We have a different tagline, ‘Salvator Mundi’ which means savior of the world. And you can look at that in three ways: Is William the savior of the world?...” he proposes.
“Or is he ‘endangeror’…?” I counter, given that the kid isn’t exactly the picture of kindness.
“Yeah. But is his resurrection a suggestion that there’s immortality for all of us? Or is there a possibility if we were to study him? Because he’s alive now.” He continues, “Or, is Mulder the savior of the world, who has killed his father that was going to wipe out humanity? Or is CSM the savior in his own mind, whose plans were to take out people that were terrible stewards of the planet, take them out and start the planet anew. You can look at that and interpret it that way.”
“But, did we really kill CSM?” I ask.
“Well, you really wonder.” Yeah, I’m still wondering about missiles.
“CSM has access to a lot of science, and we saw him regenerate before. And Scully had those visions of him with horrible disfigurement, but we only saw light scarring in the end, so what is that about? And with Skinner and Monica, no one stopped to take their pulse, so no-one knows. Was it a kill shot?”
At least Skinner was consistent. He tried, he defended them, he took one for the team.
I let out a big sigh, because if my math is right… aside heads that exploded… then we’re looking at retconning MS4 as well. I mean, MS2 was somewhat retconned, so why not?
“Do we really establish, though, that Monica is immune?” I ask.
“Well, she’s with the CSM, why is she then with him?” He says.
“You’re asking me!?” I choke laughing, because the biggest fight Chris Carter and I have ever had in the 11 years we’ve known each other, was about Monica Reyes’ storyline and her character assassination, but yes, I’ll bite. “Yeah, why is she with him?”
“Remember that Scully had the vision that Monica tells her that she was given this opportunity, and she took it, and now she feels terrible remorse. That’s the conversation at the park bench.”
I let out a frustrated sigh that I guess he interpreted a bit different than intended. It makes no sense, even when you see that Monica’s death is almost accidental, as Skinner can’t tell that she’s actually trying to drive away. We claim that there’s some redemption to her because she made that call to Scully, but that call just leads Mulder to Purlieu. And that ends up with Mulder killing Mr. Y. By all means 1) Mulder could have gotten shot. Or 2) Mulder just eliminated CSM’s enemies for him, with the help of Reyes. The thing is that she seems not to have made CSM privy to any of this. So… What was her end game? To kill this operation from the inside? We’ll never know. Maybe.
“You know, Avi. I anticipated all of your questions. And I thought about them deeply, because I think that there so much for me that is part of the depth of the show because there’s always more than meets the eye.”
And you know, I actually believe him. I really do think he did. I just don’t think that he understands that some of these answers – as much as he claims that they are logic replies to our questions, aside from the topic of expectations – they do not belong in the realm of A + B + C.
Not every question needs to be answered with another question. It just creates an unmanageable framework. And at the end of the day, they’re complications that take away focus from the things that actually matter.
The thing though, is that as a result, for me to review this show, and to talk about this show, his own “technique” has become my own as well. If you comb through my reviews, my statements come in the shape of questions, because that’s the nature of the beast. It’s not only about this show, but also Science Fiction – anything is possible. But at the same time, while I don’t think that things just happen to land on the page just because, there’s the unavoidable truth. At some point… someone needs to answer those questions to the audience, even if the characters don’t get to learn that truth.
“I mean, you can go all the way back to “The Erlenmeyer Flask” and see how there are all these human hybrids that Scully knew that they were different, and now all that science has caught up with her.”
“Okay, but then… you had other plot devices that were examples of this science, so why not play with the Supersoldiers, for example? Why not bring them back?” And then that’s the thing. The tools, and the way to make this story tight have always been there. We could have easily pegged CSM’s own recovery to the fact that he could have turned himself into a supersoldier. Why did we have to establish a new base level of rules? If the excuse is that we needed to be based on science, and men, and not supernatural things… I believe that’s a tool that would apply to all those requirements.
“Hmm, well, we don’t know what happened with the supersoldiers. They may still be around. There could still be supersoldiers out there; we don’t know,” he claims.
“Because in a way, William is a supersoldier…” In a way, he has every attribute they had, as well as Jeremiah Smith. “Only that he doesn’t have the whole thing with the vertebrae—”
“Yeah, he can have those qualities, but also qualities beyond those,” he tries. “You know, when CSM came, and in ‘En Ami’ he said all those things to Scully—what he had the science to do, but was that his science alone? Something that the military didn’t have a hold on yet?”
I like how the questions have more questions, and those have more questions, and... we’ll be here all day.
“I really liked the idea of the supersoldiers because it gave a new level to the fact that people that they knew could become one, and even to the point, Monica Reyes could have been a supersoldier for the revival,” I propose, and please – yes, the rumours are true, Annabeth Gish has indeed written Monica Reyes’ fanfiction. “She’s a double agent and would have reinforced the point of ‘who do you trust.’”
And I suppose… we could probably touch upon this in a theoretical season 12. So… What’s happening there?
Round 4 – The Future Episode
“Are we going to have a next season?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” he snickers. “Gillian said that she’s not coming back to the show but, you know my answer to that is never say never. I don’t know what’s going to happen now, and now Fox was just sold to Disney, and you just don’t know—there are people that are making decisions that are apart from me and beyond me.”
I tell him that the day that the merger between Fox and Disney was announced, Frank Spotnitz joked to me that there will be an X-Files ride at Disneyland. The fact that that could happen makes me cringe a bit.
“What happens when the merger goes through, and if someone gets the idea that it would be novel to make a next-generation version of the show, without you?” I ask, and it is a punch straight to the solar plexus.
“Without me?” There’s some room for meditation there. “Hmm, well, my connection to the show is only as good as their word, so that’s all I have. Their word.”
We briefly discuss which episodes I’ve liked, and my desire to have more mythology in the show than we did, and I also bring up the fact that it was a bit relieving that we got to have Ghouli as a mythology episode.
In a moment of introspection, we talk about what worked and what didn’t. One of the comments went to the way that the footage was used by the promo department and the matter of expectations created by it. My opinion is that it was borderline abusive and that it killed many moments for many fans. It led to false hopes that muddled the enjoyment and analysis of many scenes, like the ending of ‘Nothing Lasts Forever.’ We talk about the era of instant gratification. And we both agree it’s taken the magic out of a lot of things, but that there was satisfaction in knowing that after the shock, people went back to that scene and found the beautiful layers hidden in the conversation.
I mean, Mulder and Scully told each other that they’re each other’s gods, and whispered prayers to each other, lit candles once extinguished. A + B + C.
“We got that, and I have to say I’m pretty happy,” I say, and I wonder if it’s rude and he has realized that there hasn’t been this kind of praise to the episode we’re supposed to be discussing. “There’s too much character development trusted to be put on these bookends. Why do you do this to yourself?”
“It’s funny because when you go to comic-cons, there are all these people that say that they just like the standalone episodes, so there’s all these different people that like different things about the show, and I pay attention to those things because they’re important to me. And to make sure that we do kind of what we’ve always been doing with the show. We would always begin and end it with Mythology episodes when we did over twenty episodes and had a two-parter or two two-parters, but with ten episodes we can’t do more than this.”
It’s a hard choice because I really liked some of the standalones. The saving grace to them was that in some way, a bit of the conspiracy elements were built in as a throughline, like Pulieu Services being part of ‘This’ and adding other elements throughout.
But then he sucker-punches me.
Round 5 – Chris-plain it to me
“Now though I want to ask you… let’s go back to the pregnancy question,” he says.
“Okay,” I say cautiously.
“When you knew she was pregnant, how did that make you feel? Knowing that she’s 54 years old… What did you say to yourself about that?” I didn’t sign up for a therapy session, nor being interviewed by Chris Carter, but hey if you don’t do wild things while you’re able, when are ya?
“About the possibility?” I try to buy myself some time to form an answer that isn’t ‘Are you effing kidding me?’
“Yeah, when you imagined it…” He ushers.
“Well, I knew you were going towards that goal because of the choices made not only on the motel named St. Rachel, but also the conversation, and then – even if coincidentally – the place where Scully prays in ‘Nothing Lasts Forever,’” I explain. “But in my head, I almost wanted you to find some kind of instance to say or show me that she was doing some kind of therapy or something that denoted intentionality, because while I agree that some older women have gotten pregnant, there’s work and/or intervention more than just nature associated with this possibility.”
And in a way, I actually want to try to understand him and this choice and try to make him see that if he’s going to go with that story, there are far more details that need fleshing out, like how come a woman with no ova can get pregnant.
“I know, but you know when women go into perimenopause, sometimes they do it early, sometimes they do it late, and when Scully says ‘I’m past that journey,’ she would know something about herself.”
Right. Okay. And?
“But at the same time, it could be a natural miracle or a science-fiction miracle…” He says, and I ponder about science fiction again. It’s almost a dirty word by now.
Also, remember when you were 13 years old, and you thought: ‘One day, I hope to talk about my period with Chris Carter!’ – Well, yeah. There’s a handful of us that now have this distinct badge of honor. I wonder if we’re royalty at the Girl Scouts. Anyway, I digress.
“Okay, Chris… but when you get to this stage, your periods are inconsistent, your body goes through the process at times, and in others, it doesn’t. You could go a year without a period until it finally settles into a balance. I get it; I’m a girl. And not only that, I have plenty of family history. Everyone in my family has had early menopause, and even my mother had hers triggered by my grandmother passing away. And to the benefit of your storyline, twelve years later she had a miscarriage… but she knew that she was still able to conceive, no ova was stolen from her. At the same time, with Scully’s case, I needed a little bit of something to note when that wind shifted from, ‘I’m past that time in my life,’ to, ‘hmm, maybe this is what I could be looking for now.’ You know what I mean?”
“Hmm, yes, no, I understand what you’re saying,” he responds in true Californian fashion. “But it wouldn’t be The X-Files if things beyond our imagination didn’t happen.”
That pesky Alien DNA. The interview continues.
“And so, before… when they had William, and he started to exhibit those powers—” I start.
“Yeah, moving the mobile… right?” He says.
“Right, so now we get miracle child #2,” I cautiously approach.
“Well, but a different miracle, though, right?” Is it? Are we gonna go with biological magic this time?
“Chris… as much as we’d like to claim that… Mulder is still the guy that got infected with black oil and survived that. Had a weird mental disease that had him predict the future and survived that. And then got abducted, and poked and prodded, and survived that.” He’s legit laughing at my recount. “And Scully got abducted, has a chip that cured her cancer, then got “meddled with,” had a baby… you know? Poor people… oh, and she also is kind of immortal, according to 'Clyde' and ‘Tithonous’— and CSM, as well.”
“But we don’t know if the extent of her alien biology gives her the same quality as William.” Okay. Fine.
“Right, so but are we to expect that Special Baby #2 will be some kind of supernatural, kind of entity, kind of thing… or?”
“Well, we don’t know.” He does the Chris Carter thing, and I’m almost just tired of these punch scares.
“Please don’t name the baby Samantha, please don’t do that.” I request, resolute. “Don’t do that. I beg of you, at this point—yeah, don’t do that.”
He dies laughing for a few seconds.
“I mean that’s the #1 fanfic cliché for family fic, and it's one thing to honor certain things, but then to have Mulder come and say: ‘Oh, I finally have my Samantha…’ I’m going to tell you, it’s corny and just don’t. Don’t do it. Don’t’ do it.” At this point I’m not even begging, I’m scolding.
“Okay, for you, Avi… I won’t do it,” he says.
“Okay, thank you. I will forever cherish this moment where I prevented a personal cringe-worthy moment.”
This conversation, in itself, is almost fanfic. To all those of you that have named your MSR babies Samantha, I apologize if I’ve offended you. But I can’t help it. If there’s any consolation, I’ve always felt William was a crappy choice as well.
“Do you think is a girl?” He asks.
“Hmm… I don’t know, do I know?” There’s a sonogram in one of the images that flash for Scully; I guess I can go look at that in Photoshop. But I tell him about my headcanon. “There was a thing in my generation, where a lot of people got pregnant by accident, I’m a non-intended baby… and most of those births, if not all, were girls. We always joke about that in Venezuela…”
“Well, I also think that women are ascendant in the planet right now, so that makes perfect sense,” he says. Damn straight.
Round 6 – What are you doing tomorrow?
“What are the plans besides the beach and playing ball with the dogs?” I ask, and besides the fact that he’s going through a second evacuation in a year due to the storms in California, there’s a lot to catch up about life that was set aside because of production.
In terms of work, “I have an idea that I’m sitting down to plot, and it's something completely different from me, so I’ll give that a try.”
“What happens if Gillian doesn’t come back?” I ask. I don’t think I’m done with this question and I try this one punch again.
“I don’t know; she said she’s not.” He says a lot soberer and empathetic than the token response that he’s given to a lot of outlets. “You probably saw her tweets, where she said that it was the last time she’d wear the wig, the last time I do this, and last time I do that, so whatever she chooses to do, I respect that. She has two children, and she lives in London; it was a hardship for her to be away from them for so long. And I can understand that. I don’t think that it would be the same show without David and Gillian in it. I don’t think that’s – I mean, who would think it would be the same show? It’s Mulder and Scully, forever… so these are problems that would need to be addressed like all problems in the show since the beginning, you’d have to figure out how to turn those problems into virtues.”
I’m not – I don’t know how I feel about this.
“Given the ratings for the show, and the uncertainty of what’s happening at FOX, do you foresee any other outlets for you to be associated with to continue the life of the show?”
“Of course,” he says, lively and we’ve had inventive ventures including Ghouli.net. “I made a joke the other day about The X-Files, the musical, but in reality, they’re actually making a really interesting narrative video game, different from the one that’s been launched already. Different approaches to X-Files story telling. So we’ll see.”
The Final Bell
When the hour goes by, and the realization that I will have to transcribe all these musings hits me with the weight of 1013 bricks, we come to this weird agreement: regardless of who won this imaginary boxing match, and if there actually needs to be a winner, Chris Carter is more than happy to come again and enter the ring.
Chris Carter will always want to talk about The X-Files… and to his recognition, as maddening as it is, he’s perfectly aware that the story of this world he has created isn’t perfect by any means. And he’s fine with that. That’s the story he wants to tell. Am I fine with that? Probably no, definitely no. But I will always respect the fact that he is the creator of this universe. It doesn’t nullify the fact that this story has become so big that it doesn’t belong to him any more… but coming from that perspective, it simplifies certain answers and explains some of the growing pains.
In a weird metaphor, I wonder if Chris ever considered that William might be seen as The X-Files as a whole and maybe just like he proposes, he should let that child make his own way.
As a final recount of blows, aside from the ones previously narrated, there’s the fact that I didn’t think it was the best dialogue we’ve had in this show, that the editing while it solved problems, also created many. Mark Snow will always be the MVP, and so will the unfortunate crews that had to clean those cars and rooms full of blood.
Gillian Anderson, as much as many may be upset about her leaving -or at least those being the plans for now - she had moments of truly exceptional talent despite not having much to work with in this episode. Her cries at the end of the episode - whatever was the motivation for them - made me so sad, and they had a different texture that I can’t forget. They matched a devastated mother… it was just the words that didn’t match what should have been.
As for David Duchovny, I think everyone can pretty much agree that Season 11 Fox Mulder is one of the most solid Fox Mulders we’ve had. Not only about what David usually brought to the character but also that part where he seems much more connected to this man now than before.
I just wish that he drove fewer Mustangs.
As for me… I would like to say 'never say never' to many things. I can’t claim by any means that MS4 was a good hour of television. The season - as a whole - is actually great and proof that it can be done… we just need… tweaks? Better goals? Fairness when it comes to promises? Closure? I’m sure much more can be learned from the experience.
But sadly, Chris Carter… MS4 will never be my finale. Not of this show, not of this season. For me, this show ended in that church, where the writer connected to the very fiber of that devotion that they have for each other. I prefer it this way. And, well, this is one of the many things that we’ll have to agree to disagree. Because for your very own kind of writer justice, I grew up under the Scully Effect. It doesn’t just mean that people grew up to be scientists, but people that would perennially question everything based on facts, on experience, and in logic. People that pursue justice until the very end.
As a parting gift, if you’re still reading, I leave you with this. Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz wrote it. It is still as heartbreaking and poignant as it ever was… and there’s no bullet to the head, nor rivers or missiles that will erase it.
One day, you'll ask me to speak of a truth - of the miracle of your birth. To explain what is unexplained. And if I falter or fail on this day, know there is an answer, my child, a sacred imperishable truth, but one you may never hope to find alone. Chance meeting your perfect other, your perfect opposite - your protector and endangeror. Chance embarking with this other on the greatest of journeys - - a search for truths fugitive and imponderable. If one day this chance may befall you, my son, do not fail or falter to seize it. The truths are out there. And if one day you should behold a miracle, as I have in you, you will learn the truth is not found in science, or on some unseen plane, but by looking into your own heart. And in that moment, you will be blessed - and stricken. For the truest truths are what hold us together, or keep us painfully, desperately apart. - ‘Trust No 1’ - Jan 6th 2002.