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Cincy Post: 'X-Files' returns: More questions than answers

Cincy Post
‘X-Files’ returns: More questions than answers
Rick Bird

When we last left ”The X-Files,” Mulder was finally snatched by the aliens and Scully was inexplicably pregnant.

The show returns Sunday for the first of a two-part season premiere (9 p.m., Channel 19) and we find that Mulder is not a happy camper as these aliens are pricking, poking, cutting and probing the poor guy. (It’s another lesson in be careful what you ask for).

Scully has bouts with morning sickness, and it seems the entire FBI is looking for Mulder. Of course, Scully’s report that he was kidnapped by aliens is not an acceptable explanation for her superiors.

So begins the eighth season of ”The X-Files,” in what just might be its last. David Duchovny will appear in 11 of 20 episodes, but mostly in cameo roles. He agreed to come back in a limited role as part of a settlement of his lawsuit last year against 20th Century Fox. He filed the suit because re runs were being sold to a Fox sister network. (It was a royalty issue that actually foreshadows the major dispute that could lead to an actors’ strike next spring.)

This is also the last year of the network’s contract with the show’s creator and executive producer, Chris Carter. But Carter said he wasn’t approaching this as the final sea son. ”If it ever feels like it’s running out of steam, or people don’t want to see it, or no one wants to do it, I think that’s the time to pack it in.”

Carter did say that if this turns out to be the last year, he would likely write a finale that offers fans some sort of closure. As Carter put it, ”It would be nice to come to some sort of a conclusion, but my fear is that when you have a show about the unexplained-unexplainable and the unknown, to actually try to explain any of that is kind of ridiculous.”

But judging from the premiere, ”The X-Files” has plenty of life in it. Scully gets a new FBI partner who is in charge of leading the Mulder search, John Doggett (Robert Patrick). Doggett will assume Scully’s former role as the designated skeptic. After all, Scully is now a believer, having come face-to-face with a space ship.

Without giving any secrets away, Mulder is a presence in the season opener, but it’s really a show about exploring Scully’s new relationship with Doggett. And it’s an episode that lets Gillian Anderson reveal much more emotional vulnerability and depth to her character than we have seen previously in the series.

The premiere features some of her best acting yet, as she worries about Mulder and her pregnancy and deals with her new FBI bosses. Fans probably won’t be disappointed that Scully will have a new partner, as Mulder is off getting tortured by the aliens. At least that’s the way Carter sees it, explaining that he wanted to actually use Duchovny’s reduced role in the series to breathe new life into it.

”David and Gillian are the reason for the show’s great success. But that doesn’t mean you can’t threaten the paradigm. You can’t threaten the model, the relationship.”

Then there’s that little subplot about Scully’s pregnancy, never explained last season, and not really explained in the opening two parts. Some fans speculate that Mulder is the father. We did see them exchange that New Year’s Eve smooch last season. And then, it’s possible the aliens did it. (She was herself abducted a few seasons back.) And, as you will see in the opening show, a new story twist is introduced about mixing alien with human genes. Carter is not revealing any secrets, except to say Scully’s pregnancy is for real.

”I would never assume anything on ”The X-Files,” and anything can happen. But I’ll tell you. I think that would be a big cheat if it was false-positive or a phony pregnancy.”

Carter said clues are being dropped into the season’s first few episodes about the reasons behind the pregnancy. It will probably be the February sweeps before we get the full story.

Carter was sort of patting himself on the back when he met with reporters last summer, explaining that last season’s cliffhanger was a tough one to write. At the time, he had no idea if Duchovny, or the show, would return.

”I had to write the season finale, truly, honestly, not knowing whether or not we’d be back next year. So I had to write a sort of all-purpose season finale. It was difficult, but it was a wonderful exercise too. And it has set us up for a very interesting way to approach Season 8.”

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