X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee
Rick Kushman

In a way, “The X-Files” is a victim of its own success.

Everywhere you look these days, some TV series or feature film is running a dark-conspiracy story with deceptive, shadowy characters, executive treachery and, probably, aliens.

So if “The X-Files” has lost some of its glimmer as it concludes its nine-year TV run, or if it has lost some mystique or resolute spookiness, remember that in 1993 there was nothing like it in entertainment.

The two-hour finale Sunday night on Fox just ties the knots on a rare, special series that was decidedly unique and a standard-bearer for a golden age of TV drama.

When it first appeared, we had never seen the likes of its winding, whimsical, terrifying premise. We’d never followed so many odd twists, such huge paranoia or duplicity of global proportions, and we’d never been drawn to so potentially horrific an apocalypse of mutations and alien slavery.

“The X-Files” helped mold pop culture, presenting a beautifully shot, irresistibly produced view of our own worst nightmares, from mutants, aliens and poltergeists to sewer flukes, circus freaks and flying cows.

It was also toweringly clever, presciently connected to pop culture’s zeitgeist, and a festival of irony. Plus it was an ode to repressed emotion, delayed gratification and TV’s hottest, longest case of sexual tension. “The X-Files” was a cult show that was simply too extraordinary to stay small. It was for years one of television’s best, most popular dramas and one of Hollywood’s coolest franchises. Its fanatic following spread worldwide, encouraged by the show’s creators and nurtured by a little thing called the Internet.

It was actually the first big thing for Internet TV fans. And it was the first show to tie its principles together via cell phone, both a vision of what American society _ or at least a day at the mall _ would become while supplying a metaphor for our heroes’ disconnection. “The X-Files” became a driving force on the culture, both catching and feeding a sensibility that was stated in one of the series’ lasting themes: Trust No One.

But for all that, “The X-Files” would have been just another small show if it were not always, simply, unambiguous fun. Much of the credit goes to David Duchovny, whose Agent Mulder could deliver lines ranging from “Oooh, I just got a chill down my spine” to “One more anal-probing, gyro-pyro-levitating, ectoplasm alien anti-matter story and I’m gonna take out my gun and shoot someone.”

So for nine seasons now, despite all the imitators, despite the ratings drop, the new agents, the baby, the changes of focus, and the layer upon layer of high-grade confusion, “The X-Files” has remained among television’s royalty and has supplied us with one of TV’s longest-running mysteries.

And on Sunday night we will finally learn some answers. In theory, all the answers, series creator and executive producer Chris Carter says. “We’re going to wrap up the TV series,” Carter said in a phone interview last week. “Are we going to know the fate of the planet? Yeah. I don’t presume to know it all, but I’m going to suggest there’s an answer.”

OK, there we go already, off on another “X-Fileian” loop, winding around enigmas, half-answers and quarter-truths.

No, no, Carter says. All this confusion, all the cryptic insinuations, they’re all going to lead someplace with solid answers. Agent Mulder will be back, Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) will learn the truth about her baby, and the world will be safe for an “X-Files” movie that’s entirely separate from this mythology.

By the way, Carter says all signs are that the franchise will continue in feature films. “The movie would be a stand-alone story,” he said. “David and Gillian want to do it. The studio wants to do it. The wheels are turning already. I think the first opportunity we’ll have to shoot it is summer 2003, so you probably won’t see it until sometime in 2004.”

As for the finale, all we know, since Carter and the Fox network are telling us, is that Mulder is on trial for his life and must justify (and, hopefully, explain) pretty much everything we’ve been watching for nine seasons.

Will “X-Files” fans feel some sense of closure and fulfillment?

Maybe. And maybe it just boils down to the truths in this exchange between Mulder and Scully. Mulder: “Do you believe in the afterlife?” Scully: “I’d settle for a life in this one.”

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