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Gannett News Service (Honolulu Advertiser): 'X-Files' series finale offers closure to 9 chilling seasons

Gannett News Service (Honolulu Advertiser)
‘X-Files’ series finale offers closure to 9 chilling seasons
Mike Hughes

For nine years, “The X-Files” has teased us and terrorized us, dazzled us and amused us.

It has turned weirdness into an art form. And on Sunday it ends.

The final episode – 8:10 p.m. tonight on Fox – will put Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) on trial. It may answer many of the dangling questions.

“The series will come full-circle,” Chris Carter, the show’s creator and producer, says by phone.

“Viewers will have a sense of closure.”

There will still be “X-Files” movies ahead, Carter promises. “I think we have everyone on board now.”

And those will have self-contained stories. Tonight’s finale, in which Mulder must prove the existence of aliens, will wrap up the “X-Files” mysteries, Carter says.

You can trust him on that. Then again, he’s the guy who told us: “Trust no one.”

Carter, now 45, started “The X-Files” in 1993, with Mulder and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) chasing the unexplainable. It was a wild ride.

“Each week, something happens to Mulder and-or Scully that is completely life-changing,” Duchovny reflected in 1999 before he left the series for good to spend more time on movies. “And yet we come back the next week as if nothing happened.”

They confronted shape-changers, gender-benders and time warps. Mulder was shot five times (once by Scully) – or more, if you count his imagination.

Still, this wasn’t just a series of odd adventures. “You need this to become the vehicle for (Mulder’s) personal story,” Carter says. “This is his personal quest.”

Along the way the audience has learned details about Mulder.

He graduated from Oxford and from the FBI Academy where classmates called him Spooky. His favorite snack is sunflower seeds. He was playing the board game Stratego with his 8-year-old sister when she was abducted by aliens.

He also has a kitschy side. Mulder went to Graceland for a vacation; he’s seen the movie “Plan 9 From Outer Space” 42 times.

When the series first started Carter cast two unknowns in the lead then had them work marathon hours in Vancouver, Canada. “I had no idea what I was getting into,” Anderson said midway in the second season.

For supporting roles, Carter chose people who didn’t have the usual TV look. He had bald actors (Mitch Pileggi, Terry O’Quinn), craggy actors, and odd and interesting performers.

For the first five seasons – before “The X-Files” began filming in California – he had lots of Canadians in the cast.

“They have a wonderful talent pool in Vancouver,” Carter says, “but it’s thin. We used the same actors in five or six different roles.”

He also kept re-using the same gifted directors.

In the first year or so, Carter says, he replaced more than one-third of his directors in the middle of episodes. Eventually, he found ones that fit his style.

“We have a director who has surpassed 50 episodes now,” Carter says. “We have another who’s pretty close.”

The champ is director Kim Manners, also one of the show’s six producers. His personal vocabulary made him the prototype for the profanity-spewing character, Detective Manners; the finale will be approximately the 53rd “X-Files” he’s directed.

Coming close was Rob Bowman. He’s directed more than 40 episodes, plus the 1998 movie.

What Carter wanted from his directors was a delicate balance – dark but not dreary, serious but fun. He relates that to the times he saw shows being tested with viewers, recording their interest minute by minute.

“I’d get so upset by the valleys,” Carter says. “But then I realized that you need a valley, before you can have the next peak.”

That’s sort of how he sees the mood of “The X-Files.” On the surface, Carter is a sunny guy – a handsome surfer with wavy hair and a polite, well-spoken manner, a sharp contrast to the guy who is fond of dark drama.

“You have to have the darkness in order to have the light,” Carter says. Now, after nine years of dark brilliance, his show is ending and except for writing the next “X-Files” movie, he’ll have time to play.

“I started having too much fun too soon,” he says. “I went skiing and broke my arm.”

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