What Should We Expect from An X-Files Revival?

You'll be seeing us again soon

You’ll be seeing us again soon

Okay, so I know I haven’t posted in a while, and if you want to know why it’s slightly because of me not wanting to rewatch Season 4’s “The Field Where I Died” but it’s also because college. That is all.

Given the (very) recent news, however, I just couldn’t let this day slip past me without making a post. I had to wait until I was sure I wasn’t going to have a coronary, but now I think I’ve calmed down enough to say a few words about this.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know what I’m talking about, so I’ll just cut to the chase: Fox has officially announced a greenlight for six new episodes of The X-Files. For realsies. The time to break out the champagne and dust off your I Want To Believe posters is now.

Before I get into the “what to expect” stuff, I want to point out several important things. First, it should be made VERY clear that #XFiles2015 was a thing before Fox made any sort of announcements. And #XFiles2015 is just a representation of what the fanbase has been doing for years. X-Philes have been lobbying this since basically I Want To Believe, which turned out less-than-stellar results. This is important because it shows the strength and sincerity of the fanbase. We wanted this. We made this happen. Pat yourselves on the back, my loves.

The second is the wonderful news that The X-Files is returning to the place of its birth – television. You see, the cry from fans for a long time was for a third X-Files movie. Nobody expected it to return to TV. I certainly didn’t. I expected a third movie, or should I say hoped for one, because I thought that’s the best we could get.

The big game changer for me was when they announced a Twin Peaks miniseries. The X-Files and Twin Peaks have similar fanbases, came out in the same decade, and while there are a lot of differences between the two, you can definitely see where The X-Files picked up cues from Twin Peaks. Once they announced the Twin Peaks miniseries, I thought to myself, there’s hope for The X-Files. And maybe on a television format.

Because let’s face it – The X-Files is first and foremost a TV show, and maybe that’s where it belongs. Fight the Future is great but only because it’s sandwiched in a very comfortable place between the show’s two best seasons. The biggest complaint about I Want To Believe was that it felt like a two-hour episode. Maybe it should have been an episode. Maybe that would have been better.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about what to expect from an X-Files revival/continuation/whatever you want to call it. I think in the midst of all this excitement, we need to remember that there are still expectations. Oh, I have every confidence that Chris Carter and Co. will pull off something great, but there’s still room (and time) for speculation.

And also, I want to hear from you. This should be an active conversation. What do you want from an X-Files revival?

The Changing Times

The story, like it or not, will have to evolve with the times. Chris Carter and other writers have pointed out that The X-Files could never have been made in a post 9/11 era; a show about government conspiracies and trickery would have been too much. It’s no accident that the show ended shortly after 9/11, and it’s also no accident that I Want To Believe stayed away from the mythology.

But, the mythology will have to be addressed. And when it is, they will have to figure out a way to update it to the times. As Lindsay Ellis points out in her thought-provoking article, our attitude towards conspiracies has changed. The show will have to address these changes, and it will have to do so in six episodes.

The Format

Speaking of which – six episodes? As we know, television has changed too. Shows have longer and fewer episodes than they did when The X-Files was on air. Will these six episodes be long, in the vein of, say, Sherlock, or will they be the standard 45 minutes? I personally hope it’s the former – it would be a great way for The X-Files to adapt to today’s formatting while also giving the story more space. But we’ll just have to wait and see.

The William Problem

And then there’s the problem of William. If you have not seen the entire show, this is your spoiler warning. 

I know I am in the minority on William. Here’s the thing a lot of people don’t seem to realize. If you watch the show carefully, if you look at William’s story arc, you’ll notice that after he was born the writers lost interest in him pretty quickly. The X-Files at that point was already on the downhill slide and it was clear the writers were never comfortable with the idea of William. The cynic in me wants to say that he was really just shoehorned in at the end of Season 7 to keep the viewership up after David Duchovny’s departure. In a show where Duchovny’s character is so central, how are you going to get people interested? Throw in a baby. Babies almost always get people talking.

But after William was born, even right after his birth, I always get the sense that the writers just didn’t know what to do with him. Like I said, I am probably in the minority but it was always hard for me to imagine Mulder and Scully as parents, and that’s because they very rarely are. It’s easier to buy Scully as a mother, but Mulder only interacts with William once. William barely gets a mention in I Want To Believe, acknowledging him for necessity but dismissing him before he can resurface as a relevant issue.

A lot of fans seem to be under the impression – or at least have the hope – that William is going to be a major player in the conclusion to the show’s mythology. I disagree, and I think if you watch the episode “William” you’ll see why. The reason Scully gives up William is really not very well defined and, like most things involving William, is shoehorned in. For whatever reason, for the writers, William just didn’t work.

Could he have worked? Maybe, if the show had lasted a few more seasons. But in a show that is so centrally Mulder and Scully, so focused and dependent on their relationship, even a baby seems to get in the way of that.

So no, I’m not particularly anxious to see William return, and I don’t think he will. I have been wrong many times before, however, and as this whole thing proves, you should never underestimate the power of fandom.

Doggett and Reyes (more spoilers)

I’ll admit I am more open to the prospect of Doggett and Reyes returning than William. I like their characters, and I think they added an interesting dynamic to the show. But unlike Skinner, who fulfills a very specific role, it’s hard to see what role Doggett and Reyes will play. They were originally intended to replace Mulder and Scully eventually – that never happened, but you can definitely see how Reyes is Mulder’s spiritual successor, while Doggett sort of takes on the role of the Seasons 1-7 Scully. With Mulder and Scully back in the scene, what would Doggett and Reyes do? I personally thought it was strange how their story arc ended in the finale. What really happened – and I think this is very telling – is that the show dropped everything and returned to Mulder and Scully. Because that’s what the show’s about. 

I think there’s a possibility of Doggett and Reyes returning, but not a big one.

The Nemesis (the spoilage continues)

I would not be surprised to discover that the Cigarette Smoking Man is still alive (even though his death scene in the finale looked pretty…deathly). But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he isn’t. Who is Mulder and Scully’s nemesis going to be?

There are many possibilities and hopes for this X-Files revival, and I’ve only touched on a few. But one thing’s for sure – I ain’t ever said no to more Mulder and Scully, and I would love to see their story continue for as long as everyone’s willing to watch it. And for X-Philes, that could be forever. 🙂

Let me know, here or on Twitter, what you’d like to see in an X-Files revival. And remember: THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

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