If you have found yourself contemplating rewatching some old episodes of “The X-Files” to brush up before the upcoming Season 11 premiere on Fox this Wednesday, you’re in good company.
“The mythology of this show, it was complex,” said series creator Chris Carter in a wild understatement. “Sometimes,” he admitted by phone from Vancouver, where he was recently finishing up the season finale, “I have to go back and remind myself of the way the puzzle pieces fit together.”
After a 14-year hiatus, the beloved sci fi drama returned in 2016 for a quick-hit miniseries. The six episodes reacquainted viewers with the tangled history of FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and their quest to ferret out the truth about aliens, the paranormal and all manner of monsters and monstrous men. Fox was pleased enough by the ratings success of the reboot to order up 10 more episodes — which Anderson says will be her last — to continue the pair’s journey.
Reaction to the miniseries was mixed, even among the “X-Files” cast and crew, but all are optimistic that they found a groove with the upcoming season.
“Last season we really went from a standing start, and this season I feel we have much more of a running start,” Carter said. “When it was proposed to me that ‘The X-Files’ would come back, it came out of the blue. When it was proposed to me when it would return again for Season 11, it was something I had been actively involved in and half-anticipated.”
“I think we were rusty,” Duchovny said of the 2016 season by phone shortly after Christmas.
“It felt like we were finding our way with it,” Anderson agreed. “It didn't necessarily feel like what it used to be and what it could be. It didn't feel like we were living its potential, necessarily.”
But, she said by phone from Vancouver, that unfulfilled sense of how great it could be served as motivation. “Part of my decision to come at it again one more time was to have an opportunity to do that. And certainly there's more of an opportunity with 10 than there was with six, just because of the nature of the show and that it is so many different things, there are so many different worlds that we live in, and aspects of these characters that we get to play, and types of episodes that we do. So to have an opportunity to explore that full range through a larger arc was interesting, and with the hope and the understanding that that perhaps will create a better conclusion for ourselves and for the fans.”
Those fans, said Carter, can count on the normal ratio of “monster of the week” to mythology episodes and expect the series to run the gamut emotionally from absurd and uproarious to poignant and pulse-pounding.
As for this being the end, Anderson is resolved — “This is it for me,” she said — but Duchovny isn’t ready for that conversation, pointing out that he himself left the show at one point during its original run.
“Gillian said it's been it before ... I don't know. We can make pronouncements or we could say, ‘Well, Fox might not want more.’ Who knows? I have no idea, so I'd rather not even dwell on the hypotheticals of it. I'd rather just enjoy these 10.”
Time will tell, but for now, Anderson says, “It has been an extraordinary gift and I'm incredibly grateful for the existence of Scully in my life and for the gift that Chris gave me in casting me, and my friendship with David, and it's been a wonderful run, but I've got other things to do.”
One of those things, unfortunately, will not be appearing again as the new god Media in the second season of “American Gods” on Starz. Anderson says the departure of showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green means she will not return to the show. She does, however, have two feature films slated for 2018, including the espionage comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, and Duchovny is about to set off on a tour of Australia and New Zealand in support of his upcoming album “Every Third Thought,” out digitally January 26.
For his part, Carter said he needed to focus on finishing up this season but could envision being struck by an idea of where to go next. “That happens all the time,” he said. “Every time I pick up a newspaper there's something that sparks.”
And the news itself appears to have caught up with “The X-Files,” given the recent revelations by the Pentagon about the sanctioned government investigation into UFOs. As the show long contended, it would appear that the truth was indeed out there.
Anderson, Duchovny and Carter, however, have disparate thoughts on the matter and the fact that the news didn’t make much of a ripple this holiday season.
“It’s funny, I listen to this [New York Times] podcast called ‘The Daily,’ and they did a piece on it, which was nice to see,” Carter says. “We should be talking about it. But the only way that people are really going to sit up and pay attention is if a UFO becomes an IFO. It still seems loopy, in a way, because these are unidentified objects, and even though now there's reports of recovery of some of [them], everything still remains shadowy.”
Anderson points out the preponderance of sobering, tangible current events that kept the news from creating a bigger buzz.
“It fascinates me, but a percentage of my life is not spent in that world,” she said. “And so I think I read that and went, ‘Huh.’ Rather than, ‘Oh, my God. Don't you know what this means?’ Yeah it's a big deal, but so much of what's going on right now is a bigger deal than that. I mean, that there's somebody in office who is causing more damage to the world and our relationships with the rest of our fellow human beings than any alien race could do landing on this planet is of more concern than the fact that there were funds put into unusual research. I'm sorry.”
For his part, Duchovny for once is playing the skeptic.
“Yeah, it seems a little fishy to me that they're releasing all this information now,” he says wryly. “I would check with Fox publicity about that. I'm not exactly sure who's pulling the levers at this point.”
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Rating: TV-14-DLV (may be unsuitable for children younger than 14, with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language and violence)