It’s been 4,998 days since the last episode of The X-Files. Do you remember what happened? I went back to the last fateful episode (and scanned through the mediocre 2008 movie) to remind myself where things left off. Here’s your quick summary in case you don’t have a chance to freshen your memory before tonight’s mini-series premiere.
Following a complete absence from season 9, Fox Mulder returns in the first shot of the two-part series finale. Infiltrating a military base, he gains access to secret military documents that detail the inevitable alien invasion on December 22, 2012. Though it was more than three years ago, it might have faded from your memory that many conspirators (both real and fictional) cited this date as The End of the World.
Since December 23rd came and went, the holiday season proceeded as planned, and we all went back to work in 2013, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that hysteria. However, when that date was still more than ten years in the future it presented a very real End of Times for Fox Mulder. So completely, in fact, that he gave up his crusade to expose “The Truth.”
During the infiltration of the military base, Fox comes up against the virtually unkillable super-soldier, Knowle Rohrer. After electrocuting him, Fox is taken into custody. The remainder of the first episode and a large piece of the second episode is a trial in the murder of Knowle Rohrer. It provided the groundwork for a clipshow covering the entire alien conspiracy.
The trial covers the innovative low-budget first three seasons, the brilliant 4th and 5th seasons (including the first movie, The X-Files: Fight the Future), lightly breezing over the terrible, experimental 6th season, and touching on the better but shark-jumped 7th, 8th, and 9th seasons.
Fox’s closest friends and colleagues, people he’s saved over nine years, and once-enemies-now-allies sit in the witness chair during the trial. However, Fox makes no attempt to save himself except when he learns that one of the judges is an alien, not human. The emotional outburst serves to give a suspenseful cliffhanger at the end of the first episode once the two-hour finale goes into syndication.
Following a last-second revelation by Dana Scully that the body in the morgue was not that of Knowle Rohrer, Assistant Director Alvin Kersh (who was instructed to ensure that there would be a ‘guilty’ verdict) ends the trial. The judges adjourn, and when they return they hand down a sentence of death by lethal injection.
Fox is broken out of his cell in the middle of the night by Special Agent John Doggett, Assistant Director Walter Skinner, and even helped by Assistant Director Alvin Kersh who seems to have a change of heart. They get him out just moments before a reappearing (and very not-dead) Knowle Rohrer comes to collect him. Fox meets up with Scully and, rather than head north to Canada, he heads south to find a man who is “the keeper of the truth.”
Doggett and Special Agent Reyes return to the iconic basement office to find the X-Files have been closed, packed up, and moved elsewhere. Doggett collects Fox’s “I Want To Believe” poster. Who knows? He may still have it in the mini-series. They learn of where Mulder and Scully are going and head there to warn them that the alien conspirators are on their way for a series-ending climax.
Fox arrives in New Mexico to find that “the keeper of the truth” is none other than the Cigarette Smoking Man, barely alive but still chain-smoking. He confirms the truth to both Mulder and Scully that the alien invasion will indeed happen on December 22nd, 2012.
After a spectacular, explosion-fueled finale where we see Cigarette Smoking Man killed (again), the final scene of the series ends as almost every episode does; Mulder and Scully alone and summing up the experience with back-and-forth dialogue. Mulder starts the scene even gloomier than usual, but Scully reminds him that he never gives up in spite of the odds, and that this should be no different. He finishes the series with, “maybe there’s hope.”
Fox goes into hiding again. The series ends with more threads loose than a series finale should, even one that was built upon asking questions.
The only follow-up between then and now is the 2008 movie. However, as with several episodes of the upcoming mini-series, The X-Files: I Want to Believe functioned largely as a “Monster of the Week” story. It was a type of tale that frequently filled out seasons, and often provided some of the most unique episodes, but did little or nothing to contribute to the larger story arc. In movie form, the one-off story fell flat. The only change brought to the fictional universe was that Mulder could come out of hiding. While showrunner Chris Carter wanted to use this movie to revive the characters and introduce them to a new generation of fans, the movie’s poor reception caused the series to go back into hiding.
While initially considered somewhat canon, the Season 10 and Season 11 comic book series have been confirmed to be a split-off universe with no relation to the mini-series. You’ll find no answers there.
So the biggest question for me is: what happened on December 22nd, 2012? With no stories for seven years, they need to explain why the world is still here before Mulder and Scully run off to fight new monsters.
While the series doesn’t shy away from flashbacks, some casting decisions include actors who portrayed now-dead characters.
What questions do you need answered? Watch tonight, and come back to GeekDad tomorrow for our episode summary.