Doing The Math On The X-Files? Don’t Get Muddy In The Mythology

When it comes to The X-Files, do you prefer the mythology episodes or the stand-alone episodes?

There might be something close to an even split on that question, among die-hard fans of the franchise. When the show returned for six episodes in early 2016 on CTV, there were two mythology episodes and four stand-alones. I think I preferred the stand-alones in that incarnation, but that’s just me.

So what can we expect in 2018, when The X-Files returns for 10 more episodes?

“The first episode will be a mythology episode, although it will be a much simpler mythology episode than last season’s, because we don’t have as much interval to catch people up on,” said David Madden, Fox president of entertainment, during the Television Critics Association event.

“And then there will be eight, more or less, stand-alone stories. And the 10th episode will be a mythology episode.


(L-R) Joel McHale, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Creator/Executive Producer Chris Carter

“We’ll touch on the mythology a little bit in those intervening eight, but they will truly be stand-alone narratives.”

So let’s do the math on this. The 2016 comeback season of The X-Files (technically Season 10 overall) featured 33 per cent mythology episodes. The upcoming 2018 season (technically Season 11 overall) will have only 20 per cent mythology episodes.

That must at least be a partial indication of what the network thought worked, and what didn’t, when The X-Files came back to TV screens for the first time since 2002. Audiences probably viewed things differently back then, when they were desperate for answers toward the end of the original run.

As for more current concerns, there was something of a controversy recently when word emerged that the writing staff  for the upcoming season of The X-Files was all male. Fox chairman and CEO Dana Walden confirmed there actually are two female writers working on the upcoming season, along with two female directors, although Walden wasn’t clear on the exact timing of the hires (pre-controversy or post-controversy).

“I think that Chris (Carter, creator of The X-Files) is making moves in the right direction,” Walden said. “After more than 200 episodes, the fan base has very high expectations that the new episodes would be consistent with the original, and there is a tendency to use people who worked on the original.”

There also has been some scuttlebutt that the new season will feature the son of Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson).


David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson

“You’ve met Chris Carter,” said Walden, prompting chuckles among reporters. “Would he be happy about me talking about where the mythology goes?”

Um … no.

“I can’t do that,” said Walden, who wouldn’t even confirm if the new season picks up anywhere close to where the last season left off. “I don’t want to give any spoilers out.”

But Walden was quick to add, “Everyone has seen the first script and it’s excellent. It’s a very good starting place for the show and we’re excited about the next instalment.”

There certainly was mixed reaction to the return of The X-Files last year. The internet was in its infancy during the original run of the series, so there weren’t as many platforms to pick it apart back then. But Walden pointed to the sturdy ratings for Season 10, which obviously played into the decision to order Season 11.

“It’s hard because I don’t want to say (Season 10) was disappointing because we got a lot of positive feedback as well, and clearly 15 million plus (U.S.) viewers per episode,” Walden said.

“Chris is really excited about doing a new round of episodes and there is certainly no reason for him to have to do it. He’s wildly successful and it wasn’t about the money. He had real hunger and enthusiasm to come and do new episodes. I know he’s really excited about it.”

Are you excited about it?

Mythology episodes or stand-alone episodes, close to a quarter-century after its original debut, The X-Files still makes headlines at the mere mention of its name.