NYCC: X-Files Panel Proves Executive Producer Chris Carter Still Doesn’t Get It
Main Stage at the Javits Center was packed on Sunday afternoon as The X-Files fans old and new eagerly waited for some new tidbits of the upcoming season 11, which is currently filming. The panel was moderated by the fabulous Michael Ausiello, founder of TVLine and huge X-Files fan himself. Before the team came out onstage, a two-minute trailer was screened that itself looked immeasurably better than half of the episodes in last year’s “event series” of six episodes. On the panel were Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Mitch Pileggi, and series creator/executive producer Chris Carter.
The trailer (click here to watch) featured a lot of Scully, and particularly showed her getting her action-hero vibe on as she defends her and Mulder’s house from masked invaders. Mulder seems to get in on the action as well, fighting with Skinner, yelling at what appears to be a new guy behind the scenes that “my son is none of your business” and getting a surprise video call from one of the Lone Gunmen (Langley), thought to be deceased.
After a rousing introduction, Ausiello got right into the questions for the team, asking Chris Carter about Langley’s presence right off the bat (reply: he can’t tell you), and asking about if Mulder and Scully are going to hook up romantically. Carter’s response is to say that they get “kissin’ close” but then that they are “professional partners and not romantic partners,” to which everyone booed. He also said they are going “to explore that partnership in new and interesting ways.” How many new ways are there after 25 years that don’t involve them actually being together in all senses of the word? In true Scully style, I am a bit skeptical. No more forehead touching, please!
I’ve seen all three of these actors on stage at various conventions and events, and they are all far, far more subdued with Chris Carter present, policing themselves and unable to discuss much of anything. There were a lot of silences and ‘ummms’ which I have never noticed when Carter is absent. All three of the actors – Anderson, Duchovny, and Pileggi – are very outgoing and funny people, but were very reserved this time around.
Ausiello also asked about and discussed ending on a cliffhanger, the importance of ten episodes versus six, Darin Morgan writing more episodes, the actress behind “the mother under the bed” from the classic episode ‘Home’ playing multiple characters, and that we have to suffer through more backstory on the Cigarette Smoking Man. It was also revealed that there will be eight standalone episodes “with a common thread” and two mythology episodes (I’m guessing the premiere and finale again), so hopefully we’ll be spared yet more retconning and navel-gazing on Carter’s part of his own collapsed mythos.
Later on, Ausiello asks Carter if we’re going to see Scully’s desk and in a rare, actual answer, Carter says “No, we’re not going to see Scully’s desk!” in a tone that suggests anyone is stupid for even asking. Gillian suggested that Scully has taken over Mulder’s desk to stem the boo’s from the audience – a lot of people booed. Then I got the mic! I thanked Gillian for calling out Carter for not adding women to the writer’s room and to the director’s list, mentioned that Scully does need a desk, and also mentioned that I was glad to see more action scenes for Scully. I asked about whether we’d get more of that (and I meant specifically for Scully, but I don’t think Carter took it as such), and all he said was that there was action in season 11. Another vague non-answer, which I rolled my eyes about, and he saw me do this, asking if I had something else to ask. I did, but I couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t profanity-laden regarding how he’s treated Scully in the last few seasons, the last movie, and in season 10.
All of this serves to underscore that Chris Carter doesn’t get it – “it” being Scully, the feminism she espouses, the Scully effect she’s created in society, any of it.
Carter hasn’t written a good episode on his own since seasons six and seven, which aired in the year 2000. Meaning he hasn’t written a good episode in 17 years, and he completely botched what could have been a great finale in “My Struggle, Part 2” last year as Scully works to synthesize her DNA as a cure for a sudden disease that the Cigarette Smoking Man is somehow dispersing throughout the population. It was ruined by having her plead into Mulder’s voicemail because he ran away without telling her (again…such an ancient trope at this point), unable to figure out where he was – junior Agent Miller suddenly had the bright idea to track his cell phone??? Like Scully wouldn’t think of that?? – and we all had to worry with her, which felt so tired.
Another thing Carter did that I found incredibly rude was when a fan came up to the mic and asked Gillian and David about the bear on set – they had been filming in the woods in Vancouver and both tweeted about how a bear had surprised the cast and crew by coming out of the woods and into the shot. Gillian described the funny incident in greater detail, and then Carter interrupted her, saying “No, that isn’t how it happened.” Anderson seemed very surprised at this but didn’t push it on stage, which I thought was very nice of her. Duchovny jumped in after Carter spoke, and told him that no, it was more like what Gillian had said. Thank you, David, I am glad you said that, but you shouldn’t have to validate Gillian’s narrative when Carter was entirely dismissive of her. Chris: Don’t you know who you are interrupting? Excuse yourself.
Let’s be clear – we’ve had nine full seasons of The X-Files, two movies, and last season’s six episodes that kept Mulder and Scully apart and received mostly negative reviews. I can’t even get into how utterly racist and terrible the Carter-penned episode “Babylon” was, and the three episodes that Carter himself wrote had Mulder and Scully sharing the screen for approximately 20 minutes total, out of 135 minutes of television. Is that an acceptable way to treat your actors, your fans that have held a torch for over 20 years, and the iconic characters that you’ve created? Not to mention the way you treated the only woman on the stage on Sunday, and the female fans that are honestly asking that Scully be given the professional courtesy of a desk.
With ten episodes in the lineup this time instead of six, one hopes that Carter only has time to write perhaps two. What I should have said at the end of my question was this: when will you finally admit that you created one of the most iconic modern love stories in TV history, and finally allow these two awesome characters to be full partners in all senses of the world, going out and saving the world together? What we need now more than ever is to see Scully and Mulder united against a world gone to hell, working TOGETHER in the best possible way. Mulder recognizes Scully’s brilliance and fierce protectiveness (most of the time), as do both actors, so it is certainly time for Carter to do the same. Maybe then he’ll start to earn the respect of the fans once more.
Find more images from this panel on my blog, Shoes and Starships, and look for my recaps of season 11 when it debuts next year! If you want to yell at me about The X-Files, follow me on Twitter @lightstar1013.