The X-Files returns Wednesday night, and creator Chris Carter says fans better brace themselves: The show’s mythology will have some bold new twists, while the stand-alone episodes will explore some never before seen territory. Below the writer-producer discusses the return of his sci-fi hit which turns 25 this year, making it the oldest primetime drama series on the air. Plus, Carter — who previously discussed with EW the bombshell New York Times UFO program revelations — talks about how the show is grappling with telling conspiracy stories in the age of President Trump, and teases a season finale shocker.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What excites you about this season?
Chris Carter: We’ve added some elements. We’ve added some popcorn to it. We’re taking the show’s mythology to a new place, which we needed to do. We’ve added humor in more than one place. There’s a darker comedy, one [writer] Darin Morgan idiosyncratic episode, a couple of excellent [writer] Glen Morgan episodes. We’ve basically put the band back together with some notable additions. We also have three credited women writers, two women directors — like everyone else we’re taking a more diverse approach.
The show often uses footage of current American leadership, and this year there’s footage of President Trump and his cabinet. How does the regime change impact things?
This show has been through Clinton, Bush, Obama and now the Trump administration. If you look at it politically, socially, philosophically and technologically, I would say we’ve had such tonal shifts Americarica that The X-Files almost seems like it’s perfectly suited to address these moments. The X-Files has always been concerned with conspiracies and approached them in an interesting way. Certainly, the post-Watergate years were at the forefront of our minds [at the start of the show], and our disbelief and suspicion of leadership. Then there was a post-9/11 absolute faith in our government to do the right thing, then through Obama administration — when all of a suddenly politics and life, in general, became fractured and fractionalized. Now we got a president who is more interested in conspiracies than the truth. We’ve come 180 degrees. We’re now dealing in a world where The X-Files is akin to it than it’s akin to the search for “the truth is out there.”
Getting into the specific stories being told, what’s the status of Mulder and Scully’s on-again, off-again romance this season?
They have a solid if contentious working relationship. I think the personal relationship takes interesting steps in a direction we didn’t exactly take last time out
There’s a larger than expected focus on their son William this season…
I think hardcore fans are anxious to see this character grown up 17 years later and we’ve delivered on that in very interesting and satisfying and horrifying ways.
There’s also a stand-alone episode devoted to the backstory of Walter Skinner, right?
Episode 6. We’ve really never explored the character of Walter Skinner. We learn more about Skinner and more about his connections to Mulder and Scully and how he’s been a loyal advocate of theirs at his own expense. We learn about his young life and the X-Files moment he experienced as a much younger man.
What else is unique about this year?
This season deals with the zeitgeist in interesting ways. We push into technology in a futuristic way. The show has never been a futuristic show — it takes place in the here and now. While it’s a science-fiction show, I think of it more as a science show. And we push into technology in new ways.
Gillian Anderson has said this might be her last season. You’ve hinted it might end on a cliffhanger once again. Are you concerned about the show possibly ending with things still unresolved?
I always end it as if it were the last one. It’s become a thing you come to anticipate with this show with “The Erlenmeyer Flask” in season 1 — we closed The X-Files and killed off a beloved character [Deep Throat played by Jerry Hardin]. Things are often sacrificed in the finale. That’s the interesting thing for me. There’s a vertical corner in the final that I think will get people’s attention…