OK, here we are. Having covered the beginning of the show, its creative peak, a season hampered by the need to keep the mytharc static for the movie, the movie itself, two awkward post-movie seasons, and a season which started out trying to convince us that John Doggett was a lead character only to reassure us by the end that he really wasn’t – plus touching on two spinoff shows, one glum and one comedic – we’ve now come to the end of the original run of The X-Files. In the show’s run from 1993 to 2002, it had gone from some obscure cult thing to a massive pop culture juggernaut to a show which, honestly, at the time I was somewhat surprised to learn was still running.
I think it’s fair to say that whilst early X-Files at its best managed to catch lightning in a bottle, said lightning had long since escaped, in part because of goofy creative decisions, in part because first David Duchovny and then Gillian Anderson were just really goddamn tired of it, and in part because the audience were also goddamn tired of it. A loyal following continued to watch – ratings stayed over 10 million viewers an episode right through to season 8 – but discontent had grown over time, especially if you were someone who was actually emotionally invested in the show rather than just having it on because it happened to be on.
Season 8 was challenging enough, what with Duchovny leaving the show but then not really leaving the show. This time around, Duchovny really had left the show, only as we’ll see he hadn’t quite left the show, and Gillian Anderson also didn’t want to be on it full-time any more. A deal was reached whereby Scully’s role in the show would be dialled back and Agent Monica Reyes – a character planted in the previous season just in case this eventuality rose – would step up to be one of the lead X-Files Division agents.
However, whereas Doggett had the first half of season 8 more or less to himself without Mulder upstaging him, Reyes was in the awkward position of being a character to replace a different character who hadn’t actually gone away. In fact, Scully’s closely involved in the investigation more often than not in this season, in a half-in half-out situation even more awkward than Mulder’s. There’s also the small issue that, what with David Duchovny walking again, the show had to deal with the fact that they’d ended season 8 with Mulder and Scully back together and all apparently being right with the world, except that Mulder had been fired from the FBI.