Lots of speculation has swirled around The X-Files this season about whether questions raised last season would be answered (after this season's premiere undid last season's finale) and about the show's future. The Season 11 finale seemed to fly in the face of all of that speculation.
Gillian Anderson has firmly insisted that this season is her last. Subsequently, showrunner and creator Chris Carter said the show could not go on without Anderson, then walked back that statement. Last week's episode, which had a lot to say about mortality, seemed like a deliberate winding down, including the ominous phrase "I always wondered how this was going to end."
But this week, Carter has been telling people "I think there will be more X-Files" and told the Hollywood Reporter that he 100 percent planned for this to be only a season finale, a stepping stone for more. He also seems pretty convinced that Anderson will come back.
It'll be interesting to see as this season's ratings are down substantially from 2016's thematically inferior Season 10 and certainly down from the show's prime. And though Carter did two seasons mostly without Duchovny and he does seem convinced he'll get Anderson back, a show without her after the end of the episode's reveal will be strange to say the least.
It would have been unsurprising to see The X-Files kill off Scully in this season finale, given Anderson's supposed exit. Even if she returned, The X-Files has brought numerous characters back from the grave, including Mulder. And there's the old idea that Scully is immortal, nodded to last week and last season.
Instead, a recap of who did die or seemed to:
· Mr. Y, shot by Mulder
· Erika Price and lots of her associates, exploded by William
· Monica Reyes, shot in the head by Walter Skinner
· Walter Skinner, run over by the Smoking Man
· William, masquerading as Mulder, shot by the Smoking Man
· CSM, shot and kicked into the water by the real Mulder
A recap of who didn't die:
· Tad O'Malley
· Real Mulder
· William, who rises out of the water in the episode's final shot
· Have a healthy dose of skepticism about whether Reyes, Skinner and CSM actually died because this is The X-Files and CSM has literally been targeted with missiles and survived.
Last season ended on a cliffhanger with Mulder suffering from the alien disease unleashed by the Smoking Man when a ship appears. The finale-that-couldn't-be-a-series-finale left open a million questions about aliens, loyalties and Mulder and Scully's long-lost son, most of which was still not really answered this season. We got to see William, sure, but his role in all of this is still murky, and what "all of this" even is is now unclear.
William effectively prodded the Smoking Man to shoot him thinking that would end the future that he sees, one in which Mulder dies, but William survives — unsurprising given that he's superhuman to begin with and also that people rarely actually die on The X-Files. The Smoking Man, who has already died more times than I can count, may have died or may have lived — if he died, he can't unleash the contagion, nor can his sidekick Reyes, whose death seems a little more certain.
After thanking fans for sticking around in a somewhat doomed-sounding tweet, Duchovny teased a cliffhanger ending; it's unclear whether by that he means that William lived or the show's other big announcement:
Scully is pregnant.
Yes, after heavy contemplation this season on the fact that she is too old to have children and the fact that at the end of this episode she ultimately seemed entirely convinced that William was not really their son … Scully and Mulder are going to really be parents. She herself calls it "more than impossible," and it's fairly outrageous considering her pregnancy 17 years ago, then treated as a miracle, is now all but voided as "an experiment." She has to have known if not from the original crazy circumstances of his birth and the strange happenings that led her to give him up then in the revelations this season that William was partly an experiment, but now she seems wholly convinced — perhaps by Skinner, who has been talking to the Smoking Man— that William is not hers at all.
Perhaps the new pregnancy is Carter's way of making up for taking William away from Scully and especially Mulder by making him the Smoking Man's son, which I still won't accept as a real thing. But it seems almost patronizing to fans and certainly will be strange if Anderson does exit the show. What would they do about the baby if Scully doesn't come back?
In all, this season's "cliffhanger" ending was less of one than last season's, but featured its share of puzzling questions left open. But then The X-Files wouldn't be The X-Files if it didn't leave you wondering.