INTERVIEW: Lucy A. Snyder on The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘Along the Scenic Route’

A short interview with author Lucy A. Snyder on her contribution to The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, out now from IDW Publishing…

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THE X-CAST: How did you come to be involved with Secret Agendas?

LUCY A. SNYDER: The short answer is that editor Jonathan Maberry asked me if I wanted to write a story for the anthology. Because I’ve been an X-Files fan since the series premiered, I was very happy to join the project. I first knew Jonathan Maberry from the Horror Writer’s Association; a few years ago, he was co-editing a zombie anthology that unfortunately never found a home. I had submitted a story to that which he had accepted, so he knew my work and figured I’d be able to write the kind of story he wanted to see. (He also contacted me about writing poetry for Scary Out There, a YA anthology that was recently published by Simon & Schuster)

TX-C: Have you always been a fan of The X-Files?

LAS: I saw the series premiere back in 1993 and was instantly hooked. I loved the dark, cross-genre nature of the show — it mixed up science fiction, horror, mystery and conspiracy thriller elements. It reminded me of other shows I’d loved, such as The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. And I loved the characters, too. As much as I enjoy the genres the show explored, if I hadn’t connected with the characters, I wouldn’t have kept watching.

TX-C: What informed the decision to frame a lot of the story around Susie Rainwater?

LAS: I approached this story as if I were writing an episode in the 3rd season (my favorite season). Episodes of the show often employ multiple viewpoints to reveal story and provide clues to the viewer. Mulder and Scully often know far less than the viewer at the end of any given episode as a result. I normally stick to just one viewpoint character in a short story, but if I wanted the story to have the cinematic feel of an authentic episode, I knew I needed at least viewpoint characters. Obviously, either Mulder or Scully needed to provide the agents’ point of view.

So in planning the story, I had to figure out which other character would best show the reader more about the supernatural mystery than the agents could witness. Who would have the most at stake in the story? Who would be very close to the supernatural events? Who could act as a witness to those events without understanding them in a way that would neatly resolve the mystery for the reader? I quickly realized that young Susie Rainwater was that character, and so a fair bit of the story needed to be shown through her perspective.

TX-C: Native American legends and disrespect toward them is key to the mystery – did you always want to explore these concepts similar to X-Files episodes like ‘Shapes’ or ‘Teso Dos Bichos’?

LAS: I would say that Native American legends are certainly an important element, but whether they’re the key or not is up to the reader’s interpretation of what happens in the tale. When I was brainstorming the story, I did have those legends in mind, and I was thinking of the X-Files episodes that explore them.

TX-C: This is set immediately after Season 3’s ‘The List’, which Mulder & Scully reference – any reason why that episode specifically?

TAS: Since I knew I wanted to write something that would fit with Season 3, my initial bit of homework was to re-watch that whole season. “The List” takes place in Florida, and the episode after is “2Shy”, which is in Cleveland. Mulder and Scully are shown to be traveling by car, and that would be a long road trip of at least a thousand miles. A lot could happen on a trip like that, so wasn’t it likely that they could encounter another mystery along the way? Especially if Mulder chose the scenic route instead of the interstate? That’s the start of my story: they stop for food and then get embroiled in strange events in a small town.

TX-C: Do you believe in the paranormal?

TAS: I am not a believer, but the paranormal fascinates me nonetheless. It’s entirely plot-worthy.

Many thanks to Lucy for her time. You can follow her on Twitter @LucyASnyder.

Questions by Tony Black, who you can follow @Mr_AJ_Black.

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THE X-FILES RANKED – 208: The List – (1 vote)

Tony Black continues the ultimate X-Files countdown of all 209 episodes, as voted by you, with Season 3 Episode 5, ‘The List’…

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In what certainly came as a surprise to me, the lowest rated episode of The X-Files Season 3 has turned out to be ‘The List’; indeed this is the second worst X-File ever made with just one vote from a solitary fan. How can this be? Chris Carter’s second attempt at both writing and directing, after Season 2’s much more celebrated ‘Duane Barry’, has its flaws but does it really warrant such a low ranking? Is it worse than, say, ‘Teso Dos Bichos’ from Season 3, or even perhaps ‘The Walk’? Does it not have more to say, more to offer, than begets a place in the dreaded bottom ten? For me, the answer is without question yes.

Now that’s not me saying I consider this a favorite. I don’t. I wouldn’t put ‘The List’ anywhere near my top 25, probably not even my top 50. Yet I believe it has merit, in the story of Napoleon ‘Neech’ Manley, a murderer on Death Row who swears as he is electrocuted that he will exact vengeance, Biblically, on five men who wronged him in life, from beyond the grave. So begins a series of grisly and violent murders which Mulder & Scully arrive in smoky Florida to investigate, of principally prison guards within the penitentiary system being ran by harsh Warden Brodeur. Scully suspects a conspiracy, while Mulder becomes convinced Neech found a way to reincarnate his soul beyond death.

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‘The List’ is a dark episode. It’s violent, in places quite savagely so – see the haunting moment when Brodeur beats to death, in silhouette largely, Bokeem Woodbine’s snitch Roque. It has rotting heads being eaten by maggots, corpses decaying in attics, and it drips with hot, sweaty Floridian atmosphere. The prison set goes a lot way to enhancing this sense of atmosphere – it took 10 days to build and sent the budget way over what was planned, but it remains one of the show’s most vivid production design creations (indeed it was re-used for ‘Teso Dos Bichos’, the S3 finale ‘Talitha Cumi’ and was later rented out to other Vancouver productions). The maggots were real too!

Carter’s story here is perhaps a little soapy and histrionic in places, with the twists and turns lost under a slightly sleazy gaze, but the concepts inherent in his script are fascinating; the education of Neech, reading books about transmigration of the soul (into in this case, an ominous fly); the commentary about the defects of a corrupt prison system, not to mention the undercurrent of race relations between the black prisoners, white guards and the almost colonial approach by Brodeur, played as ever to a vicious tee by the late, lamented J.T. Walsh. There’s enough subtext behind the melodrama to make this creepy, gloomy and in places really quite gripping – and I love how the episode ends with both Mulder knowing he hasn’t quite figured everything out, before some sublime comeuppance.

It’s a shame ‘The List’ is this low because, for me, there’s a lot to like, and a lot of other X-Files which don’t match the standard shown here. It doesn’t match some of Carter’s other writer/director efforts, but Neech and his death list have always stuck in my mind. One you may want to give another look.

Our blog team also decided to rank the show based on their own lists, so here’s what they picked in 208th place:

Tony: “FEARFUL SYMMETRY: utter utter nonsense from beginning to end. Alien animal abduction is fine but not when it’s tied into a horrendously preachy plot about activism, replete with a teeth-gratingly annoying guest performance from Jayne Atkinson. The moment the invisible elephant appeared is the moment I shouted BOLLOCKS. Complete shite.”

Andrew: “TESO DOS BICHOS: Just a boring episode. Terrible idea, poor execution, and just… boring.”

Carl: “FIRST PERSON SHOOTER. Asinine, juvenile nonsense. Calibrated to appeal to adolescent horndogs, badly damaging the integrity of the characters of Mulder & The Lone Gunmen as it goes. Feints at being a satire, but lacks any teeth or conviction. Boring, but punctuated by some unintentional hilarity. Given as Tony has lowered the tone by swearing, I’ll join in: First Person Shooter is a bag of wank.”

Paige: “SHAPES. The show often tackled real issues, with differing degrees of success. I feel they felt short here on the Native American front and not only that, the ep bored me to tears.”

Sarah: “JUMP THE SHARK. This is one where my personal feelings overrule my critical opinion. The Lone Gunmen were icons of the show. They deserved much better.”

Do you agree with this episode ranking? Let us know what you would put in this spot on Facebook, Twitter or via comments below!

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: What are the funniest moments in The X-Files?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

What are the funniest moments in The X-Files?

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TONY: “This is easy. “Who’s that black private dick who’s a sex machine with all the chicks? SHAFT! Can you dig it?” “I DID NOT!!!””

ANDREW: “‘Theef’… Mulder mocks Scully, pursuing his lips, “Mulder, why are we here?”
‘Syzygy’… Mulder mocking Scully’s short, little legs
‘Bad Blood’… Too many to list!
‘Jose Chung’… Mulder’s girly scream
‘Hollywood A.D.’… Scully showing Tea Leoni how to run in heels”

SARAH: “It might not be the most hilarious moment of the series, but my favorite funny moment is in ‘Quagmire’ after the boat crashes and M&S end up on the rock. They hear a sound and realize it’s a duck. Mulder says, “I’m still tempted to shoot.” And Scully gives him that little nudge. It’s the nudge that gets me every time. Also in that same scene when they’re discussing cannibalism (because what else do you do when stranded in the middle of a lake?) and he asks if she’s lost weight–that classic Scully eye roll is everything.

‘Triangle’ –when past Scully punches Mulder and he says he expected the left.
When Scully kisses Skinner and the elevator door opens to reveal Spender and Kersh staring.

Scully in a bib eating BBQ.

Mulder in a tree.

‘Small Potatoes’, ‘Bad Blood’, ‘Je Souhaite’– everything

Pie.

Bleeping aliens.

Every scene including the waterbed.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

PAIGE: “Of course, Mulder’s girlie scream was the first thing coming to mind. Eddie Van Blundht practicing F-B-I in the mirror. Mulder and Morris doing their underwear dance a la I Love Lucy in ‘Dreamland’. Scully showing Tea Leoni how to run in heels in ‘Hollywood A.D.’ is righteous. Scully throwing water in Doggett’s face at the start of the eighth season, because it just had to be done at that point in time. The reveal in ‘Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose’ that they’re talking about Yappi and not Mulder, and then Mulder being tossed out of the room for his negative vibes. Scully eating the cricket in ‘Humbug’ and then the human pin cushion telling her the future looks like Mulder as he poses on the steps. Mulder eating piece after piece of pie in ‘Jose Chung’.”

JONATHAN: “Scully performing the autopsy in ‘Three of a Kind’ and the cigarette scene. All of ‘Bad Blood’, the Mulder and Scully married scenes in ‘Arcadia’. When we hear Diana Fowley has been shot in ‘The End’.”

CARL: “The moment that never fails to make me laugh is Mulder’s yelp in ‘Jose Chung’s From Outer Space’. Duchovny’s pose towards the end of ‘Humbug’, which Paige mentioned, is another good one. There’s a moment I love in ‘Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster’, too. I’ve only seen the episode once, so I may be misremembering it slightly. Mulder says that he’s now a middle-aged man, and leaves a pause for Scully to disagree with him. She says nothing, but he presses on anyway: “No, no, I am!” Made me laugh a lot.”

BAZ: “Yes, far too many to mention. Mulder doing the dance in the wardrobe mirror of Morris Fletcher’s bedroom in ‘Dreamland’, fake Mulder seducing Scully in ‘Small Potatoes’, Scully’s sex scene with Guy Mann and Mulder trying to get a photo of the monster on his phone in ‘Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster’, Clyde Bruckman telling Mulder he’s going to die from autoerotic asphyxiation ‘Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose’, all of ‘Jose Chung’s from Outer Space’ (particularly the description of Mulder and Scully, his yelp and Lord Kinbote), Scully’s infatuation with the hick version of the sheriff in ‘Bad Blood’, Mulder’s”get me a sandwich woman!” from ‘Arcadia’, Scully’s ability to dismiss all of Mulder’s theories in ‘War of the Coprophages’ and while not technically The X-Files, Mulder’s red underpants pose FBI badge from The Simpsons episode ‘The Springfield Files.

The great thing about The X-Files, is that for all the moments of horror, there are some truly wonderful comic moments. The show’s ability to take the mick out of itself is what kept it fresh and funny for years. it’s no coincidence that ‘Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster was the most loved episode of the revival’.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: How should Mulder & Scully’s story end?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

How should Mulder & Scully’s story end?

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TONY: “So thinking about this, and haters gonna hate me for this, but I don’t think M&S should get a happy ending. Happy endings aren’t what The X-Files is. I don’t mean they should go out in a desperately miserable fashion, or die, but I think they shouldn’t end up together as a family unit, and their fate be left ambiguous. I’d be happy with one of them disappearing again, this time for good, if it served a greater story purpose. Or even the old trope of the work never being over, of the show conclusively ending with them still in the FBI, still investigating the paranormal, still chasing The Truth. That’s far more fitting than the 2.4 William most shippers undoubtedly would want from this question, and truer to the nature of the show.”

PAIGE: “Toughie! I’m not a shipper, but I do think there’s no one in the world for either of them than each other. So if they don’t wind up together, they both wind up alone. They’ve been through so much, I would kind of like them on rocking chairs at the end. And I’m not a believer in the happy ending, I just think they have worked their way there. Probably bantering over William’s mid-life crisis — both taking disparate sides, of course.”

SARAH: “After they save the world from alien invasion they’ll both end up teaching at Quantico. Mulder will head up the students learning how to profile human/alien hybrids. Scully will be the world’s foremost expert on alien autopsies, and not that kind you buy from an infomercial for $19.99 + S&H. At the end of the day, they’ll go home for a beer and wave to Skinner across the street as he takes out his trash. He’s a bestselling author of FBI thrillers that are mostly true, but so wild they seem fictitious. M&S will ask him how his latest novel is going, then invite him over for burgers on Saturday.”

CARL: “Scully ditches Mulder at the aisle, realising her future lies with a dashing English blog contributor instead… In all seriousness, I’m not certain about this one. I hear what Tony’s saying about them not ending up as a typical family unit, and I’m drawn to that argument. On the other hand, I do think the final scene of ‘Existence’ was very effective, so something like that could work. I agree that the trope of never being done with the work might make the most sense as an ending. There are two things I know I want for a conclusion to Mulder & Scully’s story:
1. Whatever the ending is, it should have been designed as an ending, not a cliffhanger. It would be a huge shame if the last scene of ‘My Struggle II’ is never followed up on.
2. It would be appropriate for Chris Carter to bring the Duchovny & Anderson era to a close as he sees fit. Whether he would deliver something that the fanbase would be pleased with is another matter, but I’m not bothered about that really.”

ANDREW: “‘I Want to Believe.’ That’s my ending. Since CC has said he can’t actually imagine writing an end to the series, better ‘I Want to Believe’ than ‘How Many Times Can I Say Alien DNA with a Straight face?”

SARAH: “I was perfectly satisfied with the boat ending.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: How would Mulder & Scully celebrate New Year 2016?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

How would Mulder & Scully celebrate New Year?

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TONY: “Well this year might not be their best given a viral alien apocalypse has happened. It may even be worse than fighting zombies before a quick snog. Let’s assume though Mulder got better & the aliens buggered off – I reckon they’d probably just quietly get very drunk in one of Mulder’s basements and start going over old times.”

PAIGE: “By trying to work their way through the Times Square crowd so they could find … the son of Fluke!”

SARAH: “A bubble bath and a nicely chilled Champagne.”

TONY: “And Skinner?”

CARL: “I’m not sure Mulder is the type to go for a big celebration, so most likely they’d just stay at home and watch a film. They might have fun investigating some of the folklore around New Year in other countries. For instance, in ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten demons away. Also, in Chinese mythology there’s a beast called a Nian that comes out of hiding around New Year to attack children. Could make for a scary standalone investigation.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: What would be your ideal X-Files Christmas episode?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

What would be your ideal X-Files Christmas episode?

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TONY: “I think I would go for something quite scary like Krampus. This came up in the FB group recently and I think M&S investigating a terrifying Christmas legend would make for a nice change of pace, as Xmas episodes of many shows are often softer. I’d want something really scary, throwing up and subverting classic Christmas myths, and leaving a sting in the tail!”

CARL: “An homage to It’s A Wonderful Life with Duchovny in the Jimmy Stewart role could be a lot of fun. Mulder, at a low ebb at Christmas time, would be visited by an angel (Deep Throat?) who’d try to convince him of the good deeds he’s done during his life. This would be a nice opportunity to bring back some people from the stand-alones that our agents have helped, as well as using some recurring characters in interesting ways (CSM would have to be the Mr. Potter figure, of course). This kind of story may not sound appropriate for The X-Files, but is it all that different from the likes of ‘Triangle’ or ‘Amor Fati’?”

TONY: “Man alive that sounds ace. It’d work, they’ve done fantasy episodes as you say. This *sort of* happens in this year’s Xmas Special comic from Joe Harris, but not quite as you describe.”

CARL: “I’m looking forward to reading that. I do agree with your suggestion, too. A scary Christmas episode could work a treat.”

SARAH: “Oh, wow, gotta go with Carl’s idea. I’d love to see that! Maybe it would make a good fanfic? Of course, you know I’d like to see something with Skinner. Maybe something along the lines of Die Hard.”

CARL: “Oh, a Die Hard episode could be fun. Instead of Nakatomi Plaza attacked by terrorists we’d have the FBI building besieged by SuperSoldiers. And instead of Bruce Willis in a white vest we’d have David Duchovny in a red Speedo!”

TONY: “Sans the speedo you could argue we got that episode with ‘Existence’.”

CARL: “Very true, and ‘Existence’ had a lot of elements of the Nativity story as well, come to think of it.”

BAZ: “Set it at Christmas and Existence would have been quite a good festive episode. I also love the idea of Krampus, delivering a really great monster story.”

SAM: “Lethal weapon? M&S as Riggs and Murtaugh?”

BAZ: “Surely that’s Mulder and Doggett as Riggs and Murtaugh?”

SAM: “Hmmm… I suppose… Scully as Lorna?”

TONY: “Lorna was Rene Russo right? We’d also need to throw Tom Braidwood in as the Joe Pesci character!”

SAM: “Yeah! This shit is writing itself!”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

X-FILES FANFIC WRITING PROJECT – Writers Wanted

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Fan fiction writers who love The X-Files and its universe – WE NEED YOU!

For 2017, The X-Cast is looking to create a prose anthology inspired by IDW Publishing’s three books over the last two years (though in no way officially connected to or affiliated with them – this is strictly a fan project).

We’re looking for fans (or aspiring writers looking for some practice) to help us develop a series of prose stories set in the world of The X-Files which would firstly be released on the blog (and promoted on the podcast) and later collected into a free to download PDF e-book.

There aren’t many conditions on this either, beyond the following:

  • 6000-8000 word count.
  • No slash fiction
  • It has to involve at least one existing X-Files/Millennium/Lone Gunmen character.

To begin with, please respond with an expression of interest and a story pitch (a simple paragraph will suffice). We’ll then ask you to write the first 500 words of your story before we commit to giving it a green light, mainly to ensure you’re definitely committed to writing the story.

Incidentally, just in case you’re unsure about our own background with writing, please check out our fearless leader Tony Black’s own work as a prose writer here via the Fiction Vortex project. Last year one of his stories was published as part of a collection of introductory pieces in paperback, and he has an Amazon author page. So while no experts and certainly nowhere near as good as the IDW writers, we do at least have a *little* experience! 🙂

As an example, please find below the first draft of the first scene in Tony’s story for this anthology, called ‘ChronowerX’.

Please send your story pitch/expression of interest to us via email or via Facebook message on our page or Twitter message.

We look forward to any submissions and creating a really cool fan project!

The stories are out there…

CHRONOWER-X

FBI HEADQUARTERS
WASHINGTON D.C.
OCTOBER 23, 1996

“We’ve been here before, Mulder,” Dana Scully said, warily, as she listened to her partner present yet another case at her feet before she could even get her coat off on this crisp Autumn morning.
“Artificial intelligence. It’s the wave of the future, Scully,” replied Fox Mulder as he got up from his cluttered desk and, sleeves already rolled up on his slightly crumpled shirt, started rifling through a box across from his desk.
Scully placed her coat over the chair opposite where Mulder hatched all of his theories and skimmed through the Los Angeles Police Department file thrown toward her on the desk as he’d hit her with a barrage of theory. Just one day, she thought, a hello and good morning might be a fun change of pace.
“Robert Justman,” she read. “Fifty-seven years of age, no pre-existing medical conditions, married with two grown up children, found dead two days ago in his leased city apartment from a massive electrical discharge.”
“And who also happens to be one of the founding members of Chronowerx Industries,” Mulder said without glancing her way, still rifling.
“Am I supposed to know the name?” Scully asked, aware Mulder’s answer would in his head probably be yes.
“Chronowerx is one of the pioneering computer technology companies in the United States,” he replied. “As far back as 1969, when man was about the walk on the moon, they were building the first isograted circuit, one of the key building blocks of any modern home computer system.”
Mulder finally retrieved what he wanted from the box, an old black VCR tape, which he proceeded to place inside his VCR attached to an old TV on a stand, which he wheeled out from his adjacent research lab.
“So Justman worked for a technology company. It’s a hell of a leap to suggest an artificial intelligence is responsible for his death, even if we have seen technology suspected of as much through Brad Wilczek’s work.”
Scully still wasn’t entirely sure she believed the Central Operating System created by genius scientist Brad Wilczek was the result of an intelligent computer program, but she sensed Mulder was—as usual—saving the coup de grace and didn’t want to derail him.
“This is the same technology company whose CEO and primary founder disappeared three months ago into thin air,” Mulder said, now switching on the tape using his remote control. “And who also happens to be the second member of Chronowerx’s board to die in unusual circumstances in a matter of weeks.”
Closing the file, Scully crossed her arms as static appeared on the TV before them, before giving way to a news report showing hand-held camera footage of a hazy, brown night sky.
“What is this?” she asked.
Mulder nodded at the screen, as a news reader voice overlaid footage of some kind of UFO moving across the same sky.
“Incredible footage was caught just an hour ago by a man using his camcorder to tape a backyard barbecue,”
Scully moved closer to the screen, a little surprised at the crystal clarity she could see the unidentified flying object soaring through the clouds at low altitude. It was long, chrome and gray, with a domed, elongated spherical neck holding two jutting, blue struts at its side. It didn’t look like any kind of UFO footage Mulder had shown her before.
The news reader voice continued. “The massive, unidentifiable object does not appear to be a meteorite, weather-balloon or satellite, and one aviation expert we’ve spoken to has stated it is definitely not any kind of US aircraft currently in use…”
Mulder switched off the screen as Scully turned to him, confused.
“This footage was taken over the Los Angeles skyline just one day before Chronowerx founder Henry Starling disappeared. Every single source I know in video manipulation, including the Gunmen, can find absolutely no evidence this footage was faked. It’s the single most compelling evidence for an unidentified flying object in years, maybe even decades.”
“And you think this UFO is connected to Starling’s disappearance? To the death of Justman and the others?” Scully asked, in an incredulous manner which suggested Mulder was all kinds of crazy for even suggesting it.
“Pack a bag. We’re off to the City of Angels to find out,” Mulder replied, hoisting on his jacket and heading for the door.
With a sigh, Scully grabbed her coat and the Justman file and followed suit. Here we go again, she thought.

You can find Tony @Mr_AJ_Black on Twitter.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Within vs Grotesque / The Pine Bluff Variant vs Oubliette

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 19th/20th

WITHIN vs GROTESQUE

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Tony: “GROTESQUE – tricky one that could go either way really but the lack of S8 love could swing it to demonic Kurtwood Smith.”

Carl: “Two very different episodes, both perhaps underappreciated. Season 8 remains divisive overall, so I expect a win for GROTESQUE.”

Sarah: “I expect GROTESQUE will take the win, mostly because Season 8 is not as popular. Basically what Carl said.”

Andrew: “I’m gonna go for WITHIN. It’s a better episode, IMO.”

Baz: “WITHIN is a better episode and a great start to season eight. GROTESQUE is from a more memorable season – I think it might be win by that logic.”

THE PINE BLUFF VARIANT vs OUBLIETTE

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Tony: “OUBLIETTE – much as I’d go for TPBV, the Samantha connotations of Oubliette I suspect could be enough, but again it’ll be close.”

Sarah: “These are both great episodes. Two that I appreciated much more on my recent rewatch. But TPBV has more meat to it, so I think it’ll come out on top.”

Carl: “We’ve had a few close matches recently and this will be another. TPBV is the best solo Shiban script, while Oubliette is my pick for the series’ most underrated episode. I think THE PINE BLUFF VARIANT will eke out a narrow win.”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: How heavily should Chris Carter be involved in S11 (and beyond)?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

How heavily should Chris Carter be involved in S11 and beyond?

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TONY: “This one is simple for me: completely. I’ve compared Chris Carter before to Gene Roddenberry, the only difference being Carter can actually on his day tell compelling stories with real dramatic stakes, which Roddenberry struggled with. Both however understood the zeitgeist, the current, and Carter in particular has a learned concept of myth in terms of character and narrative. Much as I think he’s best served with strong creative forces around him, I can’t conscience an X-Files without him at the helm. It simply wouldn’t be the show we grew to love. If we do get a Season 11 (still hopeful!), I hope he’s once again the main driving force, because people underestimate his skill as a storyteller.”

CHARNETTE: “I would love to see him involved but not as heavily as he had been in season 10. I like his ideas but sometimes, he really has no idea about the characters he’s created… like breaking up Mulder and Scully in season 10 because Scully diagnosed him as depressed? the fact that after so long, they’re not even married… well that’s actually a matter of opinion but I honestly feel the depression thing was badly done.”

SAM: “I think Chris Carter should be involved but not at the expense of the show- it’s his baby but he’s written some stinkers in the past! I think getting some current writers on board would be ace- like when Stephen King was involved in ‘Chinga’.”

CHARNETTE: “Scully is a forensic pathologist. She isn’t qualified to make that sort of diagnosis. I also feel like it was a terrible reason for them to break up and I hate even more it was never discussed in the show and they kept acting like they were sort of together.”

SAM: “I don’t know about Stephen King; he really has a problem writing women, and Scully is a character I feel that needs consistent writing, unlike what’s she’s had past season 5. That’s just how I feel though; I am not a fan of the later seasons. As someone who enjoys the work, I love it, but as a writer, I cannot excuse the writing that took place after a while because it was incredibly inconsistent and for a show that started off so strong, it was a shame to watch the characters become a former shadow of themselves at times. I don’t think they were ever married, were they? Don’t think Mulder would be into marriage.”:

CHARNETTE: “Although they could have been common law spouses. Which is fine, but then it’s like okay so they’re together for more than a decade now and Scully leaves because Mulder is depressed? I personally was very bothered by that because I suffer from depression and one of the things that people that have it worry about is that people will get tired and leave them. And I felt that was so out of character for Scully.”

SAM: “Hmmm… I think it would be aScullyy thing to do. She’s done it because she knows that sticking together is probably not the best for either of them.”

ALLY: “I am torn because I don’t feel Chris Carter really understands that a huge part of the success of the show is down to the Mulder/Scully dynamic but at the same time, without him the show would never have come to be. Would the show be better without him? Maybe. But to not have him at the helm would make it feel like a huge betrayal and as a fan, that would hit me pretty hard. To go out on a limb, if season 11 were to happen with the original cast then CC should be there with them but if a ‘franchise’ were to happen with a new cast he should surrender the reins to someone else.”

SAM: “Mulder would stick with her forever, Scully has to be the adult. A friend of mine had recently got divorced from her husband for the same reasons- he needs his own space and needs to think about himself. But also, it was affecting her life in many negative ways. Sometimes the kindest thing to do is to be apart.”

CHARNETTE: “I agree with you 100% and in the end, I reconciled that in my head canon as what happened to cause them to part, however my point is that nothing was touched or elaborated on. I really feel it should have been discussed. It was a really important part of the show, regardless of how much he thought it mattered or not, the fact of the matter is a lot of people care about it, so I feel not addressing it was a faux pas.”

SARAH: “I’d like to absolutely see CC in a producer/director role again. I think that’s where his talents are strongest. I love his writing, and think he definitely has great ideas, but also needs someone to rein him in and keep him focused. When dealing with such a short season, I’d love to see something that pulls everything together. Season 10 was enjoyable, but felt very random and unplanned overall.”

ALLY: “You guys bring up really good points and I definitely agree, someone should rein him in. I don’t think they really knew which direction to take things in Sarah and certainly had no concept that feelings still ran so strong within the fandom. I think though, that the approach to season 11 would be very much more measured.”

SARAH: “I’d love to be a fly on the wall of a writer’s room with Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, David Duchovny, and Darin Morgan. Just writing that scenario down gave me happy heart palpitations.”

SAM: “Yes, I think everything was too rushed in S11 and that’s why it was all kind of ropey. Part of me wishes that they’d left the mythology alone because they didn’t do it justice; but at the same time, it wouldn’t have been The X-Files without it.”

MICHAEL: “Personally I think Carter has to be involved in the series going forward to the degree of overseeing the mythology. The X-Files is his story, he started all of it and him not being around to finish it would be a real shame. As for the monster-of-the-week episodes, I don’t think he needs to be involved there unless there’s a specific story that he wants to tell. Keep Carter involved in the mythology and with Mulder and Scully as characters, they’re his and he should still have say in what they do and who they become.”

CHARNETTE: “He needs a designated driver in terms of writing, I feel. I mean, is this not the same person who has variously said, “Mulder and Scully are platonic friends,” “They are not in love”, “they are each other’s human credential”, made a claim that they were married, and then said they weren’t, and on top of all that, gave them a baby?? I know a lot of fans joke about it but that really doesn’t sound platonic to me.”

BAZ: “I think CC never wanted them together but given how long the show went on and in bowing to peer pressure, he finally committed to it. After all, the chemistry between these two characters (and Duchovny / Anderson) is amazing. But when we finally saw them as a couple in the second movie, it was all a little dull. Same thing with William – I don’t think he ever got as far as thinking what to do with Scully’s child after he was born, hence abandoning him later in season nine. As for Chris Carter’s involvement? He should be involved. It is his baby. But his three episodes were definitely the weakest of s10 and that needs to be addressed as s11 goes into development. I think he should be showrunner but needs someone like Vince Gilligan or Frank Spotniz to temper him. He has great ideas, but doesn’t always win on the execution. Also, he needs to treat s11 like the end, even if it isn’t. And that might help him work towards a conclusion rather than loosely making it up (which is what s10 felt like).”

CARL: “I’m more pro-Carter than most here, it seems. He’s an excellent showrunner and I want him at the helm of any follow-up to the revival. He lets terrific writers do what they want within very reasonable parameters, which plays a large part in making The X-Files what it is. He has a tendency to take on a lot of work – I think a reasonable balance would see him writing about a third of any new episodes (which is about in line with what used to be happen during the original series). On the issue of Mulder & Scully’s pre-revival breakup, it always struck me as very plausible that their relationship would have suffered in the intervening years.”

TONY: “Yeah I really can’t imagine they would ever have gotten married. Much as Carter plays with it in I Want to Believe, Mulder & Scully just do not fit the 2.4 children traditional paradigm. Their relationship is too complex and mythic almost. It’s about a lot more than sex or companionship. Mulder is also way way too self-obsessed to be a decent husband to anyone!”

PAIGE: “I believe Chris Carter should be involved, yeah, he can play a little fast and loose with the show — but it’s his show. As long as DD and GA are around, CC should be around. It might not be perfect, but it’ll be his show. And occasionally he gets inspired to great heights.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Detour vs Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’ / The Field Where I Died vs Zero Sum

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 12th/13th

DETOUR vs JOSE CHUNG’S ‘FROM OUTER SPACE’

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detour

Tony: “JOSE CHUNG – if Detour was up against almost anything else, it’d probably win. It’s gonna take a titan though to knock out Jose.”

Carl: “I wouldn’t rule out an upset here. Detour is well-loved, has some shippy stuff and may benefit from being the underdog. JOSE CHUNG, but could be close.”

Sam: “Jose all the way I reckon. The way the relationship between M&S is built on is too good, like Bad Blood.”

Andrew: “Toughest match-up yet! I pick JOSE CHUNG, but Detour is a great MOTW.”

Sarah: “This one is a tough match. As much as I’d love to say DETOUR could come away with a win, I think it’ll be JOSE CHUNG this round.”

Baz: “It has to be JOSE CHUNG, the best comedy episode I think the show ever produced. But I have a lot of love for DETOUR- it should go through to the next round, but it shouldn’t beat JOSE CHUNG,. I think it will be more balanced though between votes, with JOSE CHUNG edging out to win.”

Paige: “Jose Chung all the way. I will disavow the fan base if Detour wins. Detour is a nice episode, but Jose Chung is the end all be all for me.”

THE FIELD WHERE I DIED vs ZERO SUM

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Tony: “TFWID – relatively comfortable win. It’s got lots of Mulder moments, a touch of romance, and Zero Sum isn’t much remembered – sadly.”

Carl: “I’m not sure. TFWID had lots of detractors back in the day, many upset by the idea that Scully wasn’t Mulder’s soulmate. Not certain how I’ll vote here, but I’ll say ZERO SUM will win.”

Baz: “I agree with Carl. ZERO SUM is a great story for Skinner – but then we saw how AVATAR turned out (it still got my vote though…)”

Sam: “Tough call I reckon. Shippers will probably angrily vote for TFWID but ZS has the mythology. Think I’d vote for ZS…”

Sarah: “TFWID is probably the more memorable one between these two, so I think it’ll take the win.”

Andrew: “Having just rewatched TFWID yesterday, my vote would be for Zero Sum. Both eps are non-starters for me, but the only redeeming thing in TFWID is the acting.”

Paige: “TFWID was so reviled by the fan base for insinuating that Scully was not Mulder’s soulmate. I’m not counting out Zero Sum.”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.