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Post-San Diego Comic-Con Report: Chris Carter Q&A

The X-Files creator discusses the upcoming eighth season, the new Lone Gunmen show and the fate of Millennium

By Matthew F. Saunders     July 31, 2000

X-Files creator Chris Carter made a rare convention appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2000 on Saturday, July 22. Following a brief, introductory video clip that featured scenes from The X-Files' past seven seasons, several X-Files bloopers and a sneak peek at the upcoming Lone Gunmen pilot, Carter spent a half hour answering fan questions.

While Carter was characteristically tight-lipped about most details, he revealed and clarified a number of interesting things about the upcoming eighth season, new cast member Robert Patrick, the Lone Gunmen mid-season replacement series and the possibility of future Millennium stories. Fandom was on the scene, and has compiled the highlights for X-Files fans who weren't able to make the trek to sunny San Diego.

Eighth Season

When asked what would be happening to Mulder this season, Carter confirmed that Mulder will appear in the season opener, as well as the season's second episode. However, he refused to clarify whether it would be in the form of flashbacks or not, a rumor currently circulating among X-Files fans. 'He's in the season opener, [but] I'm not going to tell you [if it's in flashbacks] because I want to keep that a mystery.'

While Mulder won't appear again until around episode thirteen, according to Carter, he said the reduced presence of his leading man has actually become a welcome opportunity, as opposed to a major crisis. 'It was actually something that was a happy accident,' said Carter. 'I had to write the season finale, 'Requiem,' not knowing whether or not we'd be back. So it actually set up an interesting problem for me in doing an eighth year, and that actually worked with David's availability this year.'

That opportunity realized itself in the recent casting of Robert Patrick, who starred in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as the T-1000. Patrick will star as Special Agent John Doggett, who is 'a member of the FBI fraternity,' explained Carter. 'He's one of the guys. He's one of the hardcore there. He's on his way up the ladder. He's a do-gooder, but he's his own man. He's coming to look for Mulder, but he's a threat because he's part of the system, and now he's attacking the X-Files. He isn't working as Agent Scully's partner, but at some point they will come to a [place] where they'll agree to disagree.'

Patrick's presence on the show will also allow new aspects of Scully's character to be explored, aspects that mark her continuing evolution from skeptic to believer. 'Over the last seven years, Agent Scully has seen a tremendous amount of things, and it's dwindled her skepticism,' said Carter. 'And even though she's still a scientist, she's a reluctant believer now, because to find Mulder she has to accept the fact that he may have been abducted. So it leads us to a new era of The X-Files and I'm really excited about doing that.'

And on the question of why he made Scully pregnant, Carter coyly responded, 'Why not? I thought it was interesting. I thought that we hinted at a relationship with Mulder in the episode 'all things.' We're gonna go back and explore that. Scully's a very lonely character, and now she's even lonelier without Mulder.'

Lone Gunmen

The Lone Gunmen preview featured a number of quick scenes from the pilot, including a particularly funny Mission: Impossible spoof in which we see Frohike being lowered into a computer room a la Tom Cruise. Following the scene and his introduction, Carter said of the pilot, 'We had a lot of fun making the show. We're starting to work on it now. We'll be filming it in October, and I think you guys will see it in March.'

Script development for the show is still in the early stages, which is in line production-wise with the show's status as a mid-season replacement. 'Right now, there are three or four stories in the pipeline,' said Carter, 'but there are no scripts actually written past that. One is being worked on, so we're really right at the beginning of that. We want to be careful with it, especially after Harsh Realm, to do it just right.'

While the show will remain tied to regular X-Files lore, Carter said it will be more humorous in tone. 'It's going to be a very light-hearted show.' He also confirmed that even though Gunmen is already tied to X-Files continuity and its mythology, it'll have a mythology arc of its own. However, Carter wants to introduce it slowly to avoid the problems they experienced with Harsh Realm.

'We have to be careful,' he said, 'because as you saw in Harsh Realm, when you introduce [mythology elements] too early, you lose your opportunity to get people to come to the show as readily. So you've got to actually build good, hard, straight storytelling before you start to build a mythology, and that's probably the way the Lone Gunmen will work.'

Millennium

When asked whether Millennium fans would ever see the character of Frank Black again, Carter was optimistic about the possibility. 'I was thinking about that [on the drive down]. Yes, I love that character and I love working with Lance [Henrickson, who starred as Black]. The big treat last year was being able to bring him back [in the episode, 'Millennium']. I hope to bring Frank Black back. I came up with an idea on the way here. It's really just a matter of Lance's availability.'

Carter also added that he would love to make a Millennium movie at some point. 'I think it would be a great movie,' he said. 'I'd go back to the pilot thinking about what the pilot was or what the whole show could have been, and I almost want to go back and start over again and do that as a movie.'

Characters

Fans at the panel asked about the status of a number of the show's supporting characters. The following is a quick rundown of their questions and Carter's answers:

* Will Krycek return and will there be more Mulder-Krycek interaction? 'Yes, he's coming back,' confirmed Carter. '[In terms of Mulder-Krycek], we have to get Mulder back before we have any interaction.' Carter went on to add, 'The mythology lives on, and even though there are certain things that have been resolved, there are a lot of things to explore. As you saw in the season finale, Krycek's very much alive. So is Covarrubias, and because Laurie Holden who plays Marita Covarrubias sent me a nice letter at the end of the year, I'll probably give her as much screen time as I possibly can.'

* Will Skinner get more screen time? 'I have received a tremendous amount of letters and I think this is an orchestrated movement to get Mitch Pileggi on the show more,' joked Carter. 'And the truth is, I would love to do that. I spoke to him yesterday. We're trying to figure out ways to do that. It's really just being true to the characters and true to the stories--how do we do that? Obviously the character of Skinner is now extremely important to the show, because he has seen something now, and he has seen something actually even Scully hasn't seen. So I think that it's a very pivotal part that he now plays in the development of the show.'

* Will we see more of Mrs. Scully in season eight? 'Yes,' said Carter. 'She didn't appear at all in the seventh season, which was not by choice. It was just kind of the way it worked out. I think now that Scully is alone, she would go to her mother certainly for comfort--not dinner.'

* Whatever happened to Gibson Praise from the episode 'The End'? 'We're going to explore what happened [to him] this season. So while it may feel as if you missed something, and you did, you won't miss it in the end.'

* Can you clarify what happened with Samantha in 'Closure'? 'It was supposed to be a little bit vague,' admitted Carter. 'Mulder believes that when bad things are about to happen to children, there is some force, some presence, that comes down and perhaps saves children from those terrible things. And he thinks that because of the testing that was being done on Samantha that in fact that's what happened, and that she has been removed and will be perhaps returned. She has become starlight, if you will. So that's what he believes. The idea was that she wasn't abducted. This was actually more of a spiritual thing. So, we're going to explore that this year and answer some questions that I think are still outstanding.'

X-Files Potpourri

During the Q&A session, Carter also addressed a number of miscellaneous questions. The following is a quick rundown of the questions and Carter's answers:

* Will there be another movie? 'Yes, there are plans,' confirmed Carter. 'The plans are all in my head. I actually had a lot of time to think about it. It took me three hours to drive here, so I was working on the movie during the traffic jam in Oceanside today.'

* What's your opinion of fan sites that promote the show but aren't official? 'My feeling is, I'm all for them,' said Carter. 'Fox gets a little upset when people start to sell things off them or there's copyrighted material that's on them that's downloadable. That's where the corporation gets sticky. Me, personally, Chris Carter, I don't care.'

* Will the actors be writing more episodes this season? 'I don't know,' said Carter. 'I think it's really about time and availability. Gillian, who did a great job this year--it took a lot of time. She has a daughter. The more time she can spend with that daughter, the better. So, I think it's all about time and timing.'

* Will there continue to be more slap-sticky humor on the show, which seems to have increased in recent seasons? 'That's a good question,' admitted Carter. 'I think this year will go back to our roots, which is good, scary stories. We'll always inject humor into the show, it just won't be those big slap-sticky, slap-happy episodes anymore.'

* You once said you'd only go five seasons, but now we're heading into season eight. How did your plans change, and why? 'Well, it changed because of the movie,' confessed Carter. 'It changed because of the popularity of the show. And it changed because Fox didn't want the show to end. I think the television series will ultimately become a movie series, so right now were telling the stories that will ultimately lead to that. I think the X-Files could go on forever if it was in the right hands. So you're right, I didn't anticipate going into the eighth year, nor did my wife. And she's looking forward to seeing me a home one of these days rather than on the phone.'

* Can you clarify the alien races on the show? How many are there? 'There are actually several alien races,' explained Carter. 'Of course there's the Grays. And then there are the Faceless aliens, who are in fact another race. And then there's the alien bounty hunter, who is a renegade, or who left the faceless crew. That's one of the things that'll be explored this year, because I know that people have big questions about that.'

* When will the new season start? 'In November,' said Carter.

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