In The X-Files’ season premiere (Nov. 14), Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) undergoes an elaborate and dangerous medical procedure that has all sorts of important repercussions for him, not to mention the future of the world. So what exactly did they do to Mulder?
A: The truth, says X-Files executive producer Frank Spotnitz, is back there—two seasons back to be exact. That’s when Mulder was infected by the black oil (remember?). Although it seemed at the time that the alien virus had been cleared from his system, it was actually just lying dormant—until the extraterrestrial hieroglyphics discovered last season reactivated it. The newly potent virus transformed Mulder into an alien-human hybrid equivalent, one with telepathic powers. Enter the Cigarette Smoking Man, who abducts Mulder and, explains Spotnitz, ”has the alien material removed from Mulder’s brain and transplanted into his own.” If the operation worked—and right now, we don’t know—the CSM would be a psychic hybrid, resistant to the black oil and the coming alien invasion. Mulder, in turn, is back to being plain old human. So why all the Christ imagery (e.g., Mulder on a cross wearing a crown of thorns)? Turns out Duchovny, who cowrote the episode with Chris Carter, wanted to structure the episode along the lines of Martin Scorsese’s 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ—in fact, Mulder’s musings on a life that could’ve been were patterned directly after Christ’s dream in that movie. The homage was designed to emphasize the dominant themes for this season: ”It’s a conjunction of science and mysticism, of aliens and religion, that we’re starting to develop,” explains Spotnitz. ”It’s deliberate on our part, to help bring all the mythologies together into one story line.” Calls to Oprah were not returned.