CTP Episode of the Day - 01.01.07 - The Truth (Part III)

-- When Scully said "It's what made me follow you," how much did I want her to say, "It's what made me fall in love with you"? I would have paid money to hear Scully utter those words to Mulder. Would I have liked another kiss? Sure. But then I remembered that a long time ago, when I was a young Phile and my expectations weren't quite so lofty, I used to say that the only thing I wanted at the end of the series was to know that *they* knew that they belonged together. I certainly got that and more, so how could I really quibble? The little handhold, the lip caress, the thumb kiss, and just the way they looked at each other make it pretty clear how they felt about one another. And when Mulder finally joined her on the bed, they weren't just "holding" each other; they were "entwined" (Chris even said so in the script!). His arms around her, hers around him, nose nuzzles, leg over hip, two have become one. It was sweet. It was romantic. It was intimate. It was magic. If I never see those two again (and it's looking more and more like I won't), if I never know what happened to them or how their story ended, I'll know in my heart that they were together. And that was good enough for me.

-- In terms of character, "The Truth" offered a final evolution of Fox Mulder. The Mulder that viewers met almost a decade before was able to believe in the material aspects of alien invasion, but concepts of faith and spirituality were beyond his ability to accept. In "The Truth," he had come full circle, having come to the realization that no matter how far one might go in exposing the actions of others, in the end it was all a matter of faith -- faith that so long as hope remained alive, there might be a way to survive.

-- The shooting script included one more scene after the Mulder/Scully motel scene, and as Frank Spotnitz said, "Boy, am I glad we cut that scene." ("A no-brainer," John Shiban added.) But Spotnitz revealed that even though it seemed like a no-brainer, there was a lot of discussion about whether or not to cut the final scene before it was actually cut. But in the end, Spotnitz said, we recognized that "Mulder and Scully in bed together was the emotional end of the series" and the final scene was dropped.

-- That final deleted scene, which can be viewed on the Season 9 DVDs, takes place in the White House Oval Office with the Toothpick Man delivering a message about "the truth" to President George Bush. A George Bush look-alike was hired to portray the President, and his voice was to be dubbed in by a Bush sound-alike. But the producers had considered other options. "We had hoped to use The West Wing Oval Office set to film that last scene," recalled Spotnitz. "And at one point we had considered asking Martin Sheen to play the part of the president in this episode."

-- The X-Files wrap-party was held on April 27, 2002, at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, California. Most of the regular cast and crew attended, as did others in the X-Files family including Steve Railsback (Duane Barry), Veronica Cartwright (Cassandra Spender), and Jerry Hardin (Deep Throat), as well as producers Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, and John Shiban. During the party, Chris Carter got a bit choked up as he thanked everyone for their hard work; and then he introduced the Season 9 blooper reel, which included blunders from not only Season 9 but the entire series. The reel also contained goodbyes and well wishes from the various departments of the X-Files production office to Chris Carter. The reel even contained words of praise from astronauts aboard space station Alpha. A particularly sweet moment from the blooper reel showed Arlene Pileggi (wife of Mitch Pileggi) who played Skinner's secretary and was Gillian Anderson's photo double, holding up her four-year-old daughter and saying, "Chris, without you, I wouldn't have this." (Those lucky enough to have Tud's DVDs have seen the Season 9 blooper reel and know just how special it is.)

-- Post production for the episode began on May 1, 2002. Each hour of the finale was edited by a different editor, so Kim Manners found himself running between rooms while the director's cut of the episode was being prepared. "I'm lucky in that I have a very good memory for the footage I've actually shot, and I usually know when we're shooting exactly which take I want to use and I tell the editors that. Editing the two hours simultaneously was nerve-wracking, but fun too."

-- Even as post-production began, for many it was still sinking in that the show was ending. "There were so many 'lasts' along the way," Chris Carter said. "I would say, 'this is the last production meeting,' or 'this is the last casting session.' But there was still a lot of hard work to be done. We had plenty to do before I could *really* think about the end."

-- "One day we had playback of the finale, which is when the sound crew played their first pass of the mix for us," Frank Spotnitz recalled. "And one of our editors was just sobbing when it was over. Things like that -- it really hit me that it was ending."

-- The little theme playing under the final scene served as a lovely reminder of what a wonderful and integral part of the show Mark Snow's music was. "It can't be said enough that Mark Snow's music added so much to the show," said Manners. "He was a genius. As a director, when you got done with the episode, if you thought it was okay, you knew that Mark Snow would make it better. And you knew that if you thought the episode was really good, you knew that Mark would make it extraordinary."

-- "We had a little get together at Mark Snow's house to listen to the music for the finale," recalled John Shiban. "We all got a little misty eyed. It wasn't just nine years of great TV, it was nine years of great people. It became a family. You can't help that. They were great people that I worked with. Vince was there, Chris and Frank, David Amann, and Paul Rabwin and others. The way we had done it for years was that we'd all go to Mark's house for music play back, and that was always the most pleasurable part of my job, because Mark Snow was so great at what he does. It was a nice thing for Mark to suggest we all get together for this one. We had a group hug kind of thing."

-- All work was completed and the episode ready to deliver to the network at noon on May 17, just two days before the episode aired.

-- David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and William B. Davis were the only actors to appear in both the first and last episodes of the series.

-- Reappearances: Many of those who had regular or recurring roles on the show over the years returned for the finale: William B. Davis (Cigarette-Smoking Man), Nicholas Lea (Alex Krycek), James Pickens, Jr. (Alvin Kersh), Laurie Holden (Marita Covarrubias), Jeff Gulka (Gibson Praise), Chris Owens -- billed as Chris Bradle Owens for whatever reason (Jeffrey Spender), Steven Williams (X), Tom Braidwood (Melvin Frohike), Dean Haglund (Richard "Ringo" Langly), Bruce Harwood (John Byers), Adam Baldwin (Knowle Rohrer), and Alan Dale (Toothpick Man).

-- Retreads: Christopher Stapleton (Guard) was Captain Robert McDonough in "Dreamland I/II." Julia Vera (Indian Woman) was Mrs. Lana Chee (the woman who swapped bodies with Captain McDonough) in "Dreamland I/II."

-- May 19, 2002, was one of the most competitive nights of programming in recent television history. The two-hour season finale of CBS's Survivor: Marquesas and its one-hour reunion show that followed won the night, edging out NBC's two-hour special, The Cosby Show: A Look Back. The series finale of Fox's The X-Files was third. And ABC's presentation of the animated feature Dinosaur, followed by the season finale of The Practice was fourth. Many television critics noted that it was unfair to viewers to pit these shows against each other.

-- Reviews of the episode were lukewarm. TV Guide reviewer Matt Roush, a long-time X-Files fan, was disappointed. In comparing the finales of The X-Files and another Fox series Ally McBeal, he wrote, "Of the two, The X-Files was at least watchable, thanks to the reappearance of David Duchovny's irreplaceable Fox Mulder. To see him locking lips with Gillian Anderson's smoldering Scully was enough to redeem even this turgid plot: a kangaroo military murder trial in which testimony was given in an attempt to make sense of the show's tangled mythology. But what hubris for creator Chris Carter to give us the date of the final alien invasion -- 10 years from now, as if we'll still care. When Mulder took Scully in his arms to utter the series' last words -- "maybe there's hope" -- I could only hope the next movie will be better than this."

-- Perhaps the finale wasn't perfect, but it will still always hold a special place in my heart, primarily because I watched it with a special group of people, all of whom I met because of the show. This group crossed not only state lines, but in some cases continents and oceans to be present for the celebration of the end of an era. And if that doesn't say a lot, a lot, a lot about the respect and devotion that fans had for this show, I don't know what does. How did *you* spend Finale Night?

-- That night we watched, we laughed, and we cried. We ate X-Files cake, drank Absolut Truth martinis, and dissed Scully's hair. (Okay, the dissing was mostly me.) We watched the jailhouse kiss 126 times and sighed every single time. We held the phone up to the TV so Ikkle (I'm sure some of you remember Ikkle) could hear the final scene, and we proclaimed Chris Carter to be a God. (I think that was mostly the martinis talking.) We rewatched the whole thing three times - sometimes criticizing, sometimes applauding, but mostly just thankful for the fact that David returned and we got to see him and Gillian together again. As the evening drew to a close, we shared a group hug, more tears, and a final toast to Mulder and Scully, everyone at 1013, and The X-Files. And no matter how many times I watch "The Truth" in the future, that's what I'll remember most about it; sharing an evening with two sets of good friends -- the characters I met on a little TV show, and the characters I met *because* of it. I want to believe that I'll see all of them again someday. Maybe there's hope for that too.

-- The afterglow of that magical evening eventually wore off and now the finale doesn't seem as satisfying as it once did. But all in all, the things I liked about it still far outweigh the things I didn't like about it. So "I'm [still] fairly happy. That's something."

-- The Season 9 DVDs include many great extras about the show and the finale, including two documentaries that feature interesting tidbits about production, behind-the-scenes photos and stories (Duchovny practicing his golf swing, the game of "Happy Ball" played on location), and reminiscing by cast and crew. One of the documentaries includes footage of "The Great Water Battle" that occurred during location shooting in Borrego Springs. "It was easy for me," David Duchovny said about the shenanigans. "I could spray people but when they turned on me, I just said, 'Hey, I'm in wardrobe. You'll get in trouble. Yes, it was frustrating to get into a water-gun fight with me. But look, it was very hot out there. I was just trying to make people more comfortable." In spite of his claims, Gillian Anderson managed to spray Duchovny pretty well before he escaped by car. Even if you don't care for the Season 9 episodes, all the extras on the Season 9 collector's set make it well worth the price (especially now that the price has decreased), IMBO.

-- At the time it left the air, The X-Files was the longest-running sci-fi show in television history. It has since been surpassed by Stargate: SG-1. It earned a prestigious Peabody Award and received 61 Emmy nominations during its run, winning a best dramatic actress trophy for Anderson (but failing to nab a best drama award). The series became a cash cow for the network and 20th Century Fox through TV syndication, DVDs, and the feature film.

-- "As we were writing The X-Files, we thought about the things that made television endure," said Frank Spotnitz. "What were the elements that make one TV show something you'd want to watch again 10, 20, 30 years later, and then another TV show instantly perishable, where people watch it, and then it will very likely, very rarely ever be watched again?"

-- "I think one of the things X-Files had going for it was that it was idea-driven," he continued. "We tried in every episode to have a strong idea -- a truth -- and something that we wanted to say. And the plot was in service to that idea. If you have a good idea or a truth to dramatize, that is something that does not go out of date. If it's an interesting idea, it will always be interesting. That's in contrast to other types of dramas, which, while they may be excellently written and performed, tend to be more about serialized, interpersonal lives of the characters. Stuff like that may be harder to endure, and to revisit in syndication, because you're not necessarily willing to just jump back into the stream of these people's emotional lives. Whereas you can revisit something like The X-Files any time, and donít have to be in the flow of the series in order to enjoy that particular episode."

-- "I think it was remarkable that the pilot of The X-Files was exactly what the show was and remained," Spotnitz added. "Even after the cast changed in the last two seasons, it was still exactly what the show was: It was skeptic and believer. And it was their dialectic that drove the investigations, and drove the stories. I think the one thing that did obviously change over the course of the years was the personal lives of the characters. But rarely were those important in the stand-alone episodes; it really [mattered] in the mythology shows where you could track the progress of their lives, and you could have characters dying. And those were a minority of the episodes we produced; of the 202 hours, I'd say maybe 30 were mythology."

-- "In the later seasons, the mythology started to become very complicated, and some people started to get confused," said Spotnitz. "But the show went on for far longer than anybody anticipated it would go. I remember thinking into the fifth season that it would be our last year. So the mythology that nobody really thought would end up going five years, ended up going almost twice as long as that. We ended up going through some growth spurts and changes in direction that no one ever anticipated."

-- Spotnitz acknowledged that the finale itself had to be so much to so many people -- basically an impossible task -- but he was pleased with how it turned out. "Some people really liked it, some said, 'Oh, I already knew all that,' and then there were people in between. It was impossible to play to everyone's satisfaction, because everyone had varying levels of how much they had paid attention and how much they knew. But it was really a culmination of the series, and we tried to explain and connect the dots as best we could about everything that had gone on in the nine years of the show."

-- "There was stuff that we wanted to write that we didn't have time to write and put in the show. There was stuff we did write that we had to cut because we didn't have time to film it and the show was running long, and there was stuff we did write and film, but at the end of the day, the show was still too long and we had to cut it out," conceded Spotnitz. "So we were very, very conscious of our inability to answer everything and talk about everything, and so we tried to answer and talk about as much as we could in the time we had."

-- In response to the criticism launched by reviewers and fans that the finale was too slow, didn't have enough action, and didn't provide enough pay-off, Spotnitz replied, "If people felt that way, their feelings were justified. It didn't play slow for me. I think if you were hungry for answers, you got answers from the finale. It was a very funny thing. The X-Files audience was so stratified. There were people who knew nothing, who maybe even tuned out the mythology episodes and preferred the stand-alones. There were people who studied the mythology episodes. And there were people in between. How do you satisfy all those people? We tried to address all those levels of understanding, so it was inevitable that some people would be more enthusiastic than others."

-- "This was a true collaborative effort," said Manners. "The crew was extraordinary. Chris put together a tremendous team of people -- in Vancouver and in Los Angeles -- and he inspired everyone to do their best work, because with Chris, it was always about the work."

-- "Every week was different and I learned so much," Manners continued. "I like to think I joined The X-Files a good director and I left a terrific director. Not that I'm blowing my own horn -- just that Chris Carter created that kind of environment. He worked with a script until he felt it was ready, and once he turned it over to you, it was yours. He never interfered."

-- "We got a lot of good work done," said Tom Braidwood. "But we also had a lot of fun."

-- Frank Spotnitz avoided the emotion of the final show by not being on hand for the last bits of filming. "But in mid-June I went back to my office to give up my keys and pick up my final box of files," he recalled. "My assistant, Sandra, had prepared a scrapbook for me. It was a complete surprise. And in it were all these letters that the cast members and various crew members wrote to me. That's when it finally hit me and I got the sadness of having to say goodbye."

-- "The best thing I took away from the show was the amazingly talented people I worked with, both in Vancouver and Los Angeles," Frank Spotnitz said. "How gifted the actors were. The writers and all of the staff people, the crew. And the work itself, and how proud I am of the work we did. That's the great thing about a job like that -- that the work will still be around. That's really great."

-- "I think that everybody put in such a huge effort over the years in really trying to keep the quality of the show up, to continue with its integrity as much as we could," said Gillian Anderson. "But thereís a time for everything to end and I think this was the right time. I think everybody in their own way was excited about moving on to other things. But both things can co-exist; one can be sad and in the process of mourning and at the same time be excited and hopeful for the future and change."

-- "There were many things about the show that I was going to miss," Anderson said. "I was really going to miss David and Kim and Chris. I thought my body was going to keep expecting to do something familiar that it was not going to have an opportunity to do. The fact of the matter is that I grew up during the course of the show. I started when I was 24 and ended at almost 34. That was almost a third of my life. I was young and naÔve and impressionable and didnít have a clue about the business or anything at that time. Then, to grow up and to make mistakes along the way and to experience my life while trying to be somebody else (Scully) and try to be something other than myself for 18 hours a day was an interesting task. I also was doing that very publicly. So, as I've said before, it was surreal."

-- "I think the show lasted as long as it did because we did science fiction in different ways," said Kim Manners. "We did it real. We made the unbelievable believable. We did that through great production, great acting, great directing, great storytelling and great imagination. We made the stupid, the dumb, the impossible, the unbelievable believable. We could get into some ridiculous, outrageous things, but on The X-Files they were all played as real. We got you to believe it would happen and you cared about the characters who were in the middle of it week after week. We were all very proud of that. As far as my contributions -- I think Rob Bowman and I brought the show a look, a style, a feature quality. We had great directors of photography -- John Bartley, Joel Ransom, and Bill Roe -- who lit the show beautifully. Translating the science fiction into TV that you could watch and follow and believe -- I think that was our main contribution."

-- "The show will continue, probably forever, in repeats," Manners said. "Maybe there will be films in the future. But this was really it. For the people involved in making the show, The X-Files experience will never live again. Nobody in the television medium, other than those of us who were here and experienced it, will ever get to taste what a great high it has been, what a great blessing it has been. It was painful and exhilarating at the same time. I think as time goes by, The X-Files will be right up there with other important and groundbreaking television shows of their time -- like I Love Lucy and The Fugitive. It will have a place in history, and we helped make that history."

-- "Television history sort of sounds like a bad joke to me," said David Duchovny in an interview promoting the series finale. "I'm proud of the show, I'm proud of the work we've done. I'm proud of so many of the individual shows that we've done, and that's the way I think of it. Less as one, singular entity and more as just 'Oh, that one was a great episode; we did great work there. That was fantastic. I'd watch that again. That's as good as a movie.' That kind of thing. So it's less about keeping score, or about history, and more like I had a great opportunity to be involved in a creative enterprise that was worthwhile."

-- "It's a sense of accomplishment," Duchovny continued. "The pride of the individual episodes, a lot of pride in the stamina it took to do the show, for showing up to work every day even when I didn't want to. I have pride in little things like that -- in having the 'sticktoitiveness,' as my mom might say, to be one of the leads in a show and to get through it. I have pride in my consistency, and a lot of pride in the work that we did."

-- "The X-Files had great ambition, in every department," said Spotnitz. "In its production, in it drama, in its writing, in the ideas it attempted to capture. Sometimes we failed miserably, and then many other times, it was glorious. That was so exciting to be a part of that. That's the thing that other shows will try to shoot for, and it's very hard to hit -- is the level of ambition our show had. I think that's why The X-Files is a singular show -- because it's very hard to reach the heights that we were able to reach then and now."

-- Chris Carter agreed. "I think The X-Files raised the bar in terms of the suspense genre because we had the time and money to do so many things. We put everything on the screen, and so I think our legacy will be that it maintained a high standard of quality, imaginativeness, and production."

-- As far as the show's other legacies, Carter said, "I think there will always need to be and will always be built into the government this need to police itself, and for the public to be distrustful of authority generally and of putting too much faith in it. I think the show was thought-provoking and politically-minded, but my primary goal was always to provide the audience with a first-rate thrill-ride. And I think the show was tremendously romantic ... romantic in both the literary and more common sense in that it was about two people who were tremendously tender and caring for each other."

-- "The X-Files wasn't an instant hit," Carter said. "But Fox was a different network then. It was enough of a hit at the time to give Fox the sense that they had something. It was never really imperiled, never 'on the bubble' as they say. But the landscape has changed, and if you're not a hit right out of the box, networks are not prone to stick with you -- although once in a while shows disprove that theory, like 24 for instance. I've always felt that if a network isn't behind the show, doesn't promote it, the audience will perceive that as a vote of no confidence and won't get behind it either. But that landscape may be changing as well."

-- Carter realized he would never really know if Fox would have cancelled the show after the ninth season had he not pulled the plug. "The X-Files wasn't a feather in anyone's cap anymore," he said. "All the players had changed since the show first went on the air. What makes careers are new hit shows. I think when a series gets to be a certain age, certain people love it for certain reasons -- but it's not always the people who broadcast it week in and week out."

-- "I think the show worked so well all over the world because people are scared of the same things," added Carter. "I think 'scared' traveled across borders very well. The format of the show and the storytelling structure was incredibly elastic -- it was a comedy, an intense drama, a melodrama, a horror show, a thriller. It could be so many different things and that's what I miss most about it. I was very fortunate for having created something that everyone seemed to like. And I got to write about what I was interested in, and people liked it, so it was one of those miracles that will probably never be re-created. Most of the fans were sorry to see it go, and that was gratifying. My hope was that we had created something that they could continue to enjoy for a good long while."

-- Good thing, because Carter speculated that "The X-Files is the type of show that you may never see again. Fox was willing to spend the money to do it right, but right now in network television, money is tightening and the ability to do the things like we did will be far less achievable. It's a simple matter of economics."

-- "We had the ability to do little movies each week with The X-Files," said Carter, "and whatever I do in the future, I hope it has the same scope as that show. The X-Files had a large canvas, and I don't want to limit my canvas by doing something that is a typical, traditional franchise show. All the shows I've done had a big canvas, and that's what I want to continue to do."

-- "It's an impossible task to try and end a television show after nine years that had so many different threads as this one had," said David Duchovny. "I remember when Seinfeld ended there was all this controversy -- you know because it was part of 'television history' -- how to end it, whether or not it was a legitimate ending, and people were either really disappointed in the ending or people loved the ending. I expected it to be the same with our show. You knew there was no way to win completely. I felt it was going to be two great shows. They did a great job in creating a way to go out that kind of looked back and looked forward at the same time. There was so much work to do in ending it after nine years; it was a huge task. But I was glad we had Kim Manners directing and the writers who had been here a long time writing it. Because that was all a plus."

-- "I feel like I split up from The X-Files more times than Liz Taylor has divorced," Duchovny joked. "But what remains is really just a sense of satisfaction for what the show has been and for the people I've been able to work with -- Gillian especially. Obviously the popularity of the show will wane, but I think the quality will always be apparent. When it worked, it had good storytelling, directing and acting. That it then became a phenomenon just is a matter of timing. I think it deserved it. I think we can all take satisfaction from that."

-- "I would say that the finale serviced the mythology of the show," Frank Spotnitz said. "And it did feel like definitely, in terms of the journey that Mulder and Scully began in the Pilot, there was a sense of closure and completion -- and that was very important to us, we were very aware of the need to do that."

-- Spotnitz found the final episodeís treatment of the elusive truth served to highlight the long road Mulder and Scully traveled together. The two, he said, were intertwined. "More importantly, the show talked about the journey Mulder and Scully had been on,Ē he said. "To me, the theme of the episode and the series was that you can never find the truth. The truth is out there, but you can never hold it in your hand. But you can find another human being, and Mulder and Scully found each other, and the believer and the skeptic were able to say at the end of the day that they believed the same things. That is the most powerful truth that human beings can hope for is finding another kindred spirit and not being alone. And that to me was the perfect end to the journey that they had begun nine years earlier. That may be kind of corny and all of that, but that's really it: Love is the only truth we can hope to know, as human beings. That's what Mulder and Scully found after nine years. And that's a lot."

-- It was an incredible nine year run; and whether I continue to be fairly happy or grow more cynical about the way it turned out in the end, I'm not likely to forget one thing: the journey. Over the years, I've thought and said many bad things about Chris Carter -- and I only meant about half of them (LOL!). Perhaps he never quite achieved God-like status (as our martini-induced haze led us to believe), but I'll always be grateful that he conceived and carried out this journey, assisted along the way by many, many incredible people -- because no one gets there alone. An extraordinary company of people -- from those on the screen to those behind it -- who kept me enthralled and entertained, and sometimes just blew me away - for the majority of nine years. As I've commented before, I think Garth Brooks said it best:

Looking back, on the memory of
The dance we shared 'neath the stars above.
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye.
And now, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance.

Thanks for the dance, Chris and everyone who brought us The X-Files.

(Thanks to chrisnu and about dd for today's pics.)

If you're still there after all that ... please share your first impressions, favorite (or cringe-worthy) moments, classic lines, favorite fanfic, nagging questions, repeated viewing observations, etc., as today we celebrate "The Truth" -- our final Cherish the Past Episode of the Day.

That's it (except for "Three Words," which needs to be re-created. It'll be coming soon.) I hope you enjoyed the Episodes of the Day, and I send special thanks to Vivien for creating a place to archive them all.

I don't plan to be around as much anymore (unless there's a problem which I hope there won't be!), so happy New Year to everyone and I hope you'll continue to "cherish the past" here at Haven every day!