Season 7 Wrap Up – You don’t want me looking foolish.


FirstPersonShooter353

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t mean this insultingly. But if I had to pick one keyword for Season 7, it would be “Self-Indulgent.”

At this point in the series, the cast and crew of The X-Files have been churning out classic television at an unbelievable clip for the past seven years. Their work schedule was famously insane, averaging almost twenty-two one hour episodes a season. Somehow, despite that, they were able to function at such an impressively creative level that the numbers of the show’s fans keep increasing with time, some thirteen years after it went off the air. Not only was it a pop culture phenomenon in its day, but it remains such a present part of the public’s consciousness that Fox is airing a six episode revival of the series starting in January. If it’s successful, there have been hints of more to come.

I know I’ve just jumped from Season 7 into the future, but my point is that the talents behind The X-Files had earned a little self-indulgence by the time Season 7 rolled around. They had worked hard, they had made the show a success and, what was key, they had no idea if they’d be back for an eighth season. Fox didn’t officially renew the series until almost a week before “Requiem” (7×22) aired, meaning the final episode of Season 7 was written and shot without Chris Carter being sure whether he was ending the season or ending his series. From what I’ve read, the vibe behind the scenes was “This may be it.” And if Season 7 was “it,” then it was their last chance to say what they had to say and try what they wanted to try. I can’t blame them and I don’t.

How does Season 7 indulge itself? Let us count the ways.

  • Chris Carter’s Basic Instinct homage in, and frankly all of “First Person Shooter” (7×13)
  • Vince Gilligan creates a crossover of two of his favorite shows in “X-Cops” (7×12)
  • William B. Davis writes himself real screen time with Scully in “En Ami” (7×15)
  • Gillian Anderson cues us to the importance of chakras in “all things” (7×17)
  • David Duchovny hosts a block party in “Hollywood A.D.” (7×18)
  • Mulder & Scully flirting like they didn’t know how to stop in almost every episode
  • A third of the episodes taking place in the production’s home state of California
  • The mythology’s loose threads are ignored in favor of the new alien-gods

Deserved? Yes. And some moments are more successful than others. The overall result, though, is that the season feels largely unfocused. It’s like a free for all. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we get canceled.

I think part of the lack of focus and direction is due in part to the mythology not serving as the series’ backbone any longer. The X-Files is wobbling around without an alien conspiracy to hold it together. Not that there weren’t still unanswered questions about the conspiracy that the fan’s wanted addressed, but they weren’t vital questions and the series seemed content to move forward without answering them. But if “Requiem” proves anything it’s that there was still life left in the pre-Season 7 mythology.

Season 7 doesn’t act like it, but the human race is on the verge of complete annihilation. The threat of alien takeover is still there, it’s just not being addressed. Why isn’t there a fire lit under our heroes? ‘Cause Mulder and Scully certainly aren’t acting like they have anything to be concerned about. They’re flaunting their flirtation at the Bureau’s policy against male and female agents consorting in the same motel room while on assignment. But, they’re together now, as the not-so-subtle jabs to the audience’s ribs often remind us.

And I’m glad of their togetherness, don’t get me wrong. It was well-earned and well-timed. Stringing the fans on too long becomes palpably artificial past a certain point. Season 7 was that point. Stringing Mulder and Scully themselves along would have felt disingenuous too. They had reached a catharsis in their relationship and that’s good. You don’t have to keep ribbing me about it. That’s bad. The end result is that Season 7’s main legacy is the ongoing debate over when Mulder and Scully started having sex. That’s really bad.

So, the mythology is largely resolved. Mulder and Scully are at peace. Samantha’s dead. What are we here for? The Monster of the Week episodes? Most of those have been lackluster and weak. There’s no driving force behind the season, no push or pull, no sense of urgency or adventure. When The X-Files first started, Mulder and Scully were on a quest. Now there is no quest, just a rag-tag mix of episodes. The result is that Season 7 feels like a coda to Season 1-6’s main piece. Mulder and Scully have done all they came here to do and things are winding down.

It may just be the natural progression of things. Everything has a beginning, middle and end. The story and relationship arcs The X-Files started off with have inevitably run their course.

Maybe.

I can’t help but wonder inf 1013 Productions had known early on that there was going to be a Season 8, if they could have planned ahead and plotted out the show’s trajectory for Seasons 7 and 8 the way they did for the mythology of Seasons 4, 5 and 6… I wonder what the show would have been like.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda territory, I know….

We have what we have, and what we have is a stagnant series. Season 7 is standing still instead of heading somewhere. It’s not going backward towards the show’s roots or forward into a new battle for Mulder and Scully. It’s just kind of biding its time, spinning in circles until the show ends.

What I’m seeing on my screen is a show that’s suffering from chronic self-awareness, that’s bored with itself, and that reads a little too much like childish fanfic: “What would I make Mulder and Scully do if I could make them do anything?”

Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s the Season 7 Year Itch. When it first aired, there were five episodes I actively resented, and seven more I passively disliked. Twelve out of twenty-two ain’t good. The rest I found middling with a few bright spots dispersed here and there.

I came to a sober realization this rewatch –  most of Season 7 I will never watch again.

On that sad note, here are the awards for the season…

Most Improved

all things

Least Improved

First Person Shooter

Missed Opportunity for Backstory

The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati

Deceptively Deep

Signs and Wonders

Successfully Experimental

Hungry

Overrated

Je Souhaite

Underrated

Theef

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13 responses to “Season 7 Wrap Up – You don’t want me looking foolish.

  1. I think you’re right. S7 is the coda to S1-6 because that’s the way they saw it. I’m sure Chris and co. would’ve planned S7 differently if they didn’t have the impression that this was the end. Some episodes would’ve probably been spread amongst S8 and S9 instead of being condensed into this one. It’s probably why it’s so unfocused.

    • I know I’ve said it before, but there are some episodes I’m downright resentful of in Season 8 & 9 – Because they’re good and some of those ideas should have been explored in Season 7 when we still had both Mulder and Scully. That’s in hindsight, of course. Then again, the change up seemed to shake everybody up and reignite The X-Files’ fire.

      The way things played out, the main stories of the M&S era were told in Seasons 1-6 and Season 7 was merely them winding down, not even wrapping up the last of the mythology questions, with the notable exception of Samantha.

      • Just out of interest. Do you think that, if they knew season 7 would have been the last season, they should have focussed more on tying all the loose mythology ends together rather than give us what they did? You are spot on when you refer to it as “self-indulgent”, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with that word, but it does truly describe to me exactly how I felt about it. Do you think it would have made for a better “end season”? And importantly… would they have renewed it for an 8th season if that were the case?
        I know I’m turning all pseudo-X-Filosophical here, but I’ve been wondering about it since the season finale. So bear with me… because I’m going monologue here and I know how many of you hate X-Files monologues.

        Now, taking into account that CC & his merry men believed this could be the last season, the Samantha-mystery ending seemed the right thing to do. It absolutely needed a conclusion. In the light of the falling end curtain drawing closer, Samantha who was always the true leitmotiv of the whole show (in typing the word “show” I feel like I’m stabbing myself in the heart a little, as it is so much more than that), even if it got burried underneath all the complexly woven layers of mythology. It needed to be sorted out. And we came full circle.

        Now onto the fact that I and as I’ve read many others were not happy with how it ended. I read that it only felt rushed because the team thought this was the last season… so I got to thinking: why didn’t this season have more mythology-explaining episodes, a bigger story arch for the Samantha-story perhaps. Why did they stick to the season pattern and only give us the few mythology episodes we got. Why put us through that range of mediocre to absolutely awful episodes (in MY humble opinion, so feel free to disagree on that one), if they could have just strayed from the habitual season flow and turn it into a true ending season wrapping up everything nicely. I know that the urgency was no longer there with a lot of storylines coming to a close in previous seasons, but the mythology is so complex it still leaves a lot to wonder about and I can only imagine I’m not the only one who still doesn’t completely see the big picture clearly. I’m all for subtle and leaving things to the imagination, but a little backstory and a few pointers would have been very welcome.

        Now I’m not saying I would have been very happy with the season 7 end as the true series end game, but it seems that’s what we were possibly looking at anyway. And in all fairness, it would have made for a memorable ending, even if it would be enormously frustrating. I feel it would have been a more deserving season than what season 7 turned out to be, end or not. It might have been epic, and when I say that you should know I use that word only once in a blue moon.

        But then I come to this bit where I’m wondering that IF (and that’s a big IF) season 7 was wrapped up the way I just suggested, it would have gotten a renewal…
        And did it deserve a renewal?
        I’m still not entitled to really answer that last question, since I’m still in unknown territory here, making my first ever trip through season 8 (and 9) as we speak, so I’m putting it out there for the experience experts amongst you.

        Salome: I will fully understand if you block my account for the lack of restraint I have when it comes to commenting. Concise isn’t a word that has ever been uttered when people are asked what kind of person I am.

        • Are you kidding? I live off of this stuff. This is my problem.

          I think they thought they had finished the mythology by killing the Syndicate and revealing what happened to Samantha. But what “Requiem” and later “The Truth” proves is that there was still more juice in the mythology that would have been great to explore in Season 7. I know they originally planned to do some of that in a Krycek episode. For instance, now that the Syndicate is dead, will the aliens move their plans for colonization up? Who are the rebels who killed the Syndicate? Are they from the same race as the Alien Colonists or are they another, previously conquered alien race? Are they still fighting the Colonists? Are there any humans joining their plans for resistance? Is that Krycek’s plan? Would Mulder join them? What about the test subjects that have been left behind? Are there other alien-human hybrids out there and what are the potential implications of that? Could a new Syndicate form? When is the end of the world scheduled for? What about some backstory for Teena Mulder? Diana Fowley, even? Krycek!!!

          I agree that the urgency was gone. And Mulder and Scully acted like there was nothing else to be done, which seems strange for Mulder’s character especially.

          I think not knowing about the future of the series one way or the other hurt them in the end. If they had known for sure, they might’ve skipped a “Fight Club” or two and let the mythology escalate until the end instead of letting it wind down like a clock running out of batteries. I think they would’ve been renewed regardless because they were still making money and networks like guaranteed money. If anything, a more gripping season that retained a greater share of the viewership might’ve gotten them renewed sooner.

      • That’s true. It would’ve been nicer to have it all tie off in a nice bow but I guess that’s not what this show is about.

        • I guess that it isn’t and the fact they don’t ever do that is probably what has lifted this show high above the mundane and turned it into what it still is now. So please don’t take my comment too much as criticism but more as an afterthought. Even if I did not like S7 all that much, I didn’t hate it either (except for a few episodes). My mind just wandered off and started wondering “what if”.

          • Don’t worry, your comment is actually very interesting and quite apt. For me it’s all very fresh so I guess I won’t be able to make up a true opinion until after that feeling passes.

        • I guess it’s hard to hit the target of keeping people deliciously frustrated without wearing out their good graces.

    • As an extra thought: Since they *did* know they had Season 7 coming, after all they had the “Biogenesis” trilogy planned, why didn’t they spread out the mythology so that Season 7 could be in on the action instead of relegated to a “coda?”

      Maybe CC wanted to make sure he got the chance to make his “aliens as God” theme explicit? If so, that’s the kind of revelation that works better at the end of a series. As it sits at the beginning of Season 7, there’s nowhere else to take it. The aliens made us. The end.

      • That would’ve probably made it better, I agree. They got rid of many plot points that drove the action way too early, as you said.

  2. Your conclusion is the same one I arrived at: Season 7 is self-aware, self-indulgent, bored, and boring. But, being a latecomer to the fandom, I didn’t know the history behind this season. Like you, I probably won’t rewatch many, or any, if these episodes again. But I think you’ve helped me forgive them, and you’ve given me some hope for seasons 8 and 9 — which I haven’t watched and have heard only bad things about.

    • The later seasons have their issues, believe me. But Season 8 in particular has energy that was missing in Season 7. There’s mission and purpose again. Behind the scenes, I don’t know but it feels like Mulder’s absence forced them to plot, strategize, and think out of the box again. The new actors also did a great job and I think they added some freshness.

      I feel bad for calling out Season 7, but there’s no future in frontin’.

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