Was it out there?
July 12, 2006 3:31 AM   Subscribe

Warning Potential Spoilers inside (I Hope) Caught an episode of X-Files last night, and suddenly remembered that for the 1st 5 seasons I watched religiously, but then kind of stopped watching. Now I want to know what happened, how the story unfolded, Did it have an ending? etc. etc.

I've googled around, but all i can seem to find are episode by episode guides. Can anyone point me to a overview of the story. The Timelines I've found are massivly detailed and would take me the best part of today to read through.
posted by lloyder to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Wikipedia's recaps.
posted by joegester at 3:43 AM on July 12, 2006

This is a pretty good overview of the "alien invasin conspiracy" plot written, I think, by Chris Carter himself:

"The method, as they called it, though it was more so a germ-line procedure of singular meta-scientific complexity, had been given to them by the alien colonists as quid pro quo. The Syndicate would help them to create a population of alien hybrids who would hide in plain sight, cloned from human ova and alien bio-material, so there would be a cloned race immune to the effects of the black oil when the return to the planet began. For this, the Syndicate would be sequestered, granted a sort of immunity or asylum, given a place in the grander scheme.

They were the Vichy government to the German "Final Solution:" collaborationists whose motivation was simple, self-directed survival. These cloning operations were spread across the country, the cataloging and record-keeping done through a complex intra-institutional system that connected to every branch of government, from the Social Security Administration to the Department Of Defense. The operation, under the working title "Purity Control," had been launched in 1948, its original conception the brainchild of German scientists given immunity themselves for war crimes, and allowed to continue the eugenic experiments that were Hitler's dark legacy.

The Syndicate had begun as a subset of a shadow intelligence agency whose original orders were to create plausible denial and an effective cover-up of Purity Control. But through 50 years and numerous U.S. and U.N. administrations, the principals began to wrest control, accumulating power and influence across international borders, such that -- by 1990 -- the operation ceased to have any member accountable to any one government and whose only orders would be taken from a man named Strughold, a German industrialist who had fled his homeland to northern Africa.

These men, whose knowledge and access provided control of a foreseeable future, had, in spite of this, everything to lose. Their secret work, the cloning preparations and the cataloging constituted their greatest vulnerability: exposure. Their detection would ensure not just their own demise, but a far-reaching dissolution of social and religious order around the globe. To protect against this, the Syndicate employed methods of disinformation, using covert government programs that had been regrettably discovered, as a kind of smokescreen -- a dodge or blind where the transgressions of Congress-accountable agencies served to hide their own more odious undertaking. They had even at times used the UFO phenomenon to create a hysteria that science and the intelligentsia denounced so completely as to make belief in believers seem ridiculous, and completely discreditable.

They had also, in a crisis, used a tool of the colonists themselves -- alien bounty hunters who policed the cloning operations and enforced rule on the countdown to colonization. A double-edged sword whose cold-blooded tactics had helped to stem a leak or threat, but also kept a watch on the Syndicate. A threat in itself, as the Syndicate had something to hide that not even the colonists knew of: a vaccine against the black oil, an inoculant against the substance in which the alien life force was held -- in fact, the very medium of the life force itself.

To guard this secret was perhaps even more critical than the truth of the existence of alien life, and of colonization. If the Syndicate's own secret vaccine were discovered, the vaccine that would make themselves immune from the effects of the black oil, they would certainly be destroyed and the timetable for colonization stepped up. They would protect this secret with their lives. They would kill to protect it, as it symbolized the only hope they had of avoiding enslavement when the planet was overtaken.

That they had been able to, over decades, conduct their work on the vaccine undetected was the result of a code among the Syndicate members that put honor and the future above personal politics. But now this code was beginning to break down, an incipient scramble for power beginning to develop. A threat from within that doubled the threat from without: from Agents Mulder and Scully, and the X-Files. "
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:57 AM on July 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

The Lone Gunmen are dead.
posted by milov at 4:28 AM on July 12, 2006

Television Without Pity.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:30 AM on July 12, 2006

Thanks for posting that quote, EndsOfInvention. I watched pretty much the whole show (regrettably), and I STILL didn't get where exactly we were conspiracy-wise at the end of it.
posted by muddgirl at 5:11 AM on July 12, 2006

X-Files is pretty notorious as a show that started off strong but fell apart once the creators had to stop building mystery and start building payoff. It's sort of the gold standard in the "bad ending" department. So even when you found out "the truth," you might still be disappointed. Nearly everyone else was.
posted by BackwardsCity at 5:37 AM on July 12, 2006

even when you find out. I swear I read that sentence over and it sounded perfectly cromulent.
posted by BackwardsCity at 5:38 AM on July 12, 2006

and that explanation doesn't address the tremendous stupidity of the "Super Soldier" plot development that superseded the alien invasion story in the final season.

Great Balls of Mothra I hated that plot development.
posted by Julnyes at 6:32 AM on July 12, 2006

And what, exactly, was the reasoning for giving William up for adoption? I at least wanted a happy Mulder-Scully-MiracleBaby ending if it was going to end crappily.
posted by lemoncello at 8:29 AM on July 12, 2006

If Scully kept the baby, then the bad people would always know where the baby is. On the other hand, if they were super sneaky about giving him away, then maybe he would grow up safe. That was my understanding...
posted by jaded at 10:35 AM on July 12, 2006

God, it was the absolute worst ending any once great series has had. To end with them happily defeated, and even without William...

It still chaps my ass with epic fervor.
posted by boombot at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2006

"I hate Chris Carter with the white-hot passion of a thousand burning suns", to quote a particularly vociferous post on alt.tv.xfiles.

Carter said at one point, if I remember correctly, that he had a five-year series all plotted out from the beginning. I am inclined to believe this, and to think that the events of the movie were originally intended to be the climax of the series and the conspiracy arc.

But by that point, $$$ and additional seasons were being dangled under his nose, and therefore he modified the events in the movie to make them less definitive and allow for future seasons. Because those future seasons necessarily dealt with events that he hadn't planned for, and because the needed changes to the movie weakened the overall arc by revealing the guts of the ending without actually ending it, those future seasons ended up weak, disconnected, and ultimately feeling kind of pointless.

That's my theory, at least.

So to answer the OP's question, it sort of had an ending, but I don't think one fan in 100 found it satisfying. There were answers to questions that were never asked before season 6, longstanding questions that were never answered, characters killed off for no apparent reason, and a general feeling of things falling apart dramatically. This might not have been a problem for another show, but for one that had had a unifying arc, it made the long petering-out of the show very disappointing. There are some good episodes and some good moments in each of the post-5 seasons, but the overall storyline didn't reach a satisfying conclusion, ultimately.
posted by jaed at 8:38 PM on July 12, 2006

I quit watching religiously at the end of season 3, and consider that to be the end. I caught the occasional episode after then, and it was obvious the original map the story was supposed to follow had been distorted and drawn out just to keep the show going(ka-ching!).

I sure hope "Lost" doesn't end up like X-Files...
posted by archae at 9:33 PM on July 12, 2006

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