The X-Files, a show that stopped being on TV in May of 2002, is coming back to TV, probably next year, as a six-episode limited series. How can such a thing make all the fans happy? What if... the series is six finale episodes, presented as an anthology series?
US Anthology TV Series
There's not a whole lot of anthology television being created in the US right now, which is somewhat strange, because anthology series have, and continue to be, one of the best ways to present science fiction and fantasy. Rod Serling introduces the episode, the audience spends an hour in a weird world, and Rod Serling closes the episode and thanks you for having peered behind the Scary Door.
This is especially strange because, at the heart of it, The X-Files was an anthology series. Yes, there are episodes that are part of a serial: they're chronologically arranged episodes which touch on and develop a story. Yes, there are also episodes which are completely episodic: these got stuck with the description of "Monster of the Week" episodes, but for all intents and purposes they are police procedural episodes, except they've been Kolchak'd and they're about monsters instead of normal criminals. But The X-Files could never really decide whether it wanted itself to be episodic or serial, and there are some episodes which ... well they make no sense unless we just kind of pretend that they never "really" happened in the same universe in which the other episodes did (this is the sound of me pointing at "Hollywood A.D.")
Why Anthologize This?
Reading through audience feedback about The X-Files, there's different parts of the show that different parts of the audience don't like. Some people don't like the MOTW format: they want big huge government conspiracies and they want them to matter. Some people don't like the serial format: they just want to be scared for an hour of their life and have Scully and Mulder save the day. Some people... really don't want Chris Carter to be the only person writing these episodes.
This six episode limited series might be the last thing that The X-Files does. This might be its last chance to tell the stories that the fans, the creator, and the stars want. But. The fans don't all want the same thing. So why not offer the fans six different endings? In true anthology style, present all six as equal to one another, with no judgments on one or the other being more "true" than the others. Let The X-Files be resolved in the way that all of its fanbase wants it to be resolved, by putting the ending touches on multiple threads.
Such an approach begs the subsequent question of what would be the six finales for the show. Let me provide some ideas.
1: The Meta-Episode
This is for the people who liked "Hollywood A.D." This is an episode which breaks the fourth wall over and over again in order to talk about how it's awesome that the show is back, and which features cameos of whoever it wants to. David Duchovny can have his two kids show up, Gillian Anderson can have her three kids show up, they can make jokes about The Fall and Californication, they can make jokes about their books. Maybe Mitch Pileggi can show up with his wife who used to be a stand-in for Gillian Anderson. Annabeth Gish and Robert Patrick show up for whoever out there likes Reyes and Doggett. Lance Henriksen could show up and be Frank Black again. Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood, and Dean Haglund could be The Lone Gunmen again. Nicholas Lea can be Alex Krycek. William B. Davis can be The Smoking Man. The sky is the limit. The episode ends with Scully and Mulder and friends sharing laughs over a meal.
2: The Aliens Have Landed Episode
This is for the people who liked "The Truth." As that episode forecast, aliens colonized Earth on 22 December 2012. Scully and Mulder are part of a resistance against the aliens, doing what they can to make sure that humanity does not let these extraterrestrial usurpers, nor their government conspirators, get away with their crimes unseen. This episode is Scully and Mulder's moment of triumph: they for all intents and purposes prove the conspiracy is real, prompting the world to admit to the colonization program and institute amends to the people who have been hurt by it. The episode ends with Scully and Mulder checking into their new place of employment, wherein they are going to help the Aliens peacefully co-exist with Earth.
3: The Aliens Didn't Land Episode
This is for the people who liked "Redux." As that episode discussed, maybe this whole colonization conspiracy thing wasn't real. Maybe the colonization conspiracy was a cover for a conspiracy about, to pick something at completely random, the US government spying on everyones' email conversations. This is the episode which tries to make a statement about the real world we live in nowadays, and how Scully and Mulder's paranoia about the world was accurate in its amount, but just really off in its focus. This episode is also about their moment of triumph: they pull the equivalent of a Snowden and tell the world about the truth behind all these conspiracies. The episode ends with Scully and Mulder receiving praise and recognition for their whistleblowing.
4: The Ultimate MOTW
This is for the people who liked "Home." This is the scary and disturbing episode which The X-Files did amazingly when it wasn't trying to serialize. This is someone or something (or a bit of both) that the audience needs to watch with the lights on, which is just unrealistic enough to be definitely fictional, but realistic enough to be convincingly terrifying. Scully and Mulder figure out what the monster is and they stop it, by either getting it jailed (if human) or getting it exploded (if not). The episode ends with the suggestion that it's might still be out there.
5: The Dark Comedy Episode
This is for the people who liked "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." This is aliens or vampires or witches or a guy who knows how other people are going to die or something similarly interesting. This is an episode about the supernatural being investigated by two people who are overly serious about something that is really, on the face of it, quite silly. There's quirky humour and there's profound things said about the main characters and about the universe. Everyone in the audience has a chuckle. The episode ends with Darin Morgan getting another Emmy.
6: Love Conquers All
This is for the people who liked "Small Potatoes." Scully and Mulder shippers are given all the closure they need as these two characters meet up with their son, William. William is now a young teenager just getting a handle on his telekinetic powers, and in this episode Scully and Mulder are going to get across to William that they are going to help him with whatever he needs. The episode ends with Scully and Mulder cuddling on a sofa after ending a Skype call with William.
All About That Service
I want to emphasize the fanservice aspect of these hypothetical episodes because one of the main points of all six of these episodes: they, together, should be the wish-fulfillment of all the fans. Fans are sick and tired of watching their beloved franchises be destroyed by unnecessary and pointless prequels and reboots. For at least this one small thing, please, universe, don't do that. Finish the series on six positive notes. Let Scully and Mulder win (or in the case of the MOTW, at least think they won), whatever that might mean, as long as it's not something too ridiculous, like them riding a flying saucer into the sunset.
What Would You Do?
As I said above, the six primary things that The X-Files limited series could provide for fans is an extremely subjective question, open to lots of interpretation. Please, let me know what your preferences on these would be. If you could contract Scully and Mulder for six more episodes of TV, what would you want them to do?