As the subtitle of the latest X-Files DVD set suggests, fervor for the nine-season-long series borders on the religious. The compilation includes the pilot, “Beyond the Sea,” “The Host,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “Memento Mori,” “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” “Bad Blood” and “Milagro,” plus interviews with series creator Chris Carter, coproducer Frank Spotnitz and costar Gillian Anderson. It’s marketed as an “essential guide” to the upcoming X-Files movie, I Want to Believe, which is a euphemistic way of saying it’s a double dip.
The X-Files has always walked a fine line between genuine artistry and shameless commerce, with its creator assuming the central role of Zen-guru-cum-pitchman. Carter’s episode lead-ins confirm his playful description of himself as “a treacherous character,” offering cryptic nuggets that devour themselves like the ouroboros logo from The X-Files’ sister series Millennium. Carter’s fascinating pose, which seems calculated to both repel and tantalize, jibes with the overall sense of The X-Files as a fruitless (yet necessary) search for some great unknowable.
The Revelations episodes revel in this same aura of ambiguity, most notably the uneven yet still astonishing “Milagro.” Hinging on an extended dialogue between a lovelorn, pretense-prone writer (John Hawkes) and his heart-stealing serial-killer creation (Nestor Serrano), it’s probably as close as Carter will ever come to writing an artist’s manifesto.