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Epix Nabs ‘Deep State,’ Starring Mark Strong


Epix Nabs 'Deep State,' Starring Mark Strong

The network will premiere the previously commissioned European drama in June.

Epix has signed up for Deep State, the espionage drama starring Mark Strong.

The already announced series, from Fox Networks Group Europe and Africa, did not have a stateside distributor until now. The initial eight-episode order will kick off June 17 on the MGM-owned cable network.

Deep State, written and directed by Rogue creator Matthew Parkhill, is described as a "visceral thriller" about an ex-spy (Strong) whose past catches up with him when he's summoned away from his new life.

The series also stars George White, Joe Dempsie, Karima McAdams and Anastasia Griffith.

"Deep State is a timely, and addictive, thriller that fits perfectly into Epix's growing portfolio of premium original programming," said Epix president Michael Wright. "With Matthew’s smart storytelling, an excellent cast led by Mark Strong and a fantastic production and design team, we’re very excited to bring this quality drama to an American audience.”

The series is produced by Endor, a Red Arrow company, and the Epix deal was negotiated by Fox Networks Group Content Group, which also holds exclusive global distribution rights for the series.

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‘Gilmore Girls’ Producer Files New Lawsuit Over Series Profits


'Gilmore Girls' Producer Files New Lawsuit Over Series Profits

Gavin Polone says he's not receiving his fair share of profits because of improper accounting practices.

Gilmore Girls producer Gavin Polone has been battling with Warner Bros. over his share of profits from the mother-daughter series for more than a decade — and now he's launching a new dispute that calls into question the studio's accounting practices.

Polone last sued Warners in 2016, claiming he deserved to share in profits for the Netflix revival Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. The parties settled a couple of months later, but the producer still feels he's being shorted.

"This case is part of a long and troubled line of successful artists of all stripes being forced to seek recourse in court against a corporate producing partner that manipulates its backroom accounting and distorts the interpretation of its contractual obligations," states the complaint, filed Wednesday in L.A. County Superior Court. “Here, Defendants have used various improper accounting practices to improperly manipulate the profitability of Gilmore Girls.”

Polone is suing Warners and parent company Time Warner for breach of contract, fraud and unfair business practices, among other claims.

According to the complaint, Polone's 2000 contract with Warners entitles him to 11.25 percent of the modified adjusted gross revenue of the series and that share was upped to 12.5 percent after the first dispute.

The producer says Warners is calculating his profit participation payments based on receipts that improperly deduct a 10 percent SVOD distribution fee. He also claims the MAGR is being unfairly reduced by applying production costs attributable to other shows and exaggerating overhead expenses.

Warner Bros. has not yet commented on the complaint, which is posted below.

Polone, a producer-director, is an occasional contributing writer for The Hollywood Reporter.

Gilmore Girls
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‘Travelers’ Renewed for Season 3 at Netflix


'Travelers' Renewed for Season 3 at Netflix


The Canadian co-production will now air exclusively on the streamer in all markets.

Eric McCormack will continue to pull double duty for the time being.

The Will & Grace star's sci-fi drama Travelers has been renewed for a third season by Netflix. And, unlike the first two seasons of the Canadian production, the next run will air exclusively on the streamer — cutting original Canadian vehicle Showcase out of the series' distribution plan.

McCormack on Thursday announced the news on Twitter, noting that he is also set to direct the opening episode of season three.

“Before I was Will Truman again, I was a Traveler. And I am so excited to be able to tell our fans, worldwide, that Brad Wright’s subtle and stunning sci-fi drama is back for a third season," the actor wrote. "I am so proud of this show, particularly that it’s all-Canadian. From our devoted Vancouver crew, to an uber-talented young cast who hail from Alberta, BC, Manitoba and Ontario, to my producing partners and our Toronto roots, Travelers is a series as Canadian in its creation, as it is global in scope. I am counting the days ‘til I return, not just as Special Agent Grant MacLaren, and as a producer, but as the director of the 3rd season premiere. Travelers will continue to be unwavering in its dedication to Canadian talent, and in its drive to be one of the strongest, most binged shows on Netflix.”

Executive producers Brad Wright and Carrie Mudd, both of Peacock Alley Entertainment, addressed the exit from Showcase in their own comments: “Our partner Eric said it best. We'd like to add our gratitude to our viewers in Canada on Showcase – as well as the Corus and Sky Vision teams – for two extraordinary seasons. We are excited to start shooting Season 3 this March in Vancouver, and to continue the Travelers story for fans in Canada and around the world, only on Netflix.”

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‘Demons’ Drama Exploring Satanic Panic in the Works at Hulu (Exclusive)


'Demons' Drama Exploring Satanic Panic in the Works at Hulu (Exclusive)

Juliet Lashinsky-Revene

In this story

TV Development
TV Development

The drama is written by newcomer Juliet Lashinsky-Revene.

Hulu is poised to face some demons.

The streamer has put drama Demons, inspired by true events and chronicling the hysteria known as the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s and '90s, in development.

The drama revolves around Marilyn Jones, the seductive "patient zero" in the frenzy surrounding satanic ritual abuse, and her husband, Bennett Lewis, a brilliant but manipulative psychiatrist. In success, each season of Demons would explore a twisted crime affected by the couple's dark exploration into the fragile nature of memory and guilt.

Demons is created and written by newcomer Juliet Lashinsky-Revene, who will exec produce alongside Karyn Usher and Lisa Zwerling via their Carpool Entertainment banner. Lionsgate is the studio on the drama. Amanda Tudesco will produce the drama, which landed at Hulu in a competitive situation with multiple outlets bidding.

Lashinsky-Revene is a New York-based writer and director with a genre focus. A psychology major at Swarthmore, she earned her master's in directing at Columbia before getting a job as Chris Terrio's story consultant. Terrio earned an Oscar for best adapted screenplay for 2013's Argo. Lashinsky-Revene plans to direct her first script, feature Inheritance. Demons marks her first TV foray. She is repped by Paradigm, Peter Dealbert of Pacific View Management and Jackoway Tyerman.

Usher and Zwerling are with WME.

"Satanic Panic" became a phenomenon in the '80s and '90s after widespread fear about satanic ritual abuse following the McMartin Preschool case in which members of the McMartin family, which operated a preschool in Manhattan Beach, California, were charged with sexual abuse. The case, which resulted in zero convictions after what, at the time, was the longest trial in U.S. history, included allegations of satanic ritual abuse.

Hulu TV Development
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‘Game of Thrones’ Series Finale: Iain Glen Teases “Brilliant” Ending


'Game of Thrones' Series Finale: Iain Glen Teases "Brilliant" Ending

The erstwhile Jorah Mormont is cautious to advise people against getting their hopes up: "You cannot please everyone."

Not long ago, Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) was on borrowed time, the clock ticking down until he went slowly mad from greyscale. Thanks to a surgical procedure courtesy of one Samwell Tarly (John Bradley), Jorah the Andal is now alive and well heading into the final season of Game of Thrones — and to hear the actor behind the fierce warrior tell it, he's lasted long enough to know how the whole story will come to an end.

In a new interview, Iain Glen has spoken up about the looming Game of Thrones conclusion, with the final season set to bow in 2019. According to the man who has valiantly served his Khaleesi for seven seasons and counting, the final episode should exceed most expectations — emphasis on most.

"When I read it, I thought it was rather brilliant. I am a bit of a fan of the series as well, and it satiated my expectation and hopes," he tells "But we will just have to see. You know with something this big like Game of Thrones, you cannot please everyone."

Glen's assessment lines up with what other actors have said about the final notes of Game of Thrones, including Isaac Hempstead Wright, who previously spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about how there's a certain freedom in knowing the show's ending simply can't satisfy all customers.

"We're all so confident in the way this story goes and the message it gives and how the whole story arc works," said the actor, who plays Bran Stark. "As long as we can reconcile with ourselves that we're happy with how it ends, it won't matter what anyone else thinks, really. As long as we feel we've done the story justice, and have done justice to [author George R.R. Martin's] universe and [show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss'] vision, then that's really all we can hope for. It won't go the way some people want. It will be too happy for some people, or too sad, or too whatever. That's the nature of an ending."

Likewise, Sophie Turner (Sansa) spoke with THR about what it was like to read the final script with the cast and crew, describing it as a deeply emotional experience.

"It was very, very bittersweet," she said. "It was hard. At the end of the very last script, they read aloud, 'End of Game of Thrones.' As soon as they read that out, pretty much everyone burst into tears. There was a standing ovation for David and Dan. We were all clapping and cheering. It was amazing."

Whether or not fans will clap and cheer as loudly as Iain Glen, Sophie Turner and Isaac Hempstead Wright remains to be seen — but Turner's use of the word "bittersweet" certainly falls in line with the tone author George R.R. Martin has often bandied about in describing his plans for the novel series' conclusion. Given the tone of Game of Thrones thus far, a series in which heroes have been ruthlessly butchered at moments of honor and happiness with alarming regularity, it's a smart bet that the "bitter" will win out over the "sweet."

How do you think the series will end? Sound off in the comments below, and keep checking for more on all things Westeros.

Game of Thrones
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‘Survivor Ghost Island’: Jeff Probst Reveals Why He Was Blindsided at Fourth Tribal Council


'Survivor Ghost Island': Jeff Probst Reveals Why He Was Blindsided at Fourth Tribal Council

"I had to really work to keep it together," the executive producer and host tells THR about the latest big move.

[This story contains spoilers for the latest episode of Survivor Ghost Island.]

For the first time since the season launched three weeks ago, a Survivor Ghost Island competitor came across an opportunity to reverse the curse on one of the most legendary mistakes in the show's nearly two decades on the air.

Sadly, no such luck for Michael Yerger, who came up with a compelling lie at the latest Tribal Council. Having come into possession of an immunity from Survivor China — one of two that James Clement famously exited the game with in his pockets — Michael tried to pull a fast one on his adversaries, the five original Naviti members currently kicking around on Malolo beach, by fibbing about the rules of his relic.

In Michael's version of events, James' old idol had now returned as a "double idol," meaning it would protect two people from the vote. Of course, it was a lie; the idol was a regular idol. But Michael's commitment to the ruse was so impressive, that it even left host and executive producer Jeff Probst confused on the night of the gamble.

"When we met Michael, we knew instantly we wanted him on the show," Probst tells The Hollywood Reporter about the 18-year-old model, who has been lying about his age in the game, among other secrets. "I'm really intrigued by younger people playing Survivor, because their attitude is so different from the older generations. You saw that instantly when Michael lied and said he was 23 for fear that he'd be judged if he told them the truth that he was only 18. And you saw it this week with his double idol idea. Brilliant."

"I had to really work to keep it together at Tribal," Probst continues. "I was shocked when he said it. He was so convincing I found myself having an inner dialogue: 'Wait a second, it doesn't have double power, does it?'"

Probst managed to hold it together, but unfortunately, Michael wasn't so lucky, failing in his attempt to sway Chelsea and Sebastian into voting for Bradley, and also misreading the victim of the old Naviti tribe's vote: Brendan Shapiro, blasted out of the game with five votes to his name, and immunity mistakenly played upon the otherwise safe Stephanie Johnson.

"I think the only thing that went wrong is Michael just guessed wrong," Probst says about where the move failed. "And I think if he watches Tribal, he may feel there was a giveaway before he played it. If he had been watching their reactions, he might have played it differently. But it was a gallant effort, and as a producer, that is all we could ever ask for from a player. That kind of straight up in your face bravado is what we dream of finding in every player."

Michael's play was the lightning rod moment of the evening, but it wasn't the only gamble. Earlier in the episode, upon arriving at Ghost Island, Kellyn had the opportunity to put her vote on the line in order to gain a secret advantage. She decided the potential sacrifice was too risky, and chose to hold onto her vote. Lucky thing she did; though we don't know the advantage she was playing for, Kellyn's vote was crucial in keeping the old Naviti strong at the new Malolo camp.

"Ghost Island continues to provide great results," says Probst. "There is so much uncertainty when you go to Ghost Island that it is unnerving people. Will you get to play a game? If you do, will you be willing to risk your vote — the most powerful thing in the game — for a shot at an advantage? And it's lonely on Ghost Island. It gets very dark, very fast, and it's very real. Alliances that stick together must endure a lot of turmoil. This game is early. Naviti does not have it wrapped up quite yet."

Before we close out this week, one last order of business: a final look at Brendan Shapiro, the physical education teacher on the wrong side of the vote at the fourth Tribal Council. Years ago, Brendan was in the mix for the fourth season of Survivor, leading to some (yours truly included) thinking of him as an alternate universe Hunter Ellis. In the end, Brendan placed better than Hunter; alas, only by one spot.

Here's what Probst said about Brendan in the preseason: "He's been applying for a long time. We talked to Brendan for Millennials vs Gen X, and we thought about him for Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers — and while we loved the guy, he just doesn't really fit. We really almost put him on season 35, and at the last minute we decided he wasn't the right fit. But now he belongs here. I think as often happens, Brendan will be glad he waited. This makeup of people seems really suited to him doing well. Brendan could absolutely win the game. He has all the skills. He's really gifted in terms of talking and telling stories, and moving people without them feeling like they're being moved. He's physically super fit. He's been around. He's started a business. He's not going to get excitable by a lot. I really like Brendan."

Here's what Probst says about Brendan now that he's been voted out: "Brendan didn't do anything wrong. He just ended up on the wrong side of the numbers. He's a savvy player and if he played again could easily have a different result and last a lot longer. One of the things that the audience really understands, sometimes more than the players, is this: when you are voted out does not matter nearly as much as how you played while you were there. Boston Rob was voted out seventh the first time he played, but the minute he was voted out we knew we wanted him back to play again. That's why we put Brendan on: we knew he would play. He's a good leader and a smart strategist, but once he lost the numbers, he just couldn't persuade them to keep him."

What did you think of Michael's move? Sound off in the comments below and keep checking for more coverage.

Weekly Probst-mortems:
• Week 1: Gonzalez and Jacob's exits, explained
• Week 2: The return of James Clement's idol
• Week 3: Michael's "double idol" gamble

Weekly exit interviews:
• 20th place: Stephanie Gonzalez
• 19th place: Jacob Derwin
• 18th place: Morgan Ricke
• 17th place: Brendan Shapiro (coming soon)

Preseason player profiles:
• Angela Perkins
• Bradley Kleihege
• Brendan Shapiro
• Chelsea Townsend
• Chris Noble
• Desiree Afuye
• Domenick Abbate
• Donathan Hurley
• Jacob Derwin
• James Lim
• Jenna Bowman
• Kellyn Bechtold
• Laurel Johnson
• Libby Vincek
• Michael Yerger
• Morgan Ricke
• Sebastian Noel
• Stephanie Gonzalez
• Stephanie Johnson
• Wendell Holland

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James Corden and Shaggy Spoof Trump, Mueller Probe With “It Wasn’t Me” Music Video


James Corden and Shaggy Spoof Trump, Mueller Probe With "It Wasn't Me" Music Video

In this story

James Corden
James Corden
Late-Night TV
Late-Night TV

Changing the words to the reggae artist's hit of the same name, the duo, with Corden playing Mueller and Shaggy portraying Trump, croon about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

James Corden and Jamaican-American reggae artist Shaggy teamed up Wednesday night to parody Robert Mueller's Russia probe and President Trump on The Late Late Show.

Changing the words to Shaggy's hit "It Wasn't Me," the duo, with Corden playing Mueller and Shaggy portraying Trump, croon about the former's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"To be a true dealer, know the art of the deal. If Mueller’s pressin’ charges, then I’m going to appeal, delete my work emails before they reveal I paid off Stormy Daniels so she’d spank me till I squealed," Shaggy sings.

The infamous pee tape, cable news shows, and Donald Trump Jr. ("a son I can lose") all get mentions as well.

Shaggy was on the late-night show to promote his upcoming film Game Over, Man! out March 23 on Netflix.

Watch the full music video below.

James Corden Late-Night TV
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Intense ‘Survivor: Ghost Island’ Tribal Teaches Castaways to “Trust Your Gut”


Intense 'Survivor: Ghost Island' Tribal Teaches Castaways to "Trust Your Gut"

Would Ghost Island finally pay off again? Would one of the acursed returning idols be redeemed? Things get intense at Tribal Council.

[This recap contains spoilers for the Wednesday, March 14 episode of Survivor: Ghost Island.]

Does a Tribal Council result have to be awesome when determining if a Survivor episode has had a thrilling ending or is an exciting Tribal Council enough even if the vote is a fizzle?

It was hard not to deliberate on that question after a Survivor: Ghost Island episode that went along with limited inspiration for 30 minutes, then revved into a high gear for the post-immunity strategizing and the Tribal Council ceremony, only to conclude with exactly the most predictable and foreseeable eviction.

So… Nice try, Old Malolo 4. You made things fun, but you couldn't find a way to make "four" more than "five."

For the third straight episode, Ghost Island proved to be a non-factor, but on Wednesday's episode it was a factor by being a non-factor, right? Basically, the episode had both a reward challenge and then a separate and subsequent immunity challenge and the winner of the reward got to send somebody to Ghost Island, only to have them return for immunity and then tribal council. To put it a different way, the first few hours of the season, Ghost Island doubled as immunity and the subtractor of a vote from Tribal Council. Both Donathan the first episode and Chris last week were spared probably eviction by missing Tribal Council and having Chris missing Tribal last week evened the voting numbers and facilitated the end of the Old Naviti majority in New Naviti.

This week, though, Kellyn got sent to Ghost Island and, unlike the last two visitors, she got the opportunity to play a game of chance. At the risk of losing her vote, she declined to play. Well, if she'd won, she would have had an advantage and still gotten to vote. If she'd lost, however, her alliance of Old Naviti would have lost its 5-4 advantage. There also could have been the potential loss of that advantage if a second player had been sent to Ghost Island after the immunity challenge. Instead, it was only one trip to Ghost Island for this week.

[I really need the tribes to merge, I think. I know it's a long way away, but I can't keep typing "Naviti" and "Manolo" and then doing find/changes to make it "Malolo."]

So back at camp, the Old Naviti alliance of five had to target somebody on Malolo and, on the assumption that minority would assume they'd try to keep tribal strength — as in "vote out a woman" — they opted to target either Michael or Brendan, with bratty Bradley wanting Michael out and Desiree suggesting Brendan, sending us to Tribal not sure if the Navitis would target strength or leadership. Meanwhile, we knew that Michael had an idol and was planning to shake things up at Tribal.

And shake things up he did! Frankly, Michael and Brendan did as good a job as they possibly could. After everybody acknowledged that Old Naviti was in power and an Old Malolo was going home, Michael and Brendan separately began making the case that every alliance has a bottom and that Chelsea and S-Bass were at the bottom of that Naviti alliance, stoking insecurity. Then, after discontent had been stirred up, Michael announced he had an idol, whipped it out and semi-believably bluffed that because it was one of James' two idols that he wasted in China, it had a double power and he said he was planning to save two people and invited S-Bass and Chelsea to come join them in voting against Bradley. [Why did nobody call Michael's bluff and say, "Dude! Cool! Let me read that note!"? I don't know.]

It didn't feel like a bad play at all and I'm not sure how it could have been pursued better. The problem, alas, was in results. As Jeff Probst prepared to read the votes, Michael told Brendan that he thought the target was Stephanie and Brendan nodded. Where did he get that instinct? Dunno. So Michael stood up, announced he was playing the idol for himself and Brendan and then backed down meekly and said he was playing it for Stephanie. Alas, we didn't have access to Bradley's head to feel the explosion and then the sigh of relief, because the Old Naviti votes all went against Brendan. Nobody split off. Nobody was swayed. For all of the posturing and bluster and the idol bluff, Naviti's strategy worked to perfection. They assumed that even if Malolo had an idol, they wouldn't guess the target was one of the two guys. Bradley may be a complaining whiner, but in this respect his strategy was perfect and whether Michael or Brendan had ended up being the choice didn't matter.

Everything Michael did with that idol at Tribal was full of sound and fury.

And it signified nothing.

Unlike last week's Old Naviti group, this one stayed the course and unlike last week's Old Naviti group, this one did the strategically reasonable thing.

Was the episode less exciting for that? Not for me to decide!

Man, though, Survivor can't be loving the way Ghost Island is playing out so far. We've had four visits and only one outcast has played the game of chance and that player, having won no advantage for himself, was voted out the next week, followed by the player his legacy advantage was bequeathed to. This week's result validated or vindicated Kellyn's tentative play, which made for tentative TV, the culmination of an episode that spent most of its screentime on two challenges, which is not the normal Survivor MO at this point in the season. I'll touch on those in my Bottom Lines.

So let's get to those Bottom Lines…

Bottom Line, I. So far, this season's challenges have all been high intensity. This week was no exception. The reward challenge, played for peanut butter and the Ghost Island opportunity, was a traditional "Try to mug people while they attempt to get a thing from one point to another" game, New Naviti-dominated, first by powerhouse Chris and then by tenacious Laurel, who we learned was an Ivy League athlete. Then the immunity challenge was a lot of swimming and transportation of heavy objects, with New Naviti coming from far behind to triumph. Chris dominated this one as well. Boy, everybody should be wanting to get Chris out of this game as fast as possible. And I think I'm rooting for Laurel.

Bottom Line, II. We saw some strategizing from New Naviti before they won immunity. Chris returned to see that Morgan was gone, Angela was angry at Domenick and Wendell and so they quickly went to the Old Malolo group of four and offered to join them to take out either Wendell or Domenick. The thing Chris didn't count on: Nobody likes him and everybody likes Wendell and Domenick. So Domenick made nice with Laurel and Donathan and told a bunch of people about his idol. Nobody knows about the legacy advantage, though. Chris keeps getting lucky.

Bottom Line, III. Last week, there was a lot of confusion regarding how the Old Malolo group came to decide to target Morgan and I wasn't sure if they made the correct decision of if they knew they made the correct decision. It looks, in retrospect, that intentionally or otherwise, they were mighty savvy. What they did effectively held their group of four together and forced a total split of the rest of what had been a Naviti alliance, making each of the pairs to come beg the Malolos to work with them. With one good vote, the Malolos turned a 5-4 disadvantage into a 4-2-2 advantage. I apologize for ever questioning them.

Bottom Line, IV. Chelsea said something to the camera today! And she sat out a challenge! She may have even said a thing or two at Tribal Council. Nothing she said was interesting, but if the goal was just for Chelsea to no longer be the least visible person on the board, tonight she was truly victorious. I think everybody did something this episode, though maybe Jenna and Libby went back to being a little less visible. Donathan also has become a confessional pariah after talking almost nonstop in the premiere. Having multiple challenges in an episode increases the chances that everybody will get to do something, even if it's incidental. Like mostly Libby extended her fingers to touch a poll. But she did that triumphantly!

Bottom Line, V. The ever-quotable S-Bass said nothing at all about candy this week and I couldn't be more disappointed. He did, however, contribute the pithy, "The Malolo can go no further low-low than the Malolo low." I think S-Bass harbors untold intellectual secrets that he's choosing not to reveal. I think he's playing less of an Ozzy game and more of a Fabio game. Since a Fabio can win Survivor and an Ozzy never will, that would bode well for S-Bass, who's in a perfect position in the invisible middle of his alliance and even if he didn't have a clue what happened at Tribal, he gets credit for not blinking and flipping.

Bottom Line, VI. Sorry, Kellyn. It was absolutely a coincidence that you told Jeff that a random draw sending you to Ghost Island was your Survivor nightmare and then you drew the bad rock and went to Ghost Island. It was not fate or destiny. At least you didn't try claiming it was ironic.

Bottom Line, VII. Bradley is very annoying. Only time will tell if he's as smart as he thinks and says he is. The only thing more annoying than Bradley is whichever producer is standing off-camera at each confessional whispering for castaways to "say something about reversing the curse."

That's all, folks! I'll be back next week. Be sure to check out Josh Wigler's various awesome interviews!

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‘The X-Files’: What Did Scully Whisper to Mulder?


'The X-Files': What Did Scully Whisper to Mulder?

"When you’re used to having that playful banter with someone, when they’re suddenly honest, it takes you aback," episode writer Karen Nielsen says. "It’s, ‘Oh, we’re actually going to have a real conversation about this.’ Sometimes those things can be scary."

[This story contains spoilers from the March 14 episode of The X-Files.]
When first-time The X-Files scribe Karen Nielsen wrote Wednesday’s episode, “Nothing Lasts Forever,” she set out to tell a character-based piece.

“I wanted to have some character moments with Mulder and Scully — that was super important to me,” says Nielsen. “I thought it would be interesting to have Scully reflecting on her religion. My sister is very Catholic, and I’m not. So I liked the dynamic of Scully being very Catholic and Mulder not; I related to that.”
What Nielsen didn’t know at the time was that her episode would shift back one to become the penultimate episode of the season and potentially the series as a whole. Wednesday's episode revolved around a cult led by a former actress (Fiona Vroom) who was obsessed with maintaining their youth and the woman (Carlena Britch) trying to save her sister from them. The installment also could be the last “monster of the week” episode the iconic series does with its core team intact as star Gillian Anderson has said this will be her final year playing Scully.

“The pressure that society puts on women to be perfect, to be beautiful is intense, because we’re such a consumerism society that we have to prey off of women’s insecurity to sell, sell, sell,” Nielsen says. The writer, who doubles as the show's script coordinator, also made sure the female characters were well-rounded and the episode also featured an inclusive cast. “Especially in Hollywood, you’re a write-off after 30. That pressure is quadrupled as an actress. That was a horrible and wonderful rabbit hole to go down [in writing]: having an actress try to hold on to her youth and obtaining that.”

Nielsen credits longtime X-Files writers James Wong (who directed the hour) and Glen Morgan with being the genesis of Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) religious origin story in the episode. When Scully was younger, her brother was sick, and her mother asked the family to pray for him. The first few days, a young Scully asked for a puppy … which she got shortly after her brother recovered. “It was the architecture of Jim and Glen knowing this character for so long, and seeing the things that she should be coming from,” she says, calling the duo her “dream team” collaborators. Morgan was also the one to suggest they have a visual callback to the mysterious coin Scully’s mother had on her when she died last season.
The hour ended up being pivotal for Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully, whose relationship has grown increasingly murky. The dynamic duo’s partnership was always complicated during the original run of the series: after years of closeness, they slept together in season seven — a move that appeared to be responsible for the conception of Scully’s son, William — but due to outside forces (and Duchovny’s increased absence from the franchise) they were never properly a couple. The second feature film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, found the two living together, away from the FBI life, but there was obvious tension in the relationship as they worked the movie’s case; they were broken up by the 2016 television revival.
However, they appeared to potentially reconcile early in season 11, when they slept together and arranged a couple of dates. But in true Mulder and Scully fashion, they simply seemed to be existing together (they still reside in separate homes, for instance) versus actively engaging the shift in their relationship and what it could mean. But Scully took a step forward to break them out of their standstill in the final scene of the episode: when Mulder mentioned they were good together, she simply asked, “Are we together?”

“To me it was about having a honest moment,” Nielsen says, acknowledging the open conversation between the two was part of why the episode moved directly pre-finale. “We need to be real, we need to be honest, we need to start saying something. They’ve gone through so many emotional things with their son, coming back to the X-Files and things not going so smoothly. And [also] coming back to the relationship, because they were away from it for so long; to see where that relationship sits now. It’s exhausting not being honest when you get to that stage. To be true to these characters, you had to have a true moment. It’s what those characters needed.”
But what was it that Scully needs? "I don’t know if any God is listening, but I am standing right here,” Mulder told his partner. “And I am listening. Right besides you, all ears. That’s my choice.” She paused, looked around at the empty church, before whispering her hope for her future in his ear. “That’s not my four-year-old self looking for a miracle,” she said. “That’s my leap of faith forward. And I’d like to do it together.”
The audience is in the dark about Scully’s request during the hour, intentionally. “That’s between Mulder and Scully,” Nielsen notes. “Having those private moments, it’s important for any couple.” And it won’t be revealed going forward, either: “It’ll always be between Mulder and Scully,” she says with a laugh. “It’s not for anyone else. That was their moment.” (Chalk it up to another unsolved mystery, a la the duo’s Christmas gifts to each other.)

With that exact sentiment remaining unspoken, it was essential the tone be handled correctly while filming the scene. “It’s just [them] being honest with each other,” Nielsen notes. “When you’re used to having that playful banter with someone, when they’re suddenly honest, it takes you aback. It’s, ‘Oh, we’re actually going to have a real conversation about this.’ Sometimes those things can be scary. It was something from the heart, which can be terrifying for her to do, especially given how much she’s been through and how much her heart has been broken, especially this season. That’s where I wanted it to come from: her vulnerability.”
And, yes, in Nielsen’s mind, Mulder and Scully are meant to be together. “I feel like they’re each other’s soul mates and they know it,” she says. “They get in each other’s way, they’re complicated, they both have reasons why they hold back. They both have reasons they need each other. That’s why they’ve had such an up and down relationship: it’s not as easy as saying, ‘I like you, let’s make this work.’ The world they live in just doesn’t allow for that. Their love for each other, mind and body, makes them go, ‘There’s nobody else.’ There are so many moments you see them, they look at each other, and just from a look, [it’s] no one will get me like you do. That’s my personal take on it: they’re soul mates.”
What do you think Scully whispered to Mulder?

The X-Files
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