Why The X-Files Went With That Devastating Cigarette-Smoking Man Twist, According To Chris Carter

the x files season 11 cigarette smoking man scully mulder
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Fox)

Warning: gigantic spoilers ahead for the Season 11 premiere of The X-Files, "My Struggle III." If you haven't watched the episode yet and don't want to know what happens, feel free to check out some of our spoiler-free articles.

The X-Files is officially back for a brand new season on Fox, and the premiere was as twisty a mythology episode as the series has ever aired. The payoff of the Season 10 cliffhanger happened in a way that few of us could have predicted exactly, but the twist we're all going to be talking first and foremost about might have more to do with something that happened way back in the seventh season. In a scene with Skinner, the Cigarette-Smoking Man revealed that he had used scientific means to impregnate Scully against her will during their ill-fated road trip in the Season 7 episode "En Ami."

It was a devastating reveal given how William has been regarded as such a miracle for Scully. The X-Files creator Chris Carter spoke with CinemaBlend about why the premiere tied back to "En Ami," saying this:

I'd always imagined revisiting it. I'd been thinking about it since Season 7. Parentage was something that I had wanted to have a question mark around it. That incident in that episode, I knew we would revisit since it was such a remarkable episode in that Scully was momentarily in league with Cigarette-Smoking Man. So it was sweet for me to be able to connect that dot from so long ago.

Back in Season 7, Scully embarked on a trip with the Cigarette-Smoking Man after he promised her access to remarkable medical technology. All seemed to be going well for Scully at first, but everything changed after an ambiguous and incredibly creepy moment when she seemingly fell asleep in the car and Old Smokey brushed hair out of her face. She woke up the next morning in bed and wearing pajamas. Naturally, she confronted the Cigarette-Smoking Man and (as we now know, rightfully) accused him of drugging her. He denied doing so, and there was no explanation for what happened until his confession to the Skinman in "My Struggle III." Chris Carter and The X-Files were clearly playing the long game when it came to the reveal of the Cigarette-Smoking Man's involvement in the conception of William.

Longtime fans can undoubtedly appreciate finally getting the answer to the question of what the Cigarette-Smoking Man did to Scully back in Season 7, although we should definitely take a moment of silence for poor Scully. For as devastating as the reveal was for viewers who have spent the last decade and a half believing that she and Mulder had miraculously conceived William the old-fashioned way, the reveal will almost certainly be much more devastating for her. Chris Carter went on in our chat to explain why Cancer Man as William's father was the right choice for Season 11:

I think it makes total sense. The Cigarette-Smoking Man has affected Scully's life in so many ways and not the first time her physical body. Originally there was an implant and there was an abduction and Scully's actually been abducted, if you count them up, abducted eight times in this series. So he has been involved intimately in her life. This, though, is the greatest intrusion that we've ever told.

Impregnating Scully via scientific means will certainly go down as the Cigarette-Smoking Man's greatest intrusion into Scully's life. Given everything that he did and/or allowed to be done to her over the years of the series, it's not too shocking that he would dare use her as host to a child he wanted to create. Of course, the Cigarette-Smoking Man's reveal to Skinner only raises more questions, not the least of which is how he managed to do a procedure to Scully without her feeling any effects after the fact.

That said, the Cigarette-Smoking Man having involvement in the conception of William makes a tragic amount of sense. We learned back in Season 8 that Scully's attempt at IVF failed, and she was out of ova after that one try. Her ova had been harvested during one of those eight abductions, and the only reason she had access to any at all was because Mulder found some during one of his investigations. He left a whole bunch of her ova behind, however, and it stands to reason that the Cigarette-Smoking Man could have gotten his hands on some of her leftover ova.

He might have had access to a kind of IVF that wasn't available in conventional medicine when Scully was trying to conceive. The biggest sticky wicket with William's existence has always been the absence of any ova for Scully; the Cigarette-Smoking Man having a hand in the process could explain everything. Poor, poor Scully.

Still, we can be sure that the story of the Cigarette-Smoking Man's role in William's creation isn't nearly finished. Scully herself doesn't even know what was done to her, and the past 20+ years of The X-Files have taught fans to always take anything the Cigarette-Smoking Man says with a grain of salt. Besides, the show told us never to give up on a miracle back in Season 8; maybe we shouldn't give up on William as Mulder and Scully's child just yet. There are still nine episodes left in Season 11, and a lot can still happen. Of course, not all nine will involve the mythology, as there are some big standalones in store that won't revolve around William's origin story.

Only time will tell. Tune in to Fox on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET to see what's in store next for Mulder and Scully on The X-Files. For what else you can watch on the small screen in 2018, be sure to check out our midseason TV premiere guide and our Netflix premiere schedule. What are your thoughts on the Cigarette-Smoking Man's claim to be William's father? Could William still be Mulder's son? Let us know in the comments!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).