The Lone Gunmen were one of the more enjoyable aspects of the original The X-Files run, a group of paranoid conspiracy theorists for whom the conspiracies just happened to be true, making them the perfect partners for on Fox Mulder. Unfortunately, despite their popularity within the X-Files fan community, the characters were killed off in the season 9 episode ‘Jump the Shark’ the year after the The Lone Gunmen spinoff show was canceled by FOX.
A little thing like death isn’t enough to stop The Lone Gunmen, however, as Byers (Bruce Harwood), Frohike (Tom Braidwood), and Langly (Dean Haglund) will be back on the penultimate episode the X-Files revival titled ‘Babylon.’ A first look at the characters has made its way online, along with a clip of Mulder and Scully meeting new agents in what could at best be described as an awkward encounter.
The death of The Lone Gunmen was previously retconned in the X-Files Season 10 comics from IDW, with the group revealing they had faked their deaths in ‘Jump the Shark.’ Series creator Chris Carter doesn’t seem keen on those events, however, as he referred to ways to “bring people back” from the dead while speaking to EW about the characters’ return. He would be an authority on the matter, too. Not only did he create the series, but he both wrote and directed “Babylon” for the revival series.
“When you’re dead on The X-Files, you’re never necessarily gone. There are ways to bring people back in dream sequences, flashbacks, and the like. This was an opportunity to use them, and bring them back to the show, in what is a presumed psychedelic hallucination.”
It’s possible that Carter is just being coy here, though the costumes that the characters were dressed in for their first appearance could certainly fit in with a hallucination.
Carter also made comments that seemed to directly discount the comics retcon, suggesting that the deaths in ‘Jump the Shark’ is still the canon fate of the characters. Going with the comics explanation would mean treating the characters like they didn’t die in the series, and he didn’t want to take that route.
“We just did what the network did [to] their show: Pull the plug! I was sad to see them go. They were go-to characters when you needed weird exposition. I didn’t want to pretend that they weren’t dead, but I was looking for any way to bring them back.”
As odd as it seems, the return of The Lone Gunmen in their cowboy best isn’t necessarily the strangest thing that fans will see in ‘Babylon.’ Mulder and Scully will also meet their younger counterparts in pretty much every sense of the word. Special Agent Miller (Robbie Amell) is a “profiler obsessed with the paranormal,” while Special Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) is a red-haired medical doctor who is highly skeptical of Miller’s theories. Miller wants Mulder to help him with a case, while Einstein and Scully remain ever skeptical about how the case could progress when the only potential witness is brain dead with no hope of recovery.
‘Babylon’ is certainly shaping up to be a weird episode, but when it comes to The X-Files that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The very nature of the X-Files series, both in the original and in the revival, gives plenty of leeway to indulge the weird without breaking the spirit of the show. Here’s hoping that the return of The Lone Gunmen can live up to the legacy they left behind with their deaths.
The X-Files continues with ‘Babylon’ Monday at 8pm on FOX.