WASHINGTON — A local professor helped come up with the storyline for Monday night’s season finale of “The X-Files.”
Anne Simon is a professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Since the show’s early days in the ’90s, “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter has relied on her to be its science adviser. And for the final episode of Season 10, Carter had an interesting request.
“Chris asked me to come up with some science to kill off everybody on the planet. And I said, ‘Well everyone on the planet except the chosen few, right?’ And he goes ‘Yeah, except the chosen few.’”
Simon opted for a cutting-edge solution.
“We ended up using a technique that’s really in the news today. It’s called CRISPR/Cas. It’s a way of going into the genome and just deleting a gene out,” she says.
In the story, CRISPR/Cas is delivered into people by hiding it in smallpox vaccines. Then, once activated, a certain gene gets deleted, causing humans to lose their immune systems.
“This way, even a common cold could end up killing you. And so people all over the planet start getting sick,” says Simon.
But agent Dana Scully turns out to be unaffected.
“Why is she immune? Because she has some alien DNA in her. I mean, this is the ‘X-Files’ after all. So she figures out that she can amplify this alien DNA and use it as a vaccine.
“But we’re left with something which I think is really intriguing, which is, is this maybe what the aliens wanted all along? They knew that she was smart enough to come with this, and that means then that everyone on the planet who would be getting this vaccine to save them would end up with alien DNA. So why would the aliens want that? But that’s for future episodes, and I’m really hoping that FOX says that they want more episodes.”
In fact, Simon says she’s already brainstorming what might come next for Mulder and Scully.
The University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences held a live viewing party of Monday’s episode, and Simon gave a presentation before and took questions after.