A listicle about the X-Files

The last post I wrote for 2015 was a purposefully spoiler free pseudo-review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Between then and now there is a whole bunch of stuff I should have written about but those will have to continue to wait. With Jan 24th quickly approaching I would be remiss to forgo writing something about the X-Files; this story that began on Sep 10, 1993 about the exploits of Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully will be continued adding to the already complex mythology the show created.

As I have said before I am a huge fan. It was one of the first shows that stuck with me, that I could not, would not, miss for anything. I would be home at 9pm first on Fridays then on Sundays, get myself comfortable on the couch with my mother, and shush everyone else. My family knew not to interrupt me, my friends knew not to call, and people who didn’t know better were simply ignored. Once the cold open began, the mood was set, and everything else fell to the waist side.

X-Files also got me into collecting, heavily. Sure I was already into comics and music but this is when I started with statues and action figures. There are dolls, full statues, busts, action figures, novelizations, comic books, a VHS collectible box for Fight The Future, I even still have my ticket stub for watching the movie. I also headed over to eBay ordering DVD sets from China as the sets available in North America were crazy expensive at the time. Sure the packaging wasn’t as pretty but it was the only way to see the show again as it was not yet in syndication and Netflix was still a long way off. My parents didn’t necessarily encourage this need to collect but they didn’t deter me from my purchasing. They even added to the collection on a few occasions.

With this love and knowledge of the show and its pending restart, I have found out that a number of my friends have only watched the show in passing and they have encouraged me to divulge information to them. I have done so with pleasure, waxing poetic about the over all story line, monsters of the week, and the relationship between the 2 protagonists. They have also asked me to name favourite episodes or episodes they should watch to prepare. This is one of the hardest things to do. The show was 202 episodes, with crazy story arcs, scary monsters, humourous twists, and generally good storytelling. Choosing how to breakdown that much info into a snippet is difficult. You have to decide what aspect of the show a person is more interested in; mythology, monsters, relationship, humour, fear, story, stars (before they were famous; there is surprisingly a lot). Sure some of these aspects collide but in some cases the lists would be vastly different.

In the end I generally list off episodes that would not turn off new comers to the series. The seasons were long, 20 to 26 episodes, and not all of the content was the best. Some episodes were boring, clumsy, even badly written, and some, especially mythology episodes, were very complex depending a great deal on the viewing of the previous mythology episodes. Here are some of the episodes that end up on that list.

The Pilot (S1E1)

Of course this is on the list, it has to be. If you see any X-Files episodes lists that do not include it then that is probably a bad list. This is an important episodes no matter what a person is looking to get out of their viewing. It sets up the whole premise, the relationship between Mulder and Scully, and what is at stake. For a low budget first episode of a show that was basically an experiment it is very big, ambitious, and a lot happens. It is well acted, well scripted, and the mood is set for the rest of the show.

Squeeze (S1E3)

This is the first monster of the week episode and it is so good. It is dark, creepy, and Mulder’s dry wit is interjected at all the right moments to lighten the mood just enough. Eugene Victor Tooms is…unsettling to say the least; his slow monotone voice, sly hungry grin, and yellow eyes. This character does get resurrected later in the season in the episode “Tooms” (S1E21)

The Host (S2E2)

The gross fluke-man episode. The weird pale skinned humanoid creature with sunken dead eyes and a mouth that looks more like a wound that lives in sewers has begun to attack people.

Irresistible (S2E13)

Here is another episode with a monster that needs no makeup to scare the crap out of you. The necrophiliac Donnie Faster moves from just collecting from dead things to killing to add to his collection. It is slow, quiet, and moody.

Humbug (S2E20)

This is the first episode were even though the scare factor is still there it is humour based. You are introduced to a strange cast of characters, an intriguing story involving a strange but sad monster unfolds leaving dead bodies in its wake, and at the same time poking fun at the normalization of society. It makes you laugh, it makes you jump, it makes you think.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (S3E4)

This is one of the darkest yet sweetest episodes of the show. Peter Boyle’s portrayal of Clyde is just absolutely fantastic. In the short time you spend with him he is a full, complex character, who’s had sad dark life but still has some fun with it.

War of the Coprophages (S3E12)

You wouldn’t think an episode about cockroaches where nothing really happens wouldn’t be that interesting but you would be wrong. This episode separates the two agents and you get to see what they do with their spare time. It is a character study episode that is light, fun, and has some great banter between Mulder and Scully.

Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (S3E20)

Definitely one of the overall best episodes in the shows history. It is technically a retelling of a story from different points of view by key people involved with what happened. Yet nobody really knows what happened. It is amazingly written, beautifully acted, and hilarious. I legit laugh out loud when ever I watch this episode.

Home (S4E2)

Ah the Peacocks, the animalistic, incestuous, family that begins to murder people. This episode is one of the least seen episodes of the show. Not because it wasn’t good but because it got banned from TV in several countries. It is a very brutal, violent episode, that is soaked in blood and filled with gory images. But I cannot tell you how good this episode is. Some may consider it tame compared to what is on television these days but I think it still holds up.

Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (S4E7)

This is technically a mythology episode so some may be confused upon watching it but it is good. It is the first time you get a clearer picture of the Cigarette Smoking Man. He looms in the background of many X-Files episodes and with this he is in the forefront revealing he is as ruthless as he seems but he once had dreams just like the rest of us.

Leonard Betts (S4E12)

This is a really important episode in the show. It merges monster of the week with mythology starting a story arc that will ripple through the rest of the series. It really is just a good episode.

Small Potatoes (S4E20)

This is another light episode filled with humour. What is great about it is that it makes you question what kind of relationship do Mulder and Scully really have or what would they actually like it to be.

The Post-Modern Prometheus (S5E5)

This is pretty much a fairy tale told in black and white. It is a weird retelling of Frankenstein that takes place in a small town that gets kinda meta at the end as it breaks the forth wall. Cher was asked to be in this episode but declined at the time fearing what the episode would be apparently she regrets that decision.

Bad Blood (S5E12)

Another fun episode but this time it is about vampires. The 2 agents try to get their story straight before going in to see A.D. Skinner. A few key details differ in each of their stories. They fit a lot into this episode. Each of their versions of the story plus they end up having to do some additional investigating. They jam everything in there without making the episode seem rushed or unfinished. It is really great.

X-Files: Fight the Future

Well now we are at the movie. It has got to be watched even if you aren’t taken in all the mythology episode. The movie is a complete story on its own that I think even passive viewers of the show would understand. It is also just a good movie filled with some action, drama, mystery.

Triangle (S6E3), Dreamland (S6E4), Dreamland II (S6E5), How the Ghosts Stole Christmas (S6E6)

These four episodes show up back to back close to the beginning of season 6. You will notice a change in the visual tone of the show and its general feel. This is due to the fact that the show’s primary filming location moved from the gray gloom of Vancouver to the bright sunny Los Angeles and they had all that movie money to spend. These episodes also put a spotlight on Mulder and Scully’s relationship. This is due to the events of the movie that brought certain things to light. These episodes are all whimsical in their own way making them relatively light and a good watch.

The Unnatural (S6E19)

This is not a great episode but it is enjoyable. I don’t think it appears on many peoples lists at all but I do have a soft spot for it. It was written and directed by David Duchovny showcasing his love for baseball. Even though the episode is overly sentimental, a bit dragging, and has a continuity error, it does have 2 things that makes me put it on the list; 1) it explains where “x-files” comes from and 2) has one of my favourite scenes between Mulder and Scully at the end.

Millennium (S7E4)

Technically this is a crossover episode with Chris Carter’s other failed show Millennium. This was their chance to actually finish the cancelled show while adding to the X-files having coincide with the be beginning of the new millennium. The end of the episode also takes Mulder and Scully’s relationship to another level. Fans had been waiting for that for a long tie.

X-Cops (S7E12)

This is a pseudo-crossover episode with an unlikely show. The episode is presented as an episode of COPS even forgoing the X-Files title sequence. It is all hand cam, people running around, cutting back and forth to different locations. It is really well done.

Hollywood A.D. (S7E19)

I consider this to be the last “good” episode of the series. It is a fantastic (in the classical sense) story of deception, resurrection, and movie making. You get to spend time with Mulder and Scully, listen to their lighthearted banter, and realize that maybe things aren’t so serious all the time. Also there are some awesome guess stars.

The Truth (S9E19&20)

As you can see I skipped over all of season 8 and most of 9 stopping at the last episode. Those 2 seasons were a complete waste but I should also mention I haven’t had a chance to re-watch any of them (I’ve only made it to season 7 in my re-watch so far) and my thoughts on them may be biased. I do think the final episode of the series should be watched. No it is not the greatest but how the story is concluded should be seen. Yes it is mythology heavy and without seeing any of season 8 or 9 people might wonder who Special Agents Doggett and Reyes are but at the same time I think it can be pieced together with what is presented.

Well that is it. It is a long list, about 10% of the series content plus a movie, but I have left out a lot of episodes that are a pleasure to watch or heavy into the mythology. But what I have listed allows non-avid viewers a good insight into the feel of the show, its characters, and maybe encourage them to watch the whole series.

I really do hope this new season is good. It is only 6 episodes where 2 are mythology and 4 are monster of the week, so I’ve heard. My biggest fear is that the show does not fit into this overly connected world. When the show was originally on you couldn’t video conference, the internet was new so things couldn’t just be googled, cell phones didn’t have cameras, and you had to do the drudge work. I hope the show evolves with the time but still manages to keep the essence of what made it great in the first place. I want to believe.

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