The new series is coming up, so why not look at the top 10 great episodes of the ‘The X-Files’.
10. Via Negativa
I don’t care who knows it. I dig Doggett. So if you thought this list would have none of him and what most fans consider the disastrous season 8, you were wrong. When you try to describe plot you tend to get laughed at. Sure, it’s about a man who axe-murders people in their dreams, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a vehicle to show that Doggett is capable of being a complete, and complex character. Plus, because of the dreaming element, it has a layered, and tangled plot that keeps you guessing at what reality is right until the very end.
9. Piper Maru
Frankly, Alex Krycek is my favorite character… so you’re very lucky I just didn’t turn this into my top ten favorite Alex Krycek episodes… but this episode is where they shift his character into something other than the fresh-faced traitor. No longer the young FBI agent eyeing up a red-speedo-wearing Mulder trying to weasel his way into Mulder’s trust to spy on the man, Krycek is in his full glory… and by full glory, I mean his slimiest… and by that I mean, when he’s reaching his full survivalist potential. It also introduces the Black Oil, an alien pathogen that has intelligence and controls their hosts bodies and minds. It plays a major part in the rest of the series in the alien colonization conspiracy, and is an episode well worth watching.
While I think most people would say that “Paper Clip”, the conclusion of the three-part arc that “Anasazi” starts, should be on this list, I think “Ansazi” is a far more memorable episode. Sure, “Paper Clip” has Mulder pretending to be dead while trying to unsuccessfully taking down an alien conspiracy, but “Anasazi” actually killed him… well, until the next episode. But we didn’t know that in the 90s. Instead, we knew that Mulder was a in train car full of alien corpses, and it was blown up. Want to see what happens next? Well sucks to be you, because it’s the season finale and you have to wait another year to find out. The train car full of alien remains to be one of the most enduring images of ‘The X-Files’ to me, aside from the iconic scene for ‘Fallen Angel’ where Max Fenig is taken up in a beam of light. Also, guessing at whether or not Mulder was suffering a psychotic break, if his paranoia was warranted, or if he was playing a very elaborate game, made for some really thrilling television. It’s about three-hours windows to meet up with anarchist hackers, secret governemnt files, deformed corpses being uncovered, and mysterious murders, all setting up the massive drama of “The Blessing Way” and “Paper Clip”. Plus, you know, Krycek is in it.
7. Duane Berry
Sometimes when I think about this episode, I just shake my head and go “Duane Berry, man… Duane Berry…” If you thought shit was getting real in the first few episodes of the show with Deep Throat, you have no idea how real it gets until Duane Berry comes in and kidnaps Scully, making for a riveting season full of great television. Plus, Krycek is in this episode, and how the hell do you go wrong with that? The episode is not only gripping as Mulder tries to negotiate a hostage situation while slowly gaining trust in Krycek, but its lack of a complete and satisfying ending sets a tone for a season 2 that is very hard to outdo. Trust me, in the 90s, you watched ‘Duane Berry’, and you were chomping at the bit for the whole week, and canceling Sunday dinner with your mom, just to see what happened next.
6. Bad Blood
We all know that ‘The X-files’ is a fundamentally silly show couched in a super serious drama about alien conspiracy right? We are reminded of that when there are vengeful Martian ghosts, and toilet monsters. But it’s never been sillier, or more enjoyable than the episode ‘Bad Blood’, where the story is told through both Mulder’s and Scully’s POV. Spoiler alert: Their perception of Luke Wilson is very different, with Mulder’s version being bucktoothed and incredibly stupid. Sure, the key dynamic that makes ‘The X-Files’ work is Mulder and Scully’s contrasting points of view, but the differences have never been so starkly portrayed as this episode.
5. Tempus Fugit
Max Fenig is a vastly underrated character, though his first episode of his three, “Fallen Angel” merited a spot on the best episodes of the first season collection back when VHS tapes were a thing. Fenig episodes play with all the UFO conspiracy tropes, and “Tempus Fugit” is just as good as “Fallen Angel” when it comes to government lies, and missing time. It’s also Mulder at his dumbest, where he walks into a room and announces to a room of normals that a plane crashed because an alien abductee was on board.. Scully’s face as she stands in the background looking utterly embarrassed is probably one of her best moments as Mulder’s partner.
There is a very little to say about this other than if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if Mulder and Scully accidentally ended up on an episode of ‘Cops’, you need to watch this. If you haven’t, aren’t you just a little bit intrigued? There is a reason this on every fan’s Top Ten list.
What to say about “Ice” other than this is the ‘The X-Files’ at its psychological-thriller best? Mulder and Scully head up to a research station in the Arctic to investigate what looks like a mass slaughter. When they get there, they discover that the dead researchers had been infected with an ancient contagion that was dug up from the ice that drove them mad. The infection heighten aggression and paranoia, but it’s impossible to know how is infected or not because the situation naturally lends itself to aggression and paranoia. The episode is claustrophobic, and nail biting, and filled with too many twists to count, and is among the episode I rewatch every year.
On the surface, this episode seems laughable. The premise is basically ‘Speed’, where a man insists that he has to keep moving or he dies.That being said, I have never been more on the edge of my seat for any episode of the ‘The X-Files’, and it literally is mostly just two people in a car… well, one has a gun, but you know… Of course, this is the ‘The X-Files’ so there is a government conspiracy reason that explains why the man is driving west. Apparently a Navy antenna emitting ELF waves is responsible for his splitting headaches. But that’s sort of irrelevant to him, because all he wants to do is keep moving because for some reason that eases the pain. I’m not lying when I say that this episode had such an effect on me. Much in the same way I was scared to use Port-a-Potties after ‘The Host’, I often want to get in my car and drive west if I get a headache. You know. Just in case.
Of course the best episode is the ‘Pilot’. It not only kicked off the entire series, it is one of the strongest pilots to a television show ever made. It sets up Mulder and Scully’s dynamic (trusting, but questioning each other), the alien conspiracy that would make the series a winner, and the tone of the whole series perfectly. Let’s face it, pilots for TV shows are hard to nail. Even amazing shows have really crappy pilots (‘The 100’, anyone?), but ‘The X-Files’ took it’s first step and that first step was THIS WILL BLOW YOUR MIND. And guess what? It totally did.
Is there an episode you think belongs on our list? Let us know in the comments below!
The first of the two-night premiere for ‘The X-Files’ revival will air on Sunday Jan. 24, 2016 at 10 p.m. with Part 2 airing in its regular time slot of Monday at 8 p.m.