My top 5 X-Files Episodes
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you’ll know that my favourite TV series of all time is The X Files. The unique mix of intense action, intrigue and humour made it a classic, the success of which even non-fans can’t deny. What makes this Top Five list different is just how difficult I found it whittling all those hundreds of episodes down to just five greats. I could have easily made this a Top Twenty list and still have had a hard time weeding out the best of the best. But alas, I think I’ve managed to do it so here are my top five X Files episodes in reverse order.You may want to note that none of these are episodes relating to the main X Files conspiracy story arc, they’re all what we nerds call “Monster Of The Week” episodes.
5. Unruhe (Season 4, 1996)
What makes this episode great is that it has so much to offer both casual viewers and long time fans. The story involves a kidnapper/killer who has the uncontrollable ability to affect undeveloped photographic film with, sometimes cryptic images of the crimes he is about to commit. These images eventually lead Mulder to deduce the killer’s identity but not before he abducts Scully, intent on performing the same macabre surgery on her that he has on his past victims.
The killer is a man named Gerry Schnauz, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince and is possibly one of the creepiest villains to ever appear in the series (It’s the eyes, they’re so messed up!). But it’s the back story and development of the character and his mental illness that really makes this episode. You find yourself so caught up with this character that the climax remains one of the most intense and suspenseful endings in all of The X Files.
Geek Trivia: You find out, in this episode that Scully is fairly fluent in German.
4. Bad Blood (Season 5, 1998)
Mulder and Scully find them selves embroiled in a possible multi-million dollar lawsuit against the FBI when Mulder drives a steak through the heart of a man he believed to be a vampire. The episode mostly revolves around the agents’ two slightly differing accounts of the events leading up to the steaking and provides some of the best comedic content of the whole series.
Again, this episode is fantastic because it appeals to long-time fans as well as casual viewers. You really get a great idea of how each agent is perceived by the other through the exaggerated character traits depicted in each account.
The episode resolves itself when the victim, following the steak being removed, gets back up and attempts to chew on the neck of the mortician (His fangs were fakes and were removed before hand.) The pair travel back to the town to discover that there are not one, but many vampires, all of whom, following being discovered, pack up their trailers and leave. The unusual structure and quirky plot make this episode one you want to watch over and over.
Geek Trivia: The town sheriff is played by Luke Wilson. His appearance and intellect differ greatly depending on which agent is telling the story.
3. Humbug (Season 2, 1995)
If Bad Blood proved to be one of the funniest episodes, Humbug is surely one of the weirdest! The agents investigate the mysterious death of a former circus side-show performer in a community comprising entirely of former circus and freak-show performers. No part of the agents’ investigation goes by the book as more and more of the townspeople begin to raise suspicion.
As strange and grotesque as this one’s plot is, it remains a very funny and well executed episode. As the pair investigate, Mulder becomes more and more positive that the death(s) are the work of a mythical creature known as the Fiji Mermaid, but tracking down the creature is far from easy.
The creature is eventually revealed as the conjoined twin of one of the townspeople that has somehow managed to be able to detach itself from it’s brother and go out looking for fresh blood. The creature disappears and, although it’s never confirmed, it is suggested that he may have been eaten by one of the other former freaks. A truly bizarre classic!
Geek Trivia: In once scene Scully is seen to fake eating a cricket offered to her by one of the freaks. In reality, Gillian Anderson actually did eat the insect.
2. Squeeze/Tooms (Season 1, 1993-94)
I’m counting these two episodes as one due to the fact that they feature the same villain, Eugene Victor Tooms, and both appear in the same season. These episodes remain favourites for most of the X Files fans I know and it’s not hard to see why. The villain is creepy, disgusting and, above all else, scary as fuck!
The story revolves around killer who’s MO is to brutally remove his victims’ livers (to apparently eat) with his bare hands while leaving no trace or clue of how he managed to gain access to the victim. It is soon revealed that Tooms has the ability to deform and elongate parts of his body to fit through the tightest of gaps. Imagine the love-child of Hannibal lecter and Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four. Anyway, that’s not the weirdest thing about him. It is revealed that he needs the livers in order to assist him in his 30 year hibernation… we find out that Tooms is actually about 100 years old despite only looking 30 and may be responsible for murders going back to the 1900’s.
What was great about the sequel episode, Tooms, was that it didn’t feel forced. Tooms was released after no one in the appeals court would believe Mulder’s account of Tooms’ abilities and is sent to live with a sort of rehab foster family. Of course the killings start again and Mulder is right on the case, killing Tooms in the workings of an escalator just before he can eat the last liver he needs before the 30 year hibernation… Mmmmm stomach bile.
Geek Trivia: Eugene Tooms is one of the only Monsters Of The Week to be mentioned in any other subsequent episodes.
1. Dreamland/Dreamland II (Series 6, 1998)
The two-part episode, Dreamland set the tone for the remaining light-hearted episodes in the series with it’s high production value and dry humour and it remains, since the first time I watched it back in 1998, my favourite ever episode.
The plot involves Mulder and Scully taking an unofficial trip out to Rachel, Nevada (home of Area51, known as Dreamland) to meet a source who has offered to come forward with information about what goes on in the secret air base. Who they meet instead is a group of soldiers accompanied by shadowy men in black who promptly tell the Agents to turn around and not come back. It’s at this point a UFO, apparently in some trouble flies overhead and a strange energy wave follows in it’s wake. After witnessing this Scully asks Mulder to get back in the car and head back… except Mulder isn’t Mulder. Somehow his personality has switched with one of the men in black, an agent named Morris Fletcher played by Michael McKean.
At first this episode is a bit of a head-fuck until you realise who is who. By this time it becomes clear that the man in black who is now in Mulder’s body wants to keep things just that way in an effort to escape his mundane life and strained marriage. Mulder, however now thrown into this same mundane life wants nothing but his own life back. Check out this clip:
Eventually Mulder manages to get in touch with Scully and convince her to go along with his story with the help of some bizarre behaviour on the imposter’s part and some technical geekery from an amazed Lone Gunmen. And with a great deal of sneaking around and trickery, the exact conditions of the original event are re-created just in time for the energy wave to snap back, putting everything right, but erasing every one’s memory of the last few days. Dreamland is a truly great episode with plenty of Easter eggs for long-time fans.
Geek Trivia: Morris Fletcher appears in two other episodes after this but no one has any recollection of the events in Dreamland.
So there you go. As always, I want to hear your favourites, or if you were even an X Files fan. ‘Til next time.