In the Season 1 episode Fallen Angel, Mulder succinctly summarizes that “no government agency has jurisdiction over the truth” and the appeal of The X-Files has been peeling back the enveloping layers of conspiracy. Theorists have bandied speculation around JFK, alien abductions, 9/11 and cattle mutilations. Chris Carter didn’t scoff at these accusations and now is a wonderful time for X-Files to resurface to disabuse us of cover-ups and bureaucratic mendacity. We need another whistleblower and The X-Files has always proven to be an ingenious battle between the rational mind and leaps of faith. Before the miniseries begins, I’m purveying the 202-episode arc with a comprehensive overview for fellow X-philes.
TOP X-FILES EPISODES (SEASONS 1-2)
1. SQUEEZE (Season 1, Episode 3) – Jeepers Creepers weaned off the storyline of this sensational third episode in which a humanoid hibernating in 30-year intervals after cannibalizing the organs of others. His saffron eyes narrowing through a sewer drains, sends a chill down the spine. It’s also the first time the duo is endangered by one of their quarries when Tomes descends down the chimney into Scully’s house. Tomes was so indelible that Hutchinson reprised the role in the Season 1 episode 20 which also introduced FBI Assistant Director Skinner to the show’s annals.
2. EVE (Season 1, Episode 11) – This is the most comic book-like episode of the first season with allusions to superior breeding ala Captain America. It unspools like an elaborate, spellbinding novel with each chapter hatching new discoveries. The descent into the criminally insane asylum for an impromptu interview with Eve 6 is highly disturbing. Mulder suspects UFO involvement but the shrewd inclusion of eugenics, symbiosis and the Lichfield experiments grounds the show in more tenable, scientific explanations.
3. BEYOND THE SEA (Season 1, Episode 13) – Finally, the roles of skeptic and believer are elegantly flipped when Scully’s father expires from a heart attack. Chattering silently in a chair, the vision of Scully’s deceased dad is spine-tingling. As if he is reprising his rabid performance from Exorcist III, Brad Dourif is a clairvoyant death row inmate with information pertaining to kidnapped children. Mulder doggedly resists Boggs with a nimble early scene where he hoodwinks Boggs with a piece of cloth from his T-shirt to induce premonitions. Glen Morgan and James Wong were normally the pioneers of the show’s best episodes and this one is a character-driven treat. I’m a proponent of the underrated 2008 film ‘I Want to Believe’ but it’s a rehash of this storyline with a pederast priest instead of a serial killer and a Mary Shelley twist.
4. DUANE BARRY (Season 2, Episode 5) – In Helter Skelter, Steve Railsback channeled the foaming rectitude of Charles Manson and he redirects it for this fist-clenchingly claustrophobic episode. Duane is a lapsed FBI agent who proclaims to be an alien abductee. At first, Mulder’s involvement as a hostage negotiator is a gimmick given his preoccupation with extraterrestrials but his rapport with Barry is an exemplary piece of Stockholm Syndrome when Scully disdains Duane as a liar. Since Duane was former FBI, he can presage all of their chess moves with reconciliation, identification and ultimately resolution. It is an invaluable information overload with Mulder probing questions about the temporal cessation, the paralytic sensation and other details surrounding his abductions. In fact, Mulder almost risks the lives of the hostages in an effort to illuminate where his sister Samantha might be. The laser drilling of Duane’s teeth is exquisitely excruciating. The correlation to Phineas Gage’s infamous pathology is also stupendous. Part 1 of a two-part episode with Ascension.
5. COLONY & END GAME (Season 2, Episodes 16 AND 17) – As the adage and tagline go “trust no one” which is something Mulder should’ve taken to heart when it is reported that his missing sister Samantha has resurfaced. Everyone including Fox’s mother is skeptical (“I don’t see how it could be anyone else”) but his devout tenets obscure his judgment. I love the shapeshifting alien bounty hunter morphing in Fox at Scully’s hotel room. It’s heartbreakingly discouraging when Fox swaps his alleged Sister for Scully but it’s even more devastating when it unveiled that it was just a clone and the aliens manipulated Fox’s susceptibility. After some breakneck fight choreography between Mitch Pileggi and Steven Williams, Skinner is now an allegiant member of their team.