Aliens versus monsters! No, this isn't a review of Aliens versus Predator ( two word review; shit sandwich). This is my look at the best of The X-Files. The entirety of The X-Files run was a balance between the "myth-arc" alien conspiracy episodes and the "monster of the week" oriented episodes. Here are my top five episodes of each!
A more perfect pilot may exist out there, but not for my money. This was the perfect introduction to the series. We meet Agents Mulder and Scully for the first time, as well as one of the central villains of the series, The Cigarette Smoking Man. The mythology of the conspiracy episodes all begin here as Mulder and Scully investigate the strange disappearance and death of some high schoolers.
"The Erlenmeyer Flask" 1-24
This episode is one of the most iconic due to its image of the "alien fetus." I can literally remember seeing this for the first time and having chills run wildly over my body. Creepy. In terms of story, this final episode of the first season really tied up the first season succinctly, more so than any other season finale. The first season paints a picture of paranoia and a web of government lies and betrayal. It was probably the only complete season from beginning to end, as if Chris Carter thought the series may not be picked up for a second season. This episode also introduces Mulder's motto in Deep Throat's dying words; trust no one.
"The Truth" 9-19 & 9-20
The final episode of the series proved to be a great review of the show, and answers some essential questions, though not all. Mulder is put on trial and sentenced to death. The colonization of earth is set and we see the return, and death, of the Cigarette Smoking Man. The episode ends with Scully and Mulder escaping and making it to a hotel. Mulder's last words are, "Maybe there's hope." This is a perfect summation of the show. Despite the mass paranoia and distrust, there is hope.
"Colony/End Game" 2-16 & 2-17
This two-part story introduces the Alien Bounty Hunter concept to the X-Files. Mulder is investigating his sister Samantha's abduction and actually finds her. However, she was a clone! It is revealed that there are many clones of Samantha and that the real Samantha is still alive. The Alien Bounty Hunter would show up periodically throughout the rest of the series in different forms, providing a larger backdrop to a rumored alien invasion. This was the first real proof that live aliens actually exist in The X-Files.
"Nothing Important Happened Today Pt. 1 & 2" 9-01 & 9-02
This is one of the best episodes featuring Agent John Doggett. As a member of The X-Files, Doggett still remains largely skeptical about the investigations he is still partaking in, but is becoming a believer. Doggett is investigation two things this season; Deputy Director Kirsh and finding Fox Mulder. Doggett encounters frustration at every turn with these investigations, which makes him more of a believer than doubter. Viewers see Doggett grow exponentially in these two episodes. The title comes from the great journal entry of King George III on July 4, 1776.
Monster of the Week Episodes
"The Post-Modern Prometheus" 5-05
This is porbably the strangest, yet most satisfying episodes of the show. It starts as a modern day retelling of Frankenstein, a bleak story shot in black and white, but later morphs into a fourth-wall-breaking tale. It has a great comic book connection, with the character Mutato. And... the episode features Cher *and* Jerry Springer! How could it be bad? Mulder asks the comic book writer to write a different ending, which he does. Excellent episode and highly recommended.
X-Files + COPS + a fear eating monster = awesome. This episode is hilarious just due to the camera work, done by actual COPS cameramen. This was a great spoof because it wasn't just a send-up of the COPS format, but it had a solid, scary story of fear.
"Squeeze" & "Tooms" 1-03 & 1-22
Tooms was by far one of the creepiest monsters featured in the X-Files. Tooms could squeeze and stretch his body to reach victims through small shafts. He was a creepy serial killer that gave Mulder and Scully fits, twice no less. He was one of the few characters to show up twice. He needed to eat livers in order to hibernate for another thirty years. See, creepy.
"Irresistible" & "Orison" 2-13 & 1-07
Donnie Pfaster was another one of those characters who appeared twice. And he was scary in his own right; he was a necrophiliac who eventually developed an unhealthy taste for Agent Scully. He would be captured, but escaped to seek Scully once more. Scully proved that she was not a damsel in distress by killing him. I hate to use the word "creepy" again, but it fits Donnie.
"Kill Switch" 5-11
Much like an episode in the first season, this episode deals with an AI technology gaining sentience. This episode is of note because it is written by two science fiction, William Gibson and Tom Maddox. This is a classic example of technology gone wild, trying to kill those that would kill it. This theme was common in the X-Files, but this is the probably the best due to its Class-A writers. They would return to write another great episode in the seventh season called "First person Shooter" that explore the same themes.
Of course, there are more great episodes. There were probably fewer than ten episodes that I didn't enjoy throughout the initial X-Files run.
I'll check in Sunday with a review of the new film, a "monster of the week" extravaganza!