The X-Files: Get Ready!

The X-Files is coming back! If you are new to the show and want to get a sense of it before season ten kicks off, Heather, Juliette and I have come up with some episodes we think are a good introduction to the show.

Chris writes:
The Best Mythology Episodes:

The X-Files mythology is troublesome. It started off very well, but as the seasons progressed and as the show continued to be renewed, it went off the rails. The episodes I list may not be among the best the show ever did, but they will give you a sense of the mythology as it progressed.

The Erlenmeyer Flask (Season One)
Although the mythology had been hinted at and teased before, it wasn't until this first season finale that it really took front and center. It is here that we are introduced to the whole alien hybrid idea and we get a sense of just how far the conspiracy has gone. The story continues in Little Green Men (the Season Two opener).

Duane Barry/Ascension/One Breath (Season Two)
The mythology really takes off in this trio of episodes. It works because whatever is happening happens to one of our own. We have to watch as Scully disappears and Mulder tries to get along without her. Even this early in the series, these are affecting shows that make us want to know what is going on out there.

Tunguska/Terma (Season Four)
By this time, the mythology was a bit shaky. These episodes, however, are exciting and tense. Alex Krycek is one of television's great villains and it is in these episodes that we see just how dastardly he can be.

The End (Season Five)
By this time, the mythology has gone too far. This is a good episode, however, because it did try to wrap up some storylines while starting some new ones. CSM is particularly evil and Gibson Praise is one of the great X-Files characters.

Fight The Future (First Movie)
The mythology is everywhere in this movie, but it holds together well and the story told is very good.

Two Fathers/One Son (Season Six)
Viewers were promised that all questions would be answered. They should have been (it was time); they were not. If you are interested in the mythology, these episodes are worth watching because they set up the rest of the series.

The Truth (Season Nine and series finale)
One last chance to clear everything up. It works because we, as the viewers know the story is over. By this time, there was just too much to wind up, but it's still an effective way to end the series.

Heather writes:
The Best Shipping Episodes

The first broadcast of The X-Files was the origin for many things that have persevered in the television world through the last two decades but perhaps none of its offerings were as iconic as the term 'shipper', which is a shortened version of 'relationshipper'. A shipper, of course, is defined as an audience member who wants two characters to get together. Note the forms of shipper also include: 'ship', 'shipping' and the adorable 'shippy'. Contrarily, there are/were the faction of the fandom who coined themselves as 'Noromos'. No matter which side of the fence you fall on, the relationship between Mulder and Scully is the beating heart of the show and this handful of episodes holds some of their most poignant moments, romantic or otherwise!

The Pilot (Season One)
So many 'first times' in this one. The motel room might have the most palpable unresolved sexual tension in the whole series! But the intellectual dance the two are doing from the moment they're face to face is astoundingly sexy.

E.B.E. (Season One)
The trust and loyalty between Mulder and Scully grows exponentially in this nail-biter.

Anasazi (Season Two)/The Blessing Way (Season Three)/Paper Clip (Season Three)
Mulder is drugged to the gills with a substance that turns up his paranoia to an eleven and must put his life in Scully's hands to get through this season finale and its subsequent two-parter Season Three opener in one piece. Their reunion in Mulder's elevator has sparked much speculation.

Pusher (Season Three)
A crafty hitman able to will people to do his bidding is still not a match for the power couple.

Folie รก Deux (Season Five)
"You're my 1 in 5 billion." Need I say more?

Fight the Future (First Movie)
THE HALLWAY SCENE. (And every other scene, to be honest.)

Triangle (Season Six)
Simply said, their bond transcends the time space continuum. ("Triangle" is but one of a half a dozen examples of this! See also The Field Where I Died, Dreamland Parts One and Two, Monday, and Field Trip.)

All Things (Season Seven)
Scully's story from start to finish, this is the episode William was conceived in, according to Anderson who directed and wrote it. It's remarkable because Scully is undeniably romantically all in.

Existence (Season Eight)
The final shot of Mulder and Scully kissing is unreal amazing. To this day, this is the most incredible scene on TV I've had the pleasure of experiencing.

The Truth (Season Nine)
The series finale (well, at the time!) has not only an impassioned reunion between Mulder and Scully but their explicit commitment to wanting the same thing out of their respective future.

Juliette writes:
Five Of The Best

Perhaps you aren't too worried about the mythology (the new series will explain what it needs to, and most of us had lost track by the end anyway!). Perhaps you're not too bothered whether Mulder and Scully are in bed with each other or not. Perhaps you'd just like to get a taste of why so many people love this show so very, very much. In that case, we'd recommend having a look at these - five of the very best episodes of The X-Files.

Squeeze (Season One)
The third episode (so nothing to worry about if you're new to the show!) and an instant classic. A creepy villain, weeeeird goings-on and crackling dialogue. This is where many of us fell in love with the show. Add the sequel episode Tooms, also from the first season, if you have time.

Ice (Season One)
The X-Files does The Thing. It may be a bit derivative, but it does it really, really well.

Duane Barry (Season Two)
One of the best mytharc episodes, and it makes a fair amount of sense even without much knowledge of the mytharc (it hadn't yet got too complicated at this point). Add Ascension and One Breath for the (semi)-conclusion of the mini-arc kicked off here.

Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose (Season Three)
If you want to understand why X-Files fans are very excited that Darin Morgan is writing an episode for the new mini-series, watch this one. Melancholic and beautiful, and funny in the right places. If you want to see all four of the episodes that had everyone singing Morgan's praises, add Humbug (Season Two), War of the Coprophages, and Jose Chung's From Outer Space (both Season Three).

Monday (Season Six)
Clever, funny and heart-breaking (there's a theme emerging here). The X-Files puts its own twist on the time loop story. To understand Mulder's confusion about his own sleeping arrangements, add Dreamland Parts 1 and 2 (also Season Six).

The X-Files also did a number of episodes absolutely beloved by fans, but which work by playing with the series' usual format, so they won't come across in quite the same way to a newbie. If these episodes have given you a taste for more and you feel like you've got the sense of the rhythm of the show, check out Small Potatoes, The Post-Modern Prometheus and Bad Blood. If you like really, really horrible horror, add Home (I hate it - but there is an episode in the new series worryingly titled 'Home Again'...).

With 200 episodes to choose from, it was difficult for us to decide which ones we thought were the most iconic or the most important. Let us know what episodes you believe deserve to be on this list.

ChrisB, Heather, and Juliette are currently reviewing the original X-Files and are very excited about the new season.


Billie Doux said...

This is perfect. I saw every episode of the entire series as it aired, but have never rewatched any of them -- I always found the sheer length of the series too intimidating. I'm going to use this article to guide me on my mini-rewatch. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Definitely 'Beyond the Sea'.

Lovely post.

Josie Kafka said...

Thank you so much for this!

Inspired by your recent review of "Monday," which I remembered as one of the best episodes ever, I've been rewatching a few episodes of Season Six. That season is one I remember very, very well--"Monday," "Triangle," and the "Dreamland" episodes are awesome. (Not to mention "Milagro," which is one of my personal favorites.) I'd forgotten how much I like this show.

Kayne said...

anyone with an "X-Files Mythology refresher" link? I won't have time to watch any episode :)

TJ said...

Great! I really needed this X-Files guide. I remember back in the day, I had a love/hate relationship with XF. The case-of-the-week was driving me crazy, and it always seemed that when they went one step forward in the big story-arc, they always took two steps back in the next episode. I hope that isn't the case this time around.

I am really looking forward to re-connect to this show.