The Televisual Top Ten: Favorite 'X-Files' Episodes
Hello X-Philes, and welcome to a special edition of the The Televisual Top Ten. Okay, so it's the first edition, but still. For those unaware, a big thing in the world of entertainment started yesterday: the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con! While I'm not lucky enough to be able to attend the event myself, I was thrilled to see that the cast and creators of landmark sci-fi series 'The X-Files' will be holding a 20th anniversary reunion panel this afternoon at 3:30. This got me thinking. As a die-hard fan of the show, and someone who has seen all 202 episodes, which are my absolute favorites? The following list was created to answer that question. Here are my top ten favorite X-Files episodes of all time:
#10 'Via Negativa', Season 8 Episode 7, Original Airdate 12/17/00
I promised myself I'd put at least one John Doggett outing on this list, if only because I feel that Robert Patrick's performance as the character is criminally underrated. Sure, he wasn't Mulder, but he wasn't supposed to be. Doggett was his own beast, and Patrick did an admirable job of being Dana Scully's new partner. At least in season eight. Then again, what am I saying, there was no season nine. If I say that enough times, maybe it'll come true.
Anyway, 'Via Negativa' features the rare teaming of Doggett with A.D. Walter Skinner, as the two men attempt to catch the psychotic leader of a religious cult. The twist is that this guy kills his victims in their sleep, after tormenting them with Elm Street style nightmares. Doggett is eventually reduced to a semi-psychotic state himself, at one point not even being sure if he's awake or asleep. And his dreams even tell him to murder a pregnant Scully. Brrr.
#9 'Drive', Season 6 Episode 2, Original Airdate 11/15/98
I'd be willing to bet a lot of you haven't seen this one. 'Drive' stars future 'Malcolm in the Middle' and 'Breaking Bad' lead Bryan Cranston as Patrick Crump, a man on the run from the law. The thing is that Crump isn't any ordinary criminal, he absolutely has to stay on the move, or his head will literally explode. It seems Crump's house was the recipient of an abnormal surge of ELF waves from a U.S. Navy antenna, and now Crump must constantly travel at high speeds or risk pressure within his inner ear building up and causing his brains to splatter all over the driver's side window.
This delightfully tense premise is ratcheted up even further when Crump kidnaps Mulder, and forces him to drive him further west at gun point. 'Drive' serves as an early glimpse into the TV heavyweight that Bryan Cranston would eventually become. In fact, this served as 'Breaking Bad' creator Vince Gilligan's (who wrote and produced the episode) introduction to the actor, and Gilligan has admitted that Cranston's performance here heavily influenced the casting process for Walter White.
#8 'Pusher', Season 3 Episode 17, Original Airdate 2/23/96
'Pusher' features guest star Robert Wisden as Robert Patrick Modell, a man who develops the ability to talk anyone into doing anything he wants them to. Modell's powers are basically limitless, making him one of the most dangerous villains in the history of 'The X-Files.' The man talks an FBI Agent into lighting himself on fire. The poor guy dumps gas on himself, and lights a match. That's just plain wrong, no matter how you look at it.
The ending to 'Pusher' features one of the single most intense scenes in the entire series run, one which nearly didn't make it past standards and practices. Modell, who finds himself getting closer to death each time he uses his powers, forces Mulder to play a game of Russian roulette with him. Poor Scully is forced to stand there and watch, praying for her partner's life. Modell would appear again in season five's 'Kitsunegari', but that episode pales in comparison to his debut.
#7 'Squeeze', Season 1 Episode 3, Original Airdate 9/24/93
This was the very first monster-of-the-week episode of 'The X-Files', and one that established much of the on-going tone and style of the series. Doug Hutchison plays Eugene Victor Tooms, a seemingly immortal man with a bizarre condition that requires him to feed on the livers of other people to survive. Scully is extremely skeptical of Mulder's claim that this is the same killer behind murders as far back as 1903, but she finds the truth out the hard way when Tooms invades her home.
In the only case of a MOTW resurfacing later in the same season, Eugene Victor would menace Scully again in a later season one episode fittingly titled 'Tooms.' Unfortunately, our favorite liver eater didn't make it out of round two alive, or at least it would appear that way. One thing that the Tooms character did accomplish was preparing us for just how much of a real-life creeper Doug Hutchison proved himself to be when he married a 16-year-old at the age of 51.
#6 'Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man', Season 4 Episode 7, Original Airdate 11/17/96
If there's one question every 'X-Files' fan wonders about the most, it's probably the following: Just who the heck is the damn cigarette man? Sadly, we never did find out which of his many conflicting origin stories was the truth. My favorite explanation for why the "cancer man" is the way he is can be found in season four's 'Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man.' In the episode, the Lone Gunmen relate to Mulder what they believe to be the true back-story of everybody's favorite smoker, and boy is it a doozy.
According to the Gunmen, CSM had a hand in just about every major American political event in recent history. MLK? CSM did it. JFK? Yep, him too. RFK? Uh-huh. At the conclusion of the episode, CSM (who has been secretly listening in to the whole tale) considers offing the three interlopers right there. The real genius of the ending is that he doesn't do that. So the audience is left wondering once again if they now know the real story of the man sometimes known as C.G.B. Spender, or if it's just more lies.
(In a nice bit of continuity, the young version of CSM is played by guest star Chris Owens. Owens would return to the series later on, appropriately playing CSM's son Jeffrey Spender.)
Can't say that I remember a lot of episodes, but I knew Home was going to be in there, I did get a few flashbacks for Tooms, and Pusher is one of the more vivid ones in my memory. I was hoping for a few more hilarious ones, though.
When I watched it for the first time from beginning to end a couple of years ago, I was struck by how downright awesome Mulder is. He's a comedic genius and to my sheer disbelief, a lot of the episodes were focused on humor. ...Something that slipped past me when I was younger and crying of fear when a Pestcontroller had a cockroach crawling under his skin (can't remember the episode). When I watched it the second time as an adult, at first I was thrown back to my younger days and felt like a scared little boy. It vanished, though, and now I find it very amusing that the scariest X-files-episode of my youth (among many... That theme-song/opening sequence still gets me to this day) was one of the comedic ones.
It was such a shame that Mulder vanished, both in terms of story-arc and what his personality brought to the show, but I definately agree that T-1000 did a tremendous job.