So. The X-Files

How do you explain a pop culture phenomenon that means something different to everyone who encounters it?

I guess you could describe it as a huge and sprawling science-fiction entertainment franchise. And, yes, technically, you would be right. But it doesn't grasp its true essence, does it? 

I mean, The X-Files doesn’t have countless spinoffs and media tie-ins like its great uncle Star Trek or its ugly stepsister Stargate. It doesn’t have its own language system or religion or an endless stream of merchandise to hunt through. (And, let's be real, it doesn’t have quite the same nerd factor as those properties do.)

If you really stop and think about it, The X-Files isn't like any other sci-fi cult series out there. (Sorry, Fringe.)  It’s got something sacred called “crossover appeal” - it caters to all different kinds of people across all demographics, all at once. For a series that regularly features obscure extraterrestrials and disturbing killers, it hardly ever alienates anybody.  

The X-Files has, literally, got something for everyone. Whether it be the teenage girl who decided to start streaming it on Netflix last week and the forty-five year old man who religiously taped all episodes when they aired on Fox twenty years ago - this show is universal. 

Why's that? Well, The X-Files is a delectable sampler platter that gives you a taste of what all different genres have to offer. You can have icky monsters, procedural crimes-of-the-week, political intrigue, car chases, soapy face slaps, witty one-liners, alien invasions, blockbuster explosions - and the meaning of life - all dressed up in a warm and baggy trench coat.  

Oh yeah. And there's that sex appeal thing. I guess I forgot about that somehow.

"Admit it. You like to watch."  

"Admit it. You like to watch."  

This kitchen sink syndrome is something that The X-Files could afford to do, and do well, since its premise is deliciously simple. “Two FBI agents, one a skeptic and the other a believer, investigate the paranormal.” That's such a blank storytelling canvas, isn't it? You could go anywhere and everywhere with that idea. Whatever comes out of it could either be very well done or very poorly executed; that all depends on the creative brains behind it.

Fortunately, we lucked out. The series was helmed by Chris Carter and his ever immensely capable pool of talented writers who knew a good story when they saw one. Their powers combined with the priceless talents of those in front of and behind the camera created a special kind of primetime alchemy that networks are still trying to duplicate over two decades later.

Was every single moment of The X-Files high quality? God no. Although most of us look back on the series fondly, we’re all aware that it's got its share of stinkers.

But the highest highs of the franchise outweigh its lowest lows, and that's why The X-Files will forever sit on top of a TV-shaped pedestal. It's always going to be that one show that creeped you out while you were flipping through channels but somehow wound up winning your heart as you kept on watching.  

Which is why I’m a little surprised that no one’s ever decided to rank all of its episodes from best to worst (or vice versa). Until now.

(Spoiler - it’s me.) 

Yes, that's why I stand before you today, making grand statements about one of the most influential pieces of TV nostalgia ever. I've taken it upon myself to relive, review and rank all classic 202 episodes The X-Files has blessed (or cursed) us with, including both of those movies. 

Kind of a big deal, no?

It's okay; breathe. I've watched all of these more than once over the course of my life, seeing as how this series has been around for most of it. The X-Files was one of the very first fandoms I was ever a part of, one of the only programs my family watched together every week, and one of my first experiences in getting the shit scared out of me. (Its soundtrack was also the first CD I ever bought! But that, my friends, is a story for another time.) 

"Uh...so you probably don't like to watch as much as you used to anymore."

"Uh...so you probably don't like to watch as much as you used to anymore."

Before we get started up, there's a couple of things you should probably know.

1.) For the purposes of this massive listing article series, all multi-part episodes are being ranked together, as one narrative chunk. Does this mean that Season 2, Episode 16 "Colony" is better than its immediate follow-up, Episode 17 "End Game" since it comes up first in the ranking? Not necessarily. I don't know. Maybe. Stop being such a nerd.

This also means that some season finales and season premieres will also be ranked together because they're two-parters. This is where it gets a little slippery. But again, stop being a nerd. Nerd.

2.) Some episodes I will have more to say about than others. Deal with it.

3.) My good friend (and occasional shadowy informant) James Zark is providing a super cool illustration for every installment in this four part in this series. Each one will celebrate different eras of the show in a special way, so keep tuning in for that.

That said, here's a full look at the first image he's whipped up to kick things off. If you can't already tell, this one is all about the gothic glory of the show's first two seasons. That's right. The ones everybody loves. But don't worry, it's not a "fluke". Haha. Yeah. I went there. Wouldn't you? No, I guess you really wouldn't, would you. 

xfiles1_by_james_zark

(While I have your attention, James and I are also working with Ryan Fukuda on a brand new comic series called The Occult Generation that we're getting ready to launch soon. So keep your eyes peeled, yo. #shamlessselfpromo)

Now - without any further ado - let's begin our long and strange trip into that wild and crazy out there place where the truth is proported to be!


204. Sunshine Days (9x18)

Okay, it’s the next to the last episode of one of the most important network TV shows ever. What's the best, most meaningful way to make use of this time?

Make it a Brady Bunch tribute.

Yep, you read that correctly. The penultimate episode of The X-Files pays homage to a little story about a lovely lady, a man named Brady, and their very lovely kids. I know the writers wanted to make this about the Twilight Zone instead, but they couldn’t get the rights.

Still, why the Brady Bunch? Why not Tales from the Darkside or Law and Order or The Red Shoe Diaries? Why the fuck did they go with the Brady Bunch?!!

I mean, if they wanted to make a statement about classic television, they could have gone meta and wrote this one about a network producing a show about The X-Files. Oh wait, never mind. That was done in "Hollywood A.D."  (Which we'll get to much, much later.)

HIGHLIGHTS

- You're kidding, right?

203. I Want To Believe (2008 film)

Yes, the second movie.

Oh, don't act so shocked. Deep down, you know it sucks too. Stop fighting it. 

What makes this installment in the franchise so terrible?

For one, it’s technically not an X-File. If anything, it’s more suited to be a mediocre episode of Millennium (which is saying a lot). There’s simply nothing paranormal about it. Fine, whatever, there's a couple mad doctors doing Frankenstein stuff in a snow covered base somewhere in Canada. But that’s not interesting. Sorry.

Fans had been holding their breath for half a decade waiting for a follow-up to the series finale that left a few important threads dangling. IWTB decided to only casually address those, settling for being a very uninspired standalone in the process.

Not only does it bore you, it smacks you in the face by getting the tone of the show all wrong. The X-Files was never a soapbox used to preach about hot button topics like stem cell research. It also was never overly sappy when it came to Mulder and Scully’s romance. (Well, not most of the time, anyway.)

And no thanks, movie. We didn't want any Amanda Peet. No one at this table ordered that. No one! So take it back. We're not paying for it.

Whether you want to believe it or not, I Want To Believe is the X-Files at its most dull, uncharacteristic, trite and disappointing. (Sorry Chris Carter.)

HIGHLIGHTS

- Skinner shows up at one point. I think.

- Amanda Peet plummets off a building in slow motion.

- Billy Connolly.

202. "Audrey Pauley" (9x11) 

Agent Reyes is in a coma. (Ha ha.) Somehow, her spirit gets stuck inside a dollhouse.

And...yeah. That’s it. Nothing to see here. Keep on scrolling.

HIGHLIGHTS

- I said keep scrolling!

201. "Space" (1x09)

You’ve seen that face on mars, right? Well, in this episode, it possesses an astronaut. Crazy huh?

HIGHLIGHTS

- Both Mulder and Scully’s hair are on point for 1992.

200. "Fearful Symmetry" (2x18)

So, there’s this zoo in Idaho, see. And some flashing lights. And an escaped elephant. And a guy in a really unconvincing gorilla costume. The truth is definitely not here, folks.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Scully gets to perform an autopsy on the elephant.

199. "Agua Mala" (6x13)

Arthur Dales, a character introduced in an episode we haven’t even ranked yet, calls Mulder and Scully out to Florida to stop a sea monster from killing people in an apartment complex. Except, uh oh, looks like it's not really a sea monster. It’s actually “living water”. Y’know. The kind that grows tentacles. Cool story, bro.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Never having to see this again.

198. "Miracle Man" (1x18)

A faith healer is misused by his bible thumping father. Moral of the story: religion’s bad, mmkay?

HIGHLIGHTS

- Never having to see this one again, either.

197. "The Jersey Devil" (1x05)

Mulder chases this one nasty looking girl around Atlantic City. Not sure why. Meanwhile, Scully wears a really pink blouse. Then later, a vest. And finally...a red plaid blazer.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Scully’s pink blouse?

196. "The Rain King" (6x08)

Oh no. A romcom episode. Set in Kansas. Which actually looks a lot like California. (Huh. Imagine that.)

This time, a man claims to control the weather. Mulder and Scully are like…”Nuh-uh.” But the town is all like...“Yes huh!" And we’re watching it from home, being all like...“Fuck it. Let’s just skip to the next one already.”

HIGHLIGHTS

- A cow crashes through the roof of Mulder’s motel room.

- Victoria Jackson is actually the one causing the rain stuff because she’s overly emotional. (Spoiler.)

195. "Medusa" (8x12)

Scully and Agent John Doggett investigate a flesh eating virus on a subway in Boston. Turns out, this flesh eating virus is actually glow in the dark body paint. Oops, I mean, microscopic sea creatures. Sorry. 

HIGHLIGHTS

- A random, inexplicable young boy is found in the subway tunnel. Who knows why. #plotdevice

- The subway recreation, which is one of the biggest and most expensive sets ever made for the entire series.

- Scully looks like she works at a call center for a majority of the running time.

194. "Gender Bender" (1x14)

Our dynamic duo track down an Amish person who can change sexes at will. (Not genders, mind you, because anyone can do that, seeing as they’re social constructs. I’m looking at you, misleading title.) There’s a crop circle somewhere in there too. So what? That doesn't make you cool.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Nicholas Lea guest stars in a bit part way before being cast as Krycek.

- Mulder and Scully attend an Amish dinner.

- The cave scene is interesting?

193. "Jump the Shark" (9x15)

Who doesn't love the Lone Gunmen? Langly, Byers and Frohike are icons in their own right, and The X-Files sure as hell wouldn't be the same without them. Which is exactly why I don’t like this episode. At all. (Kind of hinting around a spoiler here.)

This was designed to wrap-up the storylines from their failed spin-off and it succeeds in doing so, but only by boring those who never watched it. It also brings back the character of Morris Fletcher, who was always a stain on the franchise, but we'll be getting to him soon enough.

"Jump the Shark" is a lighthearted anti-standalone that ends in shoehorned tragedy, which makes it unintentionally distasteful. And Scully only appears briefly in what appears to be a very heavily medicated cameo, so that's unforgivable.

Because it's more of a Lone Gunmen episode than an The X-Files episode (and for the reasons listed above), "Jump The Shark" winds up close to the bottom. 

I will say this, though: this one definitely lives up to its name.

HIGHLIGHTS

- The opening credits? Wait, this is Season 9. Never mind.  

192. "Teso Dos Bichos" (3x18)

This one’s about...uh...cats? Evil cats. And not so evil rats crawling around in toilets. Plus, magic drugs. Can’t forget that. Oh, and some dude’s intestine hanging from a tree.

Apparently this was one of the most hated episodes by the production staff and David Duchovny. Can’t imagine why.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Cat puppets ripping through solid doors with their cute widdle cat puppet claws.

191. "El Mundo Gira" (4x11)

I don’t know what it is about X-Files that deal with South American spooky stuff, but they sure are boring. So are the ones about flesh eating fungi. Guess what? This particular entry is about both. I really wish it was about El Chupacabra like it pretends to be. Instead, it settles for being a telenovela about migrant workers. Crap.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Gotta love that theme song, man. So catchy.

190. "Roland" (1x23)

An autistic janitor holds the key to a series of murders related to industrial espionage and blah blah ghost twins blah blah blah. Can you hold on while I grab a Red Bull or something? Shit.

HIGHLIGHTS

- The actor who portrays the titular character (Željko Ivanek) gives a truly memorable performance, at least. So there's that.

189. "Surekill" (8x08) 

Scully and Dogget track down a killer who can move through walls. Kind of like Kitty Pryde, except…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

HIGHLIGHTS

- Huh? Whazza? Huh? No, I wasn’t sleeping. Honest.

188. "Kaddish" (4x15)

So we’re at this one now? About the golem? Fuck it. I’m going back to sleep. Wake me up when it’s over.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Besides my power nap? The gloomy cinematography was quite effective.

187. "Hell Money" (3x19)

Chinese gangs steal body parts in San Francisco and play a lottery-type game with them. Nothing paranormal happens. Just some bloody stuff. (Thank god I had some coffee for this one.)

HIGHLIGHTS

- Appearances from B.D. Wong and Lucy Liu!

186. "Salvage" (8x09)

Agents Scully and Doggett track an undead metal man that seeks revenge on the bastards that screwed him over. Because fuck them.

HIGHLIGHTS

- The action/horror scenes in this are...pretty good, actually. As is the metal dude’s getup. Gotta love that Season 8 gore, too. (But it’s still boring.)

185. "Shapes" (1x19)

In five words or less: “Native American werewolves, before Twilight.”

All right, so that makes it sound cooler than it is, and may make you try to watch this one. Which I don’t want you to do. (Please, do not watch this episode.) Trust me, whatever you imagined when you read those five words or less are probably infinitely better than what you’d actually experience. Honest.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Scully’s hair is extra poofy today.

184. "Ghost in the Machine" (1x07)

Oh no. This one. With the...evil...computer. No. Let’s skip this. Please. I know, it’s got its moments, it has its fans, but I don’t care. It’s putting me back to sleep. Can we just…

HIGHLIGHTS

- “Dos-based debauchery.” I forgot to throw in that line in up there. It’s a good one isn’t it? Thanks.

183. "Young at Heart" (1x16)

Mulder’s old ex-boyfriend/nemesis starts harassing him and robbing banks. Wait, didn’t he die in prison a few years back? Awkward.

HIGHLIGHTS

- The best special effect ever: a dirty rubber glove.

182. "The Amazing Maleeni" (7x08)

An illusionist’s head falls off after he twists it 360 degrees around during a street performance. Our sexy FBI investigators look into it and find out that his death may have been just smoke and mirrors. Because he's a magician. Get it? 

HIGHLIGHTS

- Some fun little character moments here and there, thanks to that Season 7 lightheartedness. 

181. "Fight Club" (7x20)

Kathy Griffin’s face causes people to beat the living shit out of each other. Wait, no. Scratch that. It’s because of long lost twins. Or...something.

HIGHLIGHTS

- I know this is the most hated episode of The X-Files ever, and I know I've ranked it higher than most would. But there was some clever material buried in here. Like the title. Watch the episode, think about it and get back to me. Or don’t, whatever. It was just a suggestion. Jeez.

180. "Born Again" (1x22)

A young girl might be the reincarnated spirit of a New York cop that was murdered years and years ago. She also might hold the clue to the death of a recent officer. But the ultimate question remains: who gives a shit?

HIGHLIGHTS

- No one.

179/178. "Nothing Important Happened Today I & II" (9x01, 9x02) 

The first two episodes of Season 9 are glossy, cinematic and hint at The X-Files having been awarded a higher budget than ever.

They’re also completely stiff and uneventful, and not in any way a good transition into the new 100% Mulder-less phase of the show.

Some say Season 8 was the death knell to The X-Files as we knew it, but nope. These two episodes single-handedly murdered the series. They give you a sense that this is a show that’s finaly reached the very bottom of the barrel, creatively speaking, especially in terms of its overarching mythology.

What's this two-parter about? Let me try and break it down.

Lucy Lawless is naked. I mean, Lucy Lawless is a Super Soldier. And naked. No, wait. That’s not a good place to start.

Okay, lets try this again.

Agent Reyes’s ex, Assistant Director Carey Elwes, just began working at FBI Headquarters. She’s thinking about hooking back up with him, but he’s acting kind of jelly about Agent Doggett. And he thinks her new X-Files thing is weird.

Hold on, no. That’s not a good place to start either.

Agent Doggett is running around trying to make his new investigation about A.D. Kersh stick. In the process, he finds out that Mulder ran away somewhere and abandoned Scully and her new baby. Why? Because...because. They have no answer for it. None.

Okay, so clearly this approach isn’t working also.

What the hell is going on here?

What the hell is going on here?

Basically, the agents summon super naked Lucy Lawless from her underwater lair to find a secret Navy ship carrying all of this info about ova experiments because Scully thinks her baby might be a Super Soldier. Oh and that boat’s going to explode, so they better hurry up.

These episodes take all the junk from Season 1 that never worked (the personal life drama, the soapy acting, the tedious office scenes) and presumes that you're interested in sitting through it now. Which you aren't. 

What's even more insulting is they re-frame Doggett as a Mulder-like figure while lamenting Duchovny’s absence in the same breath.

For a season premiere that takes it upon itself to launch the new “revamped” The X-Files, it relies too much on tying up loose ends from the Season 8 finale that nobody cared about. And that, ladies and gentlemen, partly killed the show.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Naked super Lucy Lawless in her underwater lair.

- A callback to the unresolved Lone Gunmen finale.

- The title is spot on.

177/176. "Dreamland I & II" (6x04, 6x05)

I hate this two-parter. Always have, always will. How come? It wastes our time. Standalones don’t need to be drawn out like this. Really, they don’t.

Season 6 picks up after all of that dark fallout from Season 5 and the cinematic momentum from the Fight the Future with episodes like...this? Episodes that are thinly disguesed excuses for B-list comedians to guest star and be cute and funny? I can’t even.

Anyway, this is about Mulder and Scully finally coming across Area 51. Sounds like that would be pretty eventful, right? Nope, it sure isn’t.

Mulder gets body swapped with this douchebag named Morris Fletcher who will be seen again for seasons to come, unfortunately. Not because he’s popular with fans or anything, but mostly because the cast and crew love working with Michael McKean, the dude from Spinal Tap.

Now, before you kill me several times, I want it to be known that I do like Mr. McKean. I consider him legitimately funny. Best in Show is a classic, and his role in 1997’s That Darn Cat reboot --- completely life changing. But his character in The X-Files is so out of place and tonally inappropriate that his introduction was just one of the earliest sharks that the series decided to jump over and then stumble a bit.

That said, if you like your X-Files kooky and self-indulgent, then please: enjoy these two hours. If you're like most of us who don’t, just know that the only bit of continuity that really mattered out of this is that Mulder gets a waterbed.

HIGHIGHTS

- Okay, so there are a few laughs in here somewhere.

175. "Alpha" (6x16)

There’s an extinct breed of Asian dog running around killing people. Could a reclusive (and probably smelly) canine expert hold the answer to what can stop this pissed off pooch? Yes. (Yawn.)

HIGHLIGHTS

- The dad from Hellraiser guest stars.

- Mulder finally gets back his iconic “I Want To Believe” poster that he lost at the end of the previous season.

174. "Firewalker" (2x09)

It’s Scully’s first case after being abducted. A volcano in Oregon is infested with deadly silicone-spores. No, not lava monsters. That would have been much cooler.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Um...the guest performances are passable?

173. "Trevor" (6x17)

A white trash escaped convict is on the loose. What makes him so special? He can pass through solid matter. Wait, that sounds familiar…

HIGHLIGHTS

- The story is emotional enough, and the guest cast is more than competent to make it work, but it’s all very “been there, done that”.

- Some great one-liners from Mulder.

172. "Trust No 1" (9x06)

Everything wrong with Season 9 in forty minutes. A very unintentionally hilarious forty minutes.

There’s not a lot of coherent plot here, but I’ll try to recap as best I can.

Doggett: "Somebody somewhere has info on dose supah soldiers. Dey only want to talk to Muldah tho. Can u send for him?"

Scully: "But Mulder is gone… :’("

Doggett: "It’s OK, Scully. Just send 4 him."

Reyes: "YES IT IS GOING TO BE OKAY AGENT SCULLY WE PROMISE JUST DO IT K THX"

Scully: "I dunno...wait who’s that woman and her baby? Wait, what is she doing with my baby? MY BABAY!!!! DROP MY BABAYYYYY!!!!!"

Woman: "…."

Scully: "DROP. MY. BAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY-BAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!"

Woman: "Sure. Btw, you are being watched by this evil shadow guy who sees everything like you pooping and Mulder pooping too."

Scully: "My...bay-bay?"

Evil Shadow Man: "It's true, Agent Scully. I've watched you poop. And I've seen Mulder pee. Come on out to the desert with me."

Scully: "Okay. (goes to desert) All righty, I'm here now."

Evil Shadow Man: "Bring me Mulder. Because. (blows up her car)" 

Scully: "Okay. (sends Mulder an e-mail) He's on his way."

Stunt Man filmed from 80 feet away: "hi there everybody i'm fox mulder" 

Evil Shadow Man: "Hey that's not Mulder, that's a stunt man filmed from 80 feet away."

Scully: "Yeah, and?"

Evil Shadow Man: (flies into a rock and dies)

Scully: (weeps for no reason)

HIGHLIGHTS

- The beginning teaser montage is insanely good. Too good for this.

171. "Redrum" (8x06)

An old friend of Agent Doggett’s is accused of killing his wife. He thinks he didn’t do it...but he doesn’t know for sure, since he’s moving backwards in time. Sucky, huh?

Memento it ain’t. I get what they were doing here, but put in the context of the highly experimental (not to mention controversial) Season 8, it detracts from the experience with its slow pace and its overly Twilight Zone-esque, Scully and Dogget-lite story.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Joe Morton’s guest performance really sells the episode, regardless.

170/169. "Providence/Provenance" (9x10, 9x11)

“Okay writers. We need to bring back all those fans we’re losing because Duchovny’s really gone now and no one cares about the Super Soldier stuff.”

“Hmm. Let’s tie the mythology back to that thing we did a couple years ago where aliens wrote the bible.”

“But what about Scully’s baby?”

“Yes.”

“What do you mean, yes?”

“Yes.”

This two parter is one of the worst mytharc installments ever. Fortunately, it’s also one of the very last. A UFO cult (yes, another one) kidnaps Scully’s baby. You know what that means: A lot of Gillian Anderson wailing “MY BAY-BAY!” between bouts of quiet sniffling through her long yet magnificent new hairstyle; Agent Reyes mouth-breathing incredulously with a blank look on her face; Agent Doggett looking confused as all shit; and Carey Elwes still standing around with no real explanation, purpose or reason. 

HIGHLIGHTS

- Some engaging sequences bookend each installment, but skip the rest. You have my permission.

168. "Quagmire" (3x22)

Is the loch-ness monster real? This episode dares to ask that question. But they don’t call him the loch-ness monster. This one’s named Big Blue. And (SPOILER) you only get to see him at the end.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Despite some great character stuff, it doesn’t pack a punch.

- Scully’s temporary Pomeranian is finally eaten, thank god. 

167. "Synchrony" (4x19)

Time travel. And murder, of course. We need some of that. Maybe some science too.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Cool concepts, bland delivery.

166. "First Person Shooter" (7x13)

Wasn’t The Matrix cool? This monster-of-the-week episode seems to think it was.

In it, Mulder and Scully face off in virtual reality with a cyber femme fatale that is more Mortal Kombat than Lara Croft.

Mainly, this episode is just an excuse for everyone get to dress up in body armor and wear little douche-baggy sunglasses and pretend to shoot things. Looks like they had more fun than we did.

HIGHLIGHTS

- William Gibson helped write this. We forgive him.

165/164. "The Truth I & II" (9x19, 9x20)

How do you end a nine year run of a pop culture milestone? With the wimpiest of whimpers, sadly enough.

In a perfect world, "The Truth" would have been the event that fans everywhere had been waiting a decade for. It would be a shocking, provocative and game-changing endpoint to a historical television show. It would give us just as much surprise as it gave us closure.

In a perfect world, "The Truth" would be, well, a perfect series finale.

But this is the real world, folks - the world in which "The Truth" is a hurtfully forgettable two hours that wastes its running time on aspiring to be nothing more than a glorified clip show. The world in which "The Truth" is, actually, one big fat lie that pretends to be a profound final statement. The world in which "The Truth" is ranked in the bottom 50 of all X-Files episodes ever, instead of at the top where it rightfully should be.

Oh, what a world we live in.

HIGHLIGHTS

- The end sequence mirrors the hotel scene from "Pilot" quite nicely.

- Cameos from the Lone Gunmen, X, Krycek, Marita Covarrubius, and Gibson Praise.

- Despite grating on the nerves of everyone during her tenure, Agent Reyes is given a nice final character moment that is at least somewhat redeeming.

163. "Underneath" (9x12)

Is that one weird guy Agent Doggett put behind bars back in the day the real “Screwdriver Killer”? Recent DNA evidence suggests no, but the real answer is more complicated (and nonsensical) than you’d care to imagine.

HIGHLIGHTS

- The disinterested performance from Gillian Anderson delightfully clashes with the melodrama churned out by the rest of the cast.

162. "Soft Light" (2x23)

The guy from Monk is afraid of his own shadow. No, I’m not just using a figure of speech here. His shadow is pretty fucking dangerous. It can disintegrate anyone it touches. But don't be scared. Agent Mulder’s going to make it all better.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Tony Shaloub chewing scenery.

- Mulder wears sunglasses to a funeral.

161. "Excelsis Dei" (1x22)

A nurse is assaulted by a ghost in a nursing home. Who you gonna call?

HIGHLIGHTS

- Some fun character interactions here and there, as well as some good suspenseful bits, but the whole episode is tasteless and insensitive.

160. "The List" (3x05)

Before a death row inmate is electrocuted, he swears that he will come back one day...and that five people will die in the process. No, this is not Wes Craven’s Shocker, although that stars Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Skinner) and has an oddly similar premise. Do I wish it was? Yes.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Carter directs this episode, and while he does a great job at making it spooky and dreary, it kinda drags.

159. "Unrequited" (4x16)

An invisible assassin leads Mulder and Scully to a shocking discovery: American POWs are still being held in Vietnam. So not cool.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Great atmosphere.

158. "Shadows" (1x06)

Our heroes help an office worker and her ghost boss escape arms dealing middle eastern terrorists. Seriously.

HIGHLIGHTS

- The scenes were the terrorist flunkies get invisible beat downs is pretty cool in a ‘90s direct-to-video kind of way.

Hellbound.jpg

157. "Hellbound" (9x08)

How about that Agent Reyes, huh? Ain't she somethin'?

Her latest adventure finds her visiting a small town in Virginia to check out some dude that got skinned alive and knew it was going to happen. Once there, she starts having her own premonitions. Yadda yadda yadda. Turns out, it’s because of all this past life drama bullshit. I stopped paying attention so you didn’t have to.

HIGHLIGHTS

- The practical effects for the skinned people are very well done for 2002 network TV. The schmaltzy scripting and hammy performances are not.

Aubrey.jpg

156. "Aubrey" (2x12)

After uncovering a 50 year old cold case that’s similar to one currenly being investigated, the agents theorize that violent genetic traits may have been passed down to a new killer.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Terry O’Quinn (Locke from Lost) makes his first guest appearance.

155. "The Walk" (3x07)

An army vet without legs or arms might be killing people. But how?

HIGHLIGHTS

- A quietly menacing standalone that's more reflective than terrifying.

Mind's Eye 2.jpg

154. "Mind's Eye" (5x16)

A blind woman is accused of murder. Did she do it? Nah, her dad did. She just gets creepy visions of him killing people. Nothing special.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Except for Lil Taylor's performance, of course.

Schizogeny.jpg

153. "Schizogney" (5x09)

This episode has two of your favorite things ever: child abuse and killer trees. Er, maybe those aren’t your favorite things. Hmm. Well, either way, it’s got ‘em!

HIGHLIGHTS

- Those trees though... 

152. "Kitsunegari" (5x08)

This sequel to Season 3’s "Pusher" brings back everyone's favorite psychic asshole Robert Modell, who's just escaped from prison. As he starts playing his deadly game of Simon Says again, he introduces the agents to his sister, who has the same mind-control powers he does. Oh snap!

HIGHLIGHTS

- As you can see, he makes someone drink a lot of paint.

151. "Conduit" (1x04)

A teenage girl is abducted by aliens. Her brother believes that she’s still out there somewhere. Sound familiar?

HIGHLIGHTS

- All of the info-dumping to set up the big Mulder’s sister mystery which will take years and years and years to finally pay off.

Rush.jpg

150. "Rush" (7x05)

You might have a hard time believing this, but midwestern teenagers are bored. Really bored. So bored, in fact, that they’ll stumble into caves with weird single shafts of light that make them move at high speeds to do...nothing terribly exciting, although there’s a lot of blood.

HIGHLIGHTS

- It’s basically a Goosebumps episode with balls.


And there you have it. The bottom 50 or so episodes of The X-Files. How do you feel? Offended? Concerned?  A little bit thirsty? Ready for a nap?

Next week we'll be continuing on with the next 50 episodes (150-100) ranked. What can I say, it's only going to get better from here.

1 Comment