X Files Reviewed
Having read that the X Files was returning to the screen on the blog, I was very surprised & excited to start to watch the new series. I watched the first episode & as my partner enjoyed it to my surprise (as I think Series 10 has turned out to be a bit meh), I suggested to her to start at the beginning.
To novices of this show, which I hold in high regard, a good place to start are the writers. Before Breaking Bad, Homeland, American Horror Story, 24, Fringe, Intruders, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural to name just a few (none of which I have seen but some I hear good things about) there was a TV show in the 90’s that started the career of most these writers – The X Files.
The set-up of the show is quite simple – the genre is the unexplained…anything unknown mostly centred around aliens, UFO’s, the paranormal, unusual creatures or abnormal powers. The plot centres around an FBI agency that looks into these unusual cases called The X Files. Fox Mulder is assigned to the agency mainly as his interest and motivation is driven by the mysterious disappearance of his sister at the age of 8 that he believes was an alien abduction. Dana Scully a scientist & doctor is assigned alongside to debunk his ideas (as they are quite “out there”).
The plot and episodes are split into two; one a central plot involving a deep government conspiracy involving Mulder & Scully alongside other characters / the other standalone episodes typically referred to as “Monster of the Week” episodes. The setup works a charm, as either one vests interest into the conspiracy or one into the “Monster of the Week” or both.
I’m not going to review each episode as that is 202 * 45 mins of TV I’ve revisited close to over 6 days! I’ll briefly mention my best episode of each series & some honourable mentions.
Series 1 – setting the scene, establishing Mulder as the believer & Scully as the non-believer
Squeeze – The first of the “Monster of the Week” episodes, centres on the investigation into a series of ritualistic killings by somebody seemingly capable of squeezing his body through impossibly narrow gaps. The episode is quite thrilling as it really is quite creepy & chilling with the protagonist Tooms returning in a later episode to continue his killing spree. What I like specifically is it establishes the trust between the leads that will be further tested over a decade & the ludicrous element of a man who can wiggle his way through tight things like vents, the manner of the deaths being quite visual / gory.
Honourable mentions – Ice (stuck in a isolated building with a parasite, Mulder & Scully are required to build their trust with each other amongst strangers) & The Erlenmeyer Flask (season finale – the first real sighting of an alien & the killing of Mulder’s key confident “Deep Throat” [no idea what to make of this name when I was in my early teens – but funny nonetheless], this episode is a roller-coaster entertainer with excellent acting & tragic ending)
Series 2 – Multiple dual episodes lead the charge to forward the mythology of conspiracy & The Cigarette Smoking man is established as the main villain. X replaces “Deep-Throat” as Mulder’s confident.
Duane Barry & Ascension – A travel agency under hostage by a man claiming to be an alien abductee only later to be shot & then kidnap Scully. Krycek who is basically a bad guy flipping between sides through the 9 series is hunting down & sabotaging the chase for Scully. Barry leads Scully into an alien abduction…effectively writing her out while in real life she has a baby. These episodes are thrilling – classic race against time scripting. It raised the stakes & effectively established future storylines for Scully involving what happened to her while being abducted … establishing the Mulder/Scully legacy of the programme and strong emotional connect both have with the audience.
Honourable mentions – One Breath, Scully’s return & near death experience plus Mulder’s best performance. Quite a stunning episode with moving moments for the fans of Mulder & Scully, emotionally charged with brilliant acting. Colony/End Game is the introduction of the alien bounty hunter arc of the mythological episodes – these episodes require a high level of concentration as it’s unclear who is on whose side. Anasazi the season finale is the cliff-hanger of all cliff-hangers as it ends with Mulder supposedly dying. All episodes mentioned for Series 2 are linked to the main plot line & arguably this is when X Files is in absolute top writing/acting/emotional form a powerpacked set of episodes that appear to get better & better.
Series 3 – widely acknowledged as the best series (not my opinion), the series opens with a couple of crackers.
The Blessing Way & Paper Clip – Mulder fighting for his life – need I say more. By this time X Files is getting very popular, viewing figures are huge. The dilemma of how to return Mulder after season 2 finale must have been difficult but these episodes & revelations set up another set of questions & add more spice to the already iconic pairing of Mulder & Scully. The infusion of post WW2 politics adds more dimension to the show. As a trio Anasazi/ The Blessing Way/Paper Clip are probably the best main plot driven episodes period. Kinetic, full of energy bursting with cliff-hanger & emotional moments they are riveting episodes.
Honourable mentions – Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (Frank from Everyone Loves Raymond wins an Emmy here, rated by many as best episode ever…I was probably less enthused by the episode, it’s fun & clever but by now I’ve realised the internet is full of smarks who like very contrarian episodes, give me exhilarating kinetic energy, nonstop edge of the seat stuff over “clever”). Quagmire – a sea monster kills Scully’s affably named dog Queequeg lending to Mulder & Scully having an emotional chat beneath the stars – is romance finally blossoming? That’s what a few wanted but still had to wait ages. The true greatness is the writers did not give in to early to what was clearly legendary onscreen couple stuff here. Keeping the partnership simmering was the key.
Season 4 – The X Files is now a cult phenomenon recording high viewership & the lead out show following Super Bowl.
Memento Mori – Scully’s abduction gave so many storylines, one being her fight with cancer. You begin to fall for this red-headed spunk of an actress by this time if you have not already. Some remarkably emotional, tender sometimes beautiful moments in this episode between Scully & Mulder. By this time it’s clear when The X Files is anywhere close to a hospital it’s going to be humdinger.
Honourable mentions – Home is grotesque & from what I know was banned by some channels for its storyline. Violent/excessive dealing with abortion this is still a great episode. Paper Hearts an episode hinging on identifying the killer of Mulder’s sister is probably Duchovny’s greatest act. The way the killer gets into Mulder’s head is the best part of the episode.
Season 5 – Season 4 ended on a powerful not of Mulder’s death being faked so Season 5 kicks off with a couple crackers. But generally I find this series to be weak as it was meant to be the last till some point during the series.
Bad Blood – Probably my favourite episode of all time as its so witty and poking fun at the legacy of Mulder and Scully. A hilarious view on how each views each other. Cleverly written with a hilarious moment of Mulder serenading Scully with lines from Shaft. Just a cracking episode, the funniest by far. Shows the many facets of acting both leads had during 10 seasons.
Honourable mentions – “The Post-Modern Prometheus” a take on Frankenstein is quite funny but again rated as one of the “greats” shows the smark community like shows that poke fun at the show itself. The “winking” at the audience is fun to an extent and going black & white in the episode makes it an epic. Redux & Redux II – Dealing with the devil itself to save one close to you is what these episodes deal with. The central plot is becoming indecisive in my opinion, but still engaging enough. Mulder’s defying speech & Scully’s cancer resolution & the death of the Cancer Man are moves in the show now. Still highly engaging, well written but one can sense the season won’t be great on the main plot line front.
Season 6 – A renaissance in my opinion, this is pretty good stuff again. Introduction of new characters makes it interesting. As no clearly the Mulder/Scully relationship needs to go in the direction of love as it’s gone too far without any nooky!
Arcadia – X Files is not always just drama / thriller but it has plenty of comedy. This episode starts with Mulder & Scully as a married couple investigating in a town undercover. Blatantly hilarious as a couple this is the perfect episode to whet the appetite of those yearning for this couple to get it on. The chemistry is top notch as is the episode.
Honourable mentions – Monday a take on Groundhogs Day is cleverly presented via a bank robbery everyday with Mulder dying. Triangle another fun episode where Mulder is stuck in a Nazi warship in 1939 via a trip in the Bermuda Triangle, this is what clever is.
Season 7 – David Duchovny’s last as the main lead. The worst season too with Duchovny as lead.
Requiem – Mulder now gets abducted in the final shots of the episode and season finale. It’s nice to have moments from & characters from Pilot, it’s not convincing stuff by this time as the central plot is flagging. The sense that nothing will be the same is evidently portrayed & Scully’s life is shattered!
Honourable mentions – Closure as it nicely wraps up Mulder’s sisters’ abduction storyline…not much else
Season 8 – Reading loads about Season 8, it feels that many felt without Mulder the show could not live on. Contrary, this is great stuff again as Agent Doggett who is more Scully and Scully who is more Mulder makes for interesting confrontations & the chase to find Mulder makes the central plot very interesting. Just shows you don’t need the main character in the story to make it great.
Essence & Existence – the season finales is where the show should have stopped. Scully’s pregnancy and delivery excellently executed – it being revealed to be Mulder’s baby and them having the moment of glory with the baby is the absolute fairy-tale ending. Masterfully acted and emotionally charged one senses why did the show continue?
Honourable mentions – Redrum is cleverly crafted show working backwards in time to solve a crime. Deadalive is about Mulder’s resurrection from the dead, the re-uniting is worth the watch.
Season 9 – nothing to mention except the finale. Which is a courtroom style get up revealing the truth behind the whole conspiracy. Even after watching this I’m still confused about the conspiracy – aptly called The Truth it seeks to vindicate the work of the X Files.
Season 10 – its meh but ended on a note suggesting more is to come. With all the science/powers The X Files speaks to why has science not developed a means to transport the young David Duchovny & stunning Gillian Anderson from the 90s into 2016. Unfortunately they have become wooden actors now. A bit fat & plastic.
The more terrifying thing is I’ll probably watch another series of it!!! And will one day do it all again!