This week The X-Files turned 20. I remember watching each episode with bated breath as my two favorite F.B.I. agents would search for the elusive “Truth” that aliens existed, believing that there was a collective group keeping them from exposing the truth to the world. But I also loved what were affectionately called “Monster of the week” episodes. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, IGN.com posted their top ten stand alone episodes. Being the huge fan of the show that I am, I was intrigued on what they had to say. I respect them for their game reviews and most media coverage. However I was a bit upset with their list.
You can check their article out here. Go on… click the link.
Read it and come back…I’ll wait
Now far be it from me to expect everyone to have the same tastes as myself. But the article in question was written by not one, but five different authors. There shouldn’t be any errors to fall through the cracks, however… they messed up in a few aspects. First off, Pusher is NOT a stand alone episode. There was a sequel in which the villain, Robert Modell, returns. That episode is aptly named Kitsunegari. I’m assuming that this was a screw up because they never mentioned any other two time returning villains anywhere in their list and I’d bet that most fans would consider Victor Tooms or Donnie Pfaster to be way more memorable.
Also, there is an episode on the list that was all about the possibility that Mulder’s sister was murdered and not abducted. Mulder’s sister Samantha was a huge story arch in the the show. In my humble opinion it shouldn’t be considered a stand alone episode. Some could say that is debatable since Wikipedia had stated that it wasn’t relevant to the overall mythology. Of course Wikipedia has never had any entries be wrong before…. right? Ahem..
I would also wager that most people that followed the show more closely than IGN’s panel of pundits would remove the episodes Drive and Darkness Falls from the list as “most memorable” and would replace them as well… but obviously, the list is going to be different from every ones interpretation of what is memorable and all.
Now I don’t disagree with the whole list, half of it I can agree on with a possible change of a sixth one with plenty to back up my case on why it is more memorable. However let me give you what I feel are some of the best stand alone episodes of the X-Files with a few extra tidbits of information that you may not have known about the show.
In no particular order… I give you the top ten of Monster of the Week episodes
Ice: This episode had Mulder and Scully sent to Alaska to investigate the deaths of an Alaskan research team that were studying ice cores. This may have had some of the worst special effects of the show’s history. But it is the story of “who can you trust” is what makes this one of the best. My favorite line is when Mulder and the other men have to inspect each others bodies for a parasite like worm. ” Before anyone passes judgment, may I remind you, we are in the Arctic.”
The Host: Mulder and Scully after being reassigned to different departments in the beginning of the second season, investigate a body found in sewage. This results in the discovery of a bizarre fluke-man. This product of the Chernobyl accident goes on a murderous spree in the sewers of New Jersey. One side note. The person in the fluke-man costume was Darin Morgan. He would become the person behind four more of the most memorable episodes on this list.
Small Potatoes: A small town is “blessed” by babies being born with tails. Mulder and Scully arrive only to encounter a suspect, Eddie Van Blundht, played by Darin Morgan, as the biological father, but how he was able to get these women pregnant is the real surprise. This was one of the many episodes written by Vince Gilligan creator of Breaking Bad.
Beyond the Sea: After the sudden death of her father Scully is placed back on with Mulder to investigate a kidnapping of a young couple and a death row inmate claiming that he has a psychic link to the crime. The inmate says and will assist in the rescue of the victims if he is given a commuted sentence. This had Mulder and Scully reversing their usual roles of “believer” and “skeptic” for the first time in the series. The story is very much like Silence of the Lambs… but with a paranormal twist.
Humbug: This story was written by Darin Morgan aka. fluke-man. It involves the murder of a circus performer and some of the casting of this show were actual sideshow performers including Jim Rose and The Enigma (his name before he had it legally changed was Paul… true story…). This was a witty and somewhat disturbing episode, but it is undeniably memorable. The music and lighthearted nature of the characters made this stand out amongst the nine seasons of the show.
Syzygy: Mulder and Scully investigate the murders of high school students in a small town where everyone is acting strangely. Eventually discover that two teens are responsible, due to a rare planetary alignment that gives them the ability to manipulate the world around them. This one had a great exchange between the main characters since they too seemed to be affected by the strange alignment of the planets. Mulder: “You don’t suppose she’s a virgin, do you?” Scully: “I don’t even think she’s a blonde.”
Home: This one was the first time I ever saw a parental warning before the show aired… The episode was filled with diabolical booby traps, inbred villains, and had a Texas chainsaw massacre feel. The only thing that broke the intense scenes were the fact that the sheriff’s name was Andy Taylor and his deputy was named Barney.
Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose: Yet another episode penned by the talented Darin Morgan. This one involved Mulder and Scully investigate murders of fortune tellers. The two are assisted by a reluctant and strange fellow who possesses the ability to envision how people are going to die. This was a very heartwarming tale that won two Emmys one for the writing and one for Peter Boyle’s performance as Clyde Bruckman.
Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’: Mulder and Scully investigate, a story about an alien abduction of two teenagers. Each character provides a different version of the same facts with hilarious results on screen. Within the episode, writer, Jose Chung, writes a book about the incident. This one had everything from Charles Nelson Reilly as Jose Chung and Jesse Ventura and Alex Trebek as Men in Black. An instant classic.
War of the Coprophages: the last one that has any dealings with the writer Darin Morgan. This stand alone episode was all about the possibility of robotic alien bugs and mass histeria add on a sexy entomologist named Bambi and you have a highly entertaining episode.
Die Hand Die Verletzt: Last but not least, this episode Mulder and Scully are called to a small town after a teenager dies in an incident with strange occult-like undertones . At the same time, the town seemingly conservative teachers are in fact devil worshipers attempting to hide their tracks because they apparently have no involvement in the murder. During the investigation, the devil visits the town in the guise of a substitute teacher.
The X-Files has expanded from the television to the big screen to video games, comic books, collectible cards and toys. There is rumors of a possible third movie as well as a new series of comics to pick up where the last movie left off… but time will tell. Until then… Trust No One