The X-Files was a highly popular TV show from the 1990’s. The show featured David Duchnovy as the iconic Fox Mulder—an FBI agent whose love of the occult earned him the ire of his fellow agents—and Gillian Anderson as his partner and foil Dana Scully. It was known for its highly intricate mythology and its quirky recurring characters, such as the Lone Gunmen.
With the show coming back for a brief stint on FOX, it would be apropos to review a few of the best episodes of the show.
Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’
This is a funny, playful episode about an alleged alien abduction. Two teenagers are on a first date when they are “abducted” by aliens. After an investigation by Scully and Mulder yield no hard conclusions, a science fiction author named Jose Chung takes an interest in the case. Chung interviews Scully and she attempts piece together the broken narrative to the best of her ability.
The episode is hilarious and well done. It features many references to other X-Files episodes and guest stars Jesse Ventura, Alec Baldwin and Charles Nelson Reilly as the titular character. From the small—but hilarious—bits like Mulder’s falsetto scream and the recurring phrase “How the Hell should I know?,” the episode is a home run from start to finish.
The Field Where I Died
The Field Where I Died is a more somber episode about reincarnation and the meaning of life. Agents Mulder and Scully are called in to help investigate a religious cult after receiving a mysterious call from a woman named Sydney. It turns out that Sydney is one personality of many inside the head of the wife of the cult leader. This woman has many personalities, one of whom claims to be Mulder’s wife in a life past. Mulder is highly intrigued by this woman’s testimony and he learns that the field outside the cult’s compound is where he died in a past life as a soldier.
This episode raises intriguing questions about life and free will, as both Scully and Mulder realize that their lives have intermingled in some substantive way in lives past. While the episode certainly could be needlessly maudlin, it doesn’t take such a weepy approach to the concept of soul-mates. Instead, it suggests that lives can intersect in a variety of ways, as Mulder and Scully were friends in one life past, and brother and sister in another.
The Field Where I Died certainly is a bit too ambitious at times, but it manages to seam together a beguiling tale about reincarnation and what that might mean for our relationships with others.
Squeeze / Tooms
The episodes Squeeze and Tooms are from the first season and involve a man named Tooms with a horrifying special ability. Mulder and Scully begin to investigate a murder in which a businessman had his liver ripped out of his body inside a locked room. Mulder notes that similar murders involving torn-out livers have taken place once every 30 years.
He realizes that they are searching for a man with the ability to contort his body in ways that allow him to crawl through grates and fit down chimneys—a man that only has the need to feed once every 30 years on human livers.
The two episodes present little in the way of philosophical reflection or comedic value, but they do present one of the creepiest monsters the series has to offer. Tooms’ ability to pass through heating ducts and air vents is cringe-inducing enough, but the special effects in the episodes make the ability even creepier. Like in the clip above, the episodes also have hints of Mulder’s dry, dead-pan humor that would be accentuated in later seasons.
The Post-Modern Prometheus is an endearing episode shot in black and white about a real-life Frankenstein-type monster. Mulder receives a letter from a woman about her mysterious pregnancy, as she was knocked unconscious and impregnated. Mulder and Scully travel to her town, where they hear about a large monster that some people have claimed to see ambling around in the woods around town. They come to find out that the monster is a real, live human created by mistake by a local scientist.
With a score featuring many Cher songs, the episode manages to craft a tale about a lovable monster. The episode is a bit too cliche at times and might be a tad bit too goofy for some people’s tastes, but it is a satisfying episode in the end.
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