The Top 20 X-Files Episodes : 11 - 20


 

I never really watched the X-Files during its original run. I was aware of it certainly. How could you not be? Between 1994 to 2000 (it's generally accepted hey day) it was a pop culture touchstone. Between Rolling Stone covers and Simpsons episodes, Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) were everywhere. I saw a few episodes, mostly seasons 5 and 6, and frankly I was into them. But circumstances always seemed to conspire against my watching. I was in college after all. There are often other priorities. Needless to say, it never became "water cooler television" for me. 

Fast forward 10 years or so. I finally break down and subscribe to Netflix and join the millions of people who "binge watch" old television shows. My first attempt to binge watch something was "Lost," but I just couldn't get into it - much like when I tried to watch when it premiered. Moving on, I slowly dipped my toes back into the dense X-Files pond. As I waded through the first season - some great episodes, some not so great, a funny thing happened. Misses Joshua discovered the 185 pounds of, as she says, "man meat" that is David Duchovny. With that discovery, my fate was sealed. I'd be watching every single one of these episodes, for better for for worse. Luckily for me, it would be the former. So without further adieu here is the (somewhat) official DreadWorld Top 20 X-Files Episodes: 

Just Missed The List : Terms Of Endearment, Sure Kill, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas, Field Trip

20.
Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man


I'm a sucker for sympathetic villains. This probably stems from my love of the original Star Wars trilogy and Darths face turn at the end of Jedi. There isn't a film I watch where I don't hope for some sort of redemption for the baddie. Maybe that's why I like this episode so much. It's a huge departure for the show - no Mulder or Scully. Its all CSM Spender. We get some background, but mostly it's just an episode dealing with his frustrations trying to lead The Syndicate and his attempts to leave it all behind. If only that magazine had published the story the way he had written it! Everything could have been different. It's hard to look at him the same way, as a cold calculating super villain, after seeing this episode. Some people have issues with that. I just think it shows that even in the worst people, there is still some good.

19.
4-D


This is the first time, but certainly not the only time while reading this list that you will hear me say that it's not fair how much shit John Doggett (Robert Patrick) gets. Frankly, his two seasons (8 and 9) are as a whole, better than Duchovnys last full season (7). Where as Mulder had become a parody of himself by the end of the seventh season, Doggett was all business. Sure, a lot of these episode feel like they could be CSI episodes, but that's what the character was - a NYC Detective before he became an agent. So that's the way it should feel. I feel a "Defending Agent Doggett" article coming on so...lets move on. This Season 9 episode deals with a guy who can float between alternate realities. Doggett happens to stumble through this door and gets shot. Reyes is the main suspect claiming to have seen him in her apartment just before he was shot. Now paralyzed in this reality Doggett offers little help clearing Reyes. Racing against time, Reyes and Scully eventually solve the inter-dimensional mystery. This episode is heavy on the Doggett/Reyes love situation that really needed time to grow, but with the impending end to the series Chris Carter kind of rushed a lot of things hoping something would catch fire and get the show a tenth season.  It hurts this episode a little, but it's still a unique concept with some really good Scully/Reyes stuff.

18.
X-Cops


Oh Steve and Edy...you two hilarious stereotypes. By Season 7, the show started to feel...well like it was Season 7. It was very hard to find things that made the show feel fresh and not just trot out the same shit over and over again. Sometimes these new angles fell on their face (Hollywood A.D.). But, sometimes, the different angles work. Like in this episode. When Mulder and Scully are called to investigate a possible creature in a neighborhood, they find themselves on the infamous grandfather of all law enforcement reality shows, COPS. This episode has a little bit of everything. For obvious reasons it feels completely different from anything the show had done earlier. It's a pretty good little mystery, and funny as hell to boot. It's not just Steve and Edy that provide the comic relief, but the episode really highlights the differences between Mulder and Scully. Scully tries her damnedest to avoid the cameras, while Mulder does all he can to play to them. For a show that was sleepwalking it's way through it's Seventh season at this point "X-Cops" felt like a breath of fresh air.

17.
John Doe


Back to John Doggett again. I told you I liked a lot of these episodes. Doggett awakes in Mexico with no memory of who or where he is. He's missing a shoe, has two strange marks on his head and a skull charm in his pocket. The only thing giving him a clue as to who he is are the random flash backs of his (dead) son. Reyes and Scully try to help from a far, but it's really up to John to figure his way out. The end is a little hokey, but Robert Patrick really is great in this episode. 

16.
Ardacia


Meet the Petries. By Season Six the show was really clicking on all cylinders. Mulder and Scully were clearly defined characters and hadn't devolved into parodies of themselves as they would the next season. The shows producers also had figured out the perfect ways to tweak the audience. For much of the shows run they had built up this "will they or won't they" thing between Mulder and Scully. By this point it was almost comical and everyone involved was having a lot of fun with it. Case in point : Arcadia. Mulder and Scully play a married couple who move into the "perfect" housing development where a few people have recently disappeared. Duchovny and Anderson gain prove why they have some of the best chemistry on TV history. They play off each other wonderfully. In a contrast to stereotypes, Mulder jumps feet first into the role of Mr. Petrie, where as Scully is a little (meaning a lot) more resistant to the idea of playing housewife to Fox Mulder. This is a fun episode that, in the end, serves to remind us that all Home Owners Associations are evil.

15.
Dreamland I + II


I know it's a cheat pasting two episodes together as one entry, but get used to it. The show lends itself to these kind of things, and to separate what is essentially one long episode is unfair to the show. That being said this episode may be the the funniest of the shows run. It's certainly the funniest "mythology" episode. Although to be fair it's only really pseudo mythology. Existing in the mythology only so much as Morris Fletcher (Michael McKean) works at Area 51. Mulder and Fletcher switch bodies as a result of some nefarious Alien chicanery. Mulder tries like hell to get back to his old life. Whilst Fletcher on the other hand lives it up as Mulder. Enjoying every bit of his new found freedom and good looks. Scully is frankly a little dense as to the goings on. It's only when Fletcher/Mulder starts smacking her ass and buying a water bed that she truly starts to think somethings up. The two part episode ends on a soft note though as Fletcher realizes he loves his wife and family (a fact that will be forgotten when he returns later in the series) and chooses to return to them.
14.
Redrum
For you purists out there this is the last of the Mulder-less episodes on this countdown, so you can put those uneasy feelings back to rest. I love things that fuck with either the space or time continuum's. This episode is right up my alley. District Attorney Martin Wells (Joe Morton) wakes up in prison with no knowledge of how he got there or why he is there. He quickly learns that he's been accused of murdering his wife, an act he is sure he did not commit. He turns to his friend, John Doggett, to help him out. Only Doggett, the natural skeptic, isn't so sure Wells ravings aren't just laying the ground work for an insanity plea. The next morning Wells wakes up one day earlier than the the day he just lived. He is living backwards. This keeps happening until Wells can clear himself and save his wife's life. Great performances by Morton and Patrick in this episode and we even get a Danny Trejo sighting! This is the type of thing that the show wouldn't have attempted in previous seasons because the characters were so defined, but with Doggett now on board, they had the wiggle room to try some different things. This one worked big time.

13.
Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'


Blasphemy I know. How can I rank this episode so low? Well, when you think about it it's really not that low. It's the 13th best episode out of over 200 (201 to be exact). That's really not that low. While I acknowledge, that yes, this is a very good episode, it's not great. While the dialogue and references real like a script for VH1's remember the 70's and 80's, the story itself is a mess. Maybe not a mess, but it's definitely sacrificed for the "fun" of the episode. This was however, the first time the show had really gone full monty on funny. They would do it again, and better a few more times, but this is where after almost three seasons of teasing and toying with comedy, the show let itself be funny. Charles Nelson Reilly brings the jokes, with Mulder and Scully acting as his straight men. The plot like I said, is secondary, to Reilly's performance. So, well I do not hold this one as high in esteem as some others, I still think it's a very good episode. 

12.
Hungry


Did I mention I like sympathetic bad guys? Well, no more in this series "monster of the week" episodes do you find a more sympathetic bad guy. Poor Rob Roberts (Chad Donella) has a genetic need to feed on human brains. He can't help it. He's tried to stop. He resists the urge to kill to the point where he doubles over in hunger pains. Throw in Mark Pelligirino as Robs asshole co-worker making his life hell and you have all the makings of a classic sympathetic baddie. Donella is great as Roberts. Mulder and Scully are secondary to the story, which has more to do with Rob committing to what and who he is than any X-Files case. This episode is one of the last on the Duchovny era to really bring the horror and forgo the silliness that brought down the seventh season.

11.
Two Fathers/One Son


As you may have noticed, I am not a big fan of mythology episodes. It's not that they are not good. Some of them certainly are and there will be others on the list, but as a whole, I feel the X-Files mythology is a bit overrated. For me though, everything came to a head in this Season Six episode tandem. Cassandra Spender returns - this time as the first ever alien/human hybrid. Jeffrey Spender finally figures out that he's been working for the wrong side and his father is not a good dude. Mulder continues his infatuation with Agent Fowley (Mimi Rogers). But most importantly The Syndicate, the group helping pave the way for alien colonization is officially dissolved in the form of mass murder at the hands of the faceless rebel aliens. There is a lot going on over the course of the two episodes hour and a half running time, but it puts a pretty nice bow on the first half of the shows "government conspiracy" line of episodes. While I may complain about certain elements of the "Alien Colonization" mythos, it's certainly better than the "Super Soldier" mythos that follows.

That's it for #'s 20 through 11...10 through 1 will be done shortly. Until then feel free to leave your thoughts below!

Checkout #10 through #1!

As always - Thanks for Reading  and "Enjoy Every Sandwich"

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