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AnaKhouri’s 25 Favorite X-Files Episodes, Volume 2

Written by AnaKhouri on . Posted in TV

As promised, here is part two just one week after part one. I am actually on time with a post for once, which I think is the surest sign yet that the Mayans/survivalists are right and the world will end in about two months!

Without further ado: 12 more of the best episodes of The X-Files, plus a bonus movie!

Eve

Kids are naturally creepy. I don’t even like being around them, except for my own, and one day he told me that ghosts whisper to him all night, so…

A little girl named Teena is found outside by neighbors, who discover her father has been exsanguinated to death in the backyard (basically, he’s devoid of blood). Across the country, another little girl named Cindy loses her father the same way. When Mulder and Scully visit both girls, they find that the kids look exactly alike; there’s no possible answer but that they are identical twins. Turns out both girls were conceived via in vitro by the same doctor, who was fired for playing eugenics games at a former lab (and who is played by a lady who was later in Frasierfor a few episodes; that was weird, let me tell you).

Mulder gets some insider info from Deep Throat (his doomed informant) on a genetic modification program created by the government to produce supersoldiers- kids called ‘Adam’ or ‘Eve’ based on gender. He sends the agents to meet a former subject, Eve 6, who is batshit crazy, since all the kids created by the program ended up going violently insane. Surprise, she looks just like eugenics doctor! Eugenics doctor is trying to recreate the same experiments that created her, and Teena and Cindy are the result.

So it’s no surprise when she kidnaps the kids and drops dead; the girls tell Mulder and Scully that she attempted murder-suicide but only succeeded on the suicide part. But on the drive to return the kids to their parents, Mulder and Scully find out that the girls are just like their predecessors…and eventually they end up in cells adjacent to Eve 6, where they can presumably plot more mayhem.

One disappointing thing about this episode is that you learn Mulder and Scully both drink diet soda, which in my opinion should be classified as a crime against humanity. Seriously, the aftertaste.

Duane Barry/Ascension

Duane Barry is a patient in a mental institution who claims he was abducted by aliens eight years before. He’s pretty sure the aliens are coming back for him, so he kidnaps his doctor and escapes, heading for the original abduction so the doctor can see he’s not crazy. Unfortunately he can’t remember exactly where the original site was, so he heads to a travel agency and takes everyone there hostage, which I guess makes sense. If you’re crazy.

Mulder and his partner (at this point in the series our heroes were split up and Krycek was assigned to be Mulder’s new partner) head out to find out what’s going on, since Mulder is convinced the guy is the real deal. Mulder offers to trade himself for a hostage, and Barry takes the deal. That’s when Mulder learns that Barry is a former FBI agent…and eleven years ago he was shot in the head. Well, shit.

Mulder maneuvers Barry to the door, where a sniper wounds him. In the hospital Barry is found to be riddled with metal implants and weird holes in his teeth. Scully takes an implant and finds a teensy barcode on it…and then Barry escapes from the hospital and kidnaps her ass. Well, shit.

In the next episode, Ascension, Barry drags Scully up to a defunct ski resort, which, he has finally remembered, is where he was originally abducted. Krycek, who is a two-faced bastard, informs the Smoking Man of everything that’s going on and tries to kill Mulder once they reach the ski resort to rescue Scully, but Mulder doesn’t get that’s what’s happening because he’s kind of dumb. They find Barry, minus Scully. Barry claims she was taken by ‘them’. Later, Barry drops dead while being interrogated by Krycek. Mulder STILL doesn’t get it, of course.

Scully is still gone, but Skinner announces that he’s re-opening The X-Files, so Mulder can work together with her again. If she ever shows up, anyway. In the meantime Mulder finally gets a clue, but Krycek has disappeared. Tricky!

Gillian Anderson got pregnant around the end of the first season, and the writers needed an excuse for her to be gone a while on maternity leave. Alien abduction was the obvious choice- and the twisty plotting, creepy Krycek, excellent performance by Steve Railsbeck (who played Duane Barry) and the disappearance of Scully make this one of the shows finest storylines.

Humbug

Humbug is awesome in so many ways. It’s about circus freaks. It has real life Jim Rose Circus Sideshow performers Jim Rose and The Enigma, and the dwarf guy from Twin Peaks (and Vincent Schiaverelli, better known as That Guy Who is in Everything). It uses a song by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. It’s funny, and poignant, and treats the freaks just like regular people who happen to be a bit different- sometimes by choice.

When the Alligator Man is drowned in his own backyard pool, Mulder and Scully go to a small town where traveling sideshow performers spend the winter. They stay in a trailer park owned by the aforementioned dwarf, who employs as a bell boy a man with a parasitic twin, which presents as an undeveloped body attached to his abdomen. When another murder occurs, their investigation finds that the murderer is actually the bell boy’s conjoined twin, which has developed the ability to detach itself from his body and attack people. Why? Well, if I was a parasitic conjoined twin I would probably be pretty pissed off too.

In the end, the creature makes the mistake of attacking The Enigma, a heavily tattooed geek (in its original meaning, one who eats live animals).

Humbug is a fun episode that makes you think. Jim Rose’s character, a ‘self-made’ freak who hammers nails into his nasal cavity, rails against the spread of political correctness, which has destroyed the freak shows and made the world a little more boring. Most of the town’s denizens seem perfectly happy with who they are and what they do, and don’t seem to feel a bit exploited- after all, they get paid to stand there and let people look at them, so maybe the exploitation goes both ways?

Plus, The Enigma fucking EATS the murderer. Badass.

Terms of Endearment

Bruce Campbell? Bruce Campbell.

A woman and her husband have an ultrasound done on their unborn baby, and learn that it has bizarre birth defects, like horns and a tail. That night the wife dreams a demon snatches the baby from her womb and wakes to find she miscarried. Her brother, however, is suspicious of the husband, and contacts Mulder and Scully to do some digging.

Digging results in them finding the cremated remains of the baby in a backyard furnace thing. The wife decides she must have performed an abortion on herself in a trance state (huh?) and confesses. Meanwhile, the husband goes home to his other wife…who is also pregnant with a horned, tailed child. But this time when the demon comes for the kid, the wife recognizes him as her husband. She apparently loses the baby as well, the demon-husband is shot by the sheriff and all is well, mostly.

It seems the husband was a demon desperate to have a normal child, and was killing all his offspring that presented demonic physical aspects. However, the agents later find a load of normal human babies in the second wife’s backyard. It seems the husband was a demon dying to have a normal kid…while his wife, unknown to him, was a demon desperate to have a demonic baby.

And she has finally succeeded, as we see her driving off into the sunset with her evil little Rosemary’s demon baby.

This episode owes a lot to Bruce Campbell’s performance as Demon Daddy. He plays it completely straight, and is a very sympathetic character. The charged emotions associated with dead babies and childbirth help too.

Unusual Suspects

Everyone loves the Lone Gunmen (though…there’s three of them…they’re not exactly lone). And so an episode showing how they connected with Mulder was bound to be a hit. And an episode set in the glorious 1980′s could only be even better.

The episode begins with Mulder naked in a box in a warehouse while the Lone Gunmen try to flee the scene. The rest of the story is a flashback as Byers tries to explain how exactly they got into the situation where the police found them.

At an electronics convention Byers, an FCC employee, follows a pretty women who passes his booth. He runs into two losers selling stolen cable- Frohicke and Langley. The women tells Byers her name is Holly and she is looking for her daughter, who was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend. Seems pretty straightforward, but if you believe that you’ve never seen The X-Files before…

Holly claims her ex is employed by the DoD and she needs Byers to hack into their database to discover her whereabouts. When Mulder wanders by Byers’ booth, she identifies him as the dangerous ex. Byers recruits Frohicke and Langley to help him perform the hack, but they’re suspicious of Holly’s story, especially when they find out Mulder is with the FBI. During the hack they realize Holly is really Suzanne Modeski, wanted for acts of terrorism at a weapons facility…which of course she says she didn’t commit. She was made a scapegoat because she wants to expose the truth about how the government wants to test a dangerous gas that causes paranoia on its own citizens, and Mulder has been assigned to hunt her down.

The Lone Gunmen find the gas stored in asthma inhalers in a warehouse, and Mulder pops up to arrest Suzanne, and is exposed to the gas, and strips naked and hides in a box. Suzanne is dragged off by Mr. X, Mulder’s second, less-reliable informant. And the bond between Mulder and the Lone Gunmen is cemented forever. Awwww.

Die Hand die Verletzt

This episode nods to several of my favorite occult subjects, which is why I enjoy it so much. A high school named after Aleister Crowley…Satanists proving that it’s not just Catholics who only pay lip service to their religion…references to the Satanic Ritual Abuse hysteria of the 1980′s.

A group of high school faculty meet to discuss school issues and end the meeting with a prayer to Satan. Meanwhile, a group of teens heads out to the woods to play at black magic, and one ends up dead. When Mulder and Scully arrive to investigate, frogs rain from the sky.

One of the girls tells the agents that she was subject to years of ritual abuse by her stepfather, who denies it. No one knows that the biology teacher is the one sacrificing people to Satan, and she puts a spell on the girl, causing her to commit suicide. Later on, the teacher turns into a giant snake to devour the (innocent) stepfather. Mulder and Scully are caught by the other faculty members, who want to sacrifice them to regain Satan’s favor. They’re convinced that their deity has turned away and caused all these deaths because they weren’t faithful enough, but just as they’re about to off the agents, the biology teacher casts a spell that makes them kill themselves instead. Apparently Satan is satisfied with that sacrifice, because the teacher disappears.

This is a neat episode, turning on its head the idea of religious people not being as pious as they would like everyone to believe. Also, a giant snake eats a guy. SWEET.

Syzygy

Teen angst meets a rare planetary alignment to create this amusing episode. It starts at a funeral for a boy who is rumored to have been killed by Satanists (there they are again!). Another boy gives a ride home to two teen girls, BFFs Terri and Margi. Later he’s found hanging from a cliff, victim of the girls.

Scully and Mulder arrive to investigate the Satanic claims, and run into the hot local detective. Mulder keeps ditching Scully to hang out with the hot detective, and Scully is all-around bitchy to him. The BFFs use telekinetic powers to kill another boy who accidentally spills drinks on their cheerleading outfits. As the town goes into a full-blown Satanic Panic, the girls celebrate their birthdays, which are on the same day, and use their powers to kill yet another classmate, the girlfriend of a boy they both like.

A local astrologist tells the agents that the rare planetary alignment will focus tons of energy on anyone born on a certain date, giving them crazy powers (the date, of course, being the girls’ birthday). Mulder finally drags Margi and Terri into a cell and locks them in until midnight, when their power wears off. Then he and Scully drive home, still bitching at each other (apparently that was not part of the whole planetary alignment thing, they just bitch a lot).

(as a side note, Ryan Reynolds, a.k.a. The Green Lantern in one of the worst DC movies ever, plays the guy who gets hanged from a cliff at the beginning of the episode).

Syzygy is far from perfect, but its depiction of teenage capriciousness on overdrive is really fun to watch.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

This was actually chosen by TV Guide as the tenth best episode of any TV show ever. It even earned a couple Emmys. I think most of this is due to Peter Boyle’s awesome performance as a grumpy clairvoyant, but the writing is solid and the story compelling as well.

Clyde Bruckman is a grouchy dude who lives alone. One day he bumps into a guy on the street who is on his way to a fortune teller. After the lady tells his fortune, he kills her. When another fortune teller is killed presumably by the same man, Mulder and Scully move in to investigate. They have to deal with The Stupendous Yappi, a completely fake TV psychic the cops have called in to ‘help’. Meanwhile Bruckman takes out his trash and finds the body of the first fortune teller in the dumpster. He knows details of the crime that no one but the murderer could know. Instead of thinking that this means Bruckman could be the murderer, Mulder thinks this means he is a psychic. Because that makes total fucking sense when you apply Occam’s Razor to the situation, Mulder.

Bruckman takes them to another body he psychically saw, and tells Mulder he’s going to step in a pie and get his throat slit. When Scully asks how she’s going to die, he says, “You don’t.” Then he tells her they’re going to end up in bed, which seems rather weird but hey, you can’t help who you fall for, right?

Long story short, Mulder doesn’t die (Bruckman was sensing the killer’s fantasy, not the future), and Bruckman ends up dying on a bed, where Scully sits with his body. Get it? HA!

Scully also acquires a really annoying Pomeranian in this episode, which luckily doesn’t last too long, as it is later eaten by a lake monster.

Kaddish

In New York, a young Hasidic Jew is beaten to death by a group of skinheads. The night after his funeral, a mysterious figure goes to his fresh grave and begins to mold something out of the dirt there.

Shortly thereafter, one of the killers is strangled to death, and the fingerprints on his neck are the dead guy’s. The dead man’s fiancee and father are reluctant to talk to Mulder and Scully, so the agents go looking for the remaining skinheads, who work at a white supremacist press that happens to be across the street from where the Jewish man worked. Skinheads 2 and 3 are freaked out by the prospect of vengeance from beyond the grave. As one would be, I imagine.

These fine figures of humanity head to the cemetery to dig up their victim’s body, I guess to make sure he’s really dead. Of course this has to be done in the middle of the night,so they don’t last long either.

Turns out, the skinhead-killer is a golem, created by the fiancee and molded in the figure of her murdered betrothed. At the end of the episode she writes the proper word on the creature to return it to dirt.

Kaddish is a really, really sad, tragic story, but the use of the golem, a sadly neglected bit of mythology, is the best part.

Talitha Cumi/Herrenvolk

OK, I really hate typing out these multi-episode mythology story arcs, because so much shit goes on that my fingers get tired.

So there’s a shooting at a cafe and a man named Jeremiah Smith lays on some hands and miraculously brings people back to life. But he disappears before the cops can really question him, much to Mulder’s disappointment when he and Scully get there. Meanwhile, Smoking Man visits Mulder’s mom and they argue about something, and then Mulder’s mom has a stroke. She writes something that makes Mulder think she knows about Jeremiah Smith.

Smoking Man captures Jeremiah Smith at his day job, at the Social Security Administration and takes him to jail. Mr. X finds Mulder and shows him pictures of Mulder’s mom and Smoking Man fighting, and it occurs to Mulder that since his mom had a stroke, she wasn’t able to write clearly, and was really trying to tell him there was something in a lamp in her house. Because the writers only had an hour, Mulder’s conclusion is correct; he finds an alien-killing stiletto in a lamp in his mom’s living room (I thought everyone’s mom had one of those in a lamp in the living room. Mine has for years. Now that I’m a mom, I have one too).

Meanwhile! Jeremiah Smith appears at the FBI building to turn himself in to Scully. But wait, wasn’t he…oooooh. The REAL Jeremiah Smith is being interrogated by the Smoking Man, and lets him know in a friendly manner that he is dying of lung cancer, which seems to surprise the Smoking Man despite years of dire warnings on cigarette packages.

So then there’s more Jeremiah Smiths, all working at SSA offices across the country (multiple clones of people are a recurring weirdness in this series), only some of them are shapeshifters, and some of those are bounty hunters. And the Smoking Man tells Mulder he was talking to Mulder’s mom about finding his sister Samantha and then an alien bounty hunter (who, incidentally, was played by the same actor who played the cultist ax murderer in Sylvester Stallone’s Cobra. He also played a bunch of different Klingons on several of the Star Treks) shows up and it’s a season finale so there’s a HUGE FUCKING CLIFFHANGER OMG.

The next season began with an electrician being stung by a bee and falling off a pole and dying, while five identical creepy kids watch (bees are also a big deal in The X-Files). At the end of Talitha Cumi Mulder and Scully went on the lam with one of the Jeremiah Smiths, and the bounty hunter finds them. So Mulder stabs him in the neck with his mom’s stiletto and this caustic neon green shit comes out instead of blood.

OK, so my hands are tired, I’ll make this short. Mulder and Jeremiah Smith flee to Canada where Samantha -or one of them- supposedly lives. The Syndicate is pissed off at Smoking Man for talking to Mulder’s mom about stuff she was supposed to forget. All the other Jeremiah Smiths disappear. Scully contacts Mr. X, who tells her all this crap has something to do with the smallpox vaccination stuff which comes up later in the Tunguska//Terma arc, and that Mulder’s mom is probably in danger.

Up in Canada, Mulder and Jeremiah Smith find a bunch of little-girl fieldworkers who are clones of Samantha. Mulder tries to kidnap one, but that damned alien bounty hunter shows up and chases the threesome into a secret hidden giant bee hive, where he is repeatedly stung (gross). He ends up taking Jeremiah Smith and the girl but leaving Mulder. It turns out OK though because Smoking Man tells the bounty hunter to heal Mulder’s mom, which was one of the reasons Mulder wanted Jeremiah Smith anyway. Scully finds out the Jeremiah Smiths had a reason to work at the SSA: they were collecting data on and cataloging people (I guess they missed the illegal immigrants though; well, no plan is perfect).

Finally, someone sets a trap for Mr. X and the Syndicate kills him. Which is too bad, because he was interesting in a ‘is this guy for real or is he a double-crossing douchebag’ kind of way. At this point in my life I’m willing to say, ‘both’.

The Unnatural

This is one of the rare episodes that has hardly any Mulder and/or Scully in it, but it’s really, really cool.

Most of the episode is a flashback to the 1940s, when an integrated baseball team has an outstanding black player. Despite his talent, the player is reluctant to move on to the big leagues, wanting to stay out of the spotlight. After an encounter with the KKK, one Arthur Dales (former FBI agent and friend of Mulder, though in this episode he’s just a cop) is assigned to protect the black player as the team travels out of town for games.

In one scene the player is hit in the head by a ball, and he starts bleeding green shit. Hmmmm…

The player is really a shape-shifting alien who came to Earth, fell in love with baseball and decided to stay, masquerading as a human. In the end the alien bounty hunter gets to him- but when the player dies, he bleeds human blood this time. So, like the Velveteen Rabbit, his love for a uniquely human pastime made him…real. Really human. Except I don’t know if that analogy works because I’m not sure any humans loved him. WHATEVER OKAY.

As sappy and dopey as this sounds, it’s really a charming little episode (and the first David Duchovny directed).

Sleepless

This is a nice, tight, tense episode all around, but even if it wasn’t I would still put it on this list because of motherfucking Tony Todd. Tony Todd id a criminally underrated actor and he’s great in everything he does. Sleepless is no exception.

A doctor calls 911 to report a fire, but when the trucks get there they find no fire, but a dead doctor. Since this is during the time when The X-Files was officially shut down, some guy named Special Agent Krycek pulls the case (booooo). Mulder asks Scully to autopsy the dead doctor, making Krycek mad. But he teams up with Mulder to solve the case.

Scully finds that there’s no evidence the doctor died in a fire; rather, he appears to have died because he believed he was caught in a fire. Meanwhile, a Vietnam veteran is visited (alliteration FTW) by a fellow soldier, Augustus Cole, and sees the spirits of dead comrades from the war. Mulder and Krycek find out the veteran was one of only two survivors of his unit (the other, of course, being Cole), which seems to have been the subject of a scientific experiment…

Mr. X pops up and tells Mulder that the dead doctor was involved in experiments to make soldiers no longer need sleep by giving them lobotomies. In Cole’s case, not sleeping for a quarter century appears to have given him psychic and telekinetic abilities, which you’d think would be awesome, but apparently Cole is just so pissed off he only uses them to screw the people who made him this way. He even gets into Mulder’s head, and eventually uses them to commit suicide by special agent.

At the end Krycek is seen reporting to the Smoking Man and telling him Scully is a bigger problem than they’d anticipated. Damn right she is, she’ll kick all y’all’s asses.

BONUS: The X-Files: Fight the Future

Whenever someone complains to me that The X-Files ended without ever explaining any of the mythology stuff, I always wonder if they even saw Fight the Future. It lays out all the basics of the alien colonization plan and resistance movement in a very obvious, simple manner. You might end up confused about some of the alien-messiah-baby bullshit from the last season, but if you saw Fight the Future, you should at least have a clue.

Some people have bitched that the movie (which came out in 1998, while the series was still running, which is pretty unusual) is like a two hour episode of the series. OF COURSE IT IS. It only makes sense, and it’s what fans wanted. I’m not sure what critics expected from a movie based in TV show that was still running and that was part of a major continuous storyline that threaded through the entire series.

It begins with a cavemen fighting an alien, which is like the best thing ever. The caveman wins but is infected by the black oil (poor guy). Thousands of years later, the creepy-ass kid from American Gothic falls down a hole in his Texas neighborhood and finds a skull and some black oil, which gets him. Within seconds (movie seconds) a biohazard team arrives and covers everything in plastic and DO NOT CROSS tape.

At this point The X-Files is officially closed down, so Mulder and Scully are investigating a bomb threat against a government building. Then John Locke from Lost gets his shit blown up because he was supposed to disarm the bomb but didn’t even try, and the aftermath is eerily reminiscent of the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. Apparently five other people died in the bombing, which means Mulder and Scully are up for performance reviews so Skinner can bitch at them a bit. But then a paranoid doctor played by Martin Landau finds Mulder in a bar and tells him the five were already dead and the bombing was perpetrated to hide how they died, which was really an alien virus. They link the virus to the hole in Texas and take a road trip down there. While there they find a field with two weird domes, go inside one and are chased out by a swarm of angry bees. They escape some black helicopters and, having had enough of that shit, go back to DC.

Mulder tries to find Martin Landau but he has mysteriously disappeared. Scully is told she’s being transferred to Utah and has to tell Mulder and they almost kiss but then a bee that was hiding out in her collar stings her and she passes out (dammit). An ambulance comes but the EMT shoots Mulder in the head and kidnaps Scully. Luckily the fake EMT is a crappy shot so Mulder is hardly grazed. The Lone Gunmen help him escape the hospital, and the posh British dude who is a Syndicate member (he is also in Star Trek: Insurrection) gives him intel that Scully is in Antarctica, and she is infected with the killer alien virus, and also here is the antidote. I guess he was tired of the other assholes in the Syndicate. Then he conveniently dies in a car bombing.

Mulder somehow gets to Antarctica, where he finds Scully in a secret underground research lab that is actually a giant alien spaceship. He rescues her and the spaceship flies off, but Scully is STILL passed out and MISSES it.

Of course everything is covered up neatly, but it all means The X-Files is reopened (again). So yay!

In between all this madness, Martin Landau and the various Syndicate members explain to Mulder and each other all about the alien colonization plan and human cooperation, the other aliens who are the bounty hunters, the colonizing aliens’ betrayal, the anti-colonization resistance, and the clones. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch the damn movie. They tell you EVERYTHING.

I saw this in a theater. On opening night. IT WAS AWESOME.

So how’d I do? Are your favorites here? Am I a raging idiot? Drop me a comment!

Check out part 1 of this epic X-Files love letter here!

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AnaKhouri
AnaKhouri was abandoned in the wilds of Hungary as an infant and raised by a clan of angry badgers. There she remained until being rescued and adopted by an American couple. Currently she lives with her husband, their man-child and cat familiar. To this day she sleeps in a burrow behind their house. She is a raving fan of all things geeky but particularly books and Sanrio. She is working on her second fantasy novel. If you want to read more of her fiction check out her blog. If you would like to send her presents, she enjoys zombie movies, soba noodles, and flannel pajamas.
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