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At this time I will share with you the quintessential 15 X-Files episodes that you must see, and which are my favorites (in order of season within which they appear). Note: none of these episodes are part of the overarching conspiracy storyline (which is summed up by Chris Carter in this illegal copy of the hidden track from the x-files album). Though I do like the overarching storyline, I don’t think they constitute what makes the show a classic. Some of the episodes are available on this website, though they may be taken down at this point. So without further adieu:

  1. Squeeze and Tooms (2 part series): These two episodes track a genetically mutated man who can eat livers, use some kind of bodily substance to build a cocoon, and extend his life by 30 years at a time. It’s super creepy, and when I was a kid, I found it quite (pleasantly, upon reflection) disturbing. Note: the man can squeeze through small openings like an octopus; in other words, be afraid of your toilet. There are plenty of other good moments in season 1, but I think (besides the Jersey Devil one, where the sexual tension is at high, and the Pilot where Skully gets naked for Mulder) it’s my favorite.
  2. War of the Coprophages (Season 3): This is one of the more underrated episodes in my opinion. I love it, for the reason that I love almost any specific episode, because of the sexual tension. Basically, Mulder investigates something and Skully decides not to come, but when Mulder finds an attractive girl who likes cockroaches more than humans, Skully gets jealous. It’s pretty brilliant. I won’t spoil the ending, but it does involve an eccentric and secluded old cranky mechanical engineer turned bug-bot inventor.
  3. Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (Season 3): An instant classic. It’s unbelievably meta. It’s a story about a man investigating a UFO abduction for a book and trying to clarify and confirm the story. In the process we even get to hear the story from the aliens perspective (sorta), AND there are: a second alien race that lives at the center of the earth and has massive orgies, the always fun Men in Black, and Mulder eats an entire pie at a diner. It’s so crucial. If you only watch one, I’d suggest this one.
  4. Home (Season 4): If you haven’t heard about this episode, then you probably haven’t heard much about the X-Files. It always comes up. The show was aired only twice on fox, once when in its normal slot, and another time during a special Halloween showing where it was given a TV-MA rating (and no doubt Fox lost a lot of money on advertising). It’s about an imbred family, and rivals the original “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in familial horror (subsequently, there is a lot of classic American imagery which media studies students could draw all kinds of references to: Edward Hoppers American landscapes, the work of David Lynch, and I’d argue even Hitchcockian American conceptions). I won’t spoil it, but if you want to be freaking creeped, check it.
  5. Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (Season 4): I sure wish they kept his name as “cancer man,” it sounds way more bad-ass. Anyway, this is another one I think is pretty underrated. It’s told as a story from the perspective of two of the three Lone Gunmen (hackers and engineers who distribute a subversive magazine about conspiracies as a hobby), which already gets it high up on my list of favorites (The Lone Gunmen are something of a cult phenomenon, they had their own show at one point, and there’s even ablog named after them ;). It reveals a lot of awesome back story that involved the background mythology of the television show; like for instance, the Cancer Man is responsible for several nationally recognized assassinations of major American public figures.
  6. The Usual Suspects (Season 5): I really only included this because it explains Mulder’s association with the Lone Gunman. Like I said, these episodes have a cult following, so they’re worth seeing for the quirky eccentric trio.
  7. The Post-Modern Prometheus (Season 5): In all black in white, this is a TV replica of David Lynch’s Elephant Man (which I recently watch and enjoyed very much). In fact, until today when I looked it up on the internet, I was convinced it was co-directed by him (it wasn’t to my research, and makes much more sense because it’s too funny to be D.L.). Also, it takes place in Bloomington, Indiana—-home of Indiana University (holler). It also has a great song by Cher in it, and a cameo by Jerry Springer.
  8. Pusher and Kitsunegari (Season 3 and Season 5): I included these two episodes because they are some of the cooler psychological-thriller, real FBI, type episodes. Just really enjoyable stuff, quite suspenseful.
  9. Bad Blood (Season 5): This another one of my favorites. It’s a comedy one, and features Luke Wilson. The story is told from several perspectives (similar to Jose Chung’s), which is where a lot of the comedy comes from. Hands down, another brilliant one. If you don’t want to be scared, and just want to have fun, then watch this one and Jose Chung’s first (though there are a couple other funny ones, too). This is Gillian Anderson’s favorite, too, in case you were wondering.
  10. Dreamland (Season 6, two part series): Another funny, and quite genius, set of episodes. In these, Mulder switches bodies with a middle-aged man having a mid-life crisis. Another comedic one, maybe not the best, but truly entertaining. Honestly, I sense ideologies of American Beauty, though clearly not meant to be as dramatic and Hollywood.
  11. Arcadia (Season 6): Another funny one (you can see where my favorites lie). The comedy is quite absurd. Mulder and Skully must pretend to be suburban newlyweds in a planned community. Need I say more? My favorite line: “Woman! Get back in the kitchen and make me a samwich!” Too bad about Skully’s lab equipment, and Mulder get’s in trouble for playing basketball at night. Wonderful.
  12. The Unnatural (Season 6): This was the hardest one for me to choose because I was debating about two other episodes in the season that I also enjoy (the Christmas episode “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas,” and “Monday,” which would have been self-indulgent because its about time travel). But, this one is crucial. It marks DD’s (David Duchovny’s) director and writer debut. It’s funny, and also has a warm feeling to it. It’s a real nice story about some aliens who just want to play baseball, and there’s a little bit of old-fashioned cinematic time travel (for me) in there, too.
  13. Field Trip (Season 6): Ever wonder about the mysterious power of mushrooms? Well, Mulder and Skully found out just what they can do. They end up hallucinating, I’ll say that much.
  14. X-Cops (season 7): I almost didn’t include this one, because I haven’t seen it in a ridiculously long time. However, a friend (Liz) told me it was good, and I love the creative use of the reality-TV aesthetic. It’s like cops, only, it’s actually X-Files (a little ahead of it’s time, in terms of critique of the reality TV style, if ask me.
  15. Je Souhaite (Season 7): Mulder finds a genie in a carpet and gets three wishes. Believe it! Well, he wishes for world peace. But in the end, the episode has a tight philosophical punch. A great one to end the list with. The title is French for “I Wish.” (Edit: Liz specified, this one is WAY cheesey, you should be warned)

So, that’s the fruit of years of television research. Enjoy.

I want to believe.

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