I’m in the process of winding-down my X-Files retrospective, with season one complete. But what if you just want to watch episodes from season one that are relevant to the overall plot arcs of Chris Carter’s The X-Files (it takes a lot to commit to a 20+ episodes long season)? Here’s my cheat guide to the episodes you should definitely watch:
Yes, you do need to watch the Pilot episode for the entire series. Apart from setting up many of the key themes, characters, plot arcs and nuances of the entire series – it’s actually a rather good taster of things to come.
In this episode, Agent Scully joins Agent Mulder as part of the X-Files team at the FBI and we’re given plenty of background in why Scully’s so analytical and why Mulder is the kind of believer that he is. There’s plenty of foreshadowing and setting up for events over several seasons, making it a must see.
Again, key characters and themes are being introduced here. But what makes this episode important, apart from the setting-up for the season finale, is that you get a real sense for the kind of naivety that Mulder has at this stage in his career.
Scully is in full-on sceptic mode as the pair investigate the disappearances and reappearances of fighter pilots. And Seth Green stars in an early TV role. But the coolest thing about this episode is its reliance on the events at the Watergate Hotel to add a degree of exposition and further building-up the characters of Mulder and Scully.
Apart from introducing important characters in the series, this episode has some really strong plays on belief. There’s a lot of evidence for the existence of aliens that piles up in this episode, but the unreliable nature of the character Max Fenig blinds Scully to the events that are unfolding and limits Mulder’s credibility.
The events of this episode create one of the first credible threats to the X-Files being allowed to remain an active department in the FBI. Mulder’s struggles against the “establishment” are both interesting and frustrating to watch.
The coolest thing about this episode is the introduction of The Lone Gunmen – a group of conspiracy theorists and tech savvy gents who see Mulder as a bit of a rockstar. There also pretty good at digging up data on some of the most unusual things.
Other than being one of the episodes where aliens are featured, this episode is an important watch because you get a really good sense of the kind of relationships that TLG have with Mulder and will begin to build with Scully. But as one new group of allies is revealed, another is cast into doubt. Worth watching for the crazy conspiracy theories, alone.
The season finale – of course you shouldn’t miss it. It’s critical in setting the scene for season two and has some hugely important pieces of character and mythos development.
I found it a fascinating watch, because it showed just how far the characters had come since the pilot episode. Scully is far more accepting to belief in ETs and the government’s hand in covering-up their existence; Mulder is far more open to waiting for actual evidence before rushing headlong into things (though he still does that a lot). Every sense that the odds are stacked against the “truth” ever getting out is at it’s most evident in this episode.
You can check our full X-Files season one retrospective here. Tuesday next week will see the first part in my Twin Peaks retrospective.