As the 11th season of “The X-Files” approaches, we look back at 10 of the show’s best episodes.
Season 1, Episode 8
In an homage to John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” Mulder and Scully are sent to Alaska to investigate a remote outpost where the workers are being killed by an alien parasitic lifeform.
Season 6, Episode 2
This “X-Files” episode marked the first time that Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston worked together and was what convinced Gilligan that Cranston would be perfect for the lead in “Breaking Bad.” Aside from that, it’s a thrilling hour of TV that finds Cranston forced to maintain a certain speed in a car lest his head explodes. He kidnaps Mulder to assist in the driving.
8. Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man
Season 4, Episode 7
Flashback episodes can be tricky, but Season 4’s “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man” is a perfect example of one done right. The Cigarette Smoking Man had largely remained an enigma up to this point and this episode heightened his mystique — he had apparently been at the center of many of America’s greatest conspiracy theories — while showcasing how imposing the forces working against Mulder and Scully really were.
Season 6, Episode 3
When Mulder ends up stuck on a luxury liner full of Nazis in 1939, Scully teams up with the Lone Gunmen and Skinner to find a way to save him. The episode was lauded for its unique style — it was written and edited by creator Chris Carter — which included numerous shots filmed to appear as single takes.
6. The Post-Modern Prometheus
Season 5, Episode 5
“The Post-Modern Prometheus” — an entirely black-and-white episode with an “X-Files” twist on the classic “Frankenstein” story — is the show at its most beautiful. The episode famously had roles specifically written for both actress Roseanne Barr (who was unavailable) and singer Cher (who turned down her singer role because she wanted to act in an episode).
5. Colony/End Game
Season 2, Episodes 16/17
“The X-Files” still remains the king of the two-part episode, and “Colony” and “End Game” represent the show’s mythology episodes at their very best. Mulder and Scully find themselves up against the shapeshifting bounty hunters. Mulder eventually has to choose between his new partner and his sister Samantha who he had been searching for for years.
4. Memento Mori
Season 4, Episode 14
This Season 4 episode nabbed Gillian Anderson a lead actress Emmy as Scully began her cancer treatment and Mulder frantically searched for what happened to her while she was taken.
3. Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose
Season 3, Episode 4
“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” is a mixture of everything that made “The X-Files” the juggernaut that it became for years: scares, jokes, suspense, and deeply sad moments. The partners team up with a crotchety man who can see the future to stop a killer from taking the lives of psychics and fortune-tellers. The episode won Peter Boyle an Emmy for outstanding guest actor in a drama series and the episode itself for outstanding writing in a drama series.
Season 4, Episode 2
“Home” is easily the scariest and most suspenseful episode of “The X-Files” to date. The episode was so controversial that it received the series’ only TV-MA rating and Fox never re-aired it. The agents head to Pennsylvania, where they run into an inbred family on a remote farm.
1. Jose Chung’s From Outer Space
Season 3, Episode 20
“The X-Files” pretty much wrote the book on meta episodes — a playbook that shows like “Supernatural” have been borrowing from for years — and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” ranks as the series’ best. “Jose Chung’s” — perhaps the most written-about episode of all in the “X-Files” library — is a Rashomon-style ep about the investigation of a UFO encounter. It manages to pose questions about the elusiveness of finding the truth (a theme throughout the series) while also poking fun at the more rabid fans of the show.