Friday, 21 October 2016

The X-Files Halloween Countdown | Season One (10 Seasons, 10 Episodes)

October is the month of all things spooky, with Halloween approaching slowly over the misty horizon. To hype you all (and myself) up for my favourite holiday of the year, I will be giving you my ten favourite episodes of each season of The X-Files everyday for the run up to Halloween.

With 10 days to go, here are my ten episodes for the first season.  

Disclaimer: I was going to include the two films in this, but we all know which is better and which is my favourite one (*cough* Fight the Future *cough*)

Image via FOX

A lackluster episode overall, 'The Jersey Devil' is an episode that didn't reach its full potential. The overall idea has promise; its execution (and script) however are ultimately its downfall.

After a body is found with its arm and shoulder missing in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Scully brings the aforementioned news to Mulder's attention; leading to Mulder and Scully venturing out to the city to investigate. They later discover that a man died a similar fate in 1947, with a Neanderthal like humanoid killed nearby.

Written by show creator Chris Carter, 'The Jersey Devil' was inspired by an essay by E. O. Wilson, prompting Carter to write a script revolving around the idea of whether mankind is hellbent on its own extinction; which is shown through the episode in an evolutionary mutation that serves as a throwback to the Neanderthal.

'The Jersey Devil' is one of my favourites due to the concepts of evolution and inspiration of the Jersey Devil that are touched upon, however there isn't much of a focus on the MOTW itself. Much of the episode caters to Mulder and Scully separately, leaving the actual storyline regarding Neanderthal's on the down-low.

Image via FOX

Another episode written by Chris Carter, we find Mulder and Scully being trapped by the ultimate enemy; ancient green insects.

One of the things I love about The X-Files is its inspirations. Every episode has a specific backstory behind its conception, leading to discoveries of things that I'd never heard of before I first watched the series. 'Darkness Falls' having one of the coolest conceptions, through Carter's interest in dendrochronology; the analyzation of annual growth rings found in certain tropical tree species. Carter combines this with the belief that trees over a thousand-years-old could act as time capsules that reveal information about past events or species.

It's a testament to the series that out of everything, the thought of being trapped in the middle of nowhere with these cocoon-engulfing insects is more of a nightmare than half of the monsters that graced our screens throughout the series.

Image via FOX

Of course, the first episode that introduces the blessed Lone Gunmen is one of my favourites. 'E.B.E.' explores the series overarching mythology, leading Mulder and Scully deeper into the blossoming government conspiracy that they begin to find themselves unraveling. 

'E.B.E.' also sees the return Deep Throat; Mulder's government informant who points Mulder and Scully in a vague direction towards the answers they are looking for. In this instance, a truck that is being used to transport an extra-terrestrial biological entity across the US. 

In true X-Files fashion, the episode was inspired by the 1976 American political thriller All the President's Men starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. Directed by Alan J. Pakula, the film follows Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the two journalists who investigated the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post. 

Image via FOX

If anything, 'Deep Throat' is definitely the episode that personifies The X-Files for me. It has everything that the show is known for botteld up into one episode: UFO's, governmental conspiracies, a secreative US Air Force base (in the vein of Area 51), the introduction of a Watergate-like informant, true 90s aesthetic and style, Mulder and Scully's UST (even though this is the second episode) and several elements that laid out the foundation for the series mythology. 

After such a strong pilot, 'Deep Throat' cements The X-Files legacy not only in 90s television, but television as a whole. It showcases everything that the show could and wanted to do, and allows Duchovny and Anderson's iconic roles to come fruition. 

It also includes a young Seth Green which just warms my heart every time I watch this episode. 

Image via FOX

As with the previous two episodes, 'The Erlenmeyer Flask' is another mythology episodes that explored how well The X-Files could tell such a complicated story in a captivating way. 

'The Erlenmeyer Flask' is also one of (if not) the show's best season finales, and became the most-viewed episode of the first season. Ultimately ending with Mulder and Scully separating due to the X-Files closure, the duo discover evidence of a secret government experimentation with alien DNA...which, of course, put's them in the path of The Crew Cut man. 

Anderson's pregnancy plays a big role in this episode, as the producers decision to close the X-Files (and ultimately separate Mulder and Scully) was to accommodate Anderson's time off for her pregnancy. This would ultimately effect the mythology of the series as a whole, due to a significant plot point in the second season. 

Image via FOX

'Beyond the Sea' was the first episode within the series not only to reverse the roles of 'believer' and 'skeptic', but it also spun the focal point onto Scully rather than Mulder, giving Anderson a chance to showcase her immense capabilities as an actress. 

The episode isn't necessarily one that a majority of fans would consider inherently 'scary', but each time I watch 'Beyond the Sea' it gives me such an uneasy feeling, even though I already know what is going to unfold. It's the combination of Anderson's powerful performance, the situation that Scully is thrust into and Brad Dourif's intense portrayal of serial killer Luther Lee Boggs. 

Image via FOX

As creepy as the monster he is portraying, Doug Hutchinson steals the show as the most chilling villain of the first season. So chilling in fact that his mutated character Eugene Tooms is given two overarching episodes. 

'Tooms' is probably my favourite of the two, since the episode has the advantage of building upon a story that has already been set up in the third episode 'Squeeze'. It also gives the chance to see how much Mulder and Scully have grown not only as characters, but in terms of their relationship. The trust is stronger, and their friendship is blossoming (along with the UST that I never shut up about). 

And trust me, I've never been able to look at escalators the same way again after this episode.

Image via FOX

'Conduit' has been one of my top favourite episodes since I first watched The X-Files. It's such a somber and emotionally draining episode in terms of Mulder's ongoing search for his sister, Samantha. The way in which it's introduced here and interweaves with one of Mulder and Scully's investigations not only shows how much this tragedy still affects Mulder, but that he'll do anything to not let it happen to anyone else. He allows himself to suffer through the pain so that other's don't have to. 

This exploration of Mulder's character also allows Scully to see how deeply his sister's abduction has effected him, allowing her to see the real Mulder; enabling her to protect him from those that torment him with it. 

'Conduit' is also littered with references to Science-Fiction film culture, especially that of Steven Spielberg; with several motifs and shots inspired by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 

Image via FOX

Alongside 'Deep Throat', 'Ice' is another episode that I always recommend to those who either don't know what The X-Files is and want to watch it, or when I force people to watch the series regardless. 

Obviously inspired by John W. Campbell's 1938 novella Who Goes There? (and the subsequent film adaptations), which was in part due to the new production designer Graeme Murry who worked on John Carpenter's 1982 adaptation The Thing

'Ice' was one of the first episodes to demonstrate how well The X-Files could produce remarkable and terrifying stories on network television; 'Ice' being one that you would expect on the big screen, not the small. It's extremely claustrophobic setting and unnerving air of distrust brings forth a sense of unease throughout the episode, leading towards terrifying confrontations between the characters; some of which fans hadn't seen before, especially between Mulder and Scully. 

Image via FOX

'Fallen Angel' could have been my favourite episode of the entire series, but that honor goes to an episode in Season Four. This episode, however, is one that's close to my heart in terms of being the first episode I fell in love with. 

I don't know what it is about this episode. One of the underlying reasons is probably because it's a mainly Mulder-centric episode; as much as I love Scully, we all know who my bae in the series is. Then there's the added Ufology aspect through the introduction of UFO fanatic Max Fenig, Mulder witnessing a UFO crash site and ultimately being one of the coolest looking episodes in terms of aesthetics and cinematography. 

Everything about this episode, much like 'Deep Throat', just exemplifies why I love this series so goddamn much. 


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