The Horror Honeys: Sci-Fi Honey's X-Files Retrospective: Part 2

Sci-Fi Honey's X-Files Retrospective: Part 2

A Sci-Fi Honey X-Files Series Retrospective by Katie


This fall marks the 21st anniversary of the original airdate of The X-Files pilot episode.  To celebrate, this Sci-Fi Honey 2.0 is counting down 21 favorite entries in the series.  Part I, featuring numbers 21-15 on the list, was posted last week.  Time to catch up with Mulder and Scully in Part II!

14.  Pusher
Season 3 / Episode 17 / Original airdate:  February 23, 1996
Written by:  Vince Gilligan
Directed by:  Rob Bowman
In Pusher, writer Vince Gilligan manages to create one of the most memorable human monsters of the series run.  Played by Robert Wisden, serial killer Robert Patrick Modell accomplishes his murderous ways by “willing” people, through highly focused language, into committing certain acts.  Mulder goes head-to-head with Modell in a nail-biting Russian roulette climax, one of the greatest scenes in the show’s history. You’ll never look at the color cerulean blue in the same way again.

13.  Monday
Season 6 / Episode 14 / Original airdate:  February 28, 1999
Written by:  Vince Gilligan & John Shiban
Directed by:  Kim Manners
Here’s Gilligan & Shiban’s take on Groundhog Day, with Mulder at the center of a time loop that repeats an unfortunate day (who wants to endlessly repeat a MONDAY, yuck), again and again.  The episode boldly opens with the death of both Mulder and Scully in a bank robbery gone awry, and this repeats the action again and again throughout the episode – a cruel trick to play on fans!  Though it all works out in the end, the image of Scully holding a bleeding and dying Mulder is still heart-wrenching.  This episode does have its share of fun, though, beginning with showing how Mulder starts his day in a leaky waterbed, tripping and falling over his shoes, and out of money to give his landlord – while Scully, of course, has to cover his ass at work.  Typical.

Of course Mulder would have mirrors above his bed.
Of course.
12.  Unusual Suspects
Season 5 / Episode 3 / Original airdate: November 16, 1997
Written by:  Vince Gilligan
Directed by:  Kim Manners
This episode only slightly edges over another Lone Gunmen-centered episode, Season Six’s Three of a Kind, which is memorable because Scully gets high in Vegas and hilarity ensues.  In Unusual Suspects, three of the most lovable characters from the X-Files universe are given an origin story, and it’s amusing to see how this bickering trio banded together in a united front against government secrecy, securing Spooky Mulder for their cause.  The Lone Gunmen were so popular that they were given their own short-lived spinoff in the early 2000’s, pulling from the conspiracy lore of The X-Files and giving it a more comedic tone.  The Lone Gunmen was canceled after one season, but our nerdy threesome retained their special guest starring roles on the main series, popping up to elicit paranoid theories and occasionally put the moves on Scully (I’m looking at you, Frohike).  These guys were always fun to watch, and are sorely missed.

Also: Det. John Munch pays a visit in this episode!
11.  The Host
Season 2 / Episode 2 / Original airdate:  September 23, 1994
Written by:  Chris Carter
Directed by:  Daniel Sackheim
Growing up with this show, “Monster-of-the-Week” episodes were always something I looked forward to; they could tell a self-contained story unrelated to the overarching themes of the series, and feature some of the most inventive and terrifying creatures imaginable.  Season two’s The Host has the distinction of featuring arguably the greatest humanoid monster in X-Files history: the grotesque and abominable Flukeman.  Series writer Darin Morgan, who would later guest star in season four’s Small Potatoes, plays the sewer-dwelling creature: a mutated byproduct of the Chernobyl incident who implants his victims with flukeworm larvae.  As if we weren't already terrified of what subterranean mutants bred by toxic waste inhabit our sewer system, Flukeman comes along to induce the fear of coughing up a parasitic worm in your shower.  This episode is sure to give you the B-Movie creepy-crawlies, in all the right ways.

10.  Paper Hearts
Season 4 / Episode 10 / Original airdate:  December 15, 1996
Written by:  Vince Gilligan
Directed by:  Rob Bowman
What do we know about Fox Mulder?  Well, he’s smokin’ hot, he likes sunflower seeds and pornography, and he’s super paranoid about government cover-ups regarding the existence of extraterrestrials, to name a few.  But what even a casual viewer of the series knows about Mulder, is that he has some serious sister issues – a long-running plotline that has been an aspect of what drives the character for nearly the entire series.  Stemming from an event in his youth when Samantha Mulder was supposedly abducted by aliens, Mulder has spent years trying to find the truth behind his little sister’s disappearance.  Paper Hearts gives us a harrowing and bittersweet look at Mulder’s pain regarding his familial loss, as he investigates whether or not she may have in fact been abducted by a serial child murderer (played by a great and chillingly restrained Tom Noonan).   The episode is an indispensable piece of the greater Mulder-puzzle, leaving his character as well as the audience with a few answers, additional questions, and a more complete picture of what motivates this man to ascertain the truth.

9.  Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’
Season 3 / Episode 20 / Original airdate:  April 12, 1996
Written by:  Darin Morgan
Directed by:  Rob Bowman
While this is not my favorite episode when it comes to the two in the series that are COMPLETELY off-the-wall (we’ll get to that episode later), this one has so much lunacy that you have to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the parodic ride.  The story of this episode is told through a hodgepodge of first-and-secondhand accounts, interviews, memories extracted from hypnosis, hallucinations, and so on; the result of which is just as jumbled as the source.  Some of the things we are treated to in this episode include cigarette-smoking aliens, ‘Men in Black’, Mulder screaming like a girl, stop-motion animation, wrestlers (Jesse Ventura) and game show personalities (Alex Trebek and Charles Nelson Reilly).  Does it all make sense?  Not really.  But at this point in the series run, The X-Files was ready to poke fun at itself, and it accomplishes this in spades.  Jose Chung offers a fresh comedic take not only on the series, but on the sci-fi genre itself, referencing Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and even the infamously cheesy alien autopsy home video.  Love it for its tongue-in-cheek humor, or hate it – everyone who has watched the series is guaranteed to remember this episode.

8.  Irresistible
Season 2 / Episode 13 / Original airdate:  January 13, 1995
Written by:  Chris Carter
Directed by:  David Nutter
The X-Files has depicted its share of creatures of the night, extraterrestrial and otherwise, but none are as sick and terrifying as the human psychopath at the center of Irresistible.  Nick Chinlund plays Donald “Donnie” Pfaster, a death fetishist who uses his position at a funeral home as an opportunity to extract the objects that fuel his lurid desires: the hair and fingernails of dead women.  When he is fired from the funeral home – mutilating a corpse not being good for business and all – he seeks to collect these objects by any means necessary, and escalates to murder.  Donnie Pfaster ranks up there as one of my pre-adolescent boogeymen: soft-spoken and polite on the surface, you never see his buried rage until it’s too late.  Despite her experience and professional demeanor, Scully is reasonably shaken by Pfaster’s crimes and the nature of his perversion, even letting her guard down in a therapy session to discuss her fears and anxieties.  Although Scully is my own personal superhero, she’s also human, and it’s moving to see her vulnerability here.  Irresistible is an unforgettable episode which underscores the harsh reality that the most unfathomable evil lurks not always within the paranormal, but in the disturbed minds of everyday men. 

That wraps up favorite episodes 14-8!  Stay tuned next week for the conclusion of this Sci-Fi Honey’s three-part retrospective, and the top seven greatest X-Files episodes of all time.