I’ve gone through the nine seasons of The X-Files and made my selections for the top ten episodes of the series. Read more for the details. (They are, of course, listed in decending order.)
Number 10: Release: This season 9 episode is the one that finally gave Doggett closure on the death of his son. It really brought the storyline home, and gave Robert Patrick a chance to shine. It’s the only season 9 episode to make the top ten.
Number 9: Redrum: This season 8 episode guest stars Joe Morton as a man who lives a week backwards and solve the mystery of his wife’s murder. There was some great acting from the guest star and the regulars.
Number 8: Two Fathers: The only season 6 episode to make the list, this one marks the beginning of the end for Jeffrey Spender. Between C.G.B. Spender’s identity coming forward and Krycek’s reintroduction, this really drove forward the mythology. This, combined with the second part (One Son) finally made me like Spender, and really feel sorry for the guy, just in time to see Daddy Dearest shoot him in the face.
Number 7: War Of The Coprophages: This is one of three season 3 episodes to make the list. In an excellent homage to War Of The Worlds, Darin Morgan wrote a story about alien robot cockroaches in a town full of paranoia. It’s a great comedic episode.
Number 6: The Pine Bluff Variant: This season 5 episode is the one I’d use to introduce new viewers to the series. You get a sense of how close Mulder and Scully are (although their relationship didn’t seem at all romantic to me); you see some elements of government conspiracy; you see some moments of great humour; you see high production values. Finally, it’s got some great guest acting. It’s definitely one of the best all-around episodes that really shows what the series is about.
Number 5: Grotesque: Another season 3 pick. Very dark and moody, showing what Mulder was so good at that caught the attention of the F.B.I. in the first place. Kurtwood Smith (now on That 70’s Show) does a great job as a guest star, too.
Number 4: Anasazi: This is the season 2 cliffhanger that changed me from a casual watcher to an addict. The fast pace really moved things along, and the ending made sure I’d be back the next season. It’s my only pick from season 2.
Number 3: Alone: This was the season 8 episode that introduced Leyla Harrison. Her presence almost knocked this episode of the list, but it did everything else so well, especially the Mulder and Doggett bits, that I had to keep it here.
Number 2: Post-Modern Prometheus: Known to many as the black and white episode, this was a fantastic homage to the Frankenstein story. It also showed something of Chris Owens’ acting talent as The Great Mutato, before he was cast as Jeffrey Spender. The production value on this episode is nearly perfect, and it’s the first episode I watched when I picked up the fifth season on DVD.
Number 1: My pick for the best all-time episode of The X-Files is Paper Clip. As part of the three part Anasazi/Blessing Way/Paper Clip combo that ended season two and kicked off season three, it was one of the episodes that turned me into a devoted X-Phile. These are the episodes that kicked the mythology aspect of the show into high gear, proving that they could write those when they weren’t just working around the female lead’s pregnancy. This episode was what it’s all about in my opinion. It’s also one of my three picks from the third season of the show in the top ten.
For those keeping score, that was 0 episodes from season one, 1 from season two, 3 from season three, 0 from season four, 2 from season five, 1 from season six, 0 from season seven, 2 from season eight, and 1 from season nine. I think season seven is the only season that wouldn’t crack my top twenty list.