The X Files Mini Reviews 2.4 Sleepless

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Mulder is given information on the mysterious death of a doctor who apparently died in a none existent fire and asks AD Skinner if he can investigate the case. He’s paired with a new partner, Alex Krycek, and they begin investigating Vietnam veteran Augustus “Preacher” Cole. Mulder meets with the mysterious X, the man who has been aiding his and Scully’s investigations so far this season, who gives him top secret documents exposing military testing to end the need for sleep for soldiers. Mulder suggests that Cole has the ability to project his consciousness following the experimental procedures he’s endured.  Once Cole is dealt with the secret file from X goes missing. It’s revealed that Krycek has stolen it and that he reports to the Cigarette Smoking Man. Krycek advises that Scully is a much bigger problem than CSM realised and we are left to wonder just how this problem will be resolved…

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I’m not really a huge fan of episodes that involve military types. This is a fairly common trope of The X Files and they’re rarely episodes I enjoy. However this episode has a lot going for it. We get the first proper appearance of Steven Williams as X. X has always been one of my favourite characters in the entire run of The X Files. He is always electric whenever he appears and is a far more compelling than Deep Throat. This guy takes no shit and won’t do Mulder’s work for him. Deep Throat became a short cut last season but with X that is not an option.

We also get the first appearance of Alex Krycek as Mulder’s new partner. The last time we saw Nicholas Lea he was playing a complete douche nozzle in season one’s Gender Bender. He’s not faring much better here. I can’t help thinking they showed their hand a bit early with the Cigarette Smoking Man reveal. It might have been interesting to stretch it out a bit longer. However Krycek is a great addition to the show and he has some good stuff a head.

The actual meat of the episode is less interesting to me but it does have Tony Todd which makes it well worth watching. Why isn’t Tony Todd just in everything? I can not tell you how much I love him. It’s just a shame they wasted his one appearance in an episode that doesn’t make enough use of him.

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The X Files Mini Reviews 2.3 Blood

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In Pennsylvania a postal worker, Edward Funsch, loses his job and soon starts seeing messages in digital displays telling him to kill. Elsewhere a man in an elevator is getting similar messages in the LCD display. Mulder is sent to investigate with the assistance of the local sheriff (literally the first person in law enforcement to believe Mulder and his crazy theories) and Mulder realises that electronic devices are destroyed at each crime scene. A woman slaughters her mechanic (as instructed by another electrical device) and is then instructed to kill Mulder by her microwave. Scully performs an autopsy on the murderers and discovers LSD like symptoms. Mulder calls on the Lone Gunmen to help with his investigation and they discover a pesticide that may be causing the spate of violence. Funsch still tormented by the digital displays commanding he kills heads to a clock tower with a rifle and Mulder is called on to save the day before spotting a message of his own in an electronic display…

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There is a lot going on this episode. Perhaps too much. It seems a lot of people had an idea that was incorporated in to the story (a first writing credit for Darin Morgan, much better to come from him) and it feels a little over stuffed.

As with the best episodes there is an eerie realism about the story at the core. Should we be paranoid about the various pesticides that are released in to the very air we breathe? Thankfully I can say my toaster has never told me to kill anyone so we’re safe for now.

We get a second appearance from the Lone Gunmen (who I still love) and it’s great to see them be used again. Luckily we will be seeing a lot more of them. There’s still not much Mulder and Scully interaction so far this season (because Gillian Anderson is pregnant at this point which is fairly clear from the fact she’s usually filmed from the shoulders up). It’s a bit of a slow start to the season but we’ve got some good stuff coming up in just a few episodes.

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The X Files Mini Reviews 2.2 The Host

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Mulder, feeling increasingly more frustrated with Assistant Director Skinner, is sent to investigate the discovery of a body found in the New Jersey sewer system. Originally dismissing the case as another attempt to waste his time Mulder, with some encouragement from Scully, discovers a strange flukeworm like creature. Mulder discovers he has a friend in the FBI after receiving a call from a mysterious figure who also provides Scully with the clue needed to piece the case together. The human like Flukeman is captured but soon escapes before meeting a gruesome demise as it attempts to escape. Scully reveals that the Flukeman is a human mutated by radiation from Chernobyl and has the same regenerative powers of a normal flukeworm before it’s revealed to us that Flukeman is not quite so dead…

After the last episode set the pieces back on the board this time we dive straight into a classic monster of the week episode and it’s a delightfully creepy one. We get the first appearance of Darin Morgan who will go on to be involved in some of the best episodes of The X Files both in front of and behind the camera.

The Flukeman is gloriously horrific and once again it’s not so far fetched. We’ve all seen the horrors of what radiation can do to the human body and who’s to say what creatures might be lurking out there? Mark Snow’s score is perfect for the episode, as always, and I can guarantee you’ll be checking the toilet every time you go to the bathroom after watching this.

The Host also gives us the first appearance of the mysterious successor to Deep Throat. We don’t get much of him but there’s enough to get us interested in who he is and what his agenda is. Just why must the reinstatement of The X Files be undeniable? It sure is going to be fun finding out!

This is a fun episode. You could skip it and not miss anything crucial to following the story arcs to come but it’s too much fun to do that. Flukeman, like Tooms, is an iconic X Files villain and even returns in the Season 10 (now no longer canon) comic. If you enjoy a good horror give this episode a go. You won’t regret it.

The X Files Mini Reviews 2.1 Little Green Men

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The X Files have been closed. Mulder is assigned to a tedious wire tap job and Scully is teaching at Quantico. Separated from Scully, mourning the loss of Deep Throat and depressed by his current situation Mulder begins to doubt his quest. Aided by his contact, Senator Richard Matheson, Mulder finds himself investigating potential communication from extra terrestrials in Puerto Rico. Scully desperately searches for her former partner who has neglected to book time off from work for his jaunt. Mulder finds proof that relights his belief in the quest for the truth once again (including seeing an actual alien!) but as always things don’t go quite to plan and Mulder’s evidence is lost and Mulder must return to his new assignment.

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Season one left us in an interesting place. The X Files are closed and Mulder and Scully are no longer partners. Little Green Men is almost like a second pilot. We’re reintroduced to Mulder and Scully as well as Skinner and the Cigarette Smoking Man. The world of The X Files is fleshed out slightly and with the introduction of Senator Matheson we start to see just how Mulder has been getting away with this shit for so long.

This is very much a Mulder-centric episode. Morgan and Wong are back on writing duties and they tend to be better writing for Scully but they do a good job reintroducing us to Mulder and his quest. We finally get to see what happened to Mulder’s sister Samantha or at least what he remembers of it and it reasserts exactly what drives Mulder to fight so hard to find the truth.

Little Green Men gives us a hint of the bigger picture. Or at least it feels like it does. At this point the mythology hasn’t really begun but it’s coming very soon. This is a strong episode but it’s more of a scene setter. There is much better to come but we start the season from a good place. The truth is out there and thankfully Mulder and Scully are still searching for it.

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The X Files Season One: My Top Five Episodes

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So we’ve reached the end of the first season of The X Files. It was very much a mixed bag. The highs were incredibly high but the lows were very low indeed. Having watched all 24 episodes I thought I’d compile a list of my favourite episodes of the season. That’s favourite not best. There are episodes I know are technically better than the ones I’ve chosen but this is a personal list of episodes I enjoy watching. So, in reverse order, here’s my top five episodes of The X Files season one…

5. Eve

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You can’t beat an evil child story and Eve was especially creepy. Very much in the style of The Boys From Brazil which is a story I love Eve is an episode I revisit often.

4) The Erlenmeyer Flask

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I might not be as into the conspiracy episodes as I was as a kid but this episode is a fantastic watch. The brutal demise of Deep Throat is a shock to the system and we’re teased with what’s to come.

3) Ice

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Ice is a fantastic stand alone episode. You don’t need to be a fan of the show to enjoy this classic stand alone.

2) Squeeze/Tooms

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Okay so I’m cheating a little bit here. Technically these are two separate episodes but they compliment each other so well and I struggle to separate them in my mind I’m counting them as one. Tooms is the quintessential monster of the week and this is a classic tale of terror.

1) Beyond The Sea

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Beyond The Sea is just a fantastic episode. Gillian Anderson puts in an amazing performance and Brad Dourif is phenomenal. In my opinion this is the essential episode of the first season. If you can watch this episode and not enjoy it then The X Files is not the show for you.

Now on to season two and Little Green Men…

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.24 The Erlenmeyer Flask

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 24 Written by: Chris Carter Directed by: R.W. Goodwin

So here we are. The end of the first season and thankfully we’re going out with a bang. This episode is somewhat of a game changer and sets up a lot of what’s to come over the next few seasons. This is basically the birth of the conspiracy story line that defines the legacy of The X Files.

We get a bit of continuity in this episode as Scully is still very mistrustful of Deep Throat after the events of E.B.E. which is a nice touch. We get introduced to the alien blood that’s poisonous to humans. We see that the forces of evil have no qualms about killing the innocent to withhold the truth. We get alien fetuses. We say goodbye to Deep Throat and The X Files themselves.

This is an action packed episode and is a nice reminder of just how exciting a good X Files finale can be. The loss of Deep Throat hurts but it gives you the sense that anyone could die during Mulder’s quest and it also takes away his easy route to solving his cases. We’re teased with a much bigger story to come and speaking from experience we’ve got some fantastic stories a head of us. Season one might have been a bit patchy but it ends in a very strong position. The truth is out there and personally I can’t wait to find it.

Rating 9/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.23 Roland

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 23 Written by: Chris Ruppenthal Directed by: David Nutter

Oh boy this is a tough one. As I said back in Gender Bender we live in a more enlightened world now (sort of) and this is an episode that would not be made today. This is not the most sensitive portrayal of someone with additional learning requirements you’ll ever see. The actor playing Roland commits fully to the performance which you can’t really fault but it’s still very questionable. I’d like to think today this episode would feature an argument with Roland’s condition in the role.

As questionable as some of the choices in this episode are there is some real heart in it. Roland is a character you feel for and it is rather cruel his life is ruined by the magic frozen head of his dead brother. I was actually quite moved by the finale and it is a very bittersweet episode.

Once again it’s a tale of revenge from beyond the grave. We’ve had that several times this season and this is perhaps the least convincing version of the story.  We do get to see compassionate Mulder again which is always nice especially after pushing the girl from last week so hard.

Overall Roland is a bit of a limp episode for leading into the big finale of the season. You can certainly skip it and if you don’t you might find the central performance a little uncomfortable by today’s standard.

Rating: 6/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.22 Born Again

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 22 Written by: Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa Directed by: Jerrold Freedman

Is it possession or reincarnation? Does it really matter? Born Again is another by the numbers episode. It’s too dull to be described as a bad episode. It’s a bit of a let down after Tooms where we had an iconic villain we get a group of corrupt police officers being punished by a little girl influenced by another cop they betrayed.

The episode is an argument for why the 24 episode a season model just isn’t that worth while. It feels like a filler episode. You could not watch this episode and not really miss anything. We see how Mulder’s pursuit of the truth can blind him to the suffering of those he uses to get to it but we’ve seen that before and we’ll see it again.

It’s hard to make a small child menacing in a story like this and to be fair the people she goes after deserve exactly what’s coming to them. The episode tries to build tension but when you don’t really care what happens to the characters being stalked from beyond the grave it doesn’t really work.

This is a very skipable episode which is a shame. We’re fast approaching the end of the season and these episodes could have been used to build to a bigger finale. Although at this point The X Files isn’t really a serialised show. Luckily next season that will change. But first we have to suffer through the nightmare that is Roland.

Rating: 6/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.21 Tooms

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 21 Written by: Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by: David Nutter

Squeeze remains one of the most popular episodes of The X Files and is the first to get a direct sequel and sees the return of one of the most iconic villains in the show’s history (well two as the Cigarette Smoking Man also returns this episode). The last time we saw Eugene Victor Tooms he was locked up but they’re about to let him out and let him finish his liver eating escapades another thirty years.

Thankfully Tooms is not just a rehash of Squeeze. The episode largely splits Mulder and Scully up with Scully investigating Tooms’s past crimes in an attempt to get him convicted whilst Mulder locks horns with Tooms himself. Scully’s adventures with the detective who spent his career chasing Tooms takes a slightly odd turn with him almost psychically finding the important clue but it all ends up being largely redundant. Mulder’s attempts to stop Tooms killing again is probably a stronger aspect of the episode and Tooms gets chance to show he’s more than a mindless monster when he manages to frame Mulder for attacking him.

This episode also features the introduction of another major character in Assistant Director Walter Skinner. He becomes such a huge part of the show it’s hard to believe he’s only introduced at this late point of season one. Things are looking a bit grim for Mulder and Scully now and the idea of shutting down the X Files for good is floated once again.

It’s hard to say which I prefer out of Squeeze and Tooms. They are both very enjoyable episodes and work nicely as a two parter which is how I originally enjoyed them back in the day on VHS. Squeeze is possibly the better episode but this is an enjoyable conclusion to such an iconic villain. It’s almost a shame he couldn’t return again.

Rating: 9/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.20 Darkness Falls

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 20 Written by: Chris Carter Directed by: Joe Napolitano

Some of the most effective episodes of The X Files are the ones that could be real. We can all argue about whether or not aliens, werewolves and killer AI exist but when it comes to the ancient parasites and genetic mutants we’ve all got to admit that they might just exist.

Darkness Falls falls very much into this camp. As Mulder and Scully investigate the disappearance of a group of loggers they discover a long lost species of killer bugs that only attack at night. We’re back in classic horror movie territory with this episode. We have a small group of characters trapped in a secluded location and waiting to be picked off by an unseen enemy.

Darkness Falls is a fun episode. It’s a classic monster of the week and a nice stand alone episode. You don’t have to be a big X Files fan to enjoy what’s on offer here. It’s creepy and tense and although we know our heroes are going to survive the nightmare no one else is safe. The supporting cast aren’t the most likeable bunch in this episode but you’re still horrified at the grim ends some of them meet.

The insects themselves do not look too impressive. The fluorescent green lights look a little cheap but it was the early 90s what do you expect? If you’re not here for the mythology and are more into the stand alone episodes Darkness Falls is a perfectly fun way to spend 45 minutes .

Rating: 8/10