The X Files Mini Reviews 1.15 Lazarus

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 15 Written by: Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon Directed by: David Nutter

Ah the classic body swap story. Except one of the body dies and there’s no going back. Lazarus is not an incredible episode. It’s a pretty dumb one to be honest but it’s a lot more fun than Gender Bender and slightly less offensive.

The body swap itself is a bit daft. The spirit of bank robber Warren James Dupre being transferred into the body of FBI Agent Jack Willis after a shootout at a failed bank robbery is an interesting concept but the fact that Dupre’s tattoo also transfers across bodies is just dumb.

Christopher Allport carries the episode quite well as the Willis possessed by Dupre. It’s hammy stuff but it’s an enjoyable watch. There is nothing particularly ground breaking in the episode. We get a bit more of an insight into Scully’s past and how unwilling she is to believe the crazy shit that happens right in front of her eyes. Unfortunately she also gets to play the role of the damsel in distress again which is a bit of a shame.

I did laugh at the disappearing tattoo at the episode’s conclusion. This is another non-essential episode of The X Files. We’ve had a few episodes now that really have much to them and it makes me very thankful that most shows have dropped the 24 episode model and we get more killer and less filler. In summary this is a dumb but fun episode but very skipable.

Rating: 6/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.14 Gender Bender

 

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 14 Written by: Larry Barber and Paul Barber Directed by: Rob Bowman

After the unforgettable Beyond The Sea we get an episode I wish I could forget. Gender Bender is the sort of episode that would not get made in these more enlightened times.  The attitudes to gender and sexuality here are almost prehistoric. The episode feels judgey and a little preachy at times. And basically downright offensive.

By today’s standards this episode is pretty crude but it’s not all bad. This episode sees the debut of two people who become major players in The X Files. Director Rob Bowman makes his debut with this episode and he goes on to be a major influence on the rest of the series. In front of the camera we also get the first appearance of Nicholas Lea playing a huge douche nozzle. From next season he’ll intentionally be playing a total shit in the form of Alex Krycek.

Overall a gender swapping Amish stand in is not really that compelling a story and the ending feels a bit like a cop out. The absolute cheek of the crop circle ending might be good enough reason to give this episode a watch. Not many episodes have the gall to end with such a cheap and out of nowhere reveal.  This is not an essential episode and if you’re not a completist I’d recommend skipping it completely. It’s not Space bad, but it’s pretty bad.

Rating: 4/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.13 Beyond The Sea

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 13 Written by: Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by: David Nutter

Beyond The Sea marks a real turning point in The X Files. There have been good episodes before this one but for the first time the show has a real soul. Previously you could treat The X Files as an anthology show but with Beyond The Sea the characters of Mulder and Scully become more human.

Beyond The Sea sees Mulder and Scully swap roles for the first time. Mulder approaches his scepticism of murderous psychic Luther Lee Boggs with as much passion as he does his belief in UFOs. It’s quite extraordinary to see just how little he is willing to believe Boggs the more Scully is taken in by him.

This episode is a real testament to Gillian Anderson as an actress. Given plenty to work with she really is phenomenal in this episode. She is matched expertly by special guest star Brad Dourif. Apparently they had to pay over their normal guest star fee but it was certainly worth it. The scenes between the two of them are electric and we finally get an insight into the real Dana Scully.

We’ve only just passed the half way point of the first season but Beyond The Sea is a whole new level of quality. It is an episode few will surpass over the next nine seasons. It is an essential episode, quite possibly an all time top ten episode, and one that should not be missed. The ending is devastating and Dourif does enough to make you pity a brutal killer.

Rating: 10/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.12 Fire

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 12 Written by: Chris Carter Directed by: Larry Shaw

This is a episode I would personally describe as a bit of a clunker. It features some of the most cringe worthy dialogue in the show’s run and Mulder’s old flame (fire puns are very much the order of the day) is more annoying than anything but that might just be my lack of fondness for the American stereotype of us Brits.

Mulder’s fear of fire is established in this episode but is never mentioned again. Not even when he’s literally set on fire at the end of season 2. We do get an appearance from Mark “that guy’s been in everything” Sheppard who does his best with what he’s given which isn’t much.

The biggest problem with this episode is Phoebe Green who just gets on my tits. She’s British so she gets to say bugger because Americans seem to think that word is far more popular over here than it is. Quite frankly the character is just racist and rather obnoxious.

A guy who can set fire to shit just isn’t that interesting when you’ve already seen liver eating mutants and murderous clones. And if you want to flesh out Mulder’s past at least make it a bit less obnoxious and irritating. This is another skipable episode  but it’s not quite Space levels of bad. Watchable but you’re not missing much by giving it a miss. Unless you really love flame based punnery and creepy references to defiling Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s final resting place.

Rating: 5/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.11 Eve

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 11 Written by: Kenneth Biller and Chris Brancato Directed by: Fred Gerber

Ah man that cold open! I’m not gonna lie I love this episode. Eve has always been one of my favourite episodes of the first season of The X Files. There’s always something enjoyable about creepy and murderous kids and when they’re twins it’s even spookier!

This episode is extremely well cast. The twins as the young Eves are great and the always delightful Harriet Harris as the older Eves is just fantastic. This episode is wonderfully creepy throughout. I’m a huge fan of The Boys From Brazil and this episode echoes that without coming across as a poor man’s version of it.

Perhaps one negative in this episode is the apparent over reliance on the character of Deep Throat to relay the information Mulder needs to progress with his investigations. When he’s popping up in none mythology episodes you know he’s only really there to nudge Mulder and Scully on to the next clue they need. Eleven episodes in and he’s becoming the get out of jail card for any dead ends in a plot.

But aside from this I consider this one of the most fun episodes of the season. It’s a good old fashioned demonic child story. If you hate children then this is the story for you! It’s fairly down to earth when compared to the aliens and liver monsters and this is the kind of story that probably should make us fear what future science has planned for us!

Rating: 9/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.10 Fallen Angel

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 10 Written by: Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa Directed by: Larry Shaw

And we hit double figures with an episode that is a vast improvement on the previous. This is before The X Files mythology is established so the scope is not quite as big as the seasons that lay ahead of us but we get our first taste of just how far the government is willing to  go to withhold the truth.

Fallen Angel introduces one of the most likeable characters in the show’s run. Alien abductee and huge Mulder fan Max Fenig makes a huge impression and provides us with a nice mirror for Mulder to look in. Just how far away from being like Fenig is Mulder? If he was working at the FBI would Mulder have ended up in NICAP?

Mulder comes across as a bit of a dick at the start of this episode but we also get to see a gentler side of him when he cradles a convulsing Max. This is one of the first times we really get to see how much this cause means to Mulder and how far he is willing to go.

This is the first of several times The X Files face closure and we get our first hint at just how dangerous they are seen to be by the shadowy government figures we meet throughout the series. Fallen Angel is another brick in the foundation of establishing The X Files mythology and is definitely worth a watch.

Rating: 8/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.9 Space

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 9 Written by: Chris Carter Directed by: William Graham

Can a review just be the words “I hate this goddamn episode” a hundred times? Space is possibly the worst episode of the first season of The X Files and is probably in my bottom 5 of all time.

I still remember the first time I saw this episode. I was 11 years old and on holiday with school at the Isle of Wight. I was sharing a room with three other boys, one of whom was far too easily scared, and it was nearly impossible to follow because of that one boy’s constant whining about how scary he found The X Files. That remains my most enjoyable viewing of the episode.

There is some nice stuff here. Mulder’s love of astronauts and overall enthusiasm for the space programme is a nice touch and the relationship between Mulder and Scully remains as charming as ever. But seriously I do not like this episode.

The concept is interesting but it’s muddied by some odd special effects and I’m not sure they ever really land the idea behind the episode. The stakes are high but it’s hard to really care. We don’t really spend enough time with any of these characters to invest in their story.

If you’re sticking to the essentials this is an episode you can skip and you won’t be missing anything. It’s just not that interesting. It’s a swing and a miss for me but at least they’re always trying something different.

Rating: 3/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.8 Ice

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 8 Written by: Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by: David Nutter

Now we’re cooking! Once again it’s down to X Files legends Wong and Morgan to give us probably the best episode of the series so far. I have to make a confession. I have never seen John Carpenter’s The Thing which I have often seen cited as a very big influence on this episode (hey it’s in my to watch pile alright!) so I can only judge it on its own merits and this is an episode I love.

The episode cold opens for The X Files are always very good but Ice takes it to a new level. Tense, scary and incredibly intriguing the cold open for ice (no pun intended) hooks you in straight away. Wong and Morgan were always the masters of horror on The X Files and they’re on top form with this episode.

This episode is incredibly strong especially when you consider the show isn’t even into double figures episode wise. The episode also benefits from an impressive supporting cast filled with several well known faces. The tension and paranoia at the heart of Ice is incredibly well done and Mulder and Scully are written in much the way you’d expect them to be written much later on in the show’s run.

Technically you can skip this episode. It adds nothing to the overarching plot of The X Files mythology but in doing so you would miss something special. This is The X Files at it’s best. This is why the Monster of the Week stories are so popular even now. Ice is a fantastic episode and well worth watching.

Rating: 9/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.7 Ghost in the Machine

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 7 Written by: Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon Directed by: Jerrold Freedman

Oh my god the computers are going to rise up and kill us all! If you grew up in the 1990s you can probably remember most of the shows you loved doing a computer panic episode. In a world where not everyone had a computer and most people didn’t understand the internet this fear made sense although none of these episodes predicted the truth of what computers would be used for (porn and flinging racist abuse at complete strangers). As the Millennium approached all the best shows tackled the villainy of these dreaded computing machines (my personal favourite being Buffy’s I Robot, You Jane) and The X Files committed fully to this tale of computers gone mad (and it’s not the last time they tackle this trope).

Once again this is not an essential episode. There’s a lot to enjoy here though. We’re introduced to the first of Mulder’s former partners and get the first hint that the position is somewhat of a poisoned chalice, we get to see Deep Throat again and he’s not worrying about aliens at all and Scully gets to be the bad ass for a change.

This is one of the few episodes that really date  The X Files. Nowhere on telly today will you see the world being saved by a floppy disk. This kind of computer/internet panic episode died with the dawn of the 21st century and the realisation that our fears of the online apocalypse were unfounded. Well for now at least.

Rating: 7/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.6 Shadows

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 6 Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by: Michael Katleman

There’s something strange in the neighbourhood and who are you gonna call? Mulder and Scully of course. The X Files tackles ghosts for the first time in the second episode from X Files legends Morgan and Wong.

I’ve never been a huge fan of ghost stories and there is a part of me that feels ghosts sort of conflict with the world the X Files exists in (much like when Buffy did an episode with aliens). I’ve always sort of felt the two worlds just don’t mesh but let’s ignore my prejudices and take an objective look at this episode. Wong and Morgan are two of my very  favourite writers on the series and I can’t think of an episode they wrote together I didn’t enjoy in some way.

This episode is very average. It’s the exact kind of story you’d expect from a show trying to find it’s feet and fill a ridiculous number of episodes. Much like The Jersey Devil you’re not going to miss out on much if you skip this episode. It’s a story of revenge which is a theme that will reoccur many times over the coming seasons. But there is nothing extraordinary in this episode. It won’t make anyone’s top ten but for anyone wanting to watch the whole series it is at least watchable.

This is the first time Scully’s scepticism becomes a bit harder to swallow. I mean seriously she sees the ghost beat the crap out of our villain! But her unwillingness to believe is something we’re going to have to live with for a lot longer.

Rating: 6/10