Season One

1x79 Pilot 09/10/1993

The plot of this first episode has something to do with genetic experiments being carried out on the members of a high school graduating class in Oregon, but the plot is the show’s least important aspect. What is important is what a good job this pilot does of introducing Fox ‘Spooky’ Mulder, Dr. Dana Scully, MD, and the concept of the FBI’s X-File cases. Section Chief Blevins, who will figure prominently in the Season Four cliffhanger, is introduced here, as is the Cigarette-Smoking Man, seen lurking wordlessly in the background. For the first time, we hear Mulder tell the story of his sister’s abduction, and we see Scully strip to her underwear in a scene that is jarringly out-of-place to anyone familiar with the way her character will be portrayed over the course of the series. An auspicious debut.

1x01 Deep Throat 09/17/1993

The Mythology Arc begins here. Mulder and Scully investigate a case involving experimental aircraft reverse-engineered from alien technology, and encounter some Men In Black in the process. The title character makes a couple of brief appearances, although his allegiances and agenda remain unclear. The relationship between Mulder and Scully makes a huge leap in this episode. At the beginning, she’s still calling him ‘Agent Mulder’, (which is pretty strange when you remember that she walked into his motel room and dropped her robe in the pilot), but by the end, she goes to extraordinary lengths and places herself in considerable danger to rescue him from the airbase. Look for a longhaired Seth Green—seen later in the Austin Powers films and on Buffy The Vampire Slayer—as one of the two stoned kids who sneak through the fence to watch the light show.

1x02 Squeeze 09/24/1993

This first Monster-Of-The-Week episode is a good one, as Mulder and Scully track Eugene Victor Tooms, a genetic mutant who comes out of hibernation once every thirty years to harvest the five human livers he needs to sustain himself. Scully gets involved in the case through a friend from the FBI Academy, a friend who takes a condescending view of Mulder and his methods. The way in which Scully rejects her former classmate and sides with her new partner, despite her doubts about his theories, is a sign of the intensity of the relationship that is already developing between them. Mulder’s deadpan reaction to the news that his fingers are covered in bile—“Is there any way I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?”—remains one of the series’ funniest one-liners.

1x03 Conduit 10/01/1993

A tabloid newspaper story leads Mulder—and a reluctant Scully—into the investigation of an alien abduction. The circumstances surrounding the case force Mulder to confront the similar disappearance of his sister 21 years earlier. The image of the abductee’s brother receiving ‘binary transmissions’ from the static-filled TV screen is straight out of Poltergeist, and the subplot involving the murder of the victim’s boyfriend feels like unnecessary padding. On the other hand, the shot that reveals the mosaic image of Ruby’s face is truly startling, and the ending of the episode, which depicts Mulder sitting in a church, crying for his lost sister, is surprisingly effective.

1x04 The Jersey Devil 10/08/1993

While Mulder tries to track down a mythical beast living in the woods near Atlantic City, Scully attends the birthday party of her godson and later goes on a date with the divorced father of one of the other boys in attendance. Soon, however, it’s back to business as usual as she turns down a second date so she can accompany her partner to a meeting at the Smithsonian. This almost unique look at the personal life of one of the regulars is the most noteworthy thing about this episode. Otherwise, it’s an uninspired Jaws rip-off in which the local sheriff tries to cover up the existence of a deadly creature so that tourism won’t be affected. The end result is the first weak effort of the series.

1x05 Shadows 10/22/1993

Members of an unnamed government agency turn to Mulder and Scully for help in investigating two unusual murder victims because of the agents’ expertise in ‘unexplained phenomena’, then become upset when the pair begin to dig into the case on their own. At first, it looks like they’re dealing with a woman with telekinetic powers. (Scully: “Isn’t that how Carrie got even at the prom?”) In the end, it turns out that the strange goings-on are the result of a ghost who has taken a fatherly interest in protecting the woman who used to work for him. (Scully: “They’re here!”) The episode’s climax—in which the ghost exercises his powers while Mulder is present but Scully is conveniently absent—is an early example of a plot contrivance that will soon become tiresome. If Scully never gets to see anything, can you blame her for being skeptical?

1x06 Ghost In The Machine 10/29/1993

There’s nothing particularly original about this episode concerning a sentient computer program that resorts to murder as an act of self-preservation. Mulder gets involved in the case at the request of his former partner Jerry Lamana, who soon ends up as the program’s next victim. Deep Throat appears in his second episode as he responds to Mulder’s request for some background information on the government’s interest in the software. The fact that Mulder makes the initial contact implies that the two have communicated with each other at least once since the events depicted in ‘Deep Throat’. Overall, this is a fairly mundane effort. The theme of artificial intelligence gone bad will receive a more interesting treatment in Season Five’s ‘Kill Switch’.

1x07 Ice 11/05/1993

Mulder and Scully join three scientists investigating mysterious deaths at a research station located in Alaska above the Arctic Circle. It’s a rip-off of The Thing, to be sure, but it’s handled effectively with nicely realized atmospheres of both claustrophobia and paranoia. There are some wonderfully tense moments between the two partners as they argue about the best way to handle the alien organism found buried in the ice and then try to convince each other that they haven’t been infected by it. Instead, it’s one of the scientists, played by Felicity Huffman, who turns out to be the victim. Her character’s puzzling lack of the aggressive behavior exhibited by the others who were infected is the single false note in what is otherwise one of the series’ best hours.

1x08 Space 11/12/1993

Mulder meets his boyhood hero—former astronaut Marcus Belt—as he and Scully investigate a case of alleged sabotage on the Space Shuttle. The real source of the problems turns out to be some sort of entity which has been haunting Belt ever since his spacewalk years earlier and which has something to do with the infamous face on Mars. There’s a lot of running around in this one, but the agents never actually seem to do anything. There’s also plenty of stock NASA footage to add to the sense of realism, but anyone who’s watched a shuttle launch on TV or seen Apollo 13 will recognize the Mission Control set for the fake that it is. This is generally regarded as one of the weakest episodes of the entire series, and deservedly so.

1x09 Fallen Angel 11/19/1993

Deep Throat tips Mulder off to the presence of a crashed UFO in Wisconsin, warning him that he has only 24 hours to gather evidence before the site is ‘sanitized.’ In the course of his investigation, Mulder encounters Max Fenig, a UFO abductee who’s so paranoid that he makes Mulder look normal and well adjusted. It’s all very confusing, especially the ending, which shows Deep Throat overruling Mulder’s superiors in the FBI who want to close down the X-Files. His motives are still unclear—is he trying to protect Mulder or is he merely trying to misdirect him? The plot notwithstanding, this is a great looking episode with a very convincing crash site and some effective shots of the ‘invisible’ alien.

1x10 Eve 12/10/1993

Identical murders committed simultaneously 3,000 miles apart lead Mulder and Scully into a case that has its roots in a eugenics project conducted in the 1950s. Deep Throat is present (in California, no less) and actually provides useful information for a change. The well-written script confounds the expectations of both Scully and the audience by making us believe first one thing and then another before revealing that our initial impulse was right all along. Special mention should be made of the twin sisters who play the psychotic telepathic eight-year-old killer clones (really!), and of Harriet Harrison, in what is essentially a triple role, as the three surviving ‘Eves’. This is a very creepy episode.

1x11 Fire 12/17/1993

Mulder has to deal both with his fear of fire and with his former girlfriend Phoebe Green in this episode, which concerns an assassin with pyrokinetic ability who follows his next victim from England to the US. Amanda Pays—Max Headroom’s Theora Jones—plays the Scotland Yard inspector whose past relationship with Mulder (when they were both students at Oxford) causes some tense moments for all concerned. There are some impressive pyrotechnics on display here, but you’ll still feel cheated when you realize that Mulder’s rescue of the children from the burning house occurs off-screen. This is a fine episode overall, with some particularly nice work by Gillian Anderson, as Scully is forced to cope with this unexpected intrusion from her partner’s past.

1x12 Beyond The Sea 01/07/1994

There are two remarkable performances in this episode. One is by guest star Brad Dourif as Luther Lee Boggs, a convicted serial killer on Death Row who offers to use his alleged psychic abilities to solve a kidnapping in exchange for a reprieve. The other is by Gillian Anderson, as we see Scully torn by the rational knowledge that Boggs must be lying, and the irrational hope that he’s telling the truth. Her dilemma occurs when Boggs offers to channel the spirit of her recently deceased father, allowing her to ask if he was proud of her. Mulder, whose profile helped convict Boggs, quickly decides that the whole thing is a scam, but for Scully—and the viewer—the situation is not nearly so clear cut. Noteworthy for the fact that Mulder calls Scully ‘Dana’ for the first (and virtually only) time, this is the best episode of Season One.

1x13 Genderbender 01/24/1994

An investigation into the most recent in a series of five sexually related murders leads Mulder and Scully to a reclusive sect known as The Kindred. It appears that The Kindred are members of an alien race who are capable of projecting a strong sexual attraction, and also of altering their gender at will. Actually, the script makes it hard to tell exactly what’s going on here, and the story doesn’t really come to an end; it just sort of stops. If you’re familiar with later episodes, you’ll do a double-take when you realize that Nicholas Lea, who will return in Season Two as semi-regular Alex Krycek, plays one of the killer’s potential victims. This episode was the first X-Files credit for Rob Bowman, who went on to become one of the series’ most prolific directors.

1x14 Lazarus 02/04/1994

Following a botched hold-up attempt during which two men are fatally shot, the consciousness of bank robber Warren James Dupre comes back to life in the body of FBI agent Jack Willis. Scully’s involvement in this one is personal because Willis, one of her instructors at the FBI Academy, is a former boyfriend. There’s little real suspense here, because what’s going on is clear from the start, when Dupre’s tattoos appear on Willis’s forearms. Kidnapped by Dupre (or is it Willis?), Scully is rescued by Mulder for the first time, but certainly not the last. His feelings for his partner are revealed when he makes an emotional plea to the officers who are preparing to search for her. He also calls her ‘Dana’ again, in a brief telephone exchange after her abduction.

1x15 Young At Heart 02/11/1994

Mulder revisits his very first case as an FBI agent when he learns that Johnny Barnett, an armed robber and killer he helped capture, and who allegedly died in prison, is very much alive and well, and is out for revenge. Both Deep Throat and Cigarette-Smoking Man show up in this one, although the latter is seen only briefly at the very end and isn’t clearly identifiable as the shadowy figure seen lurking in the pilot. His interest in this case results from the anti-aging experiments that were conducted on Barnett, who now lays dying from Mulder’s gunshot after he made an attempt on Scully’s life. An average episode from Season One, this is noteworthy for giving an insight into Mulder’s career with the FBI prior to his involvement with the X-Files.

1x16 E.B.E. 02/18/1994

Mulder and Scully cross the country in pursuit of a truck containing an Extraterrestrial Biological Entity—the body of an alien recovered from a crashed UFO. Deep Throat’s agenda becomes a little clearer, as he admits to misleading Mulder in an attempt to keep him from uncovering the truth. Later seasons will reveal that much of what Deep Throat tells Mulder, even in his confessional speech at the end of this episode, is simply not true. The Lone Gunmen make their memorable first appearance, and Frohike delivers his eloquent appraisal of Scully: “She’s hot!” The scene where Scully discovers an electronic bug in her pen just as she’s criticizing The Lone Gunmen’s paranoia is both funny and disturbing at the same time. A first-rate episode, ‘E.B.E.’ set a standard that few subsequent installments in the Mythology Arc were able to live up to.

1x17 Miracle Man 02/18/1994

After the mysterious deaths of a couple of members of the congregation of Reverend Calvin Hartley, Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate. They soon focus their attention on his teenage adopted son Samuel, who claims to be a faith healer. Initially, Samuel himself feels that the deaths are the result of his lack of faith, but in the end there turns out to be a much more mundane explanation. There are no easy answers in this one. Mulder and Scully never do find out if Samuel has any special powers, and neither does the audience. Scully mentions her Catholic upbringing for the first time, and Mulder has his own beliefs tested, as he experiences repeated visions of his sister.

1x18 Shapes 04/01/1994

A Native American shapeshifter—a Manitou—is at the heart of a case that initially involves reports of a strange creature that attacks and kills cattle. Mulder and Scully get involved when a young native is shot during the course of one such attack. It’s all very tedious, and the surprise ending is no surprise at all. One of the few things worthy of mention is the performance of Michael Horse—Hawk on Twin Peaks—who is quietly effective as the local sheriff with the delicate job of balancing the law on one hand, and native customs and beliefs on the other. One bit of trivia this episode reveals is the fact that J. Edgar Hoover himself opened the very first X-File in 1946—an account of similar mysterious attacks, although Mulder is convinced that the killings actually go back much further.

1x19 Darkness Falls 04/15/1994

There’s nothing really wrong with this episode, except for the fact that ‘Ice’ did a better job of telling essentially the same story earlier in the season. This time, Mulder and Scully are trapped at a logging camp in the woods in the state of Washington, and the menace they face is a pre-historic insect released by the cutting of an old-growth tree. The catch here is that the insects will only swarm and attack in the dark, so there’s a contrived scene of everyone sitting around all night watching the only light bulb, and hoping that the generator doesn’t run out of gas before sunrise. Overall, this is an entertaining episode that is somewhat lacking in originality. It also leaves one key question unanswered: why don’t they just build a fire?

1x20 Tooms 04/22/1994

Eugene Victor Tooms is out on parole in this sequel to ‘Squeeze’, and Mulder is determined to prevent him from harvesting the fifth liver he needs before he can hibernate for another 30 years. Meanwhile, Scully is called before Assistant Director Walter Skinner—making his first appearance—and told that she and Mulder must do things ‘by the book’ in the future. The Cigarette-Smoking Man is back, and seems to be in a position of authority over Skinner, but it’s hard to tell since he barely says anything. There’s a wonderful scene in Mulder’s car as Scully calls him ‘Fox’ for the only time, and the strength of the feelings the pair have for each other are made clear. Seen with the benefit of hindsight, the plot of this episode is its least significant aspect, although the death of Tooms—ground to death by an escalator—is a nice touch.

1x09 Born Again 04/29/1994

A disturbed eight-year-old girl is the common element in the bizarre deaths of two Buffalo police officers who worked together nine years ago on a case in Chinatown. Mulder comes to the conclusion that the girl, who possesses telekinetic powers, is actually the reincarnation of a third officer who died due to his involvement in the same case. When it’s determined that his death was not the gangland execution that it appeared to be, the motive for the new deaths becomes clear. Fans of Friends will find it hard to watch this episode with a straight face: the detective who brings Mulder and Scully into the case is played by Maggie Wheeler, who created a memorable character in the recurring role of Janice, Chandler’s whiny-voiced ex-girlfriend.

1x22 Roland 05/06/1994

The psychic connection between identical twins is at the core of this episode, which involves the deaths of scientists working on a jet engine that will fly at Mach 15. One of the twins is a scientist whose head has been cryogenically preserved following his death in a car accident, the other a janitor with an I.Q of 70. Unfortunately, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm for a story in which the ‘villain’ is a severed head floating in a metal canister. If nothing else, the episode does score points for some of Scully’s one-liners. (Her comment on seeing a photo of Grable’s crashed automobile: “By the look of this, he’s hamburger.”) This is also where we learn that Scully has two brothers, one of whom will turn up as a character in a number of future episodes.

1x23 The Erlenmeyer Flask 05/13/1994

Following a tip from Deep Throat, Mulder and Scully track an alien/human hybrid, but as they start to get close, the evidence begins to disappear and people start dying. In the end, Deep Throat is dead, a kidnapped Mulder is returned in exchange for an alien fetus, and the X-Files are shut down. It’s hard to say what’s going on here. It looks like Mulder was set up so he would lead the Conspiracy’s assassin to Dr. Berube and his work, and that his kidnapping was arranged for the purpose of forcing Scully to steal the fetus. For the first time, the line ‘The truth is out there’ in the opening credits is replaced, this time with ‘Trust no one’, Deep Throat’s dying words. The ending duplicates the final scene in the pilot, as we see Cigarette-Smoking Man deposit the evidence in that huge warehouse beneath the Pentagon.

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