The truth might be out there, but as of April 1, it’s not on Netflix Instant.
This could be an elaborate April Fool’s joke, or maybe a license hasn’t been renewed yet and there’s nothing to worry about, but considering the recent X-Files renaissance, this seems like an inopportune time to remove Chris Carter’s beloved science-fiction series from streaming (it’s available on Prime, BUT STILL). So, if you want to keep up with Kumail’s The X-Files Files, you better start watching now, beginning with these eight episodes. They’re not necessarily the show’s eight greatest episodes (though the two all-timers are represented), but they’re all fantastic and easily accessible to anyone who’s never watched the show before.
1. “Squeeze” (Season 1)
“Pilot” is an obviously respectable place to start, but even if you’ve never seen the show, you know the character beats. Mulder is the conspiracy-minded FBI agent, Scully is the skeptic, and the Smoking Man is the sex appeal. A refresher isn’t necessary. It’s better to skip to “Squeeze,” the series’ first monster-of-the-week episode. It’s about a mutant serial killer, which, enough said.
2. “Beyond the Sea” (Season 1)
Another Season 1 classic, “Beyond the Sea” shows Scully recovering from the death of her father. She begins speaking to another serial killer (a lot of those) who Mulder had arrested years before, Luther Lee Boggs, to gain information, a welcome change of pace from her usual reluctance. The episode’s director David Nutter once said, “I think this episode really made a difference in how the audience looks at Scully. I think it brought a lot of dimension to her character, and for her person, it definitely had a lot of impact.” Plus, Scully’s father is played by Twin Peaks star Don S. Davis, one of many David Lynch-favorites to appear on The X-Files.
3-4. “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (Season 3)
Both episodes are penned by the brilliant screenwriter Darin Morgan, and both are often considered not only two of the best X-Files episodes, but two of the best episodes of television ever. Without giving too much away, the Emmy-winning “Clyde Bruckman” is about Peter Boyle playing a man who can see how people are going to die, while “Jose Chung” concerns the titular novelist (Charles Nelson Reilly) who’s writing a book about alien abductions. They’re both fantastic achievements, equal parts brilliant and funny, but “Jose Chung” includes guest appearances by Alex Trebek and Jesse Ventura as the “Men in Black,” so it’s slightly better.
5. “Home” (Season 4)
Dustin wrote a lot about this controversial episode. It still scares me.
6. “Bad Blood” (Season 5)
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan wrote or co-wrote about two dozen X-Files episodes, many with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz, most of which are worth watching. “Leonard Betts,” which aired after the Super Bowl, is a personal favorite, but “Bad Blood” is stellar, too. It’s the show’s quintessential vampire episode, with Mulder and Scully telling competing, increasingly goofy versions of the same story; think Rashomon, but with bloodsuckers.
7. “Drive” (Season 6)
Without “Drive,” there’s a good chance Walter White would have been played by someone else. Bryan Cranston wasn’t a dramatic actor. He was the underwear-wearing goofball on Malcolm in the Middle or the horny, Jew-joke telling dentist on Seinfeld. It took a viewing of this episode, which is kind of like Speed if Speed was about low frequency waves transmitted by the Navy, for AMC executives to realize Cranston’s greatness, and the rest is money.
8. “X-Cops” (Season 7)
If you like “The Springfield Files” episode of The Simpsons, you’ll love “X-Cops,” a clever crossover of sorts with fellow Fox series, Cops. Mulder and Scully are tracking what they believe to be a murderous werewolf, and the Cops crew follows them along, filming their every move. Other later season standouts include: “Hollywood A.D.” and “Existence.”
Also, check out Fight the Future, but not I Want to Believe. It’s as bad as Fight is good.