The five ‘X-Files’ episodes you’ll want to watch

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in “The X-Files.”
Doug Hyun/Fox
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in “The X-Files.”

If you’ve been following along with Fox’s “201 Days of The X-Files,” then you’ve been watching one episode a day since July in the run-up to Sunday night’s miniseries relaunch. But even if you haven’t, you still have time to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the series: Just watch these five episodes. Among the series’ best, they represent the masterful writing and alternative storytelling that made “The X-Files” so consistently enjoyable.

Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

The dynamic between Mulder and Scully depended on the fact that they only trusted each other, even though she had been assigned to the X-Files to spy on Mulder and debunk his theories. Here, their chemistry is evident in their first scene together. The Smoking Man’s presence in Chief Blevins’s office is creepy enough to be noticeable, but not revealing enough to indicate what role he would play in the series.

Season 1, Episode 3: Squeeze

The series’ third episode showed that “The X-Files” wasn’t just going to be about UFOs or government conspiracies. “Squeeze” was the first “monster-of-the-week” episode, featuring a man who could stretch and contort his body to squeeze into ventilation shafts, chimneys, and toilets so that he could kill people and eat their livers. As one does. The episode is as scary as it is disgusting, without being gratuitously gross.

Season 1, Episode 13: Beyond the Sea


In a story reminiscent of “The Silence of the Lambs,” Mulder and Scully interview inmate Luther Lee Boggs, who claims to have psychic visions of an abducted couple. Mulder thinks he’s lying, but Boggs’ ability to channel Scully’s deceased father convinces her he is telling the truth. This was the first episode in which the writers flipped the dynamic between Scully and Mulder, making him the skeptic and her the believer.

Season 3, Episode 4: Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

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Heralded by many as the best of the series, this was a standalone episode in which Mulder and Scully investigate a series of murders of fortune tellers and psychics in Minnesota. Peter Boyle plays Clyde Bruckman, a man who can foretell how people will die and who grudgingly helps Mulder and Scully on the case. Darin Morgan’s script masterfully blended dark humor with poignant meditations on mortality in a way that wasn’t flippant or cheesy.

Season 5, Episode 12: Bad Blood

“Bad Blood” was a comedy based on the discrepancies between Scully’s and Mulder’s versions of events. The episode opens with Mulder driving a stake into the chest of Ronnie Strickland, whom Mulder believes to be a vampire even though Strickland’s fangs are fake. Mulder and Scully then compare notes so that they have their stories straight when they talk to Skinner. “Bad Blood” was the strongest of all the series’ comedic episodes. Like many of the standalone episodes in season 5, it proved that the writers were not only willing to abandon linear storytelling but play with tone as well. If you watch only one episode on this list, “Bad Blood” should be it.

Patrick Garvin, a Globe graphic artist, can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PatrickMGarvin.