Like many first seasons of most TV shows, The X-Files’ first season had its share of missteps. But when the show got it right, it really did get things right. The main characters — Mulder and Scully — are well drawn out and fun to watch from the start. Despite Scully’s introduction as a possible antagonist to Mulder, their banter and chemistry is immediately compelling and remains one of the reasons why the show is so meaningful to most longtime fans.
The first season also establishes a mythology for the show (something that has become more prominent in television today). Numerous aspects of the early mythology will remain integral to the show in its future seasons, a rather commendable feat by writers who were just starting to figure things out.
The standalone Monster of the Week episodes from this season are a mix of fantastic and slightly cruddy. But episodes like “Squeeze” and “Ice” establish that classic monster show feeling, while also feeling fresh and even somewhat scientifically possible at times.
We’ll be plowing ahead with season two soon enough, but before we do, we’d like to highlight our five favorite and five least favorite episodes from season one. Take a look, and tell us where you agree (or disagree) with what we think.
TOP 5 EPISODES OF SEASON 1
Squeeze – As the very first Monster of the Week episode of the show, “Squeeze” introduced viewers to a still-memorable, liver-eating villain: Eugene Victor Tooms. The genuine feeling of suspense, the snappy dialogue and some excellent acting still make this a great episode to watch 20 years after it aired.
Ice – A parasite in the frozen wilderness induces some classic paranoia and suspense in this brilliantly written and brilliantly performed Monster of the Week episode.
Eve – Creepy twin girls, murder and illicit experiments are at the heart of this episode. How can one possibly lose with that formula?
Beyond the Sea – This episode isn’t just about the paranormal and the deranged, even though a serial killer is at the center of the story. This is the episode that truly reveals Scully’s softer side as she grieves over the sudden death of her beloved father. It’s a heart-wrenching, extremely relatable story at the end.
E.B.E. – A possible extraterrestrial biological entity and the introduction of beloved side characters, The Lone Gunmen, make this a classic mythology episode that all fans must watch.
THE WORST 5 EPISODES OF SEASON 1
Jersey Devil – A piss-poor “monster” plot, accompanied by Scully’s dating dilemmas and super-nineties date outfit, make for a fairly painful episode to watch. But you could do what we did and mock the fashion the entire time to make it better.
Space – “Boring, uneventful, of little consequence, non-entity.” These are some of the lovely words we used to describe this episode while rewatching it. Awful. If you’ve never watched it, you’re better off skipping it altogether.
GenderBender – A gender-changing member of some faux Amish-like community is killing people, and also there might be aliens. Make sense? Don’t worry; we weren’t quite sure what was happening either. But hey! At least you get to see Krycek before he’s Krycek.
Miracle Man – Schlocky, hokey and mostly middle-of-the-road, with the unnecessary insertion of Samantha Mulder (wearing weird anachronistic clothing) into the plot. Meh.
Shapes – The X-Files tried to do something with a classic monster, the werewolf, with a Native American twist. While not as bad as “Jersey Devil” or “Space,” it’s just not exciting enough, and there are far better episodes to watch.