The Best and Worst of Season 2

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

It’s no secret that we were pretty excited when we started looking back at season two. To us, as well as our readers, season two is where The X-Files really started to pick up. The strongest episodes of the mythology, an even more established tone, and the start of some experimentation in writing style, can all be found in this season, which essentially cemented the show’s cult status.

But with 25 episodes in the season, there was still some room to stumble.

So just like we did with the first season, we’re compiling our five favorite and five least favorite episodes of season two. Continue reading

2×25: Anasazi

“Listen to me you black-lunged son of a bitch. I’m going to expose you and your project. Your time is over.” — Fox Mulder

In the first installment of a three-part arc, our agents come across some classified government files and try to decipher them, while Mulder’s behavior grows increasingly erratic. Their story soon begins to intertwine with a mysterious discovery on a New Mexico reservation.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: I could not stop myself from marveling over how fantastic this episode while rewatching it, and I’ve probably watched it quite a few times over the past 15 years. A seminal part of The X-Files’ mythology, “Anasazi” has a bit of everything: Conspiracies, danger, the possibility of aliens, The Lone Gunmen, Krycek, Cigarette Smoking Man, and of course, murder. It truly is the kitchen sink episode, and yet, despite the danger of such episodes becoming tedious and muddled, it really shines as one of the mythology’s strongest installments. Continue reading

2×24: Our Town

“Look at yourselves. Look at what you’ve become. This isn’t faith anymore it’s just fear. They’ve turned us into an abomination.” – Walter Chaco

Mulder and Scully head to Arkansas chicken country to investigate the disappearance of a federal health inspector and find themselves in the midst of a town where more than chicken is on the menu…

Our Town

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: Man, Radhika was right, Scully gets captured or injured way too many times during this season, here getting bopped on the head and ready to be sacrificed and eaten by the townsfolk during the climactic encounter. But before we talk about that, let’s back up to how that comes about (yeah, I just did one of those in media res cliche things, but what the hell).

After the disappearance of inspector George Kearns, our agents are dispatched to find out what happened. What the discover is that he was about to report major violations at the Chaco Chicken plant, the major economic engine of Dudley, Arkansas. At the plant, an employee named Paula goes nuts and holds a manager hostage while Mulder and Scully are canvassing workers, and the local sheriff takes it upon himself to put her down with lethal force. Continue reading

2×23: Soft Light

“My shadow isn’t mine… It’s like a black hole.” — Dr. Chester Banton

Mulder and Scully are brought onto a strange case involving numerous disappearances surrounded by very little evidence, causing Mulder to consider the possibility of spontaneous human combustion. But then they come across a man afraid of his own shadow, and things take a darker turn…

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Enter Vince Gilligan. Before going on to create the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan was best known to X-Philes as a writer and producer on our favorite conspiracy-laden show. And “Soft Light,” one of the final offerings of season two, is the first script Gilligan — a fan of the show — ever submitted. It turned out to be pretty decent.

A Virginia detective, Kelly Ryan — a former student of Scully’s — calls on our heroes for some help with a series of disappearances/deaths that leave little evidence behind, minus a burn mark or two. After Mulder considers spontaneous human combustion, the agents eventually trace a suspect, spotted in surveillance footage, to Polarity Magnetics. There, a scientist identifies the man from the footage as his partner, Dr. Chester Banton, a physicist who had been conducting research into dark matter. Banton seemingly disappeared after an accident five weeks earlier, which involved getting locked in a target room with an active particle accelerator. Continue reading

2×22: F. Emasculata

“You never had a chance, Agent Mulder. For every step you take, they’re three steps ahead.” – Walter Skinner
“Well, what about you, where do you stand?” – Fox Mulder
“I stand right on the line that you keep crossing.” – Walter Skinner

Agents Mulder and Scully are dispatched to a prison in Virginia to assist with the recovery of two escaped inmates. What they find going on within the prison walls and without pushes them to dig into a cover-up in the works…

F. Emasculata

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: There have been a lot of tremendous, quality, standout episodes this season, and “F. Emasculata” is a perfect addition and complement to those we’ve recently covered. A package containing a diseased looking animal leg ends up in the cell of  an inmate of that Virginia prison, eventually ending up dead due to unknown circumstances. When two fellow prisoners are sent in to clean up the cell, they seize on an opportunity to escape the jail in a laundry cart. Mulder and Scully are then brought in to help apprehend them, but when Scully notices some people with hazmat suits and containment units at the jail, she begins to believe there is more going on.

While Mulder helps out the US Marshalls in arresting the fugitives, Scully stays behind at the jail to look into what exactly these men are at the prison for. Continue reading

2×21: The Calusari

“The evil that is here has always been. It has gone by different names through history – Cain, Lucifer, Hitler. It does not care if it kills one boy or a million men. If you try to stop us, the blood will be on your hands.” — Head Calusari

A photo taken before a toddler’s accidental death indicates an element of supernatural involvement, which causes our agents to take on the case. They soon find themselves in the company of the Calusari, a group of Romanian ritualists, who have been asked to help get rid of an evil force.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: “The Calusari” is a solid Monster of the Week episode, tackling the well-known horror themes of possession and exorcism. While it’s not necessarily the most original or complex script The X-Files has ever had, there certainly is a bit of a “classic” feeling to it, perhaps in part due to its similarity to famous titles like The Omen or The Exorcist.

The episode opens in a dark fashion, with the death of a small child. Two-year-old Teddy Holvey (who manages to escape his secure toddler harness) dies in pursuit of a balloon that appears to be floating with a mind of its own, after ending up on the path of an amusement park’s tour train. Continue reading

2×20: Humbug

“You know, Scully, hypertricosis does not connote lycanthropy.” – Fox Mulder
“What are you implying?” – Dana Scully
“We’re being highly discriminatory here. Just because a man was once inflicted with excessive hairiness, we’ve no reason to suspect him of aberrant behavior.” – Fox Mulder

Our heroes venture to the Gulf Coast of Florida to investigate the death of a local sideshow performer. Their investigation snakes through a rogues gallery of escape artists, freaks, and circus performers in their most audacious case yet.

Humbug

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: “Humbug” is our first so-called “comedy” episode, that being something outside of the usual sense of seriousness that marked the series up to that point. Sure, The X-Files has always had moments of uniquely morose comedy, but this is the first episode specifically tailored to elicit laughs from the audience. Written by the inimitable Darin Morgan (brother of producer Glen Morgan and the man in the Flukeman suit in “The Host”), this was his second writing credit for the program. He would later go on to pen a couple of the most acclaimed episodes of the series, and his incisive wit is on full display here.

The death of The Alligator Man brings Mulder and Scully down to sunny Florida to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his demise. Continue reading