We were pretty excited when it was time to start season three — like the season before it, this is one that stands out in both of our minds as one of the strongest years of The X-Files. The show was getting a little sleeker in both style and substance, with a blossoming mythology and an ever-fascinating Mulder and Scully dynamic. And it was even more willing than before to play with the idea of comedy, bringing us some strangely absurd, but classic television moments.
In fact, we had a hard time coming up with our list of the worst episodes (minus one we really really hated), which is a sign of just how good this season was. When your “worst” episode picks are really the ones you feel indifferent about and sometimes even have a few nice thoughts about, that’s a really good sign of a TV season’s quality.
But sticking with our tradition so far, we are going to give you our top five, as well as our five least favorite episodes here. Just like we did with season two, multi-part episodes will count as one episode for the purposes of this list. And this time, we broke form a little bit and even included an honorary mention.
So let’s get on with it, shall we?
TOP 5 EPISODES OF SEASON 3
Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose – Equal parts poignant, suspenseful and downright hilarious, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” is a beautiful offering from writer Darin Morgan, guest starring the venerable Peter Boyle in the title role. It is still a standout example of TV writing about two decades later, and really manages to survive the test of time.
Grotesque – It’s a story that could get cliché and at times it even is, but this exploration of the evils of the human mind is one of the darkest episodes (visually and otherwise) of The X-Files. Accolades all around for the chills this episode still manages to send down our spines.
Piper Maru / Apocrypha – Two words: Black oil. That’s right, black oil! The introduction of one of The X-Files’ most legendary substances and some of the most standout scenes in the series’ history are all here in this two-part, action-packed adventure.
Pusher – Two words, again: Cerulean blue. One of The X-Files’ most memorable villains, Robert Patrick Modell, is introduced to us in this monster of the week episode. The final climax is probably amongst the most suspenseful on the entire series. Need we say more?
Jose Chung’s From Outer Space – Zany, nonsensical, and a loving homage to the nerds who love The X-Files… “Jose Chung” remains one of the best episodes of the series and a fan favorite to this very day. It’s a bleeping good time all around, though if you know any new Philes, it’s probably best for them to learn more about the show’s inside jokes and overplayed tropes before they watch it.
Honorable Mention: Wetwired – Interweaving ever so slightly with the show’s mythology, and showing us the extent of Scully’s suffering over the past three years as she finds herself immersed in a state of paranoia, this episode is really dear to our hearts. It’s definitely not an episode to overlook.
WORST 5 EPISODES OF SEASON 3
D.P.O. – It can be fun to watch this episode as a kind of novelty. It features a number of guest stars before they went on to have some fairly notable careers (Jack Black, Giovanni Ribisi). But the nineties teen angst angle just doesn’t hold up particularly well in our eyes.
The List – A recently executed inmate appears to be exacting revenge from beyond the grave, which could be a creepy and cool angle. And it is, when the bloated storyline and side plots aren’t distracting from the relevant details. Unfortunately, those extraneous elements end up being a little too distracting for us to give this X-File a whole lotta love.
The Walk – Astral projection and a commentary on the evils of war do not a good marriage make. While elements of this episode are interesting, there isn’t too much going on overall for it to be a particularly standout episode of the show.
Revelations – Scully’s Catholic background comes to the foreground in this story about a kid who seems to suffer from stigmata, but while this episode is pretty atmospheric and even enjoyable at times, it’s not amongst the strongest of season three. But we wouldn’t damn it as unwatchable either.
Teso Dos Bichos – What the hell was that? No really, what the hell was that? When killer cats are at the center of your story, you’re definitely in trouble. Probably one of the WORST EPISODES EVER and no one should ever watch it again.