After the aches and pains of season seven, the eighth season of The X-Files actually felt reinvigorated, even with Fox Mulder missing from a good chunk of the action. Rewatching this season was ultimately a delight for us — while some monster of the week episodes still lagged in the way that episodes from season seven did, there were other episodes that were genuinely inspired. Plus, the emotional aspects of this season were really well done, thanks in large part to Gillian Anderson’s powerhouse performances. And we really do think that Agent John Doggett is a pretty decent guy, even if he is a bit square compared to a certain spooky G-man.
So we continue our grand tradition of looking back at the best and worst of the season. As always, two-part mythology episodes (including a certain two-parter that had a weeks-long hiatus in between) count as one installment for our purposes. Take a look at our nominees and give us your thoughts.
TOP 5 EPISODES OF SEASON 8
Redrum – Even though Doggett and Scully play relatively reduced roles in this episode, this is one of the standouts of the season. The story of a man racing backwards in time to prevent his wife’s murder has elements from classic science fiction, while also being beautifully told to the viewers. You can’t go wrong watching this one.
Via Negativa – This haunting episode is the one where Doggett slowly begins to “believe” — it’s creepy and disturbing, but manages to include moments of levity while also showing us the expansion of a core character’s journey. It’s another knockout effort from The X-Files crew.
Per Manum – While this episode contains some mystery and intrigue, it’s really the emotional stuff — largely conveyed by Mulder and Scully flashbacks — that makes it an important episode to watch. And despite the fact that we’re mostly viewing it via flashback, it’s a pleasure to see the Mulder/Scully dynamic reemerge in a season that doesn’t have a lot of it.
This is Not Happening / Deadalive – Though these episodes are not without flaws, Mulder’s return is obviously a pivotal part of the season. And once again, it’s the character development and emotional aspects of the episodes that really stand out the most, though the visual effects also pleasantly hold up all these years later.
Vienen – Mulder and Doggett reluctantly team up for this episode, which ends up being one of the most exciting and action-packed episodes of the season: The black oil makes its final appearance and there are explosions of the literal and figurative kind as Mulder’s career draws to a close.
WORST 5 EPISODES OF SEASON 8
Patience – It’s Scully and Doggett’s first X-File together and while the episode is atmospheric and has its redeemable moments, this batty mystery isn’t as memorable as we feel it ought to be — not horrifyingly awful, but certainly not one of our favorites.
Surekill – Something falls flat in this episode and it probably doesn’t help that it aired after two fantastic episodes in a row. It feels a bit stale and a bit like filler at this point in the series’ run and can easily be skipped.
Salvage – While entertained by former Terminator 2 actor Robert Patrick’s line about metal men only existing in the movies, we were not particularly entertained by “Salvage,” which again felt a bit like another case of old hat to us. While it’s hard to stay original eight seasons into a show about the paranormal, there were at least a couple of episodes this season that showed us it could be done. This episode definitely does not fall into that category.
Badlaa – While season eight brought us some gems, it also brought us the “butt genie” found in this mostly maligned episode. The gross factor is gross even for The X-Files and elements of xenophobia, amongst some senseless plot points, continue making this a pretty painful episode to watch. It’s quite possibly one of the worst of the series as a whole.
Medusa – Here’s a story that had potential and it certainly had an interesting setting, but it’s too full of plot holes to really work as an episode. A fine effort perhaps, but still a very messy one.