Sunday, January 10, 2016

The X-Files - Binge Watcher's Guide

As I type this, the upcoming X-Files revival is just two weeks away. I've spent the last 200 days - (going all the way back to the end of last June) - watching and reviewing, on average, one episode per day. And now, my 200 day marathon is coming to a close. It was a fun run, but also very time consuming. As I stumble exhaustingly over the finish line in about another week or so, I'll be looking forward to getting my free time back. But I'm also very excited to see the six new episodes that will be airing over the next several weeks.

If you, too, are looking forward to the revival - but, unlike me, haven't had the time or the dedication to re-watch the entire series in preparation - and are looking to binge watch a handful of notable episodes to get ready, I have a few lists that can help you get started. If you enjoy the standalone, freak-of-the-week episodes, I've picked out 12 (scratch that, 13) of what I consider to be the best here. If you're more into the show's over-arching mythology, I've picked what I consider to be the best 15 hours, or top 10 mytharcs, here. And if you have time for both, you might instead consider consulting my list of the series' highlights, grouped by season, starting here.

And if you just want to see some suggested episode titles already, here are the shortlist versions of those pages:

Top 12 (scratch that, 13) Freak-of-the-Week Episodes [link]

#1: S3:E20 "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'"
#2: S1:E13 "Beyond The Sea"
#3: S4:E10 "Paper Hearts"
#4: S2:E22 "F. Emasculata"
#5: S2:E14 "Die Hand die Verletzt"
#6: S6:E18 "Milagro"
#7: S3:E14 "Grotesque"
#8: S3:E22 "Quagmire"
#9: S4:E2 "Home"
#10: S3:E17 "Pusher"
#11: S3:E4 "Clyde Bruckman's Repose"
#12: S1:E1 "Pilot"
#13: S8:E7 "Via Negativa"

Top 15 Hours of Mythology (or Top 10 Mytharcs) [link]

#1: Fight The Future (1998)
#2: S2:E8 "One Breath"
#3: S2:E25 "Anasazi" / S3:E1 "The Blessing Way" / S3:E2 "Paper Clip"
#4: S2:E5 "Duane Barry" / S2:E6 "Ascension"
#5: S4:E24 "Gethsemane" / S5:E1 "Redux" / S5:E2 "Redux II"
#6: S3:E9 "Nisei" / S3:E10 "731"
#7: S5:E13 "Patient X" / S5:E14 "The Red and the Black"
#8: S1:E24 "The Erlenmeyer Flask"
#9: S4:E7 "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man"
#10: S2:E16 "Colony" / S2:E17 "End Game"

Series Highlights (listed in airing order)
Note: episodes tagged with "(m)" are mythology episodes

Seasons 1-3 (Classic X-Files) [link]

Pilot (m)
Beyond The Sea
The Erlenmeyer Flask (m)
Duane Barry / Ascension (m)
One Breath (m)
Die Hand die Verletzt
F. Emasculata
Anasazi / The Blessing Way / Paper Clip (m)
Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose
Nisei / 731 (m)
Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'

Seasons 4-5 (Mainstream X-Files) [link]

Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (m)
Paper Hearts
Leonard Betts
Memento Mori (m)
Small Potatoes
Gethsemane / Redux / Redux II (m)
Unusual Suspects
Bad Blood
Patient X / The Red and the Black (m)

Seasons 6-7 (L.A. X-Files) [link]

Fight The Future (m)
How The Ghosts Stole Christmas
Two Fathers / One Son (m)
Field Trip
Sein und Zeit / Closure (m)
En Ami
Requiem (m)

Seasons 8-9 (Doggett X-Files) [link]

Via Negativa
Per Manum (m)
Three Words (m)
Essence / Existence (m)
The Truth (m)

Coming soon - I'll probably post some more lists of episodes ordered by different themes - the best and worst of each season, the most overrated and underrated episodes (in my opinion, of course), and episodes rated by writer, possibly among others. Stay tuned for those, but in the meantime, the above lists should be adequate in preparing you for the revival!

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