Directors: Robert Mandel, Daniel Sackheim, Harry Longstreet, Joe Napolitano, Michael Katleman, Jerrold Freedman, David Nutter, William Graham, Larry Shaw, Fred Gerber, Rob Bowman, Michael Lange, R.W. Goodwin
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Jerry Hardin, William B. Davis, Doug Hutchison
The truth is out there
The young and aspiring FBI agent Dana Scully gets assigned to work on the X-Files. Her job is to pay close attention to what special agent Fox Mulder is doing on these cases, since the bureau isn’t too thrilled about his obsession with these paranormal cases.
Scully is a very logical young woman who relies on science in her work and she quickly butt heads with the more open and exploring mind of Mulder. He was once a very promising agent who got sidetracked into the X-Files and found an obsession with these cases, especially the ones concerning the presence of entities from other planets.
Together they take on cases that other detectives don’t know how to handle and they come across all sorts of paranormal activity, from UFO events to werewolves and even body switching. Their own beliefs also cross over time and there are even moments when Mulder is the skeptic while Scully becomes the believer.
The X-Files was created by Chris Carter, who wanted to break away from the comedies he had been working on for Disney. He was a huge fan of the 1970s horror show Kolchak: The Night Stalker and wanted to create something in the same lane as that. Fox decided to give it a go and the rest is TV history.
I don’t think that Fox knew what they had in their hands at the time when you look at the obviously low budget the first season had, but this was also in the early 90’s before TV shows were given big budgets to play with since it was still the movies that had the biggest cultural influence at that time. This does work against the show in the first season together with repetitive stories and some even poorly written. Carter himself didn’t seem to have a clear vision on where the alien mythology episodes would go, but looking past these flaws we still got a tremendous exciting season that had to rely a lot on the characters that were still in their very early stages.
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were neither big actors at the time, but both were perfectly cast for their parts of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Mulder comes across a little boyish and slightly arrogant at times. He is very intelligent and has quirky humour, an unlikely outcast if it wasn’t for his fascination with the paranormal. While Scully was on the other hand the more “normal” one who relied on science, her devotion to the job and loyalty to Mulder is admirable. Both characters will quickly enter the hearts of the viewer and that’s where the success of the show started.
Here is a rundown of all episodes of the first season.
Episode 1: Pilot
A young girl has gone missing in Bellefleur, Oregon and Mulder believes she has been abducted by aliens. Everything in the case is very familiar for Mulder, while Scully is repeatedly baffled by the strange occurrences that happens during their investigation.
This is the very first X-Files episode, the start of one of the finest shows ever presented on TV. Looking back on pilots are usually odd since it usually takes a few episodes for everything to settle in. Things start off very well here though and we can see an instant connection between Mulder and Scully. The case is a very typical one and we see it mostly from Scully’s point of view since she, and the viewer, are the skeptic one who needs to be convinced of the possibility that this might be an actual alien abduction.
We are also teased with all the secrecy that surrounds the X-Files and it is a very good episode to start the show off with and keep the viewer interested in what’s going to happen next.
Episode 2: Deep Throat
Mulder and Scully starts to investigate the disappearance of an Air Force test pilot in Idaho. Mulder is approached by an informant who tells him to stay away from this case and that he is being watched. Mulder does not let the case go and they head out to Idaho to find out what is going on in the Ellens Air Force Base.
This episode is sort of a continuation from the pilot. We are also introduced to the informant Deep Throat, which will play an important part for the duo this season. It raises a lot of questions without answering them yet to keep the audience interested in the show. Seth Green pops up as a stoner kid to add some humour to the episode and it also shows how open minded Mulder can be regarding where he gets his information from.
Deep Throat is a classic X-Files episode and shows how great this show would be. It’s one of the best episodes of the first season.
Episode 3: Squeeze
A businessman is found dead with his liver missing in his office, even though his windows and door was locked from the inside. Mulder finds similar cases that has occurred every thirty years and believes the same person, or creature is responsible for both the old and new crimes.
Squeeze is the first X-File that does not revolve around aliens. These episodes have been called monster/creature of the week and they could not have chosen a better monster to start with than Eugene Tooms. He looks fragile and weak, but he is such a vicious and creepy monster. Doug Hutchison nails the role and the scene where he is after Scully is very intense and shows that X-Files can also work as a horror show.
It is also an episode that shows that Scully really has Mulder’s back and has loyalty to her partner. Squeeze is one of the more frightening episodes of the X-Files with one of the most memorable monsters. It’s an episode that will most likely be in a lot of top 10 lists of all time X-Files episodes.
Episode 4: Conduit
A young teenage girl has gone missing in Sioux City, Iowa and Mulder is determined to find her. When they arrive to the family, they find the missing girls little brother writing down binary codes that are part of a Defense Department satellite transmission.
Conduit is a return to the alien storyline and this one focuses on Mulder’s obsession with these cases. We get more information regarding his past and get to know that his own sister was abducted in front of Mulder when they were children.
It’s not an episode that has held up very well. It is a little slow and fails to make itself engaging for the viewer. I think they should have waited another episode or two before bringing in another alien episode, since this is kind of bleak compared to the first two episodes.
Episode 5: The Jersey Devil
Bodies are turning up mutilated in New Jersey and the duo heads out there to check it out. Mulder is sure that the killer is not human and that it might just be the legendary Jersey Devil.
This episode never did much for me. The jersey devil, which turns out to not be like the legend, is not very well… devilish and not very interesting and original either. The most interesting part of this episode is that Scully actually gets out on a date and in the end she has to make a choice between her dedication to work or if she wants to have a normal social life.
The Jersey Devil is a forgettable, mediocre episode and one of the poorer ones in the first season.
Episode 6: Shadows
Mulder and Scully are sent to Philadelphia where they are to investigate the mysterious death of two muggers that have been found in a back alley. The dead bodies have an electrical charge to them, which makes Mulder consider the possibility of psychokinesis powers being involved.
This is another decent, but nothing more, episode of the first season. They had a few in a row at this point, with typical monster stories that are not very inspired or special. The ghost activity aren’t explained very much and it kind of end disappointing, although there is arrests being done for once here. It’s mediocre, but since it’s still early on the show it gets a pass for it since we’re still getting to know the characters.
Episode 7: Ghost in the Machine
The CEO of the software company Eurisko is found electrocuted and dead in the bathroom on his office. The agents first suspect is the founder of the company, Brad Wilczek who would later on confess to being responsible when another body also turns up at the headquarter. Mulder gets information from Deep Throat regarding the computer that are basically running everything in the headquarter and Mulder starts to believe that the killer here is the computer and not Wilczek.
Killer computers was a very usual topic in the early 90’s due to the rise in home computers and films such as Terminator 2. However, everyone is more familiar with computer technology these days so stuff like “accessing the CPU” is just silly today.
Ghost in the Machine is very straight-forward with no surprises, adding it in to another decent episode of the first season. The concept of evil artificial intelligence would be done better elsewhere after this and the only great thing about this episode is that it is in fact the very first episode I ever saw of X-Files when I was a young kid.
Episode 8: Ice
A team of geophysicists have all taken suicide at an outpost in Icy Cape, Alaska. Mulder and Scully teams up with some scientists and head out there to investigate the cause of their deaths and what they might have stumbled upon.
Ice has also been called a ripoff of The Thing and it’s easy to see why. The premise and terror are the same and it worked much better in the John Carpenter film than it did here. The acting is good, but it just feels like something I’ve seen before since I’ve always been a huge fan of The Thing. It’s fun to see that it deals with a different type of paranoia and trust then what we usually see on the show, but in the end it is another episode that are decent at best.
Episode 9: Space
Mulder and Scully gets approached by Michelle Generoo, who works at the NASA’s mission control center. She believes that someone is trying to sabotage the new space shuttle and wants their help to figure out who is behind this.
Space might not be the best episode ever done, but it sure is a refreshing original story about how we send up humans into space without knowing exactly what are awaiting them. The writing is done by the shows creator Chris Carter and the story does have some holes in it and it also got some lackluster effects, but I still thought it was an interesting episode.
Episode 10: Fallen Angel
Word comes to Mulder that a UFO has crashed in the woods of Townsend, Wisconsin. A local sheriff that arrives at the scene and he is later found dead. While investigating, Mulder comes across the enthusiastic believer Max Fenig, who ends up being getting in great danger and can only hope that Mulder will be able to save him.
Even though this is an alien episode, it doesn’t feel like it is directly connected to the other episodes with the same subject matter that would eventually be known as the “Mythology” episodes. Scott Bellis is awesome as Max Fenig and makes this episode set itself apart from others. There’s something very likeable about this poor guy who is probably looked at as a smelly loser by anyone else except Mulder and us, the viewers. It is a very good episode, but looking back at it now it also makes you wonder how sure Chris Carter were at the time on how the alien conspiracy plot would proceed.
Episode 11: Eve
A man is found sitting dead on a swing seat in Greenwich, Connecticut. Mulder is quickly thinking that there might be alien forces involved with this, but when they find another similar murder their investigation becomes revolved around two identical children that they believe might be a result of cloning.
Children can be quite creepy and the two young twins, played by Sabrina and Erika Krievins do quite the good job at being terrifying even though they are just small 5-6 year olds. Other than that, the story does leave something to be desired, but it is an interesting and good episode that does leave with a sort of cliffhanger that I can’t remember ever got picked up and continued.
Episode 12: Fire
An old flirt of Mulder turns up and asks for his help regarding an arsonist that have targeted members of the British Parliament. The victims are found burned without any other trace of evidence, making Mulder consider the possibility of spontaneous human combustion, but he would never have guessed that the reason behind these crimes is a guy who can put things on fire whenever he want.
While Ice might remind people of The Thing, Fire will remind people of Firestarter. The difference is however that the person in control of fire here is an adult, instead of just a little kid. The villain here is kind of boring. Yeah, he can put things on fire, but why is he doing what he is doing? How did this start and how did he learn to control this? This show doesn’t always go out of their way to explain everything and usually that works, but in this episode it hurts the story.
One thing that is interesting about this episode is that Mulder apparently is afraid of fire, something I don’t believe ever was brought up again. The introduction of a previous bedpartner for Mulder was obviously there to show how the dynamics between Mulder and Scully. Even in these early episodes, there’s small looks and comments between these two that makes you wonder if it would eventually become more than “just” friendship.
Episode 13: Beyond the Sea
A young couple gets kidnapped by a man dressed as a police officer. Mulder is suspecting that this is the work of Luther Lee Boggs, a serial killer who he believes is evil incarnated. Boggs has escapes his death sentence by helping out the police with his supposedly psychic powers. Mulder believes that Boggs is just acting to postpone his death, but surprisingly enough… Scully do think that there is more to Boggs’s powers than what Mulder thinks.
This is a very Scully driven episode. Her father dies and it makes her be more open with her own spirituality. It brings more to the Scully character and for that, the episode is very successful and important. The episode also benefits from having the great and underrated Brad Dourif as Boggs, playing yet another psycho character.
Beyond the Sea is one of the best episodes of the first season, it’s emotional, creepy at times and gets us under the skin of Dana Scully.
Episode 14: Gender Bender
Mulder and Scully are investigating a series of crimes where bodies are being found dead shortly after they have been involved in sexual activities. The surveillance at the hotel where the last body was found, shows the victim arriving with a woman but only a man leaving after the crime.
Most of this story revolves around Amish-inspired people who live outside of our main society in their own little world with their own traditional ways. They turn out to be quite weird, with some special powers that I’m sure most would like to have. The most interesting part of this episode however, is that Nicholas Lea shows up as a potential victim in a bar. He would come back as Agent Alex Krycek in the second season and become a very important piece in the X-Files series. Other than that, not a lot to get excited about in this episode.
Episode 15: Lazarus
Scully is helping out an old friend, agent Jack Willis with a stake out at a bank. The expected bank robber comes and the scene ends messy with both the bank robber and Willis getting shot and killed. Willis is resurrected at the hospital, but it now seems that the spirit of the bank robber is within him and he is not in control over his own body anymore.
This episodes deal with spirits switching bodies, a topic I believe was about to be done a few more times over the year on this show. It’s an alright episode that does the subject well because of the small surprises, including the idea of letting Willis have diabetes. It did seem a little weird for Scully to have dated that guy in the past though.
Episode 16: Young at Heart
The first big case that Mulder was ever involved with in the FBI concerned an armed robber and murderer named John Barnett. Mulder played a vital role in getting him convinced and during the trial Barnett swore that he would get revenge on Mulder. Five years after, Barnett died in jail but now it seems that someone is taunting Mulder and threatening his life, using information that only Barnett could know about.
This episode, just like Lazarus, plays like a normal cop tale but with a paranormal twist to it. This one is all about Mulder and it’s kind of weird that they didn’t spread these two episodes out a little more from each other. While the paranormal aspect here is a scientific theory, it is the vicious Barnett character that makes this worthwhile. It’s good, but not a highlight of the show or even the first season.
Episode 17: E.B.E.
There has been UFO sightings near Reagan, Tennessee, which Mulder and Scully quickly starts to investigate. While investigating the case, the duo becomes aware that someone is keeping track of their every move, even finding surveillance equipment in their offices and in their own homes.
E.B.E. deals more with the conspiracy aspect and the government than aliens. Mulder has told Scully earlier that they are being watched and now it becomes very clear to Scully that Mulder is slightly paranoid for a reason. We are also introduced to the lovely trio of The Lone Gunmen, a group of nerds that are even more paranoid than Mulder and would quickly become fan favorite characters and they even got their own spinoff show. It is one of the best episodes of the first season, intense, interesting and even funny.
Episode 18: Miracle Man
Mulder and Scully received a videotape from a ministry that has their main attraction in the young Samuel Hartley. Samuel is using the power of God to heal his followers of pain and sickness, but it now seems that people he heals dies shortly after.
Miracle Man is an interesting story, but it feels like they could have done more of out it. I would have liked to see more effort in the Samuel character, perhaps made him an even more complex since the life and changes he is experiencing must have been tormenting for the poor guy. It ends up being a decent episode, but nothing remarkable.
Episode 19: Shapes
The FBI duo heads out to a remote town in Montana to investigate the murder of a young Native American. The killer is a ranch owner who has been in dispute with the local Native American tribe for quite some time. Mulder however knows about the history of the area and is convinced that there is something more to this then just a neighbor dispute.
Shapes is a different take on the shapeshifting nature of the werewolf creature. It is however not done very well here and the episode is not very exciting. It’s biggest flaw lies in its predictability of what’s going to happen next and it takes more to make me enjoy a story about werewolves, even though the term itself is not used in the episode.
Episode 20: Darkness Falls
A group of loggers have gone missing in the Olympic National Forest in Washington. The local police blames a group of eco-terrorists that have made life miserable for the loggers since they are cutting down hundred year old trees in this forest. Mulder and Scully accompanies a local park ranger and the head of security of the logging group for the investigation, but what they are about to find is something way more dangerous than some eco-terrorists.
Darkness Falls is one of my favorite episodes of the first season. The evil in this one is extinct killer bugs that have been caught inside one of the older trees of this forest for hundreds of years. They were clever in involving an eco-terrorist group at the same time and the guest characters fit well in the story. It’s creepy, original and interesting, can’t ask for more than that.
Episode 21: Tooms
Eugene Victor Tooms was arrested by Mulder and Scully and has been locked up in a sanatorium awaiting his trial. Mulder’s plea of keeping Tooms looked up is ignored by the court and he is now a free man again, awaiting a chance to get his fifth and final victim before he goes to sleep for another thirty years.
It’s not often you will see a show bring back the monster of the same season, but I applaud their decision here since Squeeze was one of the best episodes of not only the first, but of all the X-Files seasons. Doug Hutchison gets more screen time and can further develop the Tooms character and makes him even more creepy with every minute he gets. This episode also marks the introduction of assistant director Walter Skinner, who would end up becoming a regular on the show after this. Tooms is a worthy sequel to Squeeze and another fantastic monster of the week episode.
Episode 22: Born Again
A little kid is found wandering around outside of a police precinct in New York. She is brough inside and detective Rudolph Barbala keeps her company in a room and tries to find out where her parents are. Something causes him to mysteriously jump out through the window, causing his co-detective Michelle Bishop to call in Mulder and Scully.
This episode deals with reincarnation and telekinetic powers. Viewers of X-Files will be no strangers to episodes that aren’t fully explained to them, but sometimes episodes do leave things to be desired and this episode is one of them. There is also nothing at all that are interesting or sticks out in this episode and it screams mediocre. Although a mediocre X-Files episode is better than the average episode of other TV shows, Born Again is not something anyone would want to revisit unless they are rewatching the entire first season again.
Episode 23: Roland
A scientist at the Mahan Washington Institute of Technology in Colson, Washington is found dead with the only witness being a mentally challenge janitor named Roland Fuller. Mulder thinks that the answer to this crimes lie within Roland.
Roland is actually a very similar episode to Born Again, just slightly better. I’m not sure why they had these after one another since the obvious similarities is easy to spot. What sets this episode apart is mostly the great actor Zeljko Ivanek as Roland. Ivanek would later go on to play evil characters in both Oz and True Blood. He saves this episode and makes it quite good to watch.
Episode 24: The Erlenmeyer Flask
Mulder is approached by his informant Deep Throat about a case in Ardis, Maryland that is incredible important to Mulder’s search for the truth. They come closer than ever before, but Mulder gets captured and Deep Throat seeks out Scully so they can exchange their proof of alien life to save Mulder.
The first season ends on a high note with this mythology episode. It is a very tense and suspenseful episode with Deep Throat being in the middle of everything. It is a very exciting cliffhanger, leaving you wondering where it will go next and that is something this show would be great at in the following seasons aswell. A strong and perfect way to end the first season of the X-Files.
The X-Files would end up becoming a huge part of my teenage years. It is the only TV show I have ever followed weekly, and in those days you had to set apart time to follow a TV show. If you missed the episode you would have to hope that it would get a rerun months later and there weren’t any VHS box sets being sold where I lived before several years later.
Even though I have a huge affection for the first season, I do recognize that some of the stories are mediocre and the show would go on to become even better in the following seasons. The best thing about the first season is seeing how innocent the characters are, Mulder might believe that there is a big conspiracy and more out there but he still has no idea just how big everything is and how important the X-Files is, not only to him but to others higher up aswell.
The X-Files – Season One is the start of one of the best series of all time. It is a wonderful show with amazing characters, great stories and if you for some reason have not seen it, then you should make the time to do so.