The 20 Greatest X-Files Episodes
We count down Mulder and Scully’s coolest cases
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14. Musings Of A Cigerette Smoking Man
Episode: Season 4, Episode 7
Aired: November 17, 1996
A welcome trawl through the backstory of one of the series’ most enigmatic characters, even if we’re never quite sure — as usual — whether what we’re seeing is the truth or not. After all, the information about William B. Davis’ Cancer Man is dug up by squat troublemaker Frohike of the Lone Gunmen. Still, accurate or not, it’s a fascinating trip through some of America’s biggest conspiracy hotspots, as seen by someone involved with most of them, seen through the filter of X-Files history. So we “learn” that the CSM had a Communist father and was recruited from the military to assist in dark, bloody projects including the assassination of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. And via Glen Morgan’s script (directed by regular collaborator James Wong), we also get to dig under the skin of the man, with his frustrated attempts to establish himself as a mystery writer, only for his efforts to be turned down by publisher after publisher as simply outlandish. If only they knew… It’s a fascinating, funny peeling of a mysterious onion that also drops a few hints at other X-Files lore (we briefly meet a young Bill Mulder and there’s a welcome return for Jerry Hardin’s Deep Throat as the pair meet at an alien crash site and consider their different roles in the conspiracy cover-up).
X-Fact: Chris Owens, who plays the young Cancer Man, returned in Season 5 to play Spender, who (spoiler alert!) was the Cigarette Smoking Man’s son.
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|1 ||Jose Chung, foos!|
|I hate to be one of those people commenting on what's missing ... but ... Jose Chung's From Outer Space is the greatest ep in the history of man. It's so intricate, you have to watch it more than once to get all the subtleties. But on face value, it's hysterical. Amazing performance from Charles Nelson Reilly. Worth it for Mulder's yep alone. But this is Darin Morgan's tour de force. It turns everything on its ear and an ep from which the seeds of great other eps like Bad Blood were sown. More|
Posted by xpai on Thursday November 7, 2013, 18:50
|The funniest episode was, by far, Hollywood AD. The moment when Gary Shandling's Mulder says "Oh, I love you Scully!" to Duchovny's wife, is hysterical and super-meta!
Also includes the first-ever TV use of the word "Bazinga"! More|
Posted by Grimm on Friday October 25, 2013, 13:10
|I fully expected to read this list and instantly want to come in and start ranting and raving about what was left out but its so bang on the money that I really don't have much to complain about.
I would bemoan the lack of Humbug and Jose Chungs from Outer Space. The latter in particular. You may have already had a decent amount of Darin Morgan entries but these two were pure gold. More|
Posted by Evil_Bob on Wednesday October 23, 2013, 13:22
|4 ||X files fanatic!|
|Most of my faves are in there, with the exception of Oubliette, Syzygy and Quagmire - 3 I watch over and over.
Thanks for the celebration feature Empire - love it! More|
Posted by annie__hall on Wednesday October 23, 2013, 12:28
|5 || my list|
| In dire need of an update especially because my list only covers season 1-5
The Erlenmeyer Flask
Little Green Men
The Blessing Way
War of the Coprophages
Jose Chung's From Outer Space
Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man
The Post-Modern Prometheus
The Pine Bluff Variant
Folie a Deux
The End More|
Posted by MattBecker on Monday October 21, 2013, 23:37
|6 ||Some favorites missing|
|It's an ok list for including Bad Blood, Small Potatoes, Clyde Bruckman, Piper Maru, and Duane Barry but where is Paper Hearts, Redux II, Monday, Field Trip and Tunguska? More|
Posted by mulscul on Monday October 21, 2013, 16:25
|7 ||This list is an X File|
|Honestly, the most bizarre XF list I've ever seen. The whole list is null and void through its omission of 'Pusher' which is a firm fan favourite and showcases everything wonderful about the show; the talent and chemistry of the main actors, the story writing, the guest stars, the cinematography...
Having said that, it is fantastic to see this show being honoured and hopefully glossing over the damage caused by IWTB. More|
Posted by johugrix on Saturday October 19, 2013, 21:58
|Good list all around. Would have liked to have seen "Humbug" somewhere though. That's easily my favorite episode. More|
Posted by GomJabber11 on Saturday October 19, 2013, 16:11
|9 ||Almost hits the mark.|
|The titles on this list pretty much equal my own. However, I could leave Die Hand Die Verletz and put either Arcadia, The Field Where I died, 4D, or Quagmire, all excellent episodes. I recently finished rewatching all 9 seasons and have found it far more enjoyable now than 20 years ago. Still my all time favourite tv show. I hope we can get movie No. 3 rolling, although the script would need to be far better than the 2008 film 'I Want To Believe'. More|
Posted by angelzbabe on Saturday October 19, 2013, 01:08
|10 ||Yes, Bad Blood!|
|I have watched that episode more than any episode of anything ever! Countless funny moments. Mulder singing Shaft. Luke Wilson's teeth. Mulder kicked the trash can. Absolute classic.
The Lake Placid-esque episode was also a terrific stand alone one.
But by and large, I can't argue with this list. More|
Posted by tysmuse on Friday October 18, 2013, 21:07
|I've got all of the box sets and this feature has made up my mind to go back and rewatch them all! More|
Posted by Hugh_Fran on Friday October 18, 2013, 19:42
|12 ||Death by autoerotic asphyxiation|
|Just as Clyde Bruckman foresaw, this is indeed how Mulder died (or at least David Duchovny in Steven Soderbergh's 'Full Frontal'). More|
Posted by davidtharwood.com on Friday October 18, 2013, 15:25
|That episode was the one that introduced me to The X Files... great episode! More|
Posted by TPM007 on Friday October 18, 2013, 14:39
|14 ||You've missed the best!|
|One of the best episodes ever was Anasazi. The Field Where I Died was also amazing! More|
Posted by paterk2 on Friday October 18, 2013, 14:22
|15 ||You missed out by far the best episode!|
|Jose Chung's From Outer Space! Every X-Files fan I've spoken to say this is their favourite episode! More|
Posted by Psycho Savager on Friday October 18, 2013, 14:13
|Some good choices there. A few of my favourites included by definitely think you missed a trick by not including the "Dreamland" 2 parter from season 6 - Michael McKean is excellent and hilarious in it and "Monday" from the same season. More|
Posted by Scruffybobby on Friday October 18, 2013, 14:13
|It's "Die Wahrheit ist Irgendwo da draußen", not "drauben" :) More|
Posted by Cherubin28 on Friday October 18, 2013, 13:55
|18 ||One Breath (number 15)|
|This was my favourite. I still remember one of the best quotes from the series, from when Scully finally wakes up from her coma:
Mulder: "Bought you a present. Superstars of the Superbowl".
Scully: "I knew there was a reason to live." More|
Posted by Arfpint on Friday October 18, 2013, 13:49
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