Here we go with my 5th-8th favorite episodes of the first season. From here on out, all of the episodes are quite good and the flaws are minimal. If someone wanted to watch just one random episode of The X-Files, I would not hesitate to show them any one of these (which is not something I could say about the episodes in my prior rankings). For earlier rankings, check out the links for #21-24, #17-20, #13-16, and #9-12.
#8. Darkness Falls (75/100)
I have no qualms about admitting that I am a thirty-four year old man who will randomly freak out over bugs. They are scary as hell and are the stuff of nightmares. So it makes perfect sense that Darkness Falls works so well with me at building up tension. It’s a creepy, tightly executed episode that moves along briskly and actually had me wondering how Mulder and Scully would get out unscathed. Of course, that horribly convenient ending diminishes the impact of the episode but still, those first forty minutes are as suspenseful as anything.
The bugs themselves are one of the best paranormal threats of the first season. The teaser brilliantly sets up the rules of the episode and each time the bugs swarm to attack, there’s this feeling of inevitable doom that Darkness Falls plays up really well. And those damn bugs teach us the valuable lesson that anything that spins you up in a cocoon to desiccate you is not your friend.
Barring that inept ending, this episode sits comfortably in the top half of Season One. Its scary, unsettling, and puts Mulder and Scully into a very uneasy situation. Normally, they seem to always have solutions. Here, they are scrambling by the seat of their pants and it makes it all the better.
#7. Deep Throat (75/100)
In many ways, Deep Throat is a second and better pilot episode. If I had watched this show live back in the day, I’m not sure if The Pilot would have grabbed me but I’d like to think this episode would have. While the character work isn’t as substantial, nearly everything else is an improvement. Some of those uneasy kinks in the premiere have been worked out and Deep Throat just has a very steady, smooth flow to it. Plus it introduces us to Deep Throat and to Deep Throat’s theme. Deep Throat is such a great character and his scenes book-ending the episode really elevate things and add gravitas to the world that Chris Carter created.
But really, this is just a fun-filled investigation where Mulder and Scully seem to already have their dynamic down pat. We have some fun little interchanges (“sucker”), we get some cute flirty banter (“if you were that high, what??”), we get some tense, character-based arguments, and both characters finish up the episode doing what they do best. Scully saves Mulder’s ass while kicking ass and Mulder gets his ass in trouble after ditching Scully’s ass. Basically, this episode prognosticates the next twenty-five years of their relationship.
#6. Eve (78/100)
I may be the worst person ever at sniffing out a plot twist. I swear, nearly every plot twist I’ve seen in any sort of media has floored me. Consequently, I have no idea whether or not the plot twist in Eve is actually effective. Just because it worked on me doesn’t mean anything. But DAMN, did it ever work on me!
This is probably the best of the no-frills episodes of the season. There isn’t much character stuff nor are there any dramatic emotional moments between Mulder and Scully. We get a Deep Throat sighting but he’s just there to move along the plot. Nope, this is just a good old fashioned mystery that is filled to the brim with strong moments. Mulder and Scully’s interrogation of Eve 6 is unsettling and gives off some Hannibal Lecter vibes. Tina and Cindy revealing themselves to being murderous creepy twins rather than just creepy twins was a great direction for this episode. And damn, do I love that ending. You know Mulder and Scully are gonna be fine but I was on the edge of my seat waiting for them to figure out that the girls were trying to kill them. Great stuff.
Also, a moment of silence for Deep Throat’s theme song as this is the final episode it shows up in. For that alone it should be up this high in my rankings but its also just a damn fine episode.
#5. Tooms (79/100)
Sometimes, an episode shows up that is absolutely riddled with silly logic gaps but is so well crafted that it ends up being an incredibly fun 45 minutes. That’s what we get with Tooms. Yes the premise that Eugene Victor Tooms would be released so soon after the events of Squeeze is ludicrous. Yes the expert witnesses on Tooms’ behalf are the biggest hacks to ever hack their way onto my television (especially the idiotic Dr. Monty). Yes because of these things (and the crusty old retired cop using clairvoyance and magic to find some bones that were missing for sixty years in a matter of seconds), the beginning of the episode feels kind of wobbly
But wow, this episode has a smorgasboard of iconic moments. Somehow in one episode we are graced with Skinner’s introduction, CSM’s first words, Mulder and Scully’s big conversation about love and root beer, and Mulder’s battle with a naked, bile-covered fiend under an escalator. It’s pretty damn shocking how much this episode packs onto an admittedly flimsy premise.
Beyond all of that, Tooms is as well produced and slick as any episode of the first season. Episodes up to this point had already achieved that X-Files feel to an extent whether through the direction, the acting, the writing, or the music. But Tooms is the first time that the show displays a certain level of confidence in itself. Gone are the wonky retro music, the draggy pacing, the stilted dramatic scenes, and the dated effects. Though those all will crop up occasionally after this, it is much rarer. This is the episode where the show feels actualized. Tooms is The X-Files through and through and, for that reason, is my fifth favorite episode in Season 1.