The X-Files, which premiered in the ’90s, is the longest running sci-fi TV show in US history. While on air, it won many awards for its unique examination of the shady dealings of both the government and its institutions, along with aliens, beasties and all sorts of odd phenomena thrown in for good measure. Here’s a more official rundown:
The series revolves around FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigating X-Files: marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder believes in the existence of aliens and the paranormal while Scully, a skeptic, is assigned to make scientific analyses of Mulder’s discoveries in order to debunk his work and thus return him to mainstream cases. Early in the series both agents become pawns in a larger conflict and come to trust only each other.
While the monsters of the week, aliens and general creep factor all make The X-Files a definite sci-fi must-watch, the best part of the show is the relationship between Mulder and Scully. So, here’s a small primer of the two greatest FBI agents of all time, along with a few of the other characters on the show.
Played by David Duchovny, Mulder is an FBI special agent who just wants to believe (ahhh, puns). Mulder’s sister, Samantha, was abducted at a young age, and this motivates Mulder throughout the series to find out what exactly happened to her. Nicknamed “Spooky” in college, Mulder is an avid believer in all things creepy or slightly off, especially of an extraterrestrial variety. He also believes that the government covers up evidence that such things exist. Mulder reopened the X-Files after becoming obsessed with the abandoned FBI files, and was joined soon after by Dana Scully. Mulder is a bit of an odd soul, but lovable – his sarcastic jokes and aloofness combine to make him the man on a mission with a big heart.
played by Gillian Anderson, Scully is Mulder’s complete opposite – at least at the beginning. An FBI agent and medical doctor, Scully is originally assigned to the X-Files to make sure that he doesn’t do anything stupid (of course, he still does – it’s Mulder). A skeptic, Scully believes in the hard facts that science proves, and is thoroughly exasperated by Mulder’s oddities. If you want to talk about bad ass lady heroes, Scully is your woman – she rolls with the punches that Mulder throws her, often outdoing him when it comes to both sarcasm and great fieldwork. In the end, both agents become the best of friends, trusting and relying on one another in an increasingly dangerous environment.
Played by Mitch Pileggi, Skinner is an FBI assistant director who supervises Mulder and Scully, at first making sure they don’t dig out any secrets too deep from the government’s sordid past. At first seen as an aloof person and not entirely on the agents’ side, Skinner ends up being one of their closest friends and one of the only people they can trust outside of themselves.
The Cigarette Smoking Man
The Cigarette Smoking Man is played by William B. Davis and is the main antagonist of the series. He is a member of the Syndicate, a shadowy group in the government that makes sure the knowledge of alien beings doesn’t leak to the public. Cigarette Smoking Man is constantly discrediting Mulder’s work, proving to be a pain in the agents’ sides throughout the series.
Other Recurring Characters
A few other important characters are John Fitzgerald Byers, Melvin Frohike and Richard Langly, or the Lone Gunmen. They feature often within the series, and are fellow conspiracy theorists and government watchdog friends of Mulder’s. They often help out the agents, especially with their skills as computer hackers.
An Introductory Watch List
For newbies, I’ve also compiled a list of my favorite episodes from my recent rewatching , with a bit of non-spoilery commentary – so definitely check them out! Here they are:
- Pilot – Season 1, Episode 1 – You obviously can’t have a favorites list without including the episode that started the beloved series. Agents Mulder and Scully have just been assigned to work together, and must figure out the mystery behind abducted teens.
- Darkness Falls – Season 1, Episode 20 – This is one of the episodes that genuinely scares me – killer bugs that cocoon you and basically suck you dry? Yeah, no thanks. Also – someone should buy me a replica of Scully’s rain jacket. So cute.
- War of the Coprophages – Season 3, Episode 12 – This episode involves – wait for it – killer cockroaches. This is a great example of a more humorous episode of the X-Files.
- Piper Maru – Season 3, Episode 15 – This episode introduces the black oil – a mysterious alien being that forcibly takes over and controls humans. It’s significance to the series and to the main aliens of the series, the colonists, is explored further in the first movie.
- Memento Mori – Season 4, Episode 14 – This episode is more somber – not saying why because spoilers! – but has one of the best Mulder & Scully moments in the show. My feelings for this show run deep, okay?
The Truth is Still Out There
The X-Files has been renewed for a miniseries which will premiere Jan. 24, 2016, and in the meantime, FOX has been hosting #TheXFiles201Days to get everyone ready. Ever since July 7, fans have been watching an episode a day – and we’re going to have our own mini IGGPPC version of that!
It’s pretty simple: every day, watch an episode of The X-Files -or a few if you want to marathon one night! For IGGPPC members who have already started participating in #TheXFiles201Days, you can continue from where you’ve left off – or if you’re a newbie to the wonderful world of Mulder and Scully, you can start from the beginning! In other words, this will be a very relaxed watchalong. I’ll also make a thread in the forums to discuss everything X-Files. However, all IGGPPC members are welcome to join each Sunday to watch that day’s episode together. We’ll be watching Sunday nights at 7 pm EST, so join if you can, and even if you’re not caught up, you can tweet about what episode you’re on. Just make sure to use the hashtag #iggleswatchxfiles so we can all be a part of the creepy fun from today on to the premiere. I believe a premiere party just might be necessary….