The Best Non-Mulder X-Files Episodes

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That the X-Files went downhill following the departure of David Duchovny cannot be denied by any but the most rabid and blind of Robert Patrick fans. When Robert Patrick oozed his way into the role of John Doggett there was a quite natural tendency by longtime fans to reject him solely on the basis that he was not David Duchovny. As the episodes of the eight season of the X-Files gradually rolled out it became fashionable to dislike Robert Patrick because he just had so little personality. And then a funny thing happened on the way to the X-Files going the way of affordable gasoline and funny sitcoms: there were actually some pretty decent episodes. It is too bad that the post-Mulder X-Files started getting good just as all the fans had stopped tuning in. Most of us were gone by the start of the 9th and final season and so it has only been courtesy of the reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel that we have learned the truth that was out there for so long. The X-Files could conceivably have continued on without Mulder and Scully.

Improbable:

Improbable is perhaps as good as nearly any Mulder and Scully X-Files that you wouldn’t place in your top ten. From the exceptional additions of songs to the soundtrack by Karl Zero to Burt Reynolds’ sly performance, to the magnificent direction, Improbable is an improbably memorable episode. This fantastic non-Mulder addition to the X-Files canon focuses on a series of murders related to the number 3. Everything about this episode is mathematical in nature and what lifts this episode to such grand heights it that it winds up being the exact opposite of what you thought it was about. A grand number of people believe that Burt Reynolds is playing God in this episode, but it seems more likely to me that he is playing that other fellow associated with the afterlife. This is an amazing episode of the X-Files that appears to flummox some people who want everything explained away.

Scary Monsters:

It is quite obvious that the writers of this episode knew the end of the X-Files was coming. Scary Monsters is best enjoyed as a love letters to fanboys. The primary appeal of this episode of the X-Files is not the scary monsters, but the character of Leyla Harrison. Harrison is a low level FBI agent on her first real assignment and she is totally obsessed with Mulder and Scully and the X-Files. She is, in other words, the very model of an X-Files fan and it is terrific to see Robert Patrick’s John Doggett get totally exasperated from hearing Harrison go on about how Mulder did this and Scully did that on some of the most famous cases in X-Files history. One can well see how Leyla Harrison might have become a semi-regular in a post-Scully X-Files, occasionally popping up to remind viewers of some of the best Mulder and Scully cases.

Jump the Shark:

The episode that killed off the beloved Lone Gunmen. The Lone Gunmen had their own spin-off and, in fact, the very first episode predicted what Condi Rice famously said nobody could have foreseen: jetliners being hijacked and used as missiles as they were flown in the World Trade Center. Funny; the writers of a TV show could foresee such a thing happening, but not the nation’s National Security Advisor who had been given a memo warning that just such a thing was going to happen. What a great thing we had Condi Rice protecting us on 9/11; frankly, we’d have been much better off with Chris Carter in charge. (Or even Cris Carter.) I’m always sad to see the Lone Gunmen take a dirt nap at the end of Jump the Shark, but at least the X-Files didn’t muck it up like others have done and bring them back by telling us it was all a dream.

Sunshine Days:

A young man with the enviable talent to make his dreams comes true dreams only of living with the Brady Bunch. He turns his house into the Brady Bunch house and watches as the kids come down to dinner served by Alice. Perhaps the strangest idea for an X-Files episode ever and brought off with no small amount of panache. This episode combines humor and creepiness and some really good special effects. It was the very last standalone episode before the show’s mythology about the UFO conspiracy brought back Mulder and Scully for literally one last (well, almost) kiss off.