The X-Files Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot


We started watching The X-Files again the other night — this is probably the 5th or 6th time we’ve re-started this series just in the years we’ve been together — and I am SO EXCITED. I mentioned to Nate that maybe this would be the time I finally compile the episodes into a fully ranked list, and he said “why don’t you just review each episode?”, so here we are.

These will, obviously, be shorter reviews than movie ones since I’m just typing up my thoughts about a 45-minute long episode, but I’m hoping at the end of these 9 seasons I CAN make that definitive list of worst-to-best X-Files episodes.

Anyways, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot. I imagine it could be tough for me to be completely objective since just seeing Mulder and Scully on screen is like an instant jolt of good feelings and nostalgia, but… I feel like this initial episode does a great job of introducing us to so many recurring aspects of the show. We see some of Scully’s classic skepticism, though with a bit more earnest curiosity and fascination than she usually shows (the scene of them cracking up laughing in the rain while Scully starts to agree with Mulder’s wild theories is amazing).


We see Mulder’s unwavering belief in the unexplained and the unlikely, though with more unbridled enthusiasm than usual (in another rainy scene, he throws his arms in the air in triumph and lets out a loud “yes!” when they see a bright flash of light and lose 9 minutes of time at the same spot he had previously marked with a big, bright X. We also see plenty of his classic humor — his blend of brooding contemplation, enthusiastic exploration, and dry humor has always been one of my favorite parts about the show. When they’re on the plane to Oregon and Scully is tense, gripping the armrest, while Mulder lies there, eyes wide in excitement and acceptance, a subtle smile on his face, before he leans over and says “this must be the place”… perfect.

We also see The Smoking Man do his fair share of wordless skulking, and capping off the episode by storing the implant in a vast evidence room within the Pentagon. They even manage to kickstart the mythology aspect of the series, with Mulder revealing his backstory (with Samantha being abducted) as well as his suspicions.

Lastly, we get the first of many indications of their complex relationship, most obviously the scene when Scully shows up at Mulder’s motel door asking him to examine the bumps on her lower back. Gillian Anderson would say later that this scene felt gratuitous (more the location of the bumps and the need to remove clothing rather than the examination itself), and Chris Carter said it was meant to highlight their platonic relationship, and while I think that is true to some degree, I think in some ways it did the opposite. The intimacy that was packed into that quick encounter is palpable, and it starts a long string of similarly loaded moments throughout the series. Their attraction is never based around sexual desire but there is a definite undercurrent of tension flowing beneath the surface of their shared respect, admiration, and love. (I’m getting WAY too into this already, aren’t I?)

Alright, I may have said these reviews wouldn’t be as lengthy as the movie reviews but clearly I have managed to underestimate myself. I just love this show so damn much and THERE’S A LOT TO SAY.

Rating: 7/10 | Director: Robert Mandel | Writer: Chris Carter | Music: Mark Snow | Cinematography: Thomas Del Ruth | Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Cliff De Young, Sarah Koskoff, Leon Russom, Zachary Ansley, William B. Davis

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