Fox’s The X-Files is returning to television in January, and the network has given fans a challenge to watch all 201 episodes of the series counting down to the release. We’ve taken the challenge and will post one of these articles every day leading up to the release of the new season. All nine seasons of The X-Files are available on DVD and are currently streaming on Netflix. Both movies will be included in this countdown, and will be viewed following the season five finale and the season finale.
Of course you have to kick off your marathon of every The X-Files episode with the Pilot. The original 1993 episode introduces us to FBI agents Fox “Spooky” Mulder and Dana Scully. It begins when Scully is assigned to Mulder, a brilliant agent who was able to use his success in the FBI to delve into The X-Files, and those in control don’t want him finding anything to reveal the truth.
Their first case is, naturally, an alien abduction story. It’s not exactly tied to the “mythology” episodes that would make up much of the series’ run, but it’s also not a monster of the week episode. This is really just to introduce Mulder and Scully and try to set the moody tone the series became famous for. Sure there are hints of the future mythology to come, the Cigarette Smoking Man makes his first appearance and Mulder talks about trying to access classified government information, but there’s nothing specific to the black oil or colonization…yet.
One thing very noticeable in the Pilot is how the two of them act. Scully is pretty much the same Scully we’ll see for the first few seasons, but Mulder is a lot more jovial and cheerful in their first encounter. They definitely toned the character down a notch or two following the pilot, making him a bit more serious as the series went on.
I also loved the Raiders of the Lost Ark reference at the end where the Cigarette Smoking Man files the alien tracking implant in a giant evidence warehouse in the Pentagon.
The Pilot is an essential X-Files episode because it introduces the characters and sets the stage for what will become the longest-running American science fiction series prior to Stargate SG-1’s 10th season. The truth begins here, and it’s a required episode for any fan to begin with.