Take Two: THE X-FILES Season 1 (Part 1) - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Take Two: THE X-FILES Season 1 (Part 1)

July 6, 2023 by  

Take Two: The X-Files: Season 1, Part 1

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in THE X-FILES pilot. Credit: Fox

On Friday, September 10, 1993, Fox debuted THE X-FILES. Now, ahead of the show’s 30th anniversary, Give Me My Remote is looking back at all 11 seasons (and the two feature films) in a new daily series Take Two.

If you’ve read About Last Night, this will be formatted in a similar way: Each episode will get its own subsection/reaction, though in this case there may be slight spoilers or alluding to what comes ahead in the series. In the event a major spoiler is discussed, there will be a warning to be extra safe. Each Take Two will cover approximately 5 episodes and will wrap up the Friday before the show’s 30th birthday.

(I’ll also note how I’m watching the episodes, because some of the streaming platforms have utilized syndicated cuts of this show.)

Let’s kick it off with the first five episodes of season 1!

(These were viewed on the original season 1 DVD set—released back in 2000. The episodes are streaming for free on Freevee or with a Hulu subscription.)


For as much as I love this show, I think I constantly underestimate and underappreciate the pilot. It’s always felt entirely effective as a first episode, but it’s never one of the pilots I think of when I’m asked to pick my very favorite intro installments to a series. But it’s impressive what they’re able to do, character-wise. On a basic level, we get so much information about Mulder and Scully’s professional background in what’s essentially several exposition dumps; it works because Scully needs to be briefed about Mulder and then Mulder is showing Scully that he’s done his homework on her. (Not to mention the scene where Mulder tells Scully all about Samantha’s abduction.)

It’s also hard to overstate how much everything needs to be working perfectly during Mulder and Scully’s first meeting for us to buy into the show as a whole, too. They’re fundamentally introduced as foes with opposing agendas, but also forced into a partnership neither was particularly looking for. Mulder is a prickly porcupine who trusts no one, but Scully needs him to let her in enough so she can debunk his work. With lesser acting/writing, it would be a mess; it could be so easy to dislike either or both of them. Instead, you see the start of what they’ll become: Sparks, yes, but also pushing each other beyond their comfort zone.

The case itself is fine. Obviously, it has major, major, major repercussions later in the series, but as a set-up case, it’s just perfectly fine. I do wonder in modern times if the case would have to be more clearly tied to a season-long mythology or Samantha’s disappearance, but as it is, it works as being just conspiracy-y enough.

  • The episode starting with the note it was inspired by “actual documented events”…I cannot imagine the searches that would have inspired in a modern era. (Also the number of “Was THE X-FILES Inspired By a Real Unit/Case” pieces written would have been off-the-charts.)
  • It’s surreal to realize this show is almost 30 years old…until you see the technology.
  • The pilot being randomly set in 1992 always makes me laugh.
  • It’s bittersweet to see this version of Scully. She smiles and laughs more easily here than virtually any other time in the series; there’s also a vulnerability she quickly buries.
  • Love that Cigarette Smoking Man is there at the end of the pilot, even if he’s just a mysterious shadowy man.
  • If you can get through the episode without thinking of the pilot bloopers: Congrats on being a sane, normal fan.

“Deep Throat”:

A good introduction to some of the larger mythology elements—at least in terms of Mulder’s penchant for having connected allies and a larger force conspiring to make sure Mulder and Scully have no proof—but so much of the episode just feels notable for its nostalgic elements. A phonebook! Mulder’s cellphone is as big as his head! A paper map! Ruining evidence by exposing the film to light! Baby Seth Green!

  • “Tell me I’m crazy.” “Mulder, you’re crazy.” – the series summed up in a single exchange.
  • Episode 2 and we’ve already established a few things that will be key to this series/partnership: Scully sees something bonkers and tries to rationalize it; Mulder ditches Scully (boooo); Scully threatens someone to protect/save Mulder; Mulder’s theory sounds absolutely ridiculous, but he/we see enough to see he was at least partially correct.
  • I started watching XF a few years after it launched, so I knew Deep Throat wasn’t around by the time I actually got to see these episodes. I waffle on how well I think they utilized him. I think it was important—and realistic—that Mulder would have people on his side/there would be figures within the conspiracy who weren’t thrilled with what was going on. This is nothing against Jerry Hardin’s great performance, but Deep Throat wasn’t always, uh, great at being stealthy. (Meeting in the middle of a track and field arena while wearing a full suit does not exactly scream “I am blending in.”)
  • Speaking of being bad spies: The people watching Mulder could not have been more obvious. 
  • Really loved the directing choices in this episode.
  • This show gave me an unrealistic expectation for how much diner food I’d be eating as a grownup.

The X-Files squeeze review

THE X-FILES – SEASON 1: Gillian Anderson (L) and Doug Hutchison (R) in the “Squeeze” episode of THE X-FILES from season one. (Photo by FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)


It’s genuinely crazy that one of the most iconic episodes/monsters of the show is introduced in episode 3.

It also feels like this episode really sets the template for what they can—and will—do with the show: They utilize what’s implied and not seen to effectively play with the terror elements. You see the door handle jiggle and the door break, and then the spilled blood and the body, but you don’t get a glimpse of Tooms; you just see the screw being placed back into the vent.

The structure of the episode is also impressive, especially given there’s a second part still to come. They find Tooms within the first 15 minutes of the episode—it’s not so much a who/whatdunnit as a what can we prove and can he be stopped?

It also established what would be a pattern for many of the episode endings: An ominous open-ending, with a hint of the horror still to come. Tooms staring at the food tray slot in his solitary confinement slot—knowing he could utilize it to escape—is downright chilling.

[Spoiler alert for the upcoming season 1 episode “Tooms”] If Tooms hadn’t died, it’s insane to realize he would be coming back this year. 2023 sounds so far away when they’re talking about it here, but hello from the future. It’s…quite a trip. Also, Scully is not head of the bureau in 2023, and I think it’s safe to say the world is a lesser place because of that.

  • Hello to Donal Logue! Love seeing him here. Again with the bittersweet: Scully had friends. Scully had colleagues who respected her. It’s sad to start to get a glimpse of how much they see this assignment as an anchor that could derail her life. But it’s also important that Mulder clearly and repeatedly tries to give her an out in the early days and she’s not having it.
  • Oh, look, another thing that will become a pattern: Creeps attacking Scully in her home. Sigh.


This is an episode that has always appealed to me, and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s possible because we see the toll the loss of Samantha took on Mulder in a way that wasn’t directly tied into the mythology; for as much as that became entangled and messy and hard to navigate, this was pure emotion as a family tried to find a missing girl. It’s not a top 10 (or, probably, even top 50) episode for me, but it works well.

  • As someone who grew up in the era of absolutely bonkers tabloid headlines, I’m shocked Mulder didn’t regularly get cases that way. (No, this wasn’t the last time, but still. Those publications were tailor-made for the Mulders of the world.)
  • As a kid, Scully’s suits were the definition of a grown-up outfit. As an adult, I’m mad she had to wear a skirt while out in the field.
  • Every time I see the reveal of the smaller 1s and 0s drawings forming an interconnected portrait of Ruby, I get chills. It’s a brilliant visual shot and just so deeply twisted and sad.
  • The end scene with Mulder, alone, processing the tape while the audience hears his hypnosis tape about Samantha’s abduction remains so tragic. At this point in the series, he had already spent so much of his life grieving and desperate to find his sister. And, uh, spoiler alert, answers weren’t going to be coming at any point soon. 

“The Jersey Devil”:

My note about the episode near the end kind of sums up the episode for me: An effective mess.

The creature itself is interesting (and is based on a real myth), but the case doesn’t always work the way it should. What works best is seeing Mulder get into trouble on his own while Scully tries to handle a work/life balance.

Again, does this read as a lot more tragic knowing what we know about her future? Absolutely. This Scully had friends. Had a godson!! There was a single dad who was interested in her. And we know eventually she became a lot more isolated/would only depend on Mulder, but she had people. And, really, I cannot imagine being her friend and seeing her lose herself in this work. We know she talked about Mulder and the work—and that Scully thought he was cute, which, my God, it’s crazy to sync that Scully with the Scully of even a few years later—but I cannot imagine what her then-best friend thought as Scully started to pull away. (My best friend absolutely would have held an intervention at some point. And she would be correct, to be fair!!)

  • It’s genuinely insane that Mulder’s NSFW habits were brought into the workspace. I just…
  • Another episode that was gorgeously directed. The shadow work, in particular, was great.
  • I do not want or need any kind of X-FILES revival (please and thank you), but it’s crazy they never brought back the tiny, orphaned Jersey Devil baby. That child should be pissed and want to take its pain/rage out on humanity.

What did you think of these THE X-FILES episodes?


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