It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means – new books. Releasing today are two books that any X-Files fan needs to get their hands on – The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos and The X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate. We spoke to authors Kami Garcia and Jonathan Maberry about their favorite episodes from the X-Files series.
Kami’s Five Favorite X-Files Episodes
Kami Garcia is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels. Her solo works include the Bram Stoker nominated novels in The Legion series, the contemporary romance The Lovely Reckless, and her latest novel, The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos.
“Little Green Men” (Season 2, Episode 1)
At this point in the series, the X-Files are closed. Mulder has been assigned to crappy wire tap job and Scully is teaching at the FBI Academy, at Quantico. This is one of my favorite episodes because it includes a vivid flashback to the night Mulder’s sister, Samantha, disappeared. Samantha’s disappearance haunts Mulder and watching that night play out showed us why. The episode also references a fascinating scientific mystery — the Wow! signal. On August 15th, 1977, the Big Ear radio telescope, at Ohio State University, recorded a 72-second radio signal from space. The source of the Wow! signal is still the subject of debate among scientists, but they have yet to prove that the signal wasn’t an alien radio transmission.
“Paper Clip” (Season 3, Episode 2)
This episode is a series of reveals that answer (at least for now) one of the overarching questions in the series: What happened to Samantha Mulder? The answer blew my mind when it aired. And if that wasn’t enough, Chris Carter (who wrote this episode) added the Syndicate, a Nazi scientist, experimentation on alien-human hybrids, a UFO, the Cigarette Smoking Man, and the Well Manicured Man.
“Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man” (Season 4, Episode 7)
My favorite characters in The X-Files are Mulder and the Cigarette Smoking Man. CSM, as I like to call him, was one of the ongoing mysteries in the series. This is the episode that made me love the Cigarette Smoking Man — from his casual attitude about assassinating JFK and pinning the crime on Lee Harvey Oswald to his incredible one-liners and those Morleys, he is perfection in a trench coat. He also plays a prominent role in my X-Files novel, Agent of Chaos.
“Paper Hearts” (Season 4, Episode 10)
“Paper Hearts” is my favorite episode of The X-Files. When Mulder discovers the skeleton of a young girl, it leads him to a serial killer he profiled, John Lee Roche. The name of the episode is a direct reference to the trophies Roche took from his crimes — hearts cut from the fabric of his young victims’ clothes. Mulder becomes obsessed with the idea that Roche killed his sister, Samantha. I love this episode because it reveals so much about Mulder’s character and the fact that his whole life was affected by the loss of his sister — and his subsequent obsession with finding out what happened to her. It also features one of the most haunting depictions of a serial killer that I’ve ever seen on television.
“The Usual Suspects” (Season 5, Episode 3)
This is the episode where Melvin Frohike, John Fitzgerald Byers, and Richard Langly –the three men who eventually become known as The Lone Gunmen — join forces for the first time. They hack into the FBI database and uncover a government conspiracy to use the citizens of Baltimore as guinea pigs to test a paranoia-inducing gas (cleverly hidden in…you guessed it…asthma inhalers). It’s also the first time Mulder meets the Lone Gunmen. But the icing on this cake of an episode is when Mr. X is confronted about the Kennedy assignation by Byers. In true Mr. X style, X says that he heard it was “a lone gunman.” The Lone Gunmen remain the coolest conspiracy theorists on TV.
Jonathan’s Five Favorite X-Files Episodes
Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winner. He writes in multiple genres including suspense, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, action, and steampunk, for adults, teens, and middle grade. His works include the Joe Ledger thrillers, Rot & Ruin, Mars One, and Captain America, which is in development for a feature film. He writes comics for Marvel, Dark Horse, and IDW and is the editor of such high-profile anthologies as The X-Files, V-Wars, Out of Tune, Baker Street Irregulars, Nights of the Living Dead, and Scary Out There. He lives in Del Mar, California.
“Darkness Falls” (Season 1, Episode 20)
I’ve always been a sucker for stories about isolation –no help is coming and sanctuary is too far away to reach. This is a classic of the genre and has always been one of my go-to episodes when I want to reconnect with the X-Files. My only gripe is that it was a one-parter done at a time where they didn’t have the budget for the bigger story that is implied in the creepy set-up.
“Ice” (Season 1, Episode 8)
It’s well-known that this episode was inspired by John Carpenter’s 1982 horror masterpiece The Thing, but it also has nods to the original 1951 The Thing From Another World, directed by Howard Hawks, and even to the novella that was the source for both, Who Goes There by John W. Campbell. If you know each of those iterations –and I really do—there are layers you can peel back. If you don’t, the episode still stands up as a solid science fiction/horror
“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (Season 3, Episode 4)
The X-Files greatly benefitted from some incredible character actors who transformed oddball characters into unforgettable people. During my recent rewatch of the entire series I encountered Seth Green (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Donal Logue (Gotham), Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Bradley Whitford (West Wing), Tony Shaloub (Monk), Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda), Jewel Staite (Firefly), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool), BD Wong (Jurassic Park), Lucy Liu (Elementary), Luke Wilson (Rushmore), Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Octavia Spencer (The Help), Shia LaBeouf (Transformers), Joe Morton (Scandal), Kathy Griffin (comedian), Adam Baldwin (Firefly), Bellamy Young(Scandal), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Jane Lynch (Glee), Michael Emerson (Person of Interest), Brad Dourif (Lord of the Rings), Tony Todd (Candyman), Lili Taylor (The Conjuring), Lilly Tomlin (Frankie and Grace), Gary Shandling (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Téa Leoni (Madame Secretary), Minnie Driver (Grosse Point Blank), Lucy Lawless (Xena), Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride), Neal McDonough (Arrow), and a bunch of others. But the one that really broke my heart was Peter Boyle’s performance in Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose. He brought a gentleness and humor to a role that could have been merely sappy. As a result he lifted that episode to a level that put it on almost everyone’s best-of list.
“Bad Blood” (Season 5, Episode 12)
This was one of the funniest of the X-Files comedy episodes –and let’s pause to celebrate that a horror/sf/conspiracy show actually had comedy episodes!—and it rocks a Roshomon vibe of having the characters tell different versions of the same story. Talk about same planet/different world. So much fun to see how Mulder and Scully paint themselves as the clear heroes of their own tales and each other as less appealing supporting characters. It’s funny, engaging, and has a few jolt moments.
“Beyond the Sea” (Season 1, Episode 13)
This episode was the one in which I began to regard Scully as a co-lead character. Between the excellent script by Glen Morgan and James Wong, the superb acting by Gillian Anderson, and the powerful supporting cast anchored by Brad Dourif as serial killer Luther Lee Boggs, Sheila Larken as Margaret Scully, and Don Davis as Captain William Scully, and the moody cinematography, the episode shines. But what really mattered to me –at the time and certainly now—is that it established that Dana Scully has some paranormal gifts. She has visions of the dead, which we see when she wakes up to see the ghost of her father, who she doesn’t yet know has died. A few other episodes touched on this gift, but it all began there. So, when I came up with my story for Devil’s Advocate, I knew that I wanted to go back and explore Scully’ earliest incidents of having visions of the dead, and use that as a canvas to paint the story of how she went from believer to skeptic.