Review the X-Files? Here’s an exciting way to do it in 2021
So you want to see The X-Files again. Understandable – this is one of the best sci-fi TV series ever, and some loose ’90s costumes aside, haven’t aged much. But 218 Episodes is a big engagement, especially with a hundred other more recent shows vying for your attention. But there is a way to rewatch The X-Files that not only takes less time, but also allows you to experience Chris Carter’s influential series in a way that feels like a whole different show.
There are two distinct types of X-Files episodes: “Monster of the Week” and something called “Mytharc”. The Monster of the Week episodes are mostly standalone stories where Mulder and Scully encounter bizarre paranormal phenomena – whether it’s the Sewer Monster known as Flukeman, the expandable serial killer Eugene Victor Tooms, or something. more subtle, but no less terrifying, like the flesh-eating fluorescent alien bugs in Darkness Falls.
Elements of the larger mythology will appear in these episodes from time to time, but for the most part they are quite stand-alone. The Mytharc episodes, on the other hand, are part of a continuous arc that spans all 11 seasons. When the show originally aired, they usually appeared after a few episodes of Monster of the Week, slowly building a twisted, mind-boggling tale of secret government experiments, shapeshifting bounty hunters, sentient black oil, and even a alien plot to colonize Earth.
While the Monster of the Week episodes are arguably the best, if you want to experience The X-Files in a new way, consider a Mytharc-only rewatch. This means no standalone episodes – only those that are myth related and contribute to the overall plot. That’s 78 episodes (plus the first X-Files movie from 1998), and it’s an interesting, and at times very odd, way to relive that story.
If you’ve never seen The X-Files before, don’t even think about watching the show this way. It was never intended to be seen like this. But for those fans who want to revisit the series, who are familiar with every episode of Monster of the Week, it is worth doing it at least once.
You can find a watch ordering suggestion at the end of this article, but for now, let’s outline some of the reasons you should do a Mytharc rewatch – and, to balance out, some reasons why it might be a bad idea. Because it can be, let’s say, difficult sometimes.
Why you should do a Mytharc rewatch of The X-Files
It totally transforms the rhythm of the show
The X-Files is generally a fairly quiet series, with a lot of character development, time spent exploring the personal lives of the Agents (as well as the supporting cast), and plenty of quirky comedy episodes to lighten the mood. It’s obviously awesome and is part of the magic of the show. But when you curate episodes of Mytharc, it suddenly becomes a fast-paced, relentless, and thrilling sci-fi thriller, with great action sets and beloved characters constantly throwing themselves into wild and dangerous situations.
Everything makes more sense
The problem with regular replay is that by the time the next episode of Mytharc arrives, you’ve lost track of what’s going on. “Wait, who is Kryceck still working for?” The Syndicate made what? Um, why don’t these guys have faces? ”But watching them back to back, wrapping around the increasingly complex mythology is a lot easier. It also gives you a new appreciation for how Chris Carter and his team have built history over the years. It’s less confusing than you remember. Seriously.
The revelations come quickly
When The X-Files originally aired, the episodes of Mytharc were quite spaced out. You can wait weeks, even months, for something to be resolved. And even airing the show today on a streaming service, there’s still a long way to go before we learn the truth about its many tangled plot threads. But there are no such problems with a Mytharc rewatch. It’s quite the opposite, in fact: you are positively overload with information, and just about every episode reveals a massive new revelation to ponder. It’s overwhelming (we’ll get to that later), but extremely entertaining and satisfying.
Why you might not want to do a Mytharc rewatch
The characters have no room to breathe
Many of the best character moments occur in the relatively cold episodes of Monster of the Week. In the frenetic and dramatic episodes of Mytharc, Mulder and Scully rarely have time to hang out, joke around, and learn from each other. This happens almost exclusively in the “in between” episodes and this wonderfully written character development makes the emotional life and death situations in the mythology episodes much more difficult.
It reveals too much, too quickly
When The X-Files was on TV, an episode of Mytharc was almost like a reward for your patience. You’ve made it this far, now here’s a two-part killer to end the season and give you a rewarding big shot of the new mythology. As we explained earlier, this means that the plot is constantly on the move and you are never left out. The downside is that the central mysteries of the series are exposed and stripped of their mystique a bit too quickly. Usually, it would take a hundred episodes to learn some of these overwhelming plot details – but in this replay, it takes half of them, which isn’t always a good thing.
The quality drops, sometimes quite severely
The truth is, as good as The X-Files is, it really gets lost in Season 6 – especially when it comes to mythology. It’s still fun to watch, but compared to the peaks of Seasons 3, 4, and 5, it’s clear the writers were strapped for ideas and found themselves in narrative dead ends. On regular replay, the consistently excellent Monster of the Week episodes sweeten this drop in quality, making a Mytharc rewatch quite difficult in places. But, thankfully, it picks up near the end of the show’s pre-resumption period.
The X-Files Mytharc Rewatch Episode Guide
If you’ve decided that a Mytharc rewatch is for you, here’s the best way to do it. Some of them technically are not episodes of Mytharc, but feature characters important to mythology – for example, Alex Krycek’s first appearance in Sleepless and X’s introduction in The Host.
We’ve also added a few episodes, Conduit being a prime example, that aren’t explicitly arc related in any major way, but reveal additional details about key events like the kidnapping of Mulder’s sister, Samantha. In short, this selection of episodes is about as comprehensive as it gets.
Season 1 (1993)
Pilot / Deepthroat / Conduit / Fallen Angel / EBE
Season 2 (1994)
Little Green Men / The Host / Sleepless / Duane Barry / Ascension / One Breath / Red Museum / Colony / End Game / Anasazi
Season 3 (1995)
The Path of Blessing / Trombone / Nisei / 731 / Piper Maru / Apocrypha / Talitha Cumi
Season 4 (1996)
Herrenvolk / Reflections of a Cigarette Smoker / Tunguska / Terma / Leonard Betts / Memento Mori / Tempus Fugit / Max / Zero Sum / Demons / Gethsemane
Season 5 (1997)
Redux / Redux II / Christmas Carol / Emily / Patient X / The Red and the Black / The Travelers / The Pine Bluff Variant / The End
The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)
Season 6 (1998)
The Beginning / Dreamland / Dreamland II / SR 819 / Two Fathers / One Son / Biogenesis
Season 7 (1999)
The Sixth Extinction / The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati / Breast Und Zeit / Closure / En Ami / Requiem
Season 8 (2000)
Inside / Without / The Gift / Per Manum / This Doesn’t Happen / DeadAlive / Three Words / Vienen / Essence / Existence
Season 9 (2001)
Nothing Important Happened Today / Nothing Important Happened Today II / Trust No 1 / Provenance / Providence / Jump the Shark / William / The Truth
Season 10 (2016)
My fight / My fight II
Season 11 (2018)
My fight III / Ghouli / My fight IV
The X-Files now stream on Disney Plus via Star in the UK and Hulu in the US.