A Bloody Good Time 06.07.12: The 10 Worst Episodes Of The X Files Posted by Joseph Lee on 06.07.2012
From "Fight Club" and "Millennium" to "Agua Mala," "Ghost in the Machine" "The Rain King" and more, 411's Joseph Lee takes a look at the top 10 worst episode of The X-Files!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.
Last week, my Family Guy manatees came up with the topic of the ten directors that I want to see make horror films. Sadly, they were unable to write the column because they were busy watching a six year old episode of South Park and trying to come up with timely jokes.
Let's see my readers had to say. But first, I should make a correction. Some of you got confused and thought I said that Mel Gibson never directed and starred in the same film. I should have worded it differently, because I meant to say that he never starred in a horror film. Unless you count The Beaver, which was about a group of people trying to stop an insane man from going on a killing spree.
Guest #2037 complained: How about none of them, because horror movies are all low-budget crap.
I'm not going to try to respond to this with an intelligent discussion of why you're wrong, I'll just point out that you are. Several other readers beat me to it anyway.
Carlos replied: I'm pretty sure Lucas would make a horror movie along the lines of Gremlins. He might just remake gremlins actually. The Ward wasn't that bad. I kind of liked it. I'd have put on Duncan Jones. He's been doing some great things with movies so far, and I'd like to see what he'd do with a horror flick.
Duncan Jones would be a good choice. Another newer director could be Rian Johnson. I'm kind of waiting on Looper to see how he handles a completely different genre than he's worked in before.
Guest #5739 said: You know what WOULD have been good (obviously past tense)? John Hughes. Think about it-- what's the BIGGEST problem with most slasher movies? The kids are annoying and you can't wait for them to die. Hughes had a talent for writing teens, so imagine his movie. I think it would end up a lot like Scream actually...
Man, I kind of want a Hughes written movie about a group of high school students in detention bonding before having to fight off a slasher.
411's Trevor Snyder contradicted me. He said: To have the Wachowski BROTHERS direct a horror movie would require either a time machine or another set of very expensive surgeries.
Oh you and your semantics. Maybe I have a time machine, Trevor. Did you think of that?
As someone else pointed out, Lita's Revenge, Clive Barker already directed two great horror films: Hellraiser and Lord of Illusions. Yeah, he said Nightbreed too, but whether or not that's great depends on who you ask. Cronenberg is great, but I draw the line at seeing a cooked turkey with a human face walking around.
About this time last year, give or take a month, I presented the Top Ten Episodes of The X Files. Well technically it was a two-part edition with twenty episodes, because it was so hard to pick just ten. To begin TV month, I've decided to look at the worst. While some may say it's easier to pick these because of whenever they felt the show fell off the rails, it's one of my favorite shows of all time, so it's actually a little harder.
But trust me, when this show sucks, it really sucks. Not only because the episode itself is bad, but because there is so many good parts of this show that it's frustrating as a fan to see a really bad one show up and ruin everything. Whether they were boring, uninteresting or mind-bogglingly stupid, these episodes are my personal choices for the worst of The X-Files.
#10: Millennium Original Air Date: November 28, 1999
Oh yes, I went there. A lot of people only remember this episode because of the image above. It's really the first time Scully and Mulder kissed and paved the way for their relationship to become overtly romantic instead of a bunch of winks and nudges. Yeah, that's fine, but the namesake of the episode ultimately gets the shaft. Imagine if you were a fan of Millennium and were told that not only was the show in the same universe as The X-Files, but that there would be a conclusion to the series on the show.
Then imagine you get this instead. Sure, there is some resolution to Frank Black (Lance Henriksen)'s character arc, but mostly it's just a stand-alone episode with Mulder and Scully thrown in. It doesn't feel like the epic conclusion to a series that many fans actually did love. I'm not saying it had to be all Frank, all the time. It is a crossover, but it felt a little too much like Frank was just a typical character than the expert he's supposed to be.
#9: The Rain King Original Air Date: January 10, 1999
Sometimes comedy episodes on The X-Files just aren't funny. The Rain King is one of those times. This is a show that is able to blend a season full of horror, sci-fi, drama and yes, humor. But an episode can fall flat. Just earlier in the season we had the two-part Dreamland, which was hilarious. They must have used all the good jokes for that, or never intended this to be that funny. I'm not sure. But it just doesn't work and it's definitely one of the weaker episodes of this show's run.
The story follows a man who can allegedly control the weather. The secret is revealed that it's another guy, whose weather controlling relates to how he's feeling emotionally. Since he happens to be in love, this will naturally cause some strange weather. Then when Mulder unwittingly makes the woman become attracted to him, well you can imagine what happens next. I actually really enjoy a lot of season six, but I've also said that the show should have ended a few episodes later with Two Fathers/One Son. Not that it doesn't stay good after that, but because ideas like this were a hint of things to come.
#8: Ghost in the Machine Original Air Date: October 29, 1993
You can almost forgive bad season one episodes because the show was just trying to find its legs and wouldn't really get in a groove until next season anyway. But then you see that there are several really great episodes in that same season, and it makes the bad ones all the more glaring. This won't be the only season one episode on this list either. While maybe not actively bad in terms of writing or acting, this is bad simply because it fails to be entertaining.
It has a decent premise too, a computer that runs a building becomes homicidal. I'll ignore the fact that computers don't really work this way, at least not in the 90s, because this show is full of ridiculous things. But it should have been a good episode, not one that is dull. It's also way too serious for its own good and is extremely dated today. It's one of those cases where I can't exactly explain why it's so much worse than others, it just isn't entertaining. Sometimes that's enough.
#7: Sunshine Days Original Air Date: May 12, 2002
You would think that heading into the finale of the entire show, you would have some episodes that begin to draw some closure to the entire series. Just before this, we more or less wrapped up John Doggett's story in Release. This episode has zero build-up to The Truth and is a stand-alone in the absolute worse place to put one. But that's not why this episode is bad. It's another bad comedy episode, at least I think comedy is what they were going for.
The main reason this doesn't work is that it was doomed from the start. A man creates his own dream world, which happens to look like the Brady Bunch set. A guy really loves The Brady Bunch. That's about it. It's not funny, it's not interesting, it's just not good. The fact that it's supposed to lead into the last episode of the series makes it even worse. Finally, the supporting role that featured Bud Bundy. Season nine is full of bizarre cameos from people you wouldn't expect (one coming later), but seeing David Faustino on The X-Files was really weird.
#6: Agua Mala Original Air Date: February 21, 1999
During a downpour, Mulder and Scully meet Arthur Dales about a strange case of killer water. Okay there's a virus or parasite or something in the water, but it still makes for a laughable monster of the week. This show has a lot of bizarre things trying to kill people, it's kind of the point. The idea of a monster that lives in water is actually decent...in theory. Especially with the leaks in the location they end up at and the fact it's constantly raining outside.
This is an episode that ultimately fails to live up to any potential it may have had. Dales' cameo feels useless. The rest of the guest stars and characters are incredibly stupid and don't add anything except bad acting to the story. The ending is completely anticlimactic. Agua Mala is just...it's just bad. It doesn't work on any level. It's not scary, it's not exciting, and the conflicts with the dumb characters aren't funny at all.
#5: Fight Club Original Air Date: May 7, 2000
How do you feel about Kathy Griffin? How would you feel about an episode with two of her? That's what you get in Fight Club, a stupid episode about twins who cause people to fight each other whenever they get close enough together. I will give this episode some credit. It has an awesome gag in the beginning (pictured above) with Mulder and Scully's doppelgangers falling victim to whatever it is that causes the twins to start fights. But after that opening, we're stuck with an increasingly annoying episode.
It's not that I even hate Kathy Griffin. She's okay, I guess. But she doesn't belong in an episode of X-Files and she's completely miscast. The story itself is handled completely wrong. It's a little too much on the comedic side. Yes, it does hold potential for funny moments, but it also holds the potential for a very chaotic episode with lots of danger and excitement. It ultimately tries too hard to be both and fails twice over. Oh and hey wrestling fans, this one has Rob Van Dam! So there's that.
#4: Space Original Air Date: November 12, 1993
Fun fact: my brother has never finished this episode. He's fallen asleep every time he's tried and I can't really blame him. It's completely boring and it is enough to put someone to sleep, even if they're not tired. It's one of those episodes where you see things happening on the screen, but none of it is interesting so it feels like nothing was ever happening at all. There are also out-of-character moments for Mulder, a story that feels "been there, done that" (even in season one!) and really, really bad special effects. So bad they feel like they weren't even finished.
Don't take my word for it, this is also Chris Carter's least favorite episode. This man thought the final three episodes on this list were good ideas, but he hated this one. Many fans also rate it as the worst. While I can't go that far, it's pretty bad.
#3: Fearful Symmetry Original Air Date: February 24, 1995
This one seems to be notorious whenever I talk to friends about bad X-Files episodes. It's basically everything this show shouldn't be, while trying so hard to be serious about it's material. Here's a little bit of trivia for you. This show has never had an episode focusing on animals that was any good. It's almost a running gag as you go through the show. If the story focuses on an animal of any kid ("Alpha", "Signs and Wonders", "Tesos Dos Bitchos", etc), it will most likely be terrible and not worth your time.
But Fearful Symmetry is the worst of the bunch. Aliens abduct animals too, you see, and they should be spotlighted! Even if the result is an invisible elephant. Why is the elephant invisible? I honestly don't remember. I must have blocked it from memory because the concept is so incredibly stupid I was shocked to see it on such a normally intelligent show. Invisible elephants. And would you believe there are two episodes I find to be worse?
#2: all things Original Air Date: April 9, 2000
I love Gillian Anderson for a plethora of reasons, but this episode is not one of them. For all I know, she may be a fantastic screenwriter and director, but if you watch this you will never think so again. Normally, I'm all for a Scully-centered episode. She's a great character and has had some of my favorite moments in the series. But this is a low for all involved and while there were some who praised it's unique direction, I hated it.
It doesn't make much sense and it's attempts to be more philosophical are laughable, at best. Let's not forget the Moby soundtrack and the throwaway gag that Scully and Mulder have possibly consumated the relationship. I'm not a "shipper", but to build this up for this long and just show that they had sex before going into a nonsensical episode is kind of a slap in the face to long time fans. It's just a misfire on every level and until I got to season nine, I would tell anyone who asked that this was my least favorite.
#1: Improbable Original Air Date: April 7, 2002
That image alone should be enough to point out how stupid this episode is. This episode raised so many questions as I constantly pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Why is Burt Reynolds on The X-Files? Why is he a godlike character? Why does Reyes seem more ditzy than usual? Why waste Ellen Greene's talents? Why have two musical numbers that have nothing to do with the plot? Why does Burt Reynolds shake his ass at the camera? What do three games of checkers have to do with anything? Why did I have to watch this? Why is an entire city shaped like the face of Burt Reynolds?
This is the worst episode in the entire run of this series. There's nothing you can say to convince me otherwise. There's a point in the episode where they have to hold everything just to straight up explain to the viewer what is going on and what they are doing, because otherwise you're not going to get it. Plus, a city shaped like the face of Burt Reynolds. A city shaped like the face of Burt Reynolds. Good lord.
That's it for me. Which X-Files episode do you hate? Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week, TV month continues with a look at Masters of Horror, including my favorite and least favorite episodes. See you then.
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
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