For those that might not know “Monster of the Week” episodes in X-Files refers to the episodes that don’t have to do with the overall developing conspiracies, even episodes that might not have a “monster” they would still fall into this category. While the bigger picture of the show (or season) might be mentioned in the episode in question, for the most part they focus on a file that is disconnected from that. I personally loved the “Monster of the Week” episodes. They were a nice break from the major conspiracy, often came with good development, and allow for random watching without feeling like you are missing anything. It’s a fair assumption that the short mini series starting soon won’t really have Monster of the Week episodes, and instead focus on the larger plot. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on those great individual episodes though. Over the years there were some great “Monster of the Week” episodes in the series. Some were great because of the actual “monsters”, some because of the development of Mulder and Scully, and some because they included unforgettable guests. It would be impossible for me to say that hands down certain episodes are the best, or even without a doubt my favorite. There are a few that have stuck with me, and made an impact. So without further ado here are some of my favorite “Monster of the Week” episodes.
Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose
This Monster of the Week episode shines thanks to the wonderful performance of Peter Boyle as Clyde Bruckman. In it he guest stars as a man that claims his obsession with death resulted in him being able to see how people would die. While the reason for his gift is never confirmed, the actual gift itself is. Peter hates his “gift”, he has no control over it so it dominates his life. Everywhere he looks he sees death, and it completely destroys his ability to be happy. He teams up with Mulder and Scully to help them solve a series of murders, involving fortune tellers and psychics. Clyde’s story is heartbreaking and compelling, and Boyle gives an amazing performance. Clyde’s relationship with Scully is also wonderfully done, with her doubts and his bitterness seem to collide, yet pull them together.
This episode is pretty messed up. Anyone that would want to make the argument that the X-Files borders on being a horror series, can certainly call on this episode as proof.. Mulder and Scully are called to investigate the death of a baby that looks like it might be alien, what they actually encounter is severely inbred and violent family. The episode is brutal in it’s violence and gore, and is a rather sad individual episode. It builds up the town and people well, only to talk about how it will be ripped apart by the actions of the family. It’s also extremely suspenseful, dark (literally and figuratively), and well done. Home is almost impossible to forget once you’ve experienced it.
I chose this episode not because of the monster but because of the character development. Scully and Mulder get stranded at one point in the episode, and they have a little heart to heart. During this Scully compares Mulder to Captain Ahab, and says that his obsession will kill him and all of those that follow. This is a fair comparison, and part of the reason I like it. Why I love it though is despite that Scully still follows him. She calls out his obsession but then throws herself back into the fray. It’s interesting to see the ever challenged Scully point out Mulder’s obsession, and potential failing but then declare (in actions if not words) in the same episode that she will follow him down.
Darkness Falls focuses on well, darkness. Mulder and Scully are stranded in a cabin with ancient insects that kill in the night. As long as they have light the two are safe, but naturally they don’t really have much. On the side of that they are facing the issue of a so called eco terrorist versus the park rangers over the issues of the forest. Mulder and Scully are unsure who to trust, and the episode itself is rather intense because of the very obvious count down to what would be their deaths. It’s well acted, and keeps you on the edge of your seat for most of the second half of the episode.
Humbug seems like a natural occurrence in The X-Files series. Mulder and Scully investigate phenomena both real and imagined, so it makes sense they would eventually go to a circus with a very active side show. Given the nature of the episode it’s much more comedic than anything found up to that point, and inspired a few more comedic episodes in the future. It’s not really the best episode in the series, but it does rather stick out for the over the top cast of characters, and dark humor.