Why X-Cops Is the Most Daring Episode of the Series

the x files it was a daring show for many reasons, not the least of which was its willingness to sometimes surprise its audience with unique and unpredictable episodes. “The postmodern Prometheus”, for example, is a Frankenstein adaptation that imitates the style of classic black and white horror films and highlights the music of cher. “Home” is a bloody and disturbing horror episode with different The massacre in Texas vibes. “Triangle” is a time travel episode filled with camera art and long takes, like Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rope. The show’s final season even features an episode with the unpronounceable title “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” (which translates to “Followers” in Base64 code) that contains almost no dialogue and a fleet of creepy drones.

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And again, The x-files creator Chris Carter and his talented team of writers (including breaking bad creator and writer of “X-Cops” Vince Gilligan) challenged convention and delivered groundbreaking experimental television. However, one episode stands out from the rest as the most radical departure from the show’s usual style and sensibilities.

Season 7’s “X-Cops” is a crossover episode (sort of) that finds FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully chasing a supposed monster through the streets of Los Angeles while they, in turn, are being hunted. for him cops Camera crew from a TV show. The episode plays as if it were actually an episode of copseven using the signature title credits and the “Bad Boys” theme song in the intro.


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For a scripted television series to mimic the style of reality TV, a radical overhaul of the production and post-production processes is required, but the x files The team was ready for the challenge. Vince Gilligan traveled along with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in preparation for writing the episode. Director Michael Watkins called in a few favors to use real sheriff’s deputies as extras. All scenes were shot on videotape (rather than film) by a cops camera operator with a real news camera. AN cops The editor was also brought in to create the signature blur on the face of an actor playing an unseen viewer.

Watkins commented that the episode was “a big change from our usual look” and “took a lot of courage”. In fact, suddenly adopting a new style for a single episode could have been a disaster. If the episode, from a production point of view, had done a poor job of mimicking the style of cops, it would have been impossible for the audience to buy into the false crossover concept. On the other hand, if the episode had been imitated cops too well, it could throw off the audience and confuse them as to exactly what show they were watching. The network had a legitimate fear that viewers would think the x files had been advanced by cops and so change the channel. In some cases, this actually happened. Secondary actor Curtis C Jackson (who plays Edy in the episode) said his friends who tuned in to see his performance thought they were watching him by mistake. cops and turned off their televisions.


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The episode’s premise also presents a unique challenge for the show’s writers that could change the way audiences view the two main characters: how would Mulder and Scully react to the presence of a camera crew, and what do their reactions say about them as characters? For Mulder, a camera is an opportunity to prove to the world that supernatural beings do, in fact, exist. For Scully, a camera is just a giant spotlight that embarrasses and irritates her. The only time she gets a little excited about the presence of a camera is when she’s in her element performing an autopsy. This seems to indicate that, even after all these years, Scully is still a medical doctor at heart. Her interest in the paranormal is primarily a means of unraveling some strange and perplexing scientific mysteries.



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How Mulder and Scully react to the cops cameras is, in a sense, to communicate directly with viewers of the x files. It’s a fourth-wall-breaking, postmodern moment in which Mulder and Scully tell us how they’d like us to think of them. Mulder wants us to see him as a crusader. Scully wants us to go away and let her investigate some abnormal corpses. It would have been easy for this kind of self-referential-looking “X-Cops” wink to come off as unintentionally funny and cringe-inducing. But Vince Gilligan and company manage to keep the episode intentionally hilarious and insightful.

Given the logistical and creative challenges posed by the premise of “X-Cops”, the x-files the team knocked it out of the park. They provided insight into the psychology of their main characters and perfectly blended the style of a narrative show with that of a reality show. It is a truly bold experiment and a remarkable feat.


It’s no accident that “X-Cops” aired during season 7, which is the last really good season of the x files. The creative and logistical risks involved in “X-Cops” would be neither permissible nor conceivable for a show struggling to renew itself or grow its ratings or achieve critical success. This is an episode where the creative team, sensing that the show’s heyday was coming to an end, essentially said “screw it” and rolled the dice. The crew’s willingness to push the limits of their capabilities to the fullest is what makes “X-Cops” the most daring episode ever. The x-files history.


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