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Next episode Season 1 S01E01

 Written by
Chris Carter

 Directed by
Robert Mandel

 Original Air Date
September 10, 1993

The first case of Mulder and Scully takes place in Oregon, where a body is found in a forest, years after similar events took place in that same forest.

Special Agent Dana Scully, a medical doctor and instructor at the FBI Academy in Virginia, receives instructions to report to Chief Scott Blevins in Washington. Blevins assigns Scully to investigate--and debunk--an unassigned project dubbed "The X-Files," a burial ground for mysterious, unsolved FBI cases linked to the paranormal.

Scully is instructed to contact Fox Mulder, an agent who has become obsessed with investigating the otherwise forgotten X-File cases. Mulder displays a particular interest in a series of mysterious deaths scattered across the United States linked by one common clue: two strange red marks on the victims' skin.

Mulder and Scully fly to Bellefleur, Oregon, to investigate the death of Karen Swenson, a high school student who died mysteriously, and whose corpse is marked with two red welts. The agents exhume the body of Ray Soames, one of Karen's classmates. When Soames' casket is opened, however, a strange humanoid carcass is discovered inside. The corpse turns out to be that of an orangutan, and X-rays reveal an unidentified metal object implanted in the creature's nasal cavity.

Mulder and Scully question Billy Miles and Peggy O'Dell, classmates of Swenson and Soames who were injured in an automobile accident and have since been institutionalized. Miles has been reduced to a near vegetable state, while O'Dell has been confined to a wheelchair. O'Dell suddenly becomes violent, and in the struggle to subdue her, two red marks are discovered on her skin.

While searching the field where Karen Swenson met her fate, the agents are confronted by a detective who orders them off the premises. The pair comply, but as they drive along the highway, they are blinded by a strange light from the sky. The light drains the energy from their car, bringing it to a halt. Mulder looks at his watch and realizes nine minutes cannot be accounted for.

The pair return to their motel where Mulder tells Scully that his interest in the X-Files stems from his childhood when his sister, who was then eight years old, was abducted from their bedroom while he slept. Mulder says that he could not recall any of the incident until placed under hypnosis years later.

An anonymous phone call tips the agents that Peggy O'Dell was killed as she ran along the highway. While investigating the incident, the agents are informed that the autopsy bay was vandalized. They return to the hotel to find their rooms have been set ablaze, destroying all evidence gathered in the case.

The agents are confronted by Theresa Nemman, daughter of the coroner who originally performed the autopsies on the victims. She admits she too bears the red marks on her skin, and describes how a bright light appeared in the sky the evening she was hanging out with her friends Billy Miles and Peggy O'Dell.

Mulder hypothesizes that Billy Miles is under the control of an alien force. He adds his belief that Billy killed Peggy O'Dell. The agents return to the forest hoping to gather more evidence. Detective Miles attempts to stop them, and both he and Mulder witness Billy carrying Theresa to the spot in the woods where the other bodies had been found. A mysterious light illuminates Billy, and a strong wind swirls around him. Moments later the light fades and the winds die, and Billy stands over Theresa not knowing where he is or how he got there. The welts having vanished from his skin.

After returning to Washington, Scully gives her report. Much to the surprise of her supervisors, the metal object removed from the corpse was not destroyed with all of the other evidence. Scully kept it on her person and turns it into them as the single remaining piece of physical evidence of what had transpired. The metal object is taken by The Cigarette-Smoking Man and filed away alongside several others inside a massive government warehouse in the basement of the Pentagon.

David Duchovny
Gillian Anderson
Charles Cioffi
Cliff De Young
Sarah Koskoff
Leon Russom
Zachary Ansley
Stephen E. Miller
Malcolm Stewart
Alexandra Berlin
Jim Jansen
Ken Camroux-Taylor
Doug Abrahams
William B. Davis
Katya Gardner
Ric Reid
Lesley Ewen
J.B. Bivens
Laura Lee Connery
Joe Doserro

- This is the only episode of the series where there is no opening credits.
- There are two deleted scenes from the Pilot episode that can be seen on The X-Files DVD boxset. They show Scully with her boyfriend, called Ethan Minette. We see them at Minette's workplace, and also in bed, when Scully answers Mulder's phone call in the middle of the night. This may also explain why Scully does not want to speak to Mulder in that scene.
- In the original screenplay, at one point, Mulder and Scully were screaming like crazy people.
- Chris Carter really likes the scene when Scully goes to Mulder in a bath robe. Mulder and Scully will not have a relationship (at least for the next seven years) and this is Carter's "proof" of it.
- In the last Scully's scene, where she is in bed. The hour is 11:21. This is Dori Carter's (Chris Carter's wife) birthday (November, 21st). This won't be the last time we will see this date.
- The episode production name is 1x79. Why 79? Because The X-Files was the 79th pilot from FOX Television.

"Am I to understand that you want me to debunk the x-files project, sir ?"
Dana Scully

"Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI's most unwanted."
Fox Mulder

"Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?"
Fox Mulder

"That's why they put the "i" in FBI."
Fox Mulder

"Agent Mulder believes we are not alone."
Dana Scully

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Sublime timeless classic
By Jack Anderson on January 1, 2016

The pilot episode of The X-Files perfectly defines the essence of the series. Opening with a disclaimer stating that this story has been inspired by actual events, the episode then starts with a woman running around in the middle of a dark forest.

One of the things that amazes me the most is the atmosphere of the episode. The images from Robert Mandel, along with the music of Mark Snow are simply magically insanely amazingly nostalgically beautiful. The atmosphere is calm, dark and kind of nostalgic. You really have to watch the episode in order to understand what I'm trying to say.
As an exemple, at 11 minutes, Mulder marks the spot with an x sign on the road, near the forest. Then we hear six beautiful piano notes that starts this utmost beautiful transition. We hear some more notes and

The Mulder and Scully duo works perfectly! One as a believer (Fox Mulder), the other as a sceptic scientist (Dana Scully). And I should say that this so-called chemistry is so important during this episode that you sometime can SEE it!

David Duchovny is great too. He didn't play Mulder as a plain crazy guy, but as this excellent agent ending up in the FBI basement because of a personal crusade.
Duchovny plays the role with a nonchalance and a dry sense of humour that is simply perfect for the character. He doesn't play it over the top, but in a very subtle and overall brilliant way. He IS the character.
Not only that, but this nonchalance is actually not a coincidence, but part of the dialogues and direction too. For instance, this goes hand in hand with his lines in the FBI basement, when he meets Scully for the first time. It is also part of the direction, when he is listening to music, laying on airplane seats while the plane is having some major turbulences.
But Mulder is not only that. At the same time, behind this mask, Mulder is a very deep and emotionally invested character.

The reason behind it is that he lost his sister when he was a boy. When discovering that there is a conspiracy about it, he became obsessed and, as he mentions to Scully very seriously in the hotel room scene, "nothing else matters to me."

Gillian Anderson gives a great job as a young agent trying to work on two levels (her assignement to debunk the X-Files and the need to resolve the case).

One interesting aspect is that Scully is, in an extremely subtle way, trying to show that she is a strong and mature female FBI agent. Two scenes prove this to me. In the first, Scully is sitting on her bed in her hotel room, writing and thinking about the implant that she found. When Mulder knocks on her door, she says that she won't lose any sleep on it, but you can clearly see that she is invested and is a very professional agent.
Later on, at the end of the episode, Mulder calls her late at night to talk about the proves that have vanished. She does the same thing. She quickly replies that they will talk about it tomorrow and hangs up.
But then, like in the hotel room, you can see Scully not being able to sleep and obviously thinking about it.
(In reality, her boyfriend Ethan Minette is in her bed as well at the same time, which could explain why she doesn't want to talk to Mulder. But Ethan Minette was actually deleted from the scene and the episode overall. Therefore, we can put our thinking as an audience, even though it may not have been the original intent in the script and even at the time of the shooting).

The conclusion of the episode is also sublime.
As much as it was rare at the time, back in 1993, The X-Files would often close its case of the week with an opened ending. As we will see many times in future episodes, all the proves are taken away by mysterious forces.
This also is a testimony to the audience. And we are not lied to, because we follow an actual investigation. But when it comes to the end, we still have a few missing pieces from the puzzle and can continue thinking about it. In a way, we actually participate into the resolution of the case, which is simply phenomenally outstanding.

Meanwhile, the score is bringing the final and most important touch of the beautifully nostalgic and dark atmosphere.

This pilot episode represents as well a major difference between The X-Files and most of the other series from the time (and still today). Most series would produce a pilot with lots of action scenes, some energetic special effects as well as some dramatic music.
This episode is everything but that. It is highly intelligent and thinking as well that the viewer is intelligent enough to want more than the typical 43 minutes of boring tv.

According to me, The X-Files is not about science-fiction at all. The main topic is about finding the truth. it is about emotions. A young man trying to desperately find his abducted sister.
Samantha could have been abducted by a serial killer or a UFO, it doesn't matter. As an audience, we simply connect with this character and hope that we will find the truth through him one day. Finding Samantha should have been the ultimate point of a series that started beautifully. But I will talk more about this in the reviews from the seventh season.

This pilot episode is simply perfect and represents for me the true classic X-Files. I give the episode 10 out of 10. A true classic and timeless masterpiece. I am in love with that episode. Simple as that.

A solid start to the series!
By syzygy620 on October 13, 2017

"Pilot" is a very strong episode and introduces many recurring themes picked up in the series. You get a real feel for the direction of the series, introduced early to cases which don't often have clear-cut endings and characters whose motives may always remain mysterious.

we are not alone
By danascully09 on May 24, 2018

what a bomb in TV landscape
Always a pleasure to watch this episode, to tell every word learnt by heart, to try to find something we had never seen last times... I love the characters, their smiles, their persuasion, their beliefs, their passion, and also their pleasure to spend time together because they're so curious to discover each other.
And the story so mysterious and the other characters so paranoids (the CSM in the pentagon!).
We learn that the story is told from real facts and it's so scary!
A classic and superb episode I LOVE

By MrsThompson on June 30, 2018

The Pilot is the quintessence of the show. Mulder and Scully battling and flirting openly for the first time in their basement, the conspiracy to hide the truth, abductions in the forest, Scully performing an autopsy, Mulder in his arrogant self eating sunflower seeds, the rain scene and the mosquito bites moment... all of this makes this episode so unique and represents why the XF became such a phenomenon in the 90s that remains till these days

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