25 best standalone episodes of The X-Files

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12. “X-Cops”

As The X-Files continued broadcasting, some viewers began to wonder how long the series could stay fresh. Of course, the show had its fair share of duds, just like any other. Still, by the seventh season, surely at least some fans began to watch with a mixture of nervous anticipation and excitement. Could The X-Files keep itself entertaining?

For the twelfth episode of season seven, the answer was certainly “yes”. The episode, titled “X-Cops”, is an innovative take on what had, by 2000, become a well-worn series. Not only did it take on the old narrative saws established by The X-Files, but it also helped to make something unique out of the popular Cops television show.

The episode begins as a standard evening on Cops. In fact, the first time that I saw this on TV, I thought that I had gotten the schedule wrong and very nearly turned the channel. However, by the time LA Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Wetzel encounter a terrifying creature, it soon became clear that this was no ordinary episode of Cops.

Though Wetzel survives his violent encounter, the LA County Sheriff’s Department is thrown into a frenzy. Who – or what – attacked him? Their hackles are further raised when they run into our friends Mulder and Scully nearby. However, they reveal themselves as FBI agents investigating the same apparent monster.

While Mulder embraces the publicity brought by the Cops camera crew, Scully clearly wants nothing of it. The tension brings just the right amount of levity to a disorienting and unsettling story. As the sheriff’s department and the agents work their way through a rough LA neighborhood, the situation becomes more clear and far more dangerous.