25 best standalone episodes of The X-Files

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13. “The Pine Bluff Variant”

Most of the time, both the viewers and Dana Scully believe that Fox Mulder is a good guy. He’s strange, to be sure, and a few episodes reveal that he’s kind of a gross nerd (he’s got a waterbed and mirror above the bed – really, sir?). Still, Mulder is ultimately on the side of good. Right?

In the season five episode, “The Pine Bluff Variant”, Scully begins to have doubts. While on a sting operation, Mulder allows a suspected terrorist to escape. Later, he evades Scully’s questioning. She begins to wonder if Mulder has somehow gotten in bed with the anti-government group, called the New Spartans.

Meanwhile, the New Spartans are beginning to wonder if Mulder, their newest member, might in fact be a mole. They’re especially concerned because the group is on the verge of releasing a powerful bioweapon. This pathogen practically melts the flesh of an individual, leaving them to die a painful and gruesome death.

As Scully digs deeper, the truth becomes more and more evident. While we always know that Mulder comes out okay (remember, there are quite a few more seasons to go before the end of the show), the role of both the New Spartans and the U.S. Government becomes frighteningly muddled. Though this episode focuses largely on human monsters, it will surely satisfy even the most alien-crazy of viewers.