25 best standalone episodes of The X-Files

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14. “Improbable”

The truth is, you could probably stop watching The X-Files around season seven and be just fine. After some casting shakeups in the following seasons, the show never quite recovered its former mid- to late-nineties glory. However, there are a few gems buried in these later seasons, though you may still miss the classic Mulder and Scully duo.

“Improbable”, from the show’s penultimate ninth season, is one of those gems. It features Scully, along with some new additions: FBI Agents John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish).

Agent Reyes is investigating the death of a woman in a casino restroom. She’s beginning to think that the murder, which is just one in a string of similar cases, is somehow based on numerology. However, her superiors think that she’s full of baloney. However, fellow agent Dana Scully, who still thinks the numerology track is off, manages to discover another clue. The victims all bear similar marks on their cheeks, which may be an impression from the killer’s ring.

As Scully and Reyes continue their search, they encounter a strange man, played by none other than Burt Reynolds. This man happened to appear when the pair had very nearly captured the killer. He has no phone or ID, though his car trunk is packed with CDs and a box of checkers. Somehow, he convinces the two to sit and play several rounds of the game, which somehow gives them a clue as to killer’s identity.

This is a definitively silly episode. Scully is right that numerology doesn’t make much sense at all, for one. Still, it’s worth watching, if only for Burt Reynolds’ turn as a mysterious and possibly omnipotent being.