25 best standalone episodes of The X-Files

18 of 26

17. “Hollywood A.D.”

Maybe it’s just because my brain doesn’t work in the right way, but “Hollywood A.D.” is a particularly weird episode, at least narratively speaking. Perhaps you, who are likely far more astute than I, will be able to make a little more sense out of it. No matter, though, because it is still a very fun ride.

By the seventh season of The X-Files, everyone knew who Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny were. In the fictional realm of the show, agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were also well-known, though perhaps not as much as their real-world actors. Because of their small acclaim, the FBI agents have attracted the attention of Hollywood producer Wayne Federman.

Federman, as it turns out, wants to make a movie about the FBI. Luckily for him, his old college roommate, Walter Skinner, is now FBI Assistant Director. Skinner is also the boss of Mulder and Scully, meaning that they are forced to talk with Federman.

The pair are a little miffed, as they’re in the middle of an ongoing investigation. They’re attempting to learn who tried to kill Cardinal O’Fallon via bombing. They believe that Micah Hoffman, an aged counterculture rebel from the 1960s, may be at fault. It certainly helps their case when they discover what appear to be Hoffman’s remains in the catacombs beneath O’Fallon’s church.

They also discover a “Lazarus Bowl.” Supposedly the aunt of the biblical Lazarus had just happened to be making a clay vessel while Jesus raised her nephew from the dead. Somehow, Jesus’ words were inscribed into the grooves of the bowl and can be played back in modern times.

So, is the Lazarus Bowl a fake? What does this have to do with the Cardinal and the bomber? And how is Federman going to make this all into a profitable movie (starring Garry Shandling as Mulder and Tea Leoni as Scully, no less)?

Though the episode loves to meander and indulges in some weird special effects, it’s a fun commentary on Hollywood, truth, and Shandling’s ability to convincingly portray an FBI agent.