25 best standalone episodes of The X-Files

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19. “The Post-Modern Prometheus”

To tell the truth, black and white film in modern television is a tricky thing to do. Now, this was a different matter entirely back when black and white was the only practical option. Modern filmmakers, however, have to tread pretty carefully. White monochromatic palettes can be very expressive, they can also come across as terribly pretentious.

This all only really works in the hands of a creator who is both practical, artistic, and thorough at the same time. It also helps that the episode under consideration takes its cues from many pop culture classics, from Frankenstein, to Jerry Springer’s talk show, to Cher herself.

Like “Small Potatoes,” the plot of “The Post-Modern Prometheus” hinges on sexual assault. I promise, these episodes are otherwise great and the series doesn’t rely on this plot point for the vast majority of its episodes. Still, it’s important to know what you’re getting into.

At any rate, the people of Albion, Indiana are frightened by a case of strange, unexplained pregnancies. The most recent victim, Shaineh Berkowitz, claims that she’s actually a double victim. The first attack resulted in her current 18-year-old son, Izzy. Now, she’s pregnant again. She says that the creature who attacked her had a misshapen head and two mouths. Could it have anything to do with the local mad scientist, a geneticist named Francis Pollidori?

“The Post-Modern Prometheus” is both heartfelt and stylish. It plays up the strangeness both of the creature – frequently called “The Great Mutato” – and the townspeople themselves. Plus, the episode is rife with some choice Cher tracks, so it’s sure to be a treat for your ears if nothing else.