25 best standalone episodes of The X-Files

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23. “Unusual Suspects”

To be honest, I need to apologize. It’s taken more than twenty entries for me to talk about The Lone Gunmen at length. Can you ever forgive me?

If, somehow, you’ve never heard of The Lone Gunmen, let’s all sit down and take a minute to go over the trio. The members are John Byers, Melvin Frohike, and Richard Langly. They’re a group of undeniably nerdy computer hackers, for one. And while they spout the kind of conspiracy theory lines that sound like malarkey, in the world of The X-Files, they’re actually right.

None other than Agent Mulder acts as their official contact. You see, for all that fans loved to swoon over Mulder and occasional writers tried to make him look like an action hero, he’s a nerd. Fox Mulder is an utter dweeb, my friends.

If you doubt me, then take a gander at “Unusual Suspects”, the third episode of the fifth season. This story actually explains how Mulder first came into contact with the Lone Gunmen, not to mention how the trio actually came to be so tied up with government conspiracies. So, where could an FBI agent and some freewheeling computer techs come into contact? A mid-nineties computer convention, of course.

At the convention, Byers – at that time, a loyal government employee – is stuck manning a deeply unpopular FCC booth. He runs into a mysterious woman who desperately needs his help. However, she’s either looking for her kidnapped daughter, or she’s a dangerous terrorist. Mulder becomes involved in the investigation.

Without spoiling too much, this ends up with Mulder exposed to a form of hallucinogenic ergot fungus, which causes him to tear off all of his clothes and roll around screaming on the floor of a warehouse in Baltimore. Good times.