25 best standalone episodes of The X-Files

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2. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”

Often enough, it’s difficult simply to write an episode with just one theme. Writers, actors, directors, and other creative folk already have their hands full creating an effectively spooky episode. Other times, it’s enough to create a funny episode, or a sad one. Yet, sometimes, they are able to get all of their ducks fully in a row and present a tale that hits all the buttons.

“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” follows Mulder and Scully as they investigate the murders of fortune tellers in the St. Paul, Minnesota area. When a flamboyant “psychic” named the Stupendous Yappi turns out to be little more than a charlatan, local detectives and our intrepid FBI agents appear to be at the end of their rope.

Enter Clyde Bruckman, played by Peter Boyle. He finds the body of an unfortunate fortune teller in his dumpster. When he naturally reports this to the police, Mulder and Scully take notice of Bruckman’s unique talents and ask him to assist in the investigation.

Why would they be interested? At first, it seems curious indeed. Clyde is a morose insurance salesman with a blisteringly dry wit. However, unlike the Stupendous Yappi, it turns out that he’s the real deal. Bruckman, you see, is an actual psychic. Well, in some respects, anyway. It soon becomes clear that he can only really see someone’s looming death.

He’s not exactly happy about being able to foretells deaths and other disasters, though. It’s not even much of an advantage in the insurance biz, as he just seems to creep out potential clients when describing their eventual demises.

Still, he’s ultimately a touching, even tragic figure. Thanks to an amazing performance by Peter Boyle and writing by Darin Morgen, you’ll likely find yourself both laughing and crying within a single episode.