“The X-Files” season 2 finished with a terrific finale which continued in the season 3 premiere, “The Blessing Way.” The alien-human hybrid story arc carries over from season two, with revelations on Operation Paper Clip. Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) learns more about his family’s connection and involvement, while Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is drawn into the web of intrigue and conspiracy, more personal this time.
The third series entry features a slew of classic episodes. “The Blessing Way” and “Paper Clip,” kicked off the season as parts two and three of the Operation Paper Clip trilogy. The black oil mytharc debuts in season three, and over the course of the nine-season run, this plotline proved riveting and crucial to “The X-Files” lore. Story arc episodes pepper season three, crafting a strong, engaging narrative full of twists. “Nisei” begins with an alien autopsy tape, and evolves into a complex conspiracy, carrying over into “731.” “Piper Maru” significantly introduced black oil, and continued with “Apocrypha,” which in turn brought back Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea). “Wetwired” is one of the most intriguing mythology entries, exposing the sinister conspiracies perpetuated by the Syndicate, and specifically series antagonist Smoking Man (William B. Davis).
In between the mytharc entries are the famous (or infamous) monster-of-the-week episodes. Season three’s lineup of non-canon episodes are some of the series’ finest. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” stands as one of the funniest, and simultaneously most tragic episodes. It contains one of the show’s most overt references to Duchovny’s sex addiction, Mulder’s affinity for porn being a long-running joke. “War of the Coprophages” highlights the show’s ability to pull off hilarious stories, and emphasizes the humor inherent in Mulder and Scully’s relationship. Similarly, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” is beautifully meta, poking fun at alien abduction tales. “Pusher” pits Mulder against possibly his most menacing nemesis, right up there with Eugene Victor Tooms (Doug Hutchison), appearing in two episodes and notably being the first monster-of-the-week.
For both Mulder and Scully, season three becomes increasingly personal. Scully’s sister, Melissa (Melinda McGraw), mistaken for Dana, is killed early on in connection with an Operation Paper Clip cover up. Mulder realizes his father’s connection to Operation Paper Clip as well, a plotline blossoming throughout the series. Furthering Dana Scully’s abduction in season two, Scully encounters a group of women who share similar experiences. “Revelations” probes Scully’s Catholic background, a theme which recurs during several episodes. During “Quagmire,” Scully openly discusses her relationship with her father, grows closer to Mulder, and loses Queequeg, the dog she adopted during “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.” Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) emerges as a definitely ally for Mulder and Scully, and Skinner proceeds to become a beloved character. Episode “Avatar” explores his personal life which viewers, and according to the show Mulder and Scully, didn’t know much about.
As with past seasons, familiar faces pop up frequently as guest stars. “D.P.O.” sees Jack Black as an arcade-owner, and friend of a lightening-wielding teenager. Stephen McHattie plays the Red-Haired Man in “Nisei” and “731.” Peter Boyle plays Clyde Bruckman in an Emmy-winning performance. The always-enjoyable James Hong (“Big Trouble in Little China,” “Blade Runner,” “Chinatown,”) has a brief but superb role in “Hell Money.” Informant X (Steven Williams), returns, feeding Mulder sensitive snippets of information an delivering vague, foreboding warnings. Season three culminates with “Talitha Cumi,” which concludes with a massive cliffhanger, and setting up an incredible start to season four.