MULDER: A growth?
SCULLY: A tumor. You're the only one I've called.
MULDER: ...But it's treatable?
SCULLY: The truth is that the type and placement of the tumor makes it difficult—to the extreme.
MULDER: I refuse to believe that.
That's right—the guy who can believe in Bigfoot, black magic, and aliens point blank refuses to believe that Dana Scully won't beat cancer.
It's like the writers all sat down and decided that season four would focus on two things:
- Being as disgusting as possible.
- Crushing the fans' hearts and souls.
In the first camp, we have some of the bloodiest, most appalling monsters and crimes to ever appear on the show. And in the second, we have Scully's now-infamous cancer arc—which was the stuff of epic dinner table/lunchroom debates.
I can vividly remember comforting my friend Amanda, who was very invested in Scully and Mulder's relationship, as she recapped the previous night's episode to me through tears over our PB&J sandwiches. The X-Files was something that I largely had to experience vicariously when it originally aired, as it wasn't the sort of programming my parents deemed appropriate for a ten-year-old (rightly so, I'm sure; we were more of a Star Trek: The Next Generation household at the time).
But even then—before the horror bug had properly bitten me, before I had built up a tolerance for thrillers and could sit through a zombie flick with a plate of spaghetti—I was still intrigued.
Even then, I knew The X-Files was something that should be in my wheelhouse.
Mainly because it's a show about dichotomies: about the conflicts between good and evil, the sacred and the profane, the horrible and the beautiful, fervent belief versus solid science. It's this mixture of clashing opposites that makes it so compelling and layered, and Season 4 is a powerful turning point for both the leads and the series as a whole.
Here are the important episodes to check out—or avoid, as the case may be.