The X-Files: Season 4 (1996 - 1997)


Season 4
The X-Files

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User Ratings: 169

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Air date: Oct 4, 1996

The first episode of The X-Files' fourth season, "Herrenvolk," concluded the two-part story begun in the third-season cliffhanger finale, "Talitha Cumi." Having located Jeremiah Smith (Roy Thinnes), an alien with miraculous healing powers, Mulder hopes to save the life of his comatose mother. But first, Smith has a "long and complicated story" to tell Mulder -- one which leads inexorably to the agent's perennial opponent, the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis). Meanwhile, in her ongoing quest to help Mulder expose the truth of alien existence, Scully exposes herself to danger in the form of a bounty hunter (Brian Thompson) who has already targeted Mulder for termination. Written by X-Files creator Chris Carter, "Herrenvolk" was originally telecast October 4, 1996.

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Air date: Oct 11, 1996

The near-idyllic community of Home, PA, is transformed into a bloody killing ground. The catalyst for all the carnage is the Peacock family, a group of inbred, deformed deviants. Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) put their own lives on the line to rescue a young woman who has been kidnapped for the purposes of spawning the latest monstrosity for the Peacock clan. (Inside joke alert: The name of the local law enforcement officer is Andy Taylor.) Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, "Home" aired October 11, 1996.

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Air date: Oct 18, 1996

A missing persons case in Philadelphia takes a grim turn when the body of a black man is discovered. The victim's body had been drained of all pigment, in the same manner as other corpses that had been located a few months earlier. Wondering why the earlier homicide had never been fully investigated, Mulder and Scully investigate -- and in so doing are obliged to mix practical science with ancient African folklore. Originally broadcast October 18, 1996, "Teliko" was written by X-Files co-producer Howard Gordon.

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Air date: Oct 27, 1996

The X-Files moved to its soon-to-be-familiar Sunday-night slot with the October 27, 1996, episode "Unruhe." Investigating the disappearance of a Michigan woman, Mulder has only the woman's passport photo to go by. Instead of showing a picture of the woman, the photo displays nightmarish, demonic images. In concert with Scully, Mulder soon determines that the grotesque images were spawned by the tortured imagination of the psycho killer (Pruitt Taylor Vince) who holds the missing woman prisoner. "Unruhe" was written by Vince Gilligan.

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Air date: Nov 3, 1996

Although they have conducted an exhaustive search, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is unable to locate Vernon Ephesian (Michael Massee), leader of a Jonestown-like cult. Amazingly, Mulder succeeds where the ATF fails -- but is unable to explain why. With Scully's assistance, Mulder probes into his own psyche...and discovers that he may have experienced several previous lives. First broadcast November 3, 1996, "The Field Where I Died" was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong.

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Air date: Nov 10, 1996

A Chicago-based cosmetic surgeon causes a tragedy when he operates on the wrong patient, literally sucking the blood out of his victim during liposuction. Arrested by the authorities, the surgeon insists that he was "possessed" during the fatal procedure. Investigating, Mulder and Scully follow the trail of clues to yet another manifestation of paranormal phenomena, this time tied in with the occult. Richard Beymer guest stars as the charismatic Dr. Jack Franklyn. Written by Vivian Mayhew and Valerie Mayhew, "Sanguinarium" originally aired November 10, 1996.

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Air date: Nov 17, 1996

At long last, the secrets behind the ubiquitous Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) are revealed -- well, most are revealed, at any rate. Lone Gunman member Frohike (Tom Braidwood) presents his findings to Mulder and Scully pertaining to the agents' most persistent opponent -- while CSM listens in on the conversation...with a rifle in his hand. In the course of this epochal X-Files episode, the viewer discovers that CSM was involved in virtually every major conspiracy hatched during the 20th century -- and as a bonus, the mystery of why the Buffalo Bills consistently lose the Super Bowl is finally solved! A heady combination of suspense and self-satire, "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man" was written by Glen Morgan, and was first telecast during sweeps week on November 17, 1996.

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Air date: Nov 24, 1996

Part one of a two-part X-Files drama, "Tunguska" was originally broadcast November 24, 1996. Mulder has disappeared, and a congressional committee wants to know why. Only Scully seems to have the answers, but she's not talking -- and she's willing to go to prison rather than reveal her secret. Meanwhile, the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), his superior, the Well-Manicured Man (John Neville), and rogue agent Krycek (Nicholas Lea) are pursuing a sinister agenda of their own. "Tunguska" was written by Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter.

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Air date: Dec 1, 1996

First broadcast December 1, 1996, "Terma" was the conclusion of a two-part X-Files drama that began with the previous week's "Tunguska." Mulder is still missing, and Scully refuses to reveal his whereabouts to a congressional committee. It's all part of a plan to trap a clever smuggler of deadly toxins, a plan that hinges upon the reluctant cooperation of rogue agent Krycek (Nicholas Lea). Also involved is the sinister Well-Manicured Man (John Neville), who has his hands full with a recently reactivated KGB assassin. Like "Tunguska," "Terma" was written by Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter.

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Air date: Dec 15, 1996

Acting upon clues which appeared in a dream, Mulder recaptures wily serial killer John Lee Roche (Tom Noonan). Even in captivity, however, Roche gets the upper hand, exerting a bizarre influence over the FBI agent. Mulder could resist, but doesn't: after all, Roche may hold the key to the mystery surrounding the long-ago disappearance of Mulder's sister. Written by Vince Gilligan, "Paper Hearts" first aired December 15, 1996.

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The X-Files: Season 4 Photos

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Season four of The X-Files begins with the Syndicate suspecting that Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are having information passed to them by one of their members, and so they attempt to find the leak. Scully is given some bad news regarding her health, and Mulder becomes convinced that her condition has been caused by her previous abduction. In order to find a cute, he decides to try and infiltrate The Pentagon, as great risk. Stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

News & Interviews for The X-Files: Season 4

Critic Reviews for The X-Files Season 4

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (4)

The X-Files remains in a class by itself.

Oct 25, 2017 | Full Review…

It's a great kickoff for season four.

Oct 14, 2017 | Full Review…

The X-Files' fourth season has been very uneven, with a few superb episodes propping up weak ones.

Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Season four of The X-Files contains some of the show's absolute finest hours and quite a few of those episodes are blatantly experimental. But it also contains some jaw-droppingly awful episodes.

Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

[Dana Scully] is the perennial hero of this show and I am in awe of her patience and courage, but I'm starting to find it irritating that she has to spend so much time watching out for him this way. It'd be nice if it weren't so repetitious.

Oct 14, 2017 | Full Review…

To be sure, Season Four does have some pretty spectacular moments and some of the most beloved X-Files shows to date...

Sep 27, 2017 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The X-Files: Season 4

  • Sep 15, 2018
    The Truth has never been closer than it is in Season 4 of The X-Files. Mulder discovers the bee farms being cultivated by the Syndicate along with their experiments at creating a vaccine for the Black Oil; meanwhile Scully learns that she's developed a life threatening illness. Additionally, the season features the notorious episode "Home" that was banned in a lot of markets, and the fan favorite "Small Potatoes," which gave Mulder/Sully shippers some red meat. Also, the Cigarette-Smoking Man's past is revealed in "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man," and the fate of Mulder's sister comes into question in "Paper Hearts." Several named guest stars make appearances, such as Tom Noonan and Judie Foster, as well as a number of up and comers, like Michael Massee, Joe Spano, and Christine Cavanaugh. And, the intense and suspenseful season finale cliffhanger leaves the audience on the edge of their seats. With a clear end in sight (the coming X-Files movie, Fight the Future), Season 4 ramps up the alien conspiracy and raises the stakes for Mulder and Scully.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 30, 2020
    This had some really good episodes but they weren't strong enough to save it in its entirety.
  • Jun 03, 2020
    The season of The X-Files is possibly the best one yet (though I still think I'd give the edge to season 3...just my opinion). There's the consistency of the two leads' chemistry, the attention-grabbing cinematography and the spooky atmosphere but where it really shines is in its darker tone, the courage to explore deeper themes and having MOTW episodes such as "Paper Hearts" and "Leonard Betts" feel less disconnected from the series' overarching story by having elements from the mythology episodes show up. Another great season of an iconic series.
  • Jan 14, 2020
    Another great season and I heard it's the best.
  • Mar 15, 2019
    Continually good with more good meat to the mythos being added.
  • Mar 11, 2019
    This is one of the best shows of all history. Cannot recommend it enough!
  • Mar 09, 2018
    Another strong season, but the mythology starts to get a little overly convoluted. a lot of mythology episodes comprise conversations like "there's so much more you must see, so that you might understand" etc., but no one actually says anything of value. most of The stand alone episodes are pretty good, including the chilling and outstanding episode "Home".
  • Dec 30, 2017
    This is where the conspiracy episodes were at their best and not frustrating as they would become. Season 4 has a couple of duds but is a consistent season. Containing one of the most disturbing episodes ever in Home. The writers were in their element and hitting it out of the park.
  • Feb 28, 2017
    The Fourth Season of the X-Files continues to develop the "mythology" plot points of earlier season, while also churning out quality "stand-alone" episodes. Let's examine the three types of episode formats that the X-Files showcases: 1. Mythology: During this season, a Mars rock turns out to be something more than just terrestrial, the Russians begin experimenting with an alien virus, Max Fenig (Scott Bellis), last seen in Season 1, makes a return appearance, and Mulder (David Duchovny) again must choose what to believe surrounding the events of his sister's disappearance. Though the "Tempus Fugit"/"Max" two-part episode falls a bit flat, the other mythology episodes this season are as strong as ever. Perhaps the most important mythological development of this season, however, is Agent Scully's (Gillian Anderson) contraction of a deadly disease which may have been given to her by outside forces. 2. Stand-Alone: Despite a few clunker episodes, this season continued to produce compelling hour-long stories. "Unruhe" focuses on a genuinely terrifying pyschopath, "Home" is so scary that it almost wasn't shown at all, and "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" sheds some light on the shadowy figure's younger years. 3. Comedic: While "Never Again" is very hit-or-miss depending on who you ask, "Small Potatoes" is a hilarious romp that also serves to provide the first hints (however small) of a possible Mulder-Scully romantic relationship. Overall, the Fourth Season of the X-Files continued to give fans what they wanted...more mythology to endlessly debate online, spooky paranormal creatures, and a few hearty laughs. Also, though I am no expert in this department, the show seemed to have been shot on better film starting this season, as the picture is more crisp and the special effects more incredible. Update (12/2015) -Upon a recent re-watch, I now consider this to be my favorite single season of this show. Everything is "on point" here: all actors are fully engaged, the mythology is at its peak (especially towards the end of the season), and nearly all of the standalones are very enjoyable. In terms of storytelling and plot, this is the last really tight season of the show.
  • Feb 05, 2016
    One of the best shows and seasons of all time.

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