9.Pusher/Kitsunegari. (Season 3, Episode 17 and Season 5, Episode 8)
Okay so I'm cheating, here. These are supposed to be only 12 episodes, but I keep finding ways to add more into the loop. These two are bookends, however, in the same plotline.
In Pusher our villain has the ability to push others to do his will, simply by talking to them and willing them to. They set themselves on fire, shoot themselves, have heart attacks.. and Mulder becomes part of the chase. Kitsunegari, Japanese for foxhunt, is the follow-up episode, where Mulder is not quite hunted, but taunted by Pusher, who seems to want to be caught, yet again.
The tension in Pusher is quite high. Mulder puts his life on the line, much to Scully's distress, and there are some intimate moments between them, Mulder holding Scully's hands when she is nervous and concerned, and later, she is in tears, frightened for his life. It's a great episode for their working and personal relationship to emerge, and I think it took the UST in the show up a notch.
Mulder is always determined to solve the puzzle, to right the wrongs, to fight justice. Pusher is flawed, human yet endowed with a special power, and Mulder is a good match for him. And as always, it is so very difficult for Mulder to prove anything..
And as a sidenote, they are so very pretty in this episode. The lighting, framing, makeup, something. It's very beautiful aesthetically. I especially love the moment at the phone booth above. It's so very old Hollywood.
Scully: ... We barely had a case against him.
Mulder: Oh, we had enough to get past a simple preliminary hearing. Modell psyched the guy out. He put the whammy on him.
Scully: Please explain to me the scientific nature of the "whammy."
Mulder: You mean you killed this man for nothing, you sick bastard?
Pusher: Me? No, haven't you caught on, Mulder? They all kill themselves.
Honourable mention...Memento Mori/cancer arc. (Season 4, Episode 15)
Again, more than one episode. But I am only going to focus on Memento Mori. A fan favourite, mainly for the sweet moment of intimacy in the end, I think this episode is beautiful in its fragility; in the way Mulder wants so much to protect and save Scully, and this time it's not from aliens or mutants, but from an illness inside her brain. It's a strong episode for both actors, and especially Gillian, who goes from calm and quiet resignation, to the grief of losing a friend and not knowing her own future.
Mulder will do anything he can. Even the unthinkable. He goes to Skinner to track down the Smoking Man, he finds out more about what happened to her, he gets the Gunmen on the case.
At the same time, there seems to be a form of courting going on for him. He's trying to profess how he feels, in case he loses her. He brings her flowers, he sits at her bedside, he refuses to accept that there is nothing they can do. We romanticise Mulder and Scully all the time, but there is nothing clearer than this episode to me, that they love each other in many ways, not just the conventional kind. He is her support, she is his rod and stability, he is her crusader.
He fights to the end, exploring every avenue, and then he waits for her. And her wish, despite the odds, is to return to work. It concerns him, but he'll let her. Because not having her there beside him fighting the odds almost is worse for him than her possible death itself. And maybe if he can always watch her, he can save her.
Scully: I feel time like a heartbeat, the seconds pumping in my breast like a reckoning. The luminous mysteries that once seemed so distant and unreal, threatening clarity in the presence of a truth entertained not in youth, but only in it's passage. I feel these words as if their meaning were weight being lifted from me, knowing that you will read them and share my burden, as I have come to trust no other. That you should know my heart, look into it, finding there the memory and experience that belong to you, that are you, is a comfort to me now as I feel the tethers loose and the prospects darken for the continuance of a journey that began not so long ago, and which began again with a faith shakened and strengthened by your convictions, if not for which I might never have been so strong now. As I cross to face you and look at you incomplete, hoping that you will forgive me for not making the rest of the journey with you.
Scully: Mulder I can't kid myself. People live with cancer. They carry on, and so will I. You know I've got things to finish, to prove to myself, to my family, but for my own reasons.
Mulder: Come on back. (pause) The truth will save you Scully. I think it'll save both of us.
More eps tomorrow..