Warning: major spoilers ahead for the fourth episode of The X-Files Season 11, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat."
The X-Files is primarily known for its serious elements, ranging from aliens and conspiracies to Monsters of the Week that can scare the pants off of viewers everywhere. That said, the show has also turned out some truly hilarious hours of television that poke fun at what The X-Files usually takes so seriously. Each season has contained at least one funny episode, and Season 11 is no exception. "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" -- as penned by veteran X-Files comedy writer Darin Morgan -- is weird and wild and worth a rewatch to catch all the jokes and Easter eggs.
In "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," Mulder and Scully encountered a bizarre man by the name of Reggie who claimed to have connections to the X-Files, UFOs, and a conspiracy dating all the way back to the U.S. invasion of Grenada. There was bickering over the Mandela effect vs. the Mengele effect, the validity (or invalidity, if you ask Scully) of a parallel universe leaking into our universe, and whether or not the mysterious Dr. They had influence over everything. By the end of the episode, it seemed clear that the whole conspiracy was in the mind of an unstable man, but Mulder and Scully had reason to doubt when Skinner (who will soon get an origin story) emerged from the FBI building to demand where the hell the mental hospital orderlies were taking Reggie.
"The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is by far the most overtly comedic episode of Season 11 so far, and its tonal differences from the previous three episodes and what we've seen of the next batch of episodes set it apart. Funny episodes are a breath of fresh air and provide a break from the heaviness that's really trademark of The X-Files. Series creator Chris Carter spoke with CinemaBlend about "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," and he had this to say about why The X-Files can go funny:
That's a signature quality of Darin Morgan episodes. All his episodes are parodies of the show and take tremendous license with the tone of the show. That's actually for me one of the amazing things about this show is it can withstand all of these big tonal changes. It can go from, if you saw Episode 3, that's kind of a dark comedy, to Episode 4 which is kind of a ridiculous take on the show and on the characters right back to a serious episode like Episode 5, which is partly monster and partly mythology episode, that it can snap back and forth into those shapes to me is one of the most amazing things about this show.
All things considered, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is an hour of television that really couldn't have been pulled off by an X-Files writer other than Darin Morgan, who penned the classic episodes "Humbug," "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," and "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space,'" to name a few. His episodes take the premise of the show in a direction not usually explored and mine the stories for laughs. Not many shows could pull off switching tone abruptly from Monster of the Week to comedy to mythology, but The X-Files does it, and the comedy provides a break from the seriousness that could otherwise overwhelm.
Next week's episode promises to deliver some answers fans have been waiting for since the show ended its original run back in in 2002 with the return of William. The trailer makes it clear that we'll be getting a brand new monster as well as Scully and (maybe) Mulder's long-lost son. Be sure to tune in on Wednesday, January 31 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox for the next new episode of The X-Files. For more viewing options, swing by our midseason TV premiere guide.