The X-Files Season 2 Episode 'The Host' Was More Important Than You Realized

"The X-Files" went through a lot of tonal shifts throughout its eleven season run. The sci-fi series had its monster-of-the-week format, in which Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) chased down sundry beasties, arguing about whether or not they could be scientifically explained all the while. There were also the mythology episodes, mysterious and sometimes contradictory information downloads that referenced back to the childhood trauma that put Mulder on the UFO-hunting path long ago. But my personal favorite episodes from "The X-Files"? They were all the show's wild forays into comedy.

Most of the show's funniest episodes can be traced back to writer Darin Morgan, who penned six of the series' episodes and worked in the writers' room for many more. Morgan's sly sense of humor became foundational to Mulder and Scully's characterization, and helped the show not take itself too seriously when it ran the risk of becoming a full-blown melodrama. The writer's contributions to "The X-Files" started early, in an episode with a script he didn't actually work on. Morgan's first contribution to "The X-Files" was actually in front of the camera, playing one of the series' freakiest monsters.

A gross-out breakout role

In the second-season episode "The Host," Mulder and Scully catch wind of a sewer-dwelling monster that's eating people alive. The creature turns out to be the Flukeman — a disgusting-looking mutant first discovered outside the Chernobyl disaster site. The Flukeman hopped a freighter and eventually began attacking people around the New Jersey sewers, infecting his victims with flatworms. He's a nasty-looking fellow, something like a cross between the Creature From The Black Lagoon and some of the goopier "Hellraiser" Cenobites. He's also played by Darin Morgan.

That's right: before he was responsible for some of the show's biggest laughs, Morgan also helped create one of its best scares. Morgan became involved in "The X-Files" by way of his brother, Glen Morgan, who executive produced the series. According to Darin Morgan's interview on an "X-Files" podcast called "Sammensværgelsen," he initially came on set to help the team work on the episode that would air right after "The Host," titled "Blood." When a different script turned out to be unshootable, the crew suddenly had to make "Blood" happen quickly, and Glen called Darin to help flesh out the story.

On the podcast, Morgan explains that he landed the Flukeman role after meeting series creator Chris Carter, saying that the showrunner kindly hired him when he could have gone with a local Vancouver stunt performer instead:

"He found out that I was out of work or something, so I think he just gave me a job. It's kind of foolish because that part doesn't really require an actor, it's more like a it was just a nice gesture on Chris' part."

More than a fluke(man)

Morgan's performance is still seared in the brain of "The X Files" fans decades later, thanks in part to the incredible practical effects on display with that costume. According to the season 2 home video special features, the make-up application process for the role took as long as six hours, and the performer couldn't even use the bathroom while in costume. Luckily, it all paid off: fans won't soon forget Morgan's freaky performance as the character, who ultimately slips away from Mulder and Scully's grasp.

After "The Host" and "Blood," Morgan had clearly proven his worth as a member of "The X Files" team: he was soon able to pen his own episode, the mermaid and circus show-centric "Humbug." The episode is hilarious, and today stands out as a highlight of the early seasons. But at the time, Morgan said the team wasn't quite convinced by his untested writing chops and knack for comedy. "Everyone thought it was going to be a disaster up until the time we aired it," he told The X Files Magazine. Once the episode aired and it was clear his streak of weird humor was a hit, Morgan became an integral part of the writers' room.

The artist formerly known as the Flukeman is responsible for many of the shows best episodes, from the darkly funny Emmy-winning "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" to my personal favorite, "War of the Coprophages." "Coprophages" is a bug-heavy episode that lets Duchovny and Anderson unleash their comedic sides, which might actually be their best sides. 

Morgan may have already been on the way to the writers' room when he donned the Flukeman costume, but his willingness to take on the prosthetic-heavy role shows just how deeply he was willing to commit to the series that would later become his claim to fame. Nearly 30 years later, we're still cracking up over his best bits in "The X-Files" scripts, and still flinching in fear when we see that nasty Flukeman.