For a show that explored the vast mysteries of alien life, paranormal activity, and government conspiracy, The X-Files still managed to be comfortingly formulaic. In fact, most episodes of the beloved science fiction series followed the same basic structure of mystery, escalation, and resolution, no matter what bizarre crimes and events agents Mulder and Scully were investigating.

In the short animated video essay “The X-Files in 3 Minutes,” Mashable breaks down in impressive detail the formula behind nearly every X-Files episode. Their analysis not only reveals the series’ underlying narrative structures, but draws some interesting conclusions of its own. Check it out above.

[h/t Mashable]

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