Thu
Oct 27 2011 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Deep Throat”

Season 1, Episode 2: “Deep Throat”
Original Airdate: September 17, 1993

Ah, the military. Big. Complex. Hierarchical. And, best of all! Secretive. The perfect place to hide a conspiracy, if you’re a television program, particularly if you’re a television program taking place in the early 90s, and there aren’t any wars or any other nonsense like that going on. Maybe the odd conflict? But overall, if you really want to date The X-Filess first season, you needn’t bother with Mulder’s brutally large cell phone or Scully’s brutally large shoulder pads. You need only bother with the scene in “Deep Throat” where a long-haired, pre-Buffy Seth Green waxes on about how the lights in the sky over the local Air Force base are most likely a “Star Wars cyber-tech” meant for “Desert Storm 2 or something like that. Cruise right over Saddam’s house, you know, be like, ahahaha.” Indeed!

Although the pilot introduced the idea of government conspiracy, it’s “Deep Throat” that kicks out the edges of the canvas. Mulder drags Scully to Idaho to investigate the disappearance of an Air Force pilot named Colonel Budahas, apparently hospitalized after a “psychotic episode”/creepy looking rash leads him to barricade himself in his own home. When her husband doesn’t return from his hospital stint, the Colonel’s wife reports the incident to the FBI as a kidnapping. Strange, but not strange-strange, except also the pilot is based at Ellens Air Force Base, a hotspot for UFO sightings and prime Mulder-bait. He’s positively gleeful as he leads Scully out to the base in the middle of the night to watch the sky; she falls asleep but he wakes her just in time to watch two lights dancing in the sky in a very definitely-not-a-plane sort of way.

Despite — or perhaps because of — Mulder’s excitement, Scully’s doubt is full and stubborn. She’s frustrated when she realizes that Mulder is on the case primarily for the UFOs, and does a lot of sighing when he brings her into a diner to question the proprietress about her collection of UFO photographs. Unfortunately for Scully, the episode’s reality is stacked against her. Though her concerns are valid (the Bureau is out for them, and any hint of tabloid in her field report will definitely mean trouble) each vocalization of doubt chips away at the fresh partnership. When she sees that Mulder isn’t listening, Scully stubbornly, fatally, digs her heels in even further. As she grows more strident, he grows more poker-faced, like a teenager turning a deaf ear to his mom who totally doesn’t understand.

Perversely, Scully’s last straw comes in the form of a very real, very mysterious shakedown. She and Mulder are intercepted by a car full of, oh let’s say Men in Black, who destroy the evidence they’ve gathered and give Mulder a nice punch in the stomach. Scully steadfastly attempts to discover the identities of their assailants using actual detective work, but Mulder’s pretty convinced he and his bruised gut have figured it out. It’s the government, he says, the one with the conspiracies. And he reveals to Scully that before the two of them set off for Idaho, he was approached by a mysterious man who warned him off the case. Possibly Mulder thinks this information will spur his partner to action? But instead Scully gets annoyed and sputters that perhaps “these are questions we have no business asking” (a fair turnaround from her position at beginning of the episode, when she sternly informed the Colonel’s wife that “the government is not above the law”). So Mulder does the mature, Oxford-educated thing and pretends to agree with her before taking their car and peeling off in the direction of Ellens Air Force Base.

And then everything goes really well! Just kidding, it goes terribly. I mean first it’s not so bad, like when Mulder sneaks onto the base and sees, fairly up close, an oddly-shaped, UFO-looking craft. But then he’s surrounded by MPs who inject him with something, cart him off to an airplane hanger, and surround him with guys in white coats. Never good! Meanwhile Scully chats with a local reporter, only to realize partway through their conversation that he’s less a reporter and more a military security fella. And at this point maybe you would think that Scully would be all, “Thank goodness! Can you get my partner to stop being so crazy?” but that’s the trick of old Scully. She may not want to follow Mulder’s tabloid leads, but she really doesn’t want to be tricked by the government. So! She steals the security guy’s gun out of his car and points it at him! Which is great, it’s obviously great, I mean, if you are not straight up and down delighted watching the 5’2” Gillian Anderson smash a much taller dude up against a car while yelling “I SAID HANDS AGAINST THE CAR” then you are reading the wrong recaps. I’m sorry. But you are.

When the military releases Mulder into Scully’s gun-pointing care (Hey that’s not going to be a problem for FBI/military relations, right? Good!), he’s dazed and can’t remember what he saw on the base. Great news for Scully’s field report (No need to include Mulder’s crayon sketches of the craft he saw on the base!), bad news for, well, Mulder. Back in DC, he’s approached once again by the mysterious man (let’s call him, ohhhh, Deep Throat), who tells Mulder that he will act as his informant, so long as Mulder is careful and discreet. Mulder, to his credit, does not laugh hysterically and say, “Uhhhh discre-what? Have you even ever met me?” but instead asks about the memory that was taken from him. Deep Throat, to his credit, does not laugh hysterically.

Deep Throat: A military UFO? Mr. Mulder, why are those like yourself, who believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life on this earth, not dissuaded by all the evidence to the contrary?

Mulder: Because all the evidence to the contrary is not entirely dissuasive.

Deep Throat: Precisely.

Mulder: They’re here, aren’t they?

Deep Throat: Mr. Mulder, they’ve been here for a long, long time.

Here be aliens. That’s now a given. But who, how, and why, that’s trickier. Feeling like you’re the first to figure something out, that’s fun. But feeling like you’ve been left out, like decisions have been made on your behalf, like a whole lot of people have known and you haven’t ever been one of them, like the guy you thought was a reporter is actually a government spy — that’s wrenching. And wrenching leads to desperation. And desperation leads to danger.

Next week: “Squeeze”

Want to watch along? The entire series is currently streaming on Netflix as well as Hulu.


You could have shown Meghan Deans a picture of a flying hamburger and she would have told you that’s exactly what she saw. She has a Tumblr and is @meghandrrns on Twitter.

8 comments
Clark Myers
1. ClarkEMyers
The show I wanted to see was about recruiting and keeping conscious agents of the conspiracy.

Here we have folks who are willing to fight and die for their country but why are they willing to fight and die for the conspiracy? Why are folks who will fly combat missions not willing to do more in other areas of their lives?

FREX in the movie we see an otherwise competent supervising individual trade his own life waiting in front of the small bomb that will destroy the building and the evidence.

I never saw an explanation for the loyalty to the death of characters who were otherwise pretty good public servants.
Ian Tregillis
2. ITregillis
For the longest time after this aired, whenever I saw Seth Green in something, I'd think of him as that guy who played the stoner in that really early X-Files episode. That's how sad I am.

I mean, if you are not straight up and down delighted watching the 5’2” Gillian Anderson smash a much taller dude up against a car

I have a lot of favorite moments in this series, or maybe favorite kinds of moments. "Scully Taking Charge" is definitely high on the list.
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
I liked how we get to see that even though Scully is very much skeptical, she is still sticking with her partner (who she hasn't known long.) She may think he is a bit daft, but she can see that something is going on.
Seeing her take down the tall guy was quite fun indeed.
Meghan Deans
4. Meghan
@shalter, absolutely, I think that's one of the strongest points in Early Scully Characterization. If nothing else, she's committed to the ideals of partnership. The suits may have thought they were getting a spy (or a nag, at least), but what they really got was someone who's honestly interested in doing what's right. Just like Mulder. OOPS, SUITS.
M F
5. Madeline
I liked this particularly for the Air Force families. It took some of the great parts of "The Right Stuff" and put them in a world with alien tech... Was neat to think of guys who would break their minds to be the best pilots of the most interesting planes, and sad to see the effects of that on their loved ones.

The stoners were a lot of fun, too. The well-thought-out characterizations of the small characters really made this episode.
Amasea
6. Amasea
"She may not want to follow Mulder’s tabloid leads, but she really doesn’t want to be tricked by the government."
I'm at the very moment watching "E.B.E.", which I expect will be the subject of a future post here. But! Scully finding purported listening device in a pen? Scully: "We work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and we're being bugged. What does that tell you?" "That nothing is as it appears to me." "Exactly." ... Mulder: "He's (Deep Throat) never lied to me, I won't break that confidnce. I trust him." "Mulder, you're the only one I trust."
Too soon, character-development-wise, but man, what fantastic foreshadowing for 9 seasons. And it all starts in "Deep Throat." Episode TWO!
Speaking of foreshadowing: "Deep Throat: Mr. Mulder, they’ve been here for a long, long time."
Oh hells yes. There was a lot of subtlety in this episode, which only becomes obvious later, but this line from Deep Throat had me more excited about future episodes than I ever have been before or since (I've been spoilt by things like Invasion, the new V, or even Falling Skies into never trusting that new shows about aliens will be at all good).


Also, again from "E.B.E.," "I think it's remotely plausible someone might think you're hot"? :D
Hee hee sorry to get too far ahead...
Meghan Deans
7. Meghan
@Amasea, don't worry, "EBE" is totally in the queue!
Amasea
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