The X-Files #2: Deep Throat

"It'll be flying over Saddam's house, and he'll be all like... 'What?'"
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Scully and Mulder investigate the disappearance of a test pilot that leads to Mulder seeing, then forgetting, a military UFO. First appearance of Deep Throat.

REVIEW: Though essentially covering the same ground as the Pilot, Deep Throat goes for straight SF rather than inject supernatural/horror elements into the sequence of events. There are fewer non sequiturs as a result, and still some "existentialist" horror, but it's also far less atmospheric. The haircuts may be more bouffant, but one thing that hasn't changed is Mulder's agenda. He's still dragging Scully along to investigate "mysteries" that have, as it turns out, a connection to UFOlogy. In that sense it's very much a reprise of the Pilot's events, though we might more aptly call it its mirror. If the Pilot introduced a shadowy figure in the Cancerman (and I realize this impression is filled with hindsight), this episode introduces a similar character, Deep Throat, who seems to be working for the other side. If Scully is Cancerman's pawn, then Mulder is Deep Throat's. The former takes Scully's evidence away, covers things up, discredits; the latter prepares Mulder for greater things, warns him off so he can be a more precise tool, and casually lets bombs drop like the fact (fact? lie? it's exactly what Mulder WANTS to believe) aliens have been on Earth for a long, long time. In its two first episodes, X-Files has set up a chess board on which a grand game will be played over most of the next decade. But a slow game - Deep Throat's warning may be why the duo starts investigating one-off monsters as of the next episode.

And there lies the ambiguity. Do we believe Deep Throat? Or is he just manipulating Mulder? One thing we CAN'T ignore is that UFOs are real, regardless of whether aliens are. The government may be building these flying saucers with or without the help of alien tech, but we get very close to one. The 90s CG's too-fluid, video-y motion dates the material as much as the fashions do, but we get very close to one in this episode. And Mulder's memory loss, just like the test pilots', is an indication that the conspiracy really does have advanced technology. While there is a creep factor to the episode - the test pilot sowing a bee onto something, the very real threat of lobotomy when Mulder is captured - the episode is mostly concerned with UFOlogy tropes. We get Men in Black, a flying saucer-themed diner where you can buy saucer pictures, lights zipping in the sky, references to Roswell, etc. Oh, and stoners who like to smoke up inside the secret air base's perimeter...

...yeah, that last one's a bit of a groaner (but see below). Seth Green and his girlfriend are rather unbelievable comic relief - did the network want the show to be lighter, somehow? - willing and able to traipse into a minefield to get their groove on, and doing so unmolested by the cadre of MiBs that seems to patrol the area. Poor Scully, forced to play the "square" who hates rock music. Did we NEED these "guides" to make the story work? More cryptic clues from pilots suffering from PTSD might have proved more interesting and tonally correct. The episode also suffers from continuity problems, like Scully falling asleep on a UFO stakeout and waking with a start around 9 PM (I suppose it's 11 in Washington), and before long it's past 5 AM; the broken windshield that mysteriously mends itself, etc. You notice anomalies like that when the show is about the unexplained. Is something sinister happening?! Lost time???? (No, but you can see how paranoid a show like this can make someone.) Mulder may get to face a UFO - then be horribly forced to forget all about it - but this is still Scully's story, so I do give the episode props for making her clever enough to figure out the fake journalist's game and outplay him. She may not believe in Mulder's proclamations, but her loyalty to her partner is undeniable, which makes her Doogie Howser reports going to the "enemy" somewhat ironic.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE:
Though no direct connection is made between Deep Throat and the Pilot, we're allowed to think the ship (not)seen in the first episode is one of these government UFOs. If so, then the government is abducting kids and implanting them with technology. OR there's more than one faction out there, and it was aliens experimenting on humans, perhaps trying to create human-alien hybrids, though that could be something the government is interested in as well - at the very least to make better UFO pilots. While we're talking conspiracies, we might as well question what Seth Green and his girlfriend were all about. It's very convenient for them to be there, and then to be there again (with information about an area they claim never to have reached), and then show up at Scully's motel to tell her Mulder infiltrated the base alone. Are they, perhaps, Deep Throat's agents? Nudging Mulder along, then having to save him when he goes off (or onto) the reservation...

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Another strong, intriguing episode, especially when paired with the Pilot. Shame about the stoner stereotypes.

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