The X-Files #17: E.B.E.

"The truth is out there, but so are lies."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Tracking a truck containing evidence of alien life, Mulder loses trust in Deep Throat. First appearance of the Lone Gunmen.

REVIEW: The episodes about proving alien life have, to date, been a little redundant. By moving the focus to the CONSPIRACY that's preventing Mulder from doing so, the show has created a perfect piece of paranoid fiction that could actually be a game changer. It's an episode where half of what you see is a hoax, but you can never be sure which half. The Conspiracy actively preys on Mulder's need to believe, but fails to factor in Scully's temperance of his outlook over the last few months. Has he, in fact, become more skeptical since he started working with her? It's osmosis; Scully, while never a "believer" (at least, not for long) CAN become paranoid, and gets a strong taste of that in E.B.E.

At the center of it all is the character of Deep Throat. I think the production has finally realized they've been overusing him. Every time the government is involved in something, he's been the guy who feeds Mulder the exposition he needs to keep the plot going. That's a cheap way to script episodes, and cheapens HIM as a mytharc character. With E.B.E., he starts to get phased out in favor of a new paradigm. Proven unreliable, Mulder will seek him out no longer, and Deep Throat symbolically disappears into the fog at episode's end. Not coincidentally, three fringe journalists collectively called the Lone Gunmen are introduced. We've seen fringers before, and they've been a source of comic relief as well as exposition delivery men. With the Lone Gunmen, we get all that and a copy of GURPS Illuminati too. Not only are these three good at exposition - exposition that's far less reliable, which means they can be forgiven for handing out red herrings - but each has his own personality and expertise, and that makes them less limited than, say, Max Fenig (Fallen Angel). In a single scene, they already provide a great comic touch, and throw out random conspiracy theories that don't need to be true to be entertaining. At the same time, the fact they record Mulder's conversations over his objections adds to the idea that no one can be trusted in this world. Scully says she only trusts Mulder - and after the pen switcheroo she suffers at the hands of an innocuous-looking woman at the bus station, who can blame her? - but omits to mention she's still technically spying on Mulder at this point.

Great dialog throughout - for example, Deep Throat likens Mulder to a shark who must keep swimming or die, at an aquarium no less - supports action that keeps pulling the rug from under you. You're led to believe one thing, then another, then another, and in another context, you'd be right to say the production isn't playing fair with the audience. But this is the Conspiracy not playing fair with Mulder, and that makes it intensely satisfying. What do we know for sure, by the end of this episode? Not much, because 1) we never see an alien body and 2) Deep Throat's elastic relationship with Truth is the main thrust of the story. Everything we learn "for sure", we get from him. And he's not a source you want to put in your bibliography.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Deep Throat says his technique is to sandwich a lie between two truths (I'm paraphrasing), which means - if this isn't ALSO a lie - that some of what he says is the truth. But which part? Did the international community really make a pact to kill whatever might survive from a downed UFO? And would these countries REALLY respect that edict if alien knowledge could be gained? The alien Mulder was tracking - if there ever really was an alien - was it being kept alive against government policy, or was it being taken to a facility where it could be killed in some vulnerability-testing experiment? Since we're led to believe there's more than one government faction playing a role in the Conspiracy (and was the truck being followed by an alien recovery team, or the human forces that built their own UFOs), could the shadow war have been caused by disagreement as to this policy at the highest levels? Who knows? Like I said, it's not like we can trust anything Deep Throat says or shows us.

REWATCHABILITY: High - Great conspiracy fiction, with some major new characters getting a fun introduction in the middle of what is otherwise a desperate, paranoid thriller.



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