The X-Files S1, E2: “Deep Throat”

I’ve been delving into the popular sci-fi series The X-Files for a while now, making many attempts and failures to engage with its first season. Now it’s summer, and I’ve been weaving in and out through the series various episodes, trying to piece the gigantic enterprise together. It may seem strange for me to go back and recap an over two decades old television show, in some ways that type of thing is what the blog was built for. Join me this week as I review/recap the second episode, uncovering crazy test pilots, stoner kids, and UFOs.

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First appearance of the proper title sequence!

After last week’s “Pilot,” the second episode “Deep Throat” gets us to settle in a bit more. During my first attempt at watching The X-Files, I really didn’t find a lot in this episode to keep me watching. I liked the pilot enough to keep going to this episode, but because this episode featured more unexplained “alien” stuff, that seemed completely different from the unexplained “alien” stuff from the pilot, I was really unsure as to what I was getting into with this show. Coming back to it now, I realize that this episode by nature of being the second episode has to be less explosive than the pilot, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

“Deep Throat” introduces the character of the same name (played by Jerry Hardin), and like his namesake, he surfaces at random times and places to drop cryptic hints and warnings about what the government is up to. He first appears in the bathroom of a bar that Mulder and Scully go to to discuss their latest case, the disappearance of Lt. Col. Budahas (Andrew Johnston) from Ellens Air Force Base. Mulder thinks it has something to do with UFOs, or rather government appropriation of UFO technology, and Deep Throat warning him to stay off the case only makes it that much more attractive to him.

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I know Deep Throat is going to be a pretty important character in the ongoing (and very confusing) mythology arc, but to be honest, I don’t remember how he fits in and his presence in this episode doesn’t stand out that much to me. I suppose it’s supposed to be ominous that he shows up and says cryptic stuff to Mulder, but maybe the actor just doesn’t seem spooky enough to me for some reason. Also, the stuff he says is so vague that (unless you’re Mulder), it’s easy to dismiss it.

But because this is The X-Files, just because it’s easy to dismiss it, doesn’t mean you actually should. This episode kind of goes nowhere, especially in terms of the actual case Mulder and Scully are dealing with. They show up to the base, interview Budahas’ wife, Anita (Gabrielle Rose) and it turns out that Budahas has been behaving strangely for a while now and this behavior is not uncommon in other pilots on the base. They poke around the base some more, and run into some stoner kids watching bright lights in the sky that even Scully agrees do not come from any known type of aircraft. Mulder breaks off from Scully to investigate the restricted area where they saw the UFOs, and gets captured by base security. Meanwhile, Scully is unable to locate him and in a really badass move she captures the reporter guy who is actually part of the base security and exchanges him for Mulder, who doesn’t seem to remember a thing. When they check back up on the Budahas’, the wife rescinds her original statement and shuts them out without seeing Lt. Col. Budahas. In all respects, they’re back to where they started.

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I feel that with these alien mythology episodes, it’ll probably be helpful to think about what new thing we learn in each episode. In the pilot we saw bright white lights abducting people in the Oregon woods, perhaps for alien experiments that consist of inserting chips in people’s noses to control them and two dot-like marks on their lower backs for an unknown purpose. In this episode, we maybe see alien crafts, or a military craft built with alien technology, and somehow Mulder’s memories are erased. These two things do not seem related in anyway, and as Scully notes in her customary (for season one) field report voice over at the end, nothing seems conclusive. It’s only two episodes in, so it’s not the end of the world that these two things don’t have anything to do with each other, I’m just illustrating why I gave up after this episode the first time around.

There’s some cute Mulder and Scully banter here, but that aspect was much more interestingly played out in the pilot, seeing as it was the first time they had met. Here, we see them calling each other “suckers” which was pretty adorable, and Scully saving Mulder which is always nice to see. I also really love seeing how Anderson plays Scully at the beginning of the series as getting so overwhelmed by the whole alien-government conspiracy thing. At various points she speaks as though one would when they are specifically trying to keep their imagination from running away with itself. (Side note: it’s weird that Mulder meets Scully in a bar and tries to buy her a drink at 2 pm, because later in the series I think it gets established that Mulder doesn’t drink)

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“Deep Throat” is a perfectly satisfactory episode, and even if the mythology shows signs of being far too widespread to make any damn sense, there still are some stakes to it here. Mulder getting his memory of getting inside the base erased is pretty chilling when you think about it, even though (I don’t think) it ever becomes relevant in any way. We get some more team bonding with Scully taking the base security guy hostage to save Mulder. The show is a bit more polished in a technical sense from the pilot, but that’s to be expected (though there’s nothing as standout to me here as that handheld autopsy scene from the previous episode). The show is still finding its footing but doesn’t loose much of the goodwill it gained in the pilot.

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“Mr. Mulder, they’ve been here for a long, long time.”

Long story short: 3/4 stars

Click here to read my review of next week’s episode, “Squeeze”

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