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. Since the 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 for the William Graham directed and Glen Morgan and James Wong written sixteenth episode!
We haven’t had a mythology episode since “Fallen Angel” and “EBE” is a return to the government conspiracy to cover up aliens. This episode is pretty good, with Mulder and Scully shaking off their government tails in order to track down an actual alien. What they end up finding is only slightly less elusive: the motives of our old friend Deep Throat.
Mulder and Scully become of aware of a truck driver who witnesses a UFO and went crazy trying to shoot everything inside. They head over to the site to check it out, and Mulder does a trick with stopwatches that proves a loss of time that we’ve seen in other mythology episodes. They go to question the driver, but the locals run them out of town. They head back to the x-files office in defeat, but then Scully notices a pen she let a woman borrow in a previous scene has been converted into a bug (whoa). Mulder signals his old friend Deep Throat, getting “evidence” of a UFO that turns out to be a fake as Scully suspects. Mulder then goes home to find his apartment bugged. Mulder and Scully then go on the run to find the original truck and she just what is has been hiding, but can they find it in time?
The answer to that is no, and instead of an alien Mulder only finds Deep Throat’s explanation for what happened. The final scene is pretty touching, as DT confesses his extermination of an alien back in Vietnam, and the international agreement that forced him to do it. The question is, is he lying about this like he lied about the UFO file he gave Mulder earlier to delay him? Why would he feel the need to delay Mulder from finding the live alien at all, if he had already decided to trust him? We seem to get the answers to DT’s motives, but they are still kind of murky.
As with most mythology episodes, the paranoia is ratcheted up in this episode. Scully’s discovery of the pen bug, Mulder’s trashing of his own apartment (a great homage to The Conversation) in search of any other bugs, the sequence in the middle devoted to Mulder and Scully’s evading pursuit (apparently you can’t trace air phones, I guess), and most memorably of all the introduction of The Lone Gunmen all serve to increase the uneasiness in the episode.
The Lone Gunmen, made up of Frohike (Tom Braidwood), Byers (Bruce Harwood), and Langley (Dean Haglund), are friends of Mulder’s who publish an underground newspaper devoted to conspiracy theories and continue to play a role in the series. At first I was not a huge fan of them, but they grow on you. They don’t have a ton to do in the episode; when they are introduced they spout a bunch of crazy theories about how the government is tracking us through our money and having breakfast with JFK’s assassin, but later Langley helps Mulder and Scully sneak into a secret facility so they prove to be pretty useful from the outset.
If we take stock of our mythology episodes so far, this one fits in pretty well I think. In the pilot we saw alien abductions in the woods, marks on the skin, loss of time, and flashes of bright white light. We get the last two here in this episode whenever Mulder and Scully approach the truck. In “Deep Throat” we first meet the titular character, and the case involves aircraft with unusual capabilities and abductees forgetting everything that happens to them. Here, we get further insight into Deep Throat as a character and what motivates him to tell Mulder all this stuff, and also how Mulder calls upon him and their meetings actually work. We still don’t know all there is to know about the man and his hints are still cryptic and downright misleading at times. In “Conduit” we learn more about the disappearance of Mulder’s sister Samantha, which doesn’t really play into this episode much. As previously stated, in “Fallen Angel” we see more evidence of disease for abductees, and the truck driver at the beginning of this episode has a mysterious cough. We also have the abduction of Max, and NICAP gets a shout out from Mulder here. So far the mythology is kind of loose but still pretty compelling.
That’s how the mythology arc is doing in the show so far, but how’s our favorite skeptic/believer dynamic doing? It’s pretty healthy, with Scully slowly beginning to realize Mulder might be onto something but keeping his suspicions in check with reality at every turn. I loved the photograph analysis bit, with Scully actually being proven right for once; it was a fake. Scully warns Mulder that others (the government conspiracy mongers) might be taking advantage of him and his willingness to believe, and his final confrontation with Deep Throat shows that Mulder has at least taken some of her caution to heart.
“EBE” turns out to be a pretty good episode. It’s one that takes the show’s existing mythology arc and move it a little bit away from alien abductions and moves it more towards how the government is actually keeping the aliens themselves under wraps. It’s not perfect (there might be a few too many bait and switches here) but it’s pretty good at doing what the show is known for at this point in time. Also, we get to meet The Lone Gunmen! Look out for them in episodes to come.
“I’m wondering which lie to believe.”
Long story short: 3/4 stars
Click here to read my review of next week’s episode, “Miracle Man”