1×02: Deep Throat

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

Our heroes are sent to Idaho (because who would ever go there voluntarily?) to investigate the apparent kidnapping by the military of one of their own, and they soon find out that strange lights are a regular nighttime occurrence.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: The standard trope of any television series is that the second episode restates the thesis of the program, and that the way the show executes it determines in some measure its future success. In many ways, “Deep Throat” takes the cover-up of the existence of extraterrestrials only given lip service in the Pilot and takes it to a level that would define the central conspiracy of the series for the next several seasons.

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of this episode lies in the introduction of a character we will later see referred to as “Deep Throat,” the first in a line of informants Mulder will rely on to feed him information about the government’s involvement with extraterrestrials and their technology. Jerry Hardin, a classic character actor, infuses his role with enigma and gravitas right from the get go. It is his ominous pronouncements that wind up setting the tone for the duration of the season.

While the story itself is boilerplate — Mulder and Scully investigating the effects alien technology has on military test pilots around a classified Idaho air base — the portrayal on screen is anything but. Utilizing the moody colors and atmospherics of Vancouver and its environs, director Daniel Sackheim employs a mise-en-scene that serves to heighten a looming sense of paranoia and mistrust. Several chilling scenes of government surveillance and overreach highlight the lengths to which secrets must be kept.

Elements of what eventually become pieces of the show’s mythology are sprinkled all around this episode — photographs purporting the existence of aliens and doubts of their veracity, along with several eyewitnesses to close encounters, including Mulder in this episode. It is this encounter, when Mulder sneaks onto the base to obtain evidence for himself, that sets in motion a gulf between what Mulder has seen, and what Scully can prove and document to her superiors.

In the end, it all comes down to the quite philosophical discussion between Deep Throat and Mulder on the racetrack, on the nature of truth and the balance of power between those who seek to control it and those who are compelled to bring it to light.

Radhika: While it doesn’t take us straight to the stories that lie at the core of the show’s overall mythology, “Deep Throat” is definitely the episode that illustrates The X-Files’ aspirations to delve into the idea of larger government conspiracies. The “small town with a secret” is seen on a much larger scale here at an air base than it is in the
Pilot.

As Max points out, one of the central focuses of this episode is the power dynamic between those involved in cover-ups and those who seek to bring the truth to light. And perhaps for the first time as a longtime fan of the program, I found myself wondering if Mulder and Scully’s motives (or maybe just Mulder’s in this episode) can always be considered the “right” motives.

Don’t get me wrong: I still think our heroes’ intentions are pure. And I think I’d still consider this episode’s antagonists — who were covering up the ill effects of supposedly working with UFO technology — the bad guys. After all, they’re doing some pretty dangerous stuff and keeping the victims’ families in the dark when loved ones snap.

But there’s a part toward the end of the episode, after Scully goes to retrieve Mulder who has snuck onto the air base, where the characters are admonished and told that they behaved inappropriately. And this is one of the first times where I can see how this was the case. There’s nothing wrong with a little truth seeking, especially if there’s a chance that some real wrongdoing needs to be uncovered and revealed to the general public. But perhaps better methods need to be used.

Considering some of the stories in the news lately, this episode highlighted that there really are some truly timeless questions that we’ll keep asking ourselves throughout history, regardless of the actual era we’re living in. All you have to do is throw some UFOs into the mix in order to turn these themes into so-called fiction.

YES, IT’S THAT GUY
A recurring section of our rewatch where we note actors who’ve appeared in the episode(s) and have gone on to become stars in their own right.

Seth Green – Now primarily known for his voice work on Family Guy and co-creating Robot Chicken, Seth Green blew up as Oz in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and as Scott Evil in the Austin Powers film series. Here playing the role of the stoner Emil, he can also be seen in the films Party Monster, Can’t Hardly Wait, and The Italian Job.

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3 thoughts on “1×02: Deep Throat

  1. Pingback: Wow, We’ve Really Gone Hollywood: A Cinematic View of ‘Fight the Future’ | Apt. 42 Revisited

  2. Yes, this is as I remembered, including some contradictory feelings. Interesting mystery, good actors, good settings, but I do not feel they accomplished much, at least not through their efforts. The missing pilot was returned, supposedly because of their presence, but if he had not been returned there’s nothing our heroes could have done. The feeling of powerlessness is frustrating, but I guess it’s part of the show, and I should embrace it or just give up.

  3. Pingback: 8×14: This Is Not Happening | Apt. 42 Revisited

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