September 2013 sees the 20th anniversary of the first airing of The X-Files . To celebrate this on The Hex Dimension, I’ll be providing you with retrospectives on episodes and I’ll also be covering the films at the points that they fit into the series’ chronology. Paul Blewitt will also be providing additional commentary, so, without further ado… welcome to “Deep Throat”.

Men’s room shenanigans

In this episode, Mulder and Scully head to Idaho to investigate the disappearance of a military pilot.

The X-Files Deep Throat retrospective 1 Like the pilot, Deep Throat puts you in the seat of the action. We don’t know what’s going on other than that we’re on an airbase in south west Idaho and there’s military police swarming around an ordinary looking house. What they find inside the home looks more like a case for House than for Mulder and Scully (if House had existed in 1993). Cutting to the opening titles, we’ve got the first use of the iconic opening sequence, with the well used final words, “The truth is out there”.

Down at a FBI haunt in Washington D.C., Mulder is all mysterious, more obtuse than usual, and there’s a guy at the bar. Moving back to Mulder, the events in Idaho are relayed and there’s the usual scepticism on Scully’s part. “The miliatry will not comment on the cause, nature or status,” says Mulder as he lays on the suspicion on the military forces at Ellens Airbase. Scully is less than impressed when Mulder declares, “You and I are going to the spud state to investigate a little kidnapping,”because the case has a certain, “Paranormal bouquet.”

The X-Files Deep Throat retrospective 2 And then we meet him, for the first time, in a corner of the men’s room. “Leave this case alone, Agent Mulder.” His appearance, his name, everything is a mystery and unless you know the episode’s name and its history, you won’t realise the importance of this character’s subterfuge. The history of the alias known as Deep Throat harks back to the Watergate scandal that pretty much ruined Nixon’s political career. A 90s US audience would be still highly attuned to its symbolic implications. Deep Throat being the cover name for Mark Felt in the original incident.

You need to realise that the use of the name is not to say that this man is the Deep Throat, rather that his role in history is similar to the role being played by Mulder’s anonymous acquaintance.

The Spud State

Moving on to Idaho proper, the ducking and diving of the military examined in the episode is a pattern that’s repeated. What’s interesting here is the examination of the human cost of whatever secret test pilot operations the pilots have been involved in. Scully is keen to offer rational reasons for what’s happening, ones based in stress disorders and medical science, but Mulder won’t have any of it. They’re at a tipping point, the evidence needs to pile up either way.

The X-Files Deep Throat retrospective 3 Scully bears a far greater mantel of sceptic in this episode. She’s nowhere near as easily drawn in as she was in the pilot. At the same time, she is wary of the people she comes into contact with who aren’t Mulder.

Unlike the pilot, where the “UFO nuts” were hidden, they’re far more on display in this episode. This heightens Scully’s doubt and suspicion about anything sinister happening at the airbase and surrounding area. There’s this moment outside a UFO themed cafe where Scully questions the position of a testing area, as it’s not on any known maps and Mulder pulls out a map that’s been drawn by a local. The look in Scully’s eyes, a sort of half roll, it just encapsulates Scully’s feelings so well.

Paul Blewitt’s thoughts

paulcouldbebetter One of the big themes in all of X-Files, is that nobody else wants Mulder and Scully near the case. From both the shady perpetrators to friendly advise, the agents are in an uphill struggle to get to the truth. This episode expands on that, providing a range of characters that also spur Mulder on, ranging from a concerned wife, thinking
her husband has been replaced with a duplicate, as well as Seth Green’s youthful appearance – a believer.  The proof is never complete as to whether it’s aliens, military experimentation or just a hoax – all of which seem to draw you in all the more. The X-files in general works on this non-answering very well, even though the episode still wraps up in some way – it’s rarely in a completely solved case. Likewise, we’re also made to be uncertain about the reports Scully makes – are they going to be covered up as well?

 

Belief

Moments like the lights in the sky add further to Mulder’s belief, but always increases Scully’s doubt about what she’s seeing in front of her.

The X-Files Deep Throat retrospective 4 “You believe it all, don’t you?” Scully asks after an encounter with a pair of stoners. She’s quick to judge, but Mulder throws down a reference to the Roswell incident. If there’s one thing that becomes established in the X-Files, it’s the continued references to tropes, places and people that are well embedded in the American psyche when it comes to UFOs and aliens.

How things progress from the lights in the sky is an interesting moment. There are few explanations forthcoming, but the finger is squarely pointing at a military influence, as opposed to actual aliens.

The X-Files Deep Throat retrospective 5 Mulder’s determination to prove that a UFO is his undoing. His determination sounds almost naive. And it’s this degree of belief without solid proof that can make his character somewhat irritating to watch during this episode. But his belief is also a little scary – as he walks through fields in search of a secret military facility, he’s unkempt, his suit ditched for slacks and a polo shirt.

Again, this episode is one where the audience will again be convinced that in Mulder and Scully’s world, things are even stranger than the characters realise, our third person perspective offering extra insight into the conspiracy at hand. But then this is played with, because there are times when we the audience are seeing events more through Mulder’s eyes than anyone else’s.

The episode’s end leaves more questions than answers, as is typical of the show. “We don’t know anything,” says Scully as they walk down the steps of the house their kidnap victim is now returned.

A heart-to-heart at the end between Mulder and the nameless man, just reaffirms Mulder’s faith in the conspiracy that nothing is as it seems.

What did you think of this episode? Let us know in the comments below.

  • http://dmosbon.tumblr.com/ dmosbon

    Am sorely tempted to buy the whole box-set and re-watch it with you…

    • http://www.nerdsassemble.co.uk/ milliways

      You’re very welcome to give that a go. Might also be available on streaming services, though I’m unsure on that one.

      • http://dmosbon.tumblr.com/ dmosbon

        May wait until my birthday in sept to get box-set 😉