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X-Files episode Guide, 'Deep Throat'

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X-Files, Season 1, Episode 2

Rating:
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Written by Chris Carter
Directed by Daniel Sackheim

Often the second episode of a series must be as good as the first if it's to have any chance of the show retaining it's audience. As would be the case on many aspects of The X-Files, Chris Carter broke the rules. Perhaps realizing how little the Pilot had shown, he decided to up the ante considerably in the follow up. As a result, Deep Throat in many ways plays like a second pilot and, probably not coincidentally, a far superior episode.
The stakes are upped considerably before Mulder and Scully even leave D.C. when a mysterious figure warns Mulder not to get involved with the investigation of the disappearance of a group of test pilots of an air base in Idaho. As we shall learn very quickly, Mulder doesn't have much of a sense of restraint, and it's Scully who very soon finds that seems to be part and parcel of her job description. She is the first in a long line of TV female protagonists seen who must play a counterweight to the male lead, but unlike later ones who would be vilified for their roles, Scully would very quickly earn admiration for it. Perhaps this is because she has been introduced as our way into this bizarre world.
One could easily contrast her to the wives of the test pilots who have been 'returned' after a period of abduction. Mrs. McLennen, who seems happy that her husband has been returned, even though he seems to be only a shell of his former self, closer to a primitive, picking nits in her hair. Anita Buddahas, the wife whose husband's disappearance initiates the X-Files in the first place, seems utterly horrified about how the military seems to have reduced her to a non-person, first panicky at his absence, and somehow even more appalled when he is returned as a shell of his former self. It has horrifying to consider what has to happen to her family, and even more horrifying at the end of the episode, when she seems just as willing to accept it.
The threat that we saw in the Pilot always seemed to be vague and, at the most extremely localized--- one could almost write it off, as something pertaining to the inner workings of a small town. In Deep Throat, the conspiracy seems far more frightening and insidious, mainly because it takes on the form of the military, whose eyes seem to be everywhere, and whose reach seems to be boundless. If our heroes seemed to be treated barely as important before, here they are openly considered a threat, and no one in this circle can be trusted. By now, we've seen so many series that show the government as untrustworthy, it's hard to remember how radical a perspective this was at the time, as Mulder and Scully are constantly told, that their presence and questioning are a risk to national security.
Some may have questioned whether it was the wisest decision to, at this point in the series, to reveal that the object of Mulder's quest was real. In fact, actually seeing a UFO seems to solidify the series mission statement---- we may know these things exist, but Scully never saw it, and by the end of the episode, Mulder has no memory of it. The series now seems to have a goal--- and its our heroes job to find the evidence.
Of course, for those X-philes who are more obsessed with this series, the episode has a far more critical role--- we meet the first n a long line of Mulder's shadowy informants. Deep Throat (how Mulder reaches this name for the series is a mystery that will never be made clear; he will never be formally identified as such until his final appearance) is the oldest and almost avuncular of the group. He seems very clear of having an interest in Mulder's work, though how exactly he tries to help \Mulder will always be one of his more questionable aspects/. (He wasn't helped much by the show's writers; by the end of his run, Jerry Hardin would be so confused that he would never have a clear idea of what his hero was supposed to know.) His 'assistance' would always be questionable as well, and it's never entirely clear if Mulder ever knew just how much he was being used. What can not be forgotten is his scene at the end of the episode, where he finally confirms to Mulder that "They've been here for a long, long time." That shows far more foreboding-- and clarity--- than we would usually get from the X-Files.
One wonders why Carter made what appears to be so flimsy an effort in the pilot, when compared with the galvanic leap forward we get here. This show looks light years beyond what we glimpsed in the Pilot, more expensive, better effects, superb performances, and far better use of Mark Snow's music--- it doesn't look like it was shot in the same universe. This shows lures you in far better than the premiere, though at this point, it's not clear of anybody else in the show's world or the real one--- gave much of a damn.

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