Wednesday, July 15, 2015

#TheXFilesRewatch 1x02 “Deep Throat” (A Certain Paranormal Bouquet) [Contributor: Lizzie]


"Deep Throat"
Original Air Date: September 17, 1993

If you can say one thing about The X-Files, is that this is a show that never held anything back. This is the reason why, in an X-Files rewatch, I can’t jump ahead a few episodes to “get to the good stuff.” The good stuff starts immediately! Don’t believe me? Join me as we recap the beginning of the conspiracy (yes, in episode two), and take notes, because this is where the seeds of what’s later going to be such a big plot that I still sometimes have problems keeping up with it, are planted.

The episode opens somewhere in southwestern Idaho, near Ellens Air Force Base. Military police are raiding the home of Colonel Robert Budahas, who is said to have stolen a military vehicle and barricaded himself inside. His wife arrives just as they’re preparing to storm the place, and of course, they let her through the first checkpoint, because these are lousy agents who’ve never heard of the word security in their lives. Thankfully she doesn’t actually get to join the people breaking into her house (couldn’t they just ask her for the key?), and though she asks to speak with her husband, when they actually find him, he’s hiding out in the bathroom, trembling, covered in rashes and not really looking like he wants to have a conversation with anyone.

(THE MUSIC! THE MUSIC! OUR BELOVED INTRO. ALL IS WELL. ALL IS WELL)

Cue four months later, because we needed to give Mulder and Scully time to get used to one and another and develop a bit of a reputation within the Bureau. And if they’re meeting in bars in the middle of the afternoon, they maybe that reputation is warranted, because we open with Scully waiting for Mulder in a very, very crowded bar. (It’s so crowded that even Mulder makes a wisecrack about it). But, no, they’re not there for a drink, they’re there because Mr. Paranoia wants to talk about the Budahas case and if they have this conversation inside the FBI then he can’t ignore Scully’s personal space. And, also, they could be overheard.

Mulder, file in hand, points out to Scully that the aforementioned Budahas, who was a test pilot, has not been seen since the raid on his house and the military will not comment on his condition. Mulder seems to find this weird, because, of course, the military is known for being forthcoming with information. Scully isn’t sure why Mulder wants to investigate this case, even after he explains that six other pilots have gone missing at the base, which is subject to rumors about experimental aircraft. Mulder jokes about this case having a certain… paranormal bouquet. Scully goes along with it, because… that’s what she was assigned to do?

Later, Mulder goes to the bathroom, and if the cameras follow a guy to the bathroom, it’s because something’s going to happen there. That’s rule number one of television. Predictably, a creepy dude approaches Mulder and tells him to back off this case, which only seems to make Mulder more determined. Creepy dude also tells Mulder he’s under surveillance, which, is later proven to be true due to the fact that this is the WORST cover-up job in the history of cover-up jobs. Mulder is supposed to be a smart man, so either you didn’t care that he knew you were tapping his phone, or you just suck at your job, strange man in the very obvious van outside Mulder’s house.

But I’ve jumped ahead. Before that, creepy dude manages to lose Mulder in a crowded place and Scully asks Mulder for the first of what will feel like twenty thousand times in this episode if he’s okay.

He lies. Four months later and the overt hostility is gone, but they still don’t trust each other.

Predictably, Scully goes to look up Ellen’s Air Force Base, because she knows Mulder would not be interested in this case if there wasn’t some funny stuff going on. At the first sign of aliens, she wants to back out, but that proves impossible because Mulder is all dismissive on the phone. Because, of course, his phone is tapped and IT’S VERY OBVIOUS. If they talk about it on the plane, we never see it, because next thing we know they’re in Idaho meeting with Budahas’ wife, Anita, who says he was being very weird before he went crazy and the military took him to “make him all better”.

There’s a brief stop at the house of another test pilot who also went crazy and whose very calm wife seems to think that’s all part of the job description, before Mulder and Scully are back in their hotel trying to get information about Budahas through the regular channels. It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that this doesn’t work, because this is a TV show, and where’s the fun in that? One colonel agrees to meet with them in like... two weeks. Somehow they decide it’s a good idea to stalk him because, of course, he won’t meet with you at regular times, but he’s sure to talk if you show up in his front lawn? I expected better from you, FBI agents.

About the only thing this detour does is introduce a very nosy reporter who is sure to pop up again, because, well, because he’s too interested in Mulder and Scully’s investigation for it to be anything but a set-up. He points our intrepid duo in the direction of a local UFO-themed diner, where Mulder purchases a photo of a UFO and Scully takes great delight in calling him a sucker.

I’m not joking; she actually uses the word sucker. And, not two minutes later, when Scully can’t find Ellen’s Air Force Base on the map, it’s Mulder who gets to call her a sucker. He’s just gotten a hand-written map from the diner’s owner.

Since it’s the middle of the day, Mulder and Scully decide they’re going to go check out the base that night – very sound decision on a show about the paranormal. Once there, Scully takes a nap in the car and Mulder goes to look for UFOs. And does he find them! He takes thirty minutes to really look at the two random lights in the sky before he remembers Scully, the skeptic, and goes to wake her up. For reasons that are never quite explained, she wakes up by herself about five seconds before he appears when a weird explosion breaks the back window of the car. (Goof number 1: The window is miraculously intact in the next scene!).

Scully gets a good look at the lights; about the only thing she’ll get a look at in the whole series, and has no idea what they are. It’s still a nice light show, nonetheless... at least until one of the lights heads towards you, and the light is a helicopter and then you have to run. Running with Mulder and Scully are a pair of trespassing teenagers, Emil (SETH GREEN! SETH GREEN!) and Zoe. Mulder and Scully help them flee, and then treat them to dinner, because what other way is there to get information out of teenagers than with food?

The kids paint a story of maybe-UFOs and secret warehouses, which Mulder completely believes. Scully mocks him for this, and, at his insistence, goes so far as to call him crazy. Mulder only laughs. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is.

Also worth noting is that there’s a smile there, during the conversation in the car, that’s pure Gillian Anderson, not Scully. Or maybe it’s young, naïve, still relatively untouched Scully. Either way, it’s wonderful to see. We’ll lose that Scully during the show’s run, though we’ll gain a lot more.

In the least surprising news this century, the “journalist” seems to be spying on our favorite FBI agents. Mulder and Scully go back to the hotel, where they get the news that Mr. Budahas has returned home with no memory of what happened. Once they go see him, they find his wife, Anita, sure that the man who came back to her is not really hers husband (You don’t know it yet, but this is not out of the realm of possibility for The X-Files). They interrogate him; find that there are holes in his memory. Mulder is convinced that means they “erased” some stuff from his brain. Scully argues that’s just not possible. They continue in this tenor even after they leave the house and get in the car.

Enter the men in black.

First of all, I’ll say that these guys are good. They wait till our heroes are in the middle of nowhere to come out, and this time, destroy the evidence RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. Remember what I said last time about the evidence? Oh, yes. Mulder also gets a few punches, mostly because he’s a wiseass. Then, the men in black kindly suggest (order) they leave town.

This is exactly what Scully wants to do. They can’t trace the plates, and they’re just casually hanging out in the hotel with no evidence. (It’s a theme, I swear). Mulder agrees... or does he? He seems to, at least, but when he heads out, he gets into the car and drives away with Scully looking concerned.

Point, Mulder. I mean, he wasn’t even TRYING to be convincing.

Scully, you sucker.

Mulder gets Emil and Zoe to help him sneak onto the base, and if you didn’t see this coming, then you need to watch more TV and quite possibly read more. Once there, he sees a triangular aircraft of some sort fly overhead, and the OMG YES I WAS RIGHT moment lasts approximately 0,7 seconds before he’s captured by soldiers, who, of course, take him in a stretcher to a weird place where we assume they’re going to erase his memory. That’s kind of what they do.

(Note to new viewers: Mulder pulls this kind of stunt once every two episodes, so the only real surprise here is that he manages to keep his job for around seven seasons)

Back at the hotel, Scully is trying to find her partner, but she can’t even manage to make a phone call. She doesn’t seem the type to defy authority, and we kind of expect her to take Mulder’s disappearance lying down, but boy, does Scully surprise us. She confronts the reporter, who, being the idiot that he is, chooses this exact moment to go check on the completely lost and alone Scully, and then holds him at gunpoint and demands a prisoner exchange. Him, for Mulder.

This is where the legend of Mulder and Scully really starts.

I’m serious. Scully was always the straight-laced, play-by-the-rules, science first, skeptic. We know four months have passed, but nothing in this episode clues us in on the fact that Scully would be willing to go out on this limb for her partner. Nothing. And yet, where she does, it’s not really surprising. It’s the only thing she could have done.

Mulder comes out, reporter who is not a reporter goes back to the base, and Scully speeds out of there like the pavement is on fire, with good reason. I’d be doing the exact same thing. And, on a completely not important to the plot note, Scully is driving, which, if this is only the second episode you’re seeing means nothing, but for us mega fans, it’s like WOW SCULLY YOU CAN DRIVE OMG I’M SO HAPPY.

Back to the actual plot: Mulder can’t remember anything, Mrs. Budahas doesn’t want to talk to them anymore, and they have to return to Washington. So, basically, once again, they got zip, zilch, nada. Except, once they get back, Mulder is approached by the creepy dude from the beginning of the episode, and creepy dude doesn’t have much actual information, but he implies he could have, as long as it’s in his best interest. So, he’s, like, offering to be Mulder’s informant or something. His “Deep Throat” (and this is what we’ll call him for the rest of the series). The episode ends with this exchange:

Mulder: They're here, aren't they?
Deep Throat: Mister Mulder, they've been here for a long, long time.

And here we are, deep into the conspiracy, and in episode two! This is The X-Files. This is why, over twenty years later, the show is still relevant, and the characters are still celebrated. This is why we’re still in love.

This is why we want more.

Quote of the episode:

Mulder: You saw exactly what I saw in the sky last night. What do you think they were?
Scully: Just because I can't explain it doesn't mean I'm going to believe they're UFOs.
Mulder: Unidentified Flying Objects. I think that fits the description pretty well. Tell me I'm crazy.
Scully: Mulder, you're crazy.

Scary moment of the episode:
If the special effects were better, I’d chose the Mulder vs. the UFO moment. It was scary when I was nine, not so much now. Now I’d pick the Mulder in a stretcher being wheeled into a room where they’re, at best, going to take his memories, at worst, do unmentionable things to him moment as the scariest one. This is what happens when you know too much.

Mulder/Scully moment of the episode:
There’s the conversation in the car, but the one that stands out for me is the lighthearted sucker, sucker exchange from the UFO-themed-diner. It’s our first real glimpse of two people who are comfortable with each other, who have fun together: who might disagree, but can trust each other despite that. Partners. Real partners.

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