Deep Throat (The X-Files episode)

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For the character, see Deep Throat (The X-Files).
"Deep Throat"
The X-Files episode
A man standing looking at a UFO flying overhead
Fox Mulder under a UFO. The scenes were later described by Chris Carter as featuring the "worst effects we've ever done" on The X-Files.
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 2
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Chris Carter
Production code 1X01
Original air date September 17, 1993
Running time 43 minutes
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Pilot"
Next →
"Squeeze"
List of The X-Files episodes

"Deep Throat" is the second episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files, which premiered on the Fox network on September 17, 1993. Written by series creator Chris Carter and directed by Daniel Sackheim, the episode introduced several elements which would become staples of the series' mythology.

FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. Mulder believes in paranormal phenomena, while the skeptical Scully attempts to discredit them. In this episode, the pair investigate a possible conspiracy in the US Air Force and Mulder meets a mysterious informant who warns him to stay away from the case. Undeterred, Mulder continues and comes closer to the truth about extraterrestrial life than ever before, only to have his progress taken away from him again.

The episode introduced the Deep Throat character, played by Jerry Hardin, who served as Mulder's informant for the first season. The character was inspired by the historical Deep Throat, and served to bridge the gap between the protagonists and the conspirators they would investigate. The episode itself focused on common elements of ufology, with a setting reminiscent of Area 51 and Nellis Air Force Base. It contained several special effects that Carter later described as "good, given the [series'] restrictions";[1] although he singled out the scenes featuring blinking lights as being poorly executed.[2] In its initial American broadcast, "Deep Throat" was viewed by approximately 6.9 million households and 11.1 million viewers and attracted positive reviews from critics.

Plot[edit]

In southwestern Idaho, near Ellens Air Force Base, military police raid the home of Colonel Robert Budahas, who has stolen a military vehicle and barricaded himself inside. They discover Budahas in his bathroom, trembling and covered in rashes.

Four months later, FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) meet at a Washington bar to discuss the Budahas case. Mulder explains that Budahas, a test pilot, has not been seen since the raid and the military will not comment on his condition; the FBI has refused to investigate. Mulder claims that six other pilots are missing at the base, which is subject to rumors about experimental aircraft. While using the bar's restroom, Mulder is approached by a mysterious informant named "Deep Throat" (Jerry Hardin), who cautions him to avoid the case. He claims that Mulder is under surveillance, which later proves to be true.

Mulder and Scully travel to Idaho and meet with Budahas' wife, Anita, who claims her husband exhibited erratic behavior before his disappearance. She takes them to a neighbor whose husband, also a test pilot, is behaving similarly. Scully makes an appointment with the base's director, Colonel Kissell, but he refuses to talk when they visit his home. They subsequently meet local reporter Paul Mossinger, who refers them to a local UFO-themed diner; there, they discuss UFOs with the owner, who believes she has witnessed several nearby.

Visiting the base that night, the agents witness a mysterious aircraft performing seemingly impossible maneuvers in the night sky. They flee when a black helicopter approaches, seemingly in pursuit of Emil and Zoe, a trespassing teenage couple. As Mulder treats Emil and Zoe to a meal at the diner, they tell the agents about the lights and how they believe the UFOs are launched from another nearby base. Meanwhile, Budahas is returned to his home with no memory of what happened. After leaving the diner, Mulder and Scully are confronted by black-suited agents, who destroy the photographs they have taken and order them to leave town.

An indignant Mulder sneaks onto the base with help from Emil and Zoe. He sees a triangular craft fly overhead and then is captured by soldiers who tamper with his memory. Meanwhile, Scully reencounters Mossinger, who she discovers is actually a security operative for the base. At gunpoint, she forces him to guide her to the base and exchanges him for Mulder. Having been denied the truth about the base, Mulder and Scully return to Washington. Days later, Mulder encounters Deep Throat while jogging at a local track. Mulder asks if "they" really are present on Earth; Deep Throat responds that "they have been here for a long, long time".[3][4]

Production[edit]

Conception and pre-production[edit]

A black-and-white aerial map depicting an air force base
The episode's Ellens Air Force Base was inspired by the real Nellis Air Force Base.

This episode marked Hardin's first appearance as Deep Throat. Series creator Chris Carter stated that the character was inspired by the historical Deep Throat,[5] an informant who leaked information about the FBI's investigation of the Watergate scandal to journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.[6] This Deep Throat was later revealed to be FBI Associate Director Mark Felt.[7] Also cited as an influence was X, the character portrayed by Donald Sutherland in the 1991 Oliver Stone film JFK.[5] Carter created the character to bridge the gap between Mulder and Scully and the shadowy conspirators working against them; describing Deep Throat as a man "who works in some level of government that we have no idea exists".[5] Carter was drawn to Hardin after seeing him in The Firm,[8] and described the casting as an "easy choice".[2] Hardin flew to Vancouver every few weeks to film his scenes. Carter called Hardin's portrayal "very, very good".[2]

According to Carter, it was evident that The X-Files was a "series in making" during this episode.[2] The episode was inspired by common ufology. Believers in aliens have long thought that Nevada's Area 51 and Nellis Air Force Base have alien technology captured during 1947's Roswell UFO incident. The name Ellens Air Force Base was derived from the name of Carter's college girlfriend, whose last name was Ellens. The story's military project was inspired by a rumor that the United States Air Force had started a project named the Aurora Project. Carter said he remembered people talking about this rumor and that its inclusion in the story was a "nod" to it.[2] The surname for the two guest characters, Budahas, came from a high school friend of Carter. Duchovny and Anderson had never used a gun or held one before, so they were trained on how to hold them properly.[2]

Filming[edit]

A smiling bearded man sitting in front of a microphone
Seth Green (pictured in 2011) was cast as "stoner kid" Emil, and spent production "goofing off" with star David Duchovny.

The scenes in which Mulder infiltrates the air base were shot at a real United States airbase. With a small budget and a television schedule to think of, Carter said the effects seemed "good, given the restrictions" they faced.[1] The UFO was digitally constructed, based around what visual effects supervisor Mat Beck described as a "sort of disco light rig" that was rented from a "party supplier".[1] Carter commented on Sackheim's direction, noting that the episode was "shot well".[2] Towards the end of filming the night-time scenes, the sun was beginning to rise, forcing crew member John Bartley to rig the angles to keep the scenes as dark as possible.[2] One scene, in which Mulder infiltrates the Air Force base, had already been rewritten to change its daytime setting to night; the rising sun forced the scene to be filmed as originally conceived.[5]

The house used for the exterior shots of the Budahas family's home was reused in Carter's next series, Millennium, as the home of protagonist Frank Black. The house's owner was a flight attendant who frequently met cast and crew members as they traveled in and out of Vancouver.[9] The initial scene with Duchovny and Anderson in the bar was shot at a Vancouver restaurant called The Meat Market, which according to Carter was a much "divier location than the production designers would have you believe".[2] The Meat Market was the only bar the crew could find that had not been renovated in the wake of Expo 86 and retained a "well-travelled" feel. It later appeared in the third season episode "Piper Maru".[10] The roadside diner used for interior shots of the "Flying Saucer Diner" was remote enough from the other filming locations that a bus was made available to transport crew members, to save on travel expenses. Only key grip Al Campbell made use of this bus service, causing producers to abandon the idea until the fourth season episode "Herrenvolk".[11]

Guest star Seth Green stated that despite being cast as "stoner kid" Emil, and having "cornered the market on the affable stoner in TV and film", he had never used cannabis before.[12] Green related that his first day on the set came just after Duchovny had finished filming his final scene; Green was impressed with Duchovny's demeanour and improvisational acting, and has added that the two "just goofed off the whole time".[12]

Post-production[edit]

The scene in which Scully is sitting at her computer writing in her journal [...] came down as an edict because [Fox] wanted a summing up of the episode, and in the end, I think it made the episode better. That motif of Scully doing a voice-over as she types became a running story crutch for us when we needed to reinstruct the audience about where we are going, or where we had been.

—Carter on the episode's voiceover ending[13]

Carter claimed that the scenes with the flashing lights in the sky were the "worst effects we've ever done", given limits on money and time; he also commented that special effects were still in their infancy.[2] Beck was the special effects producer and supervisor during season one; he and Carter unsuccessfully tried to make the special effects look three dimensional and "better". According to Carter, the result looked like a "kind of hi-tech Pong game".[2]

This episode marks Mark Snow's debut as a solo composer for the series. Carter stated he and the production crew were "fearful" of using too much music in the episode, and the first season as a whole. Anderson's voice over narration towards the end of the episode was inserted after complaints from Fox executives, who desired more closure. The executives felt that viewers were not supposed to be "confused" after watching and must have at least a slight idea of what was going on. The voiceovers became a common technique for the remainder of the series.[2]

Themes[edit]

Deep Throat's warning to Mulder that some truths should be kept hidden from the public has been cited by scholars as representing the difficulty of forcing large organizations to take responsibility for wrongdoing.[14] The episode's final revelation, that aliens have been on Earth "for a long, long time", has been cited as following a trend of post-futurism established by science fiction cinema in the 1980s. This trend has replaced traditional science fiction topics such as space exploration with themes inspired by the Watergate scandal and the spread of conspiracy theories.[15]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

"Deep Throat" premiered on the Fox network on September 17, 1993, and was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on September 24, 1994.[16] This episode's initial American broadcast was viewed by approximately 6.9 million households and 11.1 million viewers.[17][18] It earned a Nielsen rating of 7.3, with a 14 share, meaning that roughly 7.3 percent of all television-equipped households, and 14 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode.[17] The episode was released on VHS in 1996, alongside "Pilot";[19] as well being released on DVD as part of the complete first season.[16] It was later included on The X-Files Mythology, Volume 1 – Abduction, a DVD collection containing episodes centered on the series' mythology.[20][21]

In a first season retrospective in Entertainment Weekly, the episode was rated a B+, with praise for Hardin's "world-weary" performance, though the review noted that the "querulous, ominous tone" of the episode was "a little awkward, but full of promise of things to come".[22] Adrienne Martini of the Austin Chronicle called the episode "fun to watch", describing it as "great TV";[23] while the San Jose Mercury News called the titular character "the most interesting new character on television", also calling the episode "strange but marvellous".[24] The Toronto Star '​s Mike Antonucci wrote that the episode demonstrates that Carter "can blend subtle, complicated elements with heart-pounding action", adding that "Nothing is obvious about The X-Files, in fact, except its quality".[25] Michael Janusonis of The Beaver County Times was more critical, calling it "an acquired taste" and noting that it "sort of diddled out in the end", lacking "a completely satisfactory resolution".[26]

Writing for The A.V. Club, Keith Phipps rated the episode an A-, finding it "almost like an extension of the pilot". Phipps felt the scene featuring Mulder's kidnapping to be "one of the scariest moments from the series' early days, as much for what it suggests as for what it shows".[27] Writing for website Den of Geek, Matt Haigh reviewed the episode positively, praising its decision not to answer all of the questions that it asks. Haigh noted that "the fact that we are left as clueless about what really happened as Mulder and Scully only enhances the viewing experience", finding such mystery to be "a rare thing indeed" on network television.[28] Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, rated the episode five stars out of five, finding it to be "much more confident in its pacing and tone" than the previous episode.[29] Shearman and Pearson felt that the episode was "a skilfully scripted story of cover-up and paranoia", and noted that "it sets up the overall themes of the show so well, it almost seems like a primer".[29]

"Deep Throat" was cited as beginning to "set the stage for the central conflicts" of the series.[30] IGN '​s Dan Iverson felt that the episode served to "open the door to the possibilities of this series";[21] while Tor.com's Meghan Deans noted that "although the pilot introduced the idea of government conspiracy, it's 'Deep Throat' that kicks out the edges of the canvas".[31] The introduction of Hardin as Deep Throat in the episode was listed by Entertainment Weekly as number 37 on its list of "The 100 Greatest Television Moments" of the 1990s.[32]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Mat Beck, Chris Carter, Howard Gordon, Dean Haglund, David Nutter, Paul Rawbin, Daniel Sackheim, Mark Snow. The Truth About Season One (DVD). The X-Files: The Complete First Season: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Chris Carter (2005). Audio Commentary for "Deep Throat" (DVD). The X-Files Mythology, Volume 1 – Abduction: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. 
  3. ^ Lowry 1995, pp. 102–103.
  4. ^ Lovece 1996, pp. 47–48.
  5. ^ a b c d Edwards 1996, p. 37.
  6. ^ Woodward & Bernstein 1974, p. 71.
  7. ^ O'Connor, John D. (May 31, 2005). "I'm the Guy They Called Deep Throat | Politics". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  8. ^ Lovece 1996, p. 27.
  9. ^ Chris Carter, Ken Horton, Frank Spotnitz, Lance Henriksen, Megan Gallagher, David Nutter, Mark Snow, John Peter Kousakis, Mark Freeborn, Robert McLachlan, Chip Johannessen and Thomas J. Wright (2004). Order in Chaos: Making Millennium Season One (DVD). Millennium: The Complete First Season: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. 
  10. ^ Gradnitzer & Pittson 1999, pp. 32–33.
  11. ^ Gradnitzer & Pittson 1999, pp. 31–32.
  12. ^ a b Robinson, Tasha (September 13, 2007). "Seth Green | Film | Random Roles". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved June 24, 2012. 
  13. ^ Maccarillo, Lisa; Carter, Chris (December 1994). "A conversation with The X-Files’ creator Chris Carter". Sci Fi Entertainment (Sci-Fi Channel). 
  14. ^ Kowalski 2007, pp. 71–72
  15. ^ Lavery, Hague & Cartwright 1996, p. 149.
  16. ^ a b The X-Files: The Complete First Season (Media notes). Robert Mandel, et al. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. 1993–1994. 
  17. ^ a b Lowry 1995, p. 248.
  18. ^ "Nielsen Ratings". USA Today (Gannett Company, Inc.). 22 September 1993. p. D3. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "Video Sales". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media) 109 (2): 39. January 11, 1997. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  20. ^ The X-Files Mythology, Volume 1 – Abduction (Media notes). Robert Mandel, et al. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. 2005. 
  21. ^ a b Iverson, Dan (August 5, 2005). "X-Files Mythology, Vol. 1 – Abduction – DVD Review at IGN". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved May 1, 2011. 
  22. ^ "X Cyclopedia: The Ultimate Episode Guide, Season 1 | TV". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. November 29, 1996. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  23. ^ Martini, Adrienne (April 25, 1997). "Scanlines – Screens – The Austin Chronicle". Austin Chronicle. Austin Chronicle Corporation. Retrieved April 30, 2011. 
  24. ^ "The 'X-Files' Informant is Out There, Speaking on All Kinds of Levels". San Jose Mercury News (MediaNews Group). November 19, 1993. Retrieved April 30, 2011. 
  25. ^ Antonucci, Mike (November 30, 1993). "The X-Files: Something Strange and Wonderful – And they’re here, right inside your television set". Toronto Star (Star Media Group). p. D4. Retrieved June 24, 2012. 
  26. ^ Janusonis, Michael (April 14, 1996). "'X-Files' episodes offered on tape". The Beaver County Times (Calkins Media). Retrieved April 30, 2011. 
  27. ^ Phipps, Keith (June 20, 2008). "'Deep Throat' / 'Squeeze' | The X-Files/Millennium | TV Club | TV". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  28. ^ Haigh, Matt (September 30, 2008). "Revisiting The X-Files: Season 1, Episode 2". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  29. ^ a b Shearman & Pearson 2009, pp. 12–13.
  30. ^ Bush 2008, p. 41.
  31. ^ Deans, Meghan (October 27, 2011). "Reopening The X-Files: 'Deep Throat'". Tor.com. Tor Books. Retrieved June 24, 2012. 
  32. ^ Fretts, Bruce (February 19, 1999). "The 100 Greatest Moments in Television: 1990s | TV | EW.com". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]