A military police swat team force themselves into a home near Ellen Air force base in Southwest Idaho. They have put up a barricade just as the wife of the man they are after appears and she is told that her husband had commandeered a military vehicle and is armed. They find the man nearly naked in a fetal position, in a demented state and covered in sores as if suffering from second degree burns. Scully meets Mulder in a local bar in Washington D.C. late afternoon. He shows her a case file he wasn't able to reveal to her at the office; the file concerns Colonel Robert Budahas, a test pilot for the military. Mulder explains that Budahas has suffered a psychotic episode which the Military treated him for but they will offer no comment or explanation on the matter. Mulder then explains that the wife has not seen nor heard from her husband in over four months, and her inquiries has gone unanswered which has driven her to contact the F.B.I. claiming that her husband has been kidnapped.
Mulder explains that there's been a history of this happening at Ellens since 1963 and that the pilots have accepted the risk of flying experimental aircraft. Mulder has been tracking the case and a week earlier it was deprioritized for no reason. Scully is puzzled about why they are going to Idaho when Mulder explains there's a certain 'paranormal bouquet' to the case. While in the restroom at this bar, a man confronts Mulder and tells him to leave this case alone, that the military will not tolerate an F.B.I. investigation. (This character later becomes known as Deep Throat.) The man explains that he can be of help to Mulder, that this man has been following Mulder's career and that he's in a position to know a lot of things about the government. The man warns that Mulder is exposing himself and Scully to unnecessary risk and to drop the case. They should not jeopardize the future of their efforts. The man leaves and Mulder tries to follow him into the bar but the man has disappeared. Scully is puzzled as to what has just happened and asks if he is okay, Mulder doesn't let on to her about what just occurred.
Scully researches and finds articles that Ellens is a Mecca for UFO buffs, and that it has been linked with stealth technology. Scully calls Mulder wondering if this isn't a UFO goose chase he is leading her on, but during the call Mulder hears a clicking on his phone, he checks his window and sees a van parked across the street. He suspects that his phone has been bugged and he is being listened to. Scully is concerned about her field report reading like a tabloid story. Mulder tells her that they'll talk about it on the flight out. They arrive in Idaho and go to the Budahas residence; the wife explains that she noticed a rash develop under her husband's arms about two years before. Then she noticed that his personality started to change, he became unpredictable, and exhibited odd behavior; she tried to talk to her husband but he would get angry and lash out at the kids, then he would appear to have something like a seizure.
Mr. Budahas would never talk about his work and the wife comments that he was a patriot, yet now the wife is ignored by the very military he supported. She wants her husband back as Scully assures her that the government is not above the law. The wife wonders if her husband is dead. Mulder asks if she's heard of this happening to anyone else when Ms. Budahas mentions Verla McClennon's husband, explaining that something similar happened and yet Ms. McClennon's husband was able to return home. They go to the McClennon's to find the husband fly fishing threading with his hair. Mulder asks her if the Military has ever given any explanation about Mr. McClennon's condition, and she assures Mulder that her husband has been given proper treatment. Ms. McClennon seems frightened, and embarrassed over Anita Budahas bringing the F.B.I. over. Ms. Budahas gives out the government contact numbers before Mulder and Scully depart.
Mulder asks for Scully's impression about Mr. McClennon, Scully explains it's stereotypy, a syndrome brought on by extreme stress. Mulder argues that these test pilots are not supposed to fold under pressure, but thrive. Scully mentions the Aurora project, suborbital spy craft that the Military has all but admitted to testing. She proposes these pilots are flying those planes, that they are the washouts, and Mulder doesn't agree. They are stonewalled in their efforts to speak with Ellens base commanders. They confront a commander Kissell at his residence to ask about Col Budahas, but he will not speak to them. A reporter named Paul Mossinger approaches them; he knows Ms. McClennon and asks about the agents looking into the Budahas matter. Mulder and Scully walk away and won't cooperate, but Mulder then decides to ask Mr. Mossinger where he should go to talk to one of the rumored UFO buffs.
They are taken to a café called the Flying Saucer; while eating, they speak to a waitress who is selling a group of UFO photographs. The waitress witnessed a UFO in her back yard, 'quiet as a hummingbird' she tells them, Mulder buys the photo, prompting Scully to tease him and leave. When Mulder exits Scully is looking at her USGS quadrant map; she comments that Ellens Air base isn't even on the map. Mulder isn't surprised by that and shows her a map the waitress just drew for him. They go to a restricted fenced area around sunset, they park and wait. Scully is frustrated as she sits in the car while Mulder walks to a hillside. By nightfall, Scully is awaken by a sonic boom that causes the car's back window to shatter; seconds later Mulder runs up, opens the car door and pulls Scully to follow him. It is after nine when both of them witness two lights that move at incredible speeds and maneuver in ways that defy logic, then the lights break away and vanish.
Another light approaches which turns out to be the searchlight of a military helicopter, up ahead two teens crawl out of the fence at the base of the hillside and the agents chase them. Mulder and Scully help the kids evade the helicopter searchlight. The agents take the teens to a late night restaurant at five AM, where the teens talk about evenings seeing various light shows in the spot where they were found. The boy, Emil tells them of this place called the yellow base where the ships are stored. While Emil tells them... a surveillance car pulls up covertly outside the restaurant and identifies the agents. Emil tells them he doesn't believe they are UFOs; but some kind cyber tech hardware. Oblivious to the surveillance car, Mulder shows Emil his UFO photo and asks if it resembles the craft the boy saw before. Emil says it looks exactly like it. They let the teens go and Scully expresses her skepticism about the teens story, pointing out how stoned both the teens were.
Mulder pulls out a file and another photograph of a UFO that reportedlly crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947; the shape of the UFO is the same as the new photo Mulder purchased in Idaho. Mulder points out that Ellens Air base, which isn't on Scully's USGS map, is supposed to be one of six sites where parts of the Roswell wreckage was shipped to. Mulder proposes that the Military has built planes using UFO technology, Scully is skeptical as she doubts that either of the photos are authentic. 'Just because I can't explain it, doesn't mean I am going to believe they're UFOs' she tells him, 'and it still doesn't explain to me what happened to Colonel Budahas.' While in their hotel room, Scully runs into Mulder's room and tells him that Colonel Budahas came home last night.
They arrive at the house to find Ms. Budahas crying and terrified, she tells them that he isn't her husband, that something is different. Mulder speaks to the Colonel, asks if he remembers being at the hospital at the air base, then asks if the colonel remembers his birth date, the name of his children and, noting that he's a Green bay fan, a question about the 1968 super bowl. The Colonel, highly irritated, answers correctly. The wife insists that it's not him, and when Mulder asks him a technical flying question the colonel can't answer it. While they leave Mulder suspects that someone rewired the colonel's brain, a select memory drain. Scully argues that the technology to do that doesn't exist, 'and neither does the technology to fly the aircraft we saw last night', he replies.
As they are driving, Scully wonders why anyone would do such a thing. Mulder explains to secure information, Mulder explains that the colonel became a security risk after his psychotic episode and something needed to be done to insure secrecy. Mulder proposes that men like the colonel are physiologically incapable of dealing with the stress of flying those machines. Suddenly, there are two cars that drive up ahead of them, then swerve and block their path. Groups of suited men walk out of their cars, approach Agents Mulder and Scully and ask them to step out of the car. The men force the agents out, go through the rental car and take all of the evidence they had; the files, the photographs and destroy undeveloped film. When Mulder asks what this is about he is told that it is a matter of national security, they are ordered to pack up and leave the area, and threatened that failure will result in intense indiscretion.
Back at the hotel, Scully can't find a Idaho license plate registered to one of the cars that stopped them. Meanwhile Mulder suspects that it wasn't the teens that the helicopter was chasing away the previous night but Scully and Mulder, and that Colonel Budahas was returned as a decoy. Mulder finally reveals to her about the man he met in D.C. and the fact that his private phone was being tapped. Wondering why they would go through all of this trouble. Mulder is now convinced that they are hiding extraterrestrial technology, and that such a discovery would confirm the existence of extraterrestrial life. Scully argues that what they saw was nothing more than an experimental plane and that the government should have a right to protect its secrets. Mulder questions when the human cost becomes too high for the building of a better machine. Struggling, Scully argues that they are questions we have no business asking, pointing out that their kidnap victim is no longer outstanding and that they should leave. Mulder assures her, he'll pack as he exits her room, but she then hears him get in the car and drive off.
The teens, Emil and Zoe help Mulder break through the security fence. Mulder asks about the Yellow base and Emil mentions it is about ten miles. Mulder travels through a field of tall weeds, he stops at a clearing and waits until dark. He arrives at an air base field when a UFO flies by and hovers under him; it flashes a light, then takes off at a high speed. Suddenly Military cars drive and give chase to Mulder. Unable to outrun them, Mulder is captured and subdued, forced onto a gurney and put into a truck. Mulder is sedated while Scully is frantically trying to make a call to D.C. yet is unable to do so. Mulder is taken to a hanger in a drugged state, he possibly glimpses a landed UFO in maintenance.
The reporter Paul Mossinger comes out of Scully's room while she's walking back from the reception desk. She hears a police radio coming from the reporter's car and realizes the reporter is an imposter. She runs into his car which has a walkie talkie, locks the door, opens the glove box and finds an government identification and a gun - he's from Airbase security. He breaks the window, they fight, and Scully secures the gun and points it at him, ordering him to get into the car and find out where Mulder is. Scully threatens to contact the press if he doesn't do so. Mulder is given some liquid from an eye dropper into each eye. The man drives Scully to the area where Mulder is being held, they pull over at the gate, she keeps the man at bay while the truck holding Mulder arrives on the other side of the gate. Mulder seems confused, groggy and glassy-eyed walking from the truck, while Scully makes the man exit the car at gun point and walks over to the driver's side. As Mulder and Mossinger pass, Paul tells him that 'everything you saw is equal to the protection that is given to it' and accuses Mulder of being 'the one who has acted inappropriately'. Mulder gets into the car and can't remember what he saw as they drive off, Mulder asking how they got there. They visit Ms. Budahas who assures them her husband is doing much better, she lies and says he's resting when they can hear him in the other room. Mulder is convinced that someone got to her. Scully, disgusted, points out they don't know anymore then when they arrived, and that is what she is going to write in her field report.
She writes her report a week later and concludes that Mulder's speculation about what happened is inconclusive. She looks at the photo that was taken in Idaho. Mulder is running on a track when the man that warned him, Deep Throat, walks over. Deep Throat warns that their lives may be in danger, care and discretion are imperative now, Deep Throat mentions he can provide them with information but only as long as it's in his best interest, that his interest is in revealing the truth and that Mulder might be able to achieve just that. Deep Throat asks why those like Mulder who believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life, are not dissuaded by the evidence to the contrary? Mulder replies that the evidence to the contrary is not entirely dissuasive. 'Precisely' Deep Throat responds. 'They're here aren't they?' Mulder asks as the Deep Throat responds that 'they' have been here for a long time.
The character named Deep Throat was inspired by the alleged inside informant that helped to break open the Watergate scandal. Deep Throat would become through the season a pivotal mentor and surrogate father figure for Fox Mulder. In many respects Deep Throat would set Mulder on his quest for the truth, and Deep Throat's presence and influence would be felt for many seasons, long after his demise. Characters like Deep Throat are very common through mythological story telling, the sage-like older man who guides the hero to find his purpose. One of the intriguing aspects of Deep Throat was the ambiguity of his motivations, weather or not his assistance to Mulder was a way to atone for his past sins. The character would make the occasional appearance up until the seventh season.
Of course the episode dealt with in part with the facts and mythology of 'Area 51', part of the Nevada military testing site that is said to be responsible for some mysterious sightings. 'Area 51' has a security perimeter of twenty five miles and is surrounded by inhospitable mountains and desert, the testing base is not found listed in certain survey maps. 'Area 51' is said to have the tightest security of any military base in America with motion sensors and surveillance cameras positioned. Ellens Air Force Base was modeled after a real base, popular in UFO believers literature, Nellis Air Force Base.
Chris Carter has recently credited Dan Sackheim with being responsible for setting up the flavor of future episodes, praising his energy, his use of camera lenses, and for being the director who established the kind of feel that other directors would emulate. Sackheim directed Deep Throat and was the executive producer for the Pilot episode. The episode was produced for under a million dollars, which is uncommon for television production, as well as being filmed within an eight day schedule. Chris Carter has also acknowledged the work of John S. Bartley. Producer Bob Goodwin also recommended Bartley stating he would be a 'great hire'. Bartley has recently commented that whenever he knew he was shooting a mythology episode, he would consciously use a darker film stock to shoot with, in technical terms he used a film stock of 5293 in addition to lighting the sets with a lot of smoke to aid with the visual flavor.
Mr. Carter has recently commented that Mr. Goodwin consistently hired great crews for The X-Files. Early in the series, due to budget limitations, Bob Goodwin was often the 'B' unit director for needed coverage. The man who throws Mulder against the car on the open road and takes his gun during the 'Men in Black' sequence became the stunt coordinator for the show for four years, Tony Morelli. At the time the episode was filmed, Gillian Anderson, as well as David Duchovny, had little experience with handling a gun. Mr. Carter has acknowledged that both actors had to go through a significant amount of training with gunplay to help make them believable as FBI agents. The Abramowitz Plumbing van which is seen camped outside Mulder and Scully's motel actually is the series' sound mixing van. Matt Allair / Robin J. England
The episode is full of atmosphere and some strong performances. The episode was the first to feature Mark Snow's distinct title theme as well as the first use of visual title segment. The opening titles would remain untouched for the next seven seasons. While the visual effects are minimal, they are effective, one example being the CGI lights Mulder and Scully watch. Although Chris Carter has never been satisfied with the effect, he has recently complained that he and effects producer Mat Beck ran out of budget and time to do any more to improve on it, and after spending hours attempting to give it a more three dimensional quality, they ran up to the time limit before their air date for the episode. Chris has referred to the 'dancing lights' effects as a 'high tech pong game'. The ship that hovers over Mulder in the field was CGI, while the light flashes that can be spotted in the point of view shot of Mulder looking up were done with a crude lighting rig.
During storyboarding, for the sequence before Mulder and Scully witness the dancing lights, James Wong and Glen Morgan suggested the idea of the exploding back window, triggered by a sonic alien boom that startles Scully awake. This episode was the first one that assistant art director Clyde Klotz worked on. (Eventually Mr. Klotz would marry Gillian Anderson on New Year's Day of 1994.) The voice narration by Scully at the end was a compromise by Chris Carter to the Fox Broadcasters whom wanted more closure by the endings. Already the characterization of Mulder and Scully was already more finessed than in the Pilot and the relationship was already showing trust and familiarity. As far as the time frame, there seems to the significant gap between the events in the Pilot and this episode, and it's inferred that the both of them haven't had a lot of activity to warrant their work prior to the incident in Idaho. Based on an analysis of the shooting script, the Primary draft was finished on July 1, 1993, (White copy). Then subsequent page revisions were written on the 9th (Blue copy), 14th (Pink Copy), 20th (Green copy) and 22nd (Yellow copy). Often various scenes are rewritten during shooting and the revised pages will be color coded. The majority of the revised pages that appeared in the shooting script were from the 9th and 14th dated rewrites.
The location of Ellens Air Base was found at Boundary Bay Airport and Vicinity in Delta. Special permits had to be secured in Vancouver to allow for the use of the helicopter chasing Mulder and Scully, since Vancouver has a restriction on flying helicopters at night around Boundary Bay. This location was frequently used by The X-Files crew during its five season in Vancouver. The location for the Flying Saucer Diner was found at Hilltop Café in Langley. American-style roadside diners are extremely rare in Vancouver; Hilltop Café is located beside a defunct motel. The inspiration for the 'Flying Saucer Diner' came from a real diner located near Nellis base, the 'Little Ale' Inn Diner'. The location for Dunaway's Pub, where Mulder first comes in contact with Deep Throat, was found at The Meat Market in Vancouver. Mr. Carter has recently added a disclaimer that the Meat Market was much more of a dive of a place than the production managers would, diplomatically, like the public to believe. It should be noted that there is a significant difference between American Taverns and Canadian Pubs, thus the location was nearly the only one of its kind on the lower mainland.
There are two significant actors who are featured in the Episode, Jerry Hardin and Seth Green. Jerry Hardin is a veteran actor, whose career began in the late 50's. Hardin got the role after Chris Carter noticed him in The Firm, playing a corrupt lawyer. Hardin's work is very broad, appearing in films like Reds, Tempest, Cujo, The Falcon and the Snowman, and Big Trouble In Little China. Since Mr. Hardin has appeared in The X-Files, his more recent feature work includes Hidalgo, Ghosts of Mississippi and the new comedy Are We There Yet? Mr. Hardin's television appearances have been extensive and include the mini series "From The Earth To The Moon", Crossing Jordan, Nip/Tuck, Sliders, JAG, Ally McBeal, Murder, She Wrote, Doctor Quinn; Medicine Woman, Lois & Clark, Star Trek; The Next Generation, L.A. Law, and Matlock. Mr. Hardin has commented about his role playing Deep Throat; "I've always liked the character and felt comfortable with the nature of it. The writing from the very beginning was very elliptical, and his sense of humor about himself and about what he was doing � all of those things were appealing to me. It was fun to play with."*
Seth Green was already an 'up and coming' actor when he appeared on The X-Files; eventually he went on to acclaim playing Scott Evil in the Austin Powers films. Recently his feature work includes Without A Paddle, The Italian Job, and Party Monster. Past work includes Enemy Of The State, and Radio Days. His television work has been extensive, first appearing in The Facts Of Life, The Wonder Years, Amazing Stories, and Life Goes On, and eventually making regular appearances in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and Angel. His other appearances include Mad About You, Cybill, That 70's Show and Batman Beyond. Mr. Green's comedic instincts were evident in a brief light moment in 'Deep Throat' after Emil and the girl Zoe help Mulder under the security fence.
Actor Michael Bryan French was a neighbor of Chris Carter's in Los Angeles when he was cast to play Paul Mossinger. He was brought in from the city of angels when the production staff had trouble casting the role. Often the production crew would try to avoid casting out of Vancouver for its first five seasons. Mr. Carter has admitted that the casting decision, bringing in Mr. French's talents from Los Angeles, was costly yet the performance was, nevertheless, effective. Mr. French has appeared in a number of features and television. His recent feature appearance included Myron's Movie in 2004. Other feature work included I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, The Glimmer Man and Independence Day. His television appearances include CSI, Cold Case, American Dreams, 24, The West Wing, The Drew Carey Show, ER, Cybill, Rosanne and L.A. Law.
Actress Gabrielle Rose was a frequently used actress in Vancouver when she was cast as Anita Budahaus. She appeared in The Sweet Hereafter; a favorite film of Chris Carter. Ms. Rose, a native Canadian, has had a rich and varied career that spans three decades. Her recent work includes Missing In America as well as the miniseries Taken; other feature work includes The Waiting Room, A Feeling Called Glory, Timecop, The Portrait, The Stepfather, and The Journey of Natty Gann. Her television appearances include three other Ten Thirteen shows, She appeared in the second season episode The Host and eventually appeared on Millennium's second season episode, Darin Morgan's Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me, as well as the third season episode, Saturn, Dreaming of Mercury. Her other appearances include The Dead Zone, Dark Angel, Smallville, Lonesome Dove; The Outlaw Years, The Commish, and Street Legal.
* Quote source: "The Truth Is Out There; The Official Guide to The X-Files" by Brian Lowry, © 1995 Harper Prism
Episode synopsis and notes: Matt Allair
Page Editor: Red Scully
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1x01 Deep Throat
1x04 The Jersey Devil
1x06 Ghost in the Machine
1x09 Fallen Angel
1x12 Beyond the Sea
1x13 Gender Bender
1x15 Young at Heart
1x17 Miracle Man
1x19 Darkness Falls
1x21 Born Again
1x23 The Erlenmeyer Flask
Crew Production Credits