Friday, September 27, 2013

1x02: Deep Throat

Before we start, I've been thinking about the pilot episode entirely too much this week.  Specifically, who exactly was doing these abductions and experiments on these Oregon teens?  We know that the government/Syndicate had been conducting their own experiments and would often stage them as classic alien abductions in order to discredit those who experienced them.  In fact, like, 90%+ of the abductions we see happen could just as easily be human-on-human probing as they could be aliens.  I am hard pressed to recall one abduction (before the death of the Syndicate at the end of season 5) that is conclusively, totally aliens... except for Jose Chung's From Outer Space.  No wonder Scully doesn't believe in aliens, when even we as the omnicient audience can't be sure.


We continue our journey today with 1x02: Deep Throat, one of those episodes where the title references (both to the porn and the scandal) went completely over my head for, like, a decade, because I was born too late for either to have really made an impact on the cultural reference lobe of my brain.

Just a little warning before we start: I've seen this series multiple times, so I'll be referencing characters and plots and events that haven't yet occurred. There will be spoilers.  If you're seeing this series for the first time and reading this reviews, consider this fair warning.

As we go forward with these reviews, I'm going to keep the following themes in mind:

1. The show is as much about Scully's journey toward becoming a believer as it is about the paranormal events she and Mulder encounter.

2. Scully is only a skeptic when viewing things from a clinical distance; when the shit hits the fan, she acts on Mulder's crazy beliefs because she knows it will keep her alive.

3. Mulder isn't right nearly as often as he thinks.

4. The evolution of the Mulder/Scully relationship - not just the romantic involvement that eventually occurs, but their dynamics of trust and distrust, the changing ways they view each other, and the friendship that grows over time.

5. Assault on a federal officer never seems to lead to jail time.

6. Mulder is kind of a dick.

7. Hotel managers must be crazy to rent to FBI agents.

8. The enormous top-secret government conspiracy actually really sucks at keeping things quiet.

9.  There are some serious homoerotic undertones in this show.

This list will keep expanding (heck, #8-9 are new for this episode!) so we'll leave that count open-ended for now.

Our episode opens on this idyllic little home in southwest Idaho being swarmed by dudes in uniform.

Some handy-dandy exposition from the guy in charge informs a scared-looking woman, identified as Mrs. Budahas, that her husband has lost his goddamn marbles and stolen a military vehicle and is probably wielding some weaponry. The gaggle of uniformed... uh, military police, I guess? ... literally ram down the door - rather than, say, ask Mrs. Budahest who is standing RIGHT THERE for her keys so as to maintain the element of surprise and not startle a possibly-armed, definitely crazy, army-trained colonel... or, y'know, get the keys from whoever is in charge because this is a home on a military base and you know they have copies of all the keys and shit.  But no, they ram down the door and spread through the house - continuing to kick down doors as they go, of course - before finally finding their guy like this:

And then we hear the glorious strains of the opening credits sequence for the very first time. It's... so... beautiful...

Also, I never thought about this before, but those ID photos are way too nice for an actual government ID.  Why aren't they just standing in front of a white screen, eyes forward, awkward smile, the way every single ID photo has ever been done? No, Mulder and Scully get to have nice, 3/4 shots with perfect hair and no awkward facial expressions, and signatures that will not match any other signature we see throughout the rest of the series.

It's no wonder they keep the same IDs in the credits for 7 years. If my driver's license looked half this good, I'd never give it up.

After a strangely long establishing shot of Washington, DC, we cut to Scully, in a bar, wearing this outfit:

Oh Dana, was that lapel pin really necessary? I swear the wardrobe department spent the first couple seasons dressing Scully like an 80-year-old transvestite because Gillian Anderson was only 25 when the show started and they were trying way too hard to make her look like an actual adult.

Mulder shows up, stands way too close, offers to buy her a drink at 2 in the afternoon, and then says he has something he'd like to show her.  Oh Mulder, you charmer, you.

As they go to grab a nice cozy table, we see this guy paying way too much attention to them and then some creepy music plays, so you know right away he's important:

Mulder whips out a file on the creepy burned man from the teaser, identifying him as Colonel Budahas who was a military test pilot up until a psychotic break 4 months previously. Scully asks for a diagnosis, but Mulder tells her that the military will not comment at all on anything about it. I just love Scully's "intriqued face":

And as much as I harp on her wardrobe, her hair is always fab-u-lous.

Mulder explains that Mrs. Budahas (scared teaser woman) hasn't seen or heard from her husband since the incident and recently called the FBI to report it as a kidnapping - thus giving Mulder some flimsy excuse to investigate, since kidnapping is technically a bureau matter.  Mulder knows that 6 other pilots have disappeared from the same air force base, and Scully informs him of rumors that they were shot down while "routinely penetrating" Russian air space. She sure knows how to talk dirty to her partner.

But Mulder is convinced something spooky is afoot, because the case was deprioritized last week for sudden and unknown reasons.  Like the Oregon case from the pilot. You'd think a top-level conspiracy trying to operate unnoticed would be the least bit subtle about things like this so as not to arouse suspicion, and you would be wrong. #8

Scully finds it odd that a case with no apparent paranormal element would pique Mulder's interest, and he dodges the question for no good reason, teasing her about "paranormal bouquets" and whatever.  Like, I know he's not supposed to trust her yet, but since he's going to be dragging Scully along on this investigation, it might be better for her safety and your own if you tell her maybe the tiniest bit about this massively dangerous conspiracy you suspect is operating here. But no, Mulder likes to keep all this potentitally life-saving info to himself, because he's like 4 years old and taunting her with the old, "I know something you don't know" routine. #6.

And poor Scully just sighs in resignation.

Mulder heads to the bathroom and demonstrates a shocking lack of awareness in a government-trained investigator by allowing weird-music-guy to creep on him while he's washing his face.

This guy doesn't get dubbed Deep Throat for a while yet, but Weird Music Guy doesn't have the same ring to it so I'm just gonna go with his official title from here on out.

Deep Throat warns Mulder to stay away from this Budahas case, and says he may be of help in the future and has taken an interest in Mulder's work.  He's also locked the bathroom door.  Mulder, you are not nearly freaked out enough by this. Guy locks you in a men's room in a bar and starts delivering cryptic, obtuse messages about how he's noticed you and taken an interest in you?  Then something about positions and exposing and... Well... People always said this show had homoerotic undertones but I really didn't notice it until now. We're putting this on as #9.

Deep Throat leaves (though he doesn't unlock the door, it's just magically open) and Mulder tries to chase after him but is delayed by a conveniently large man trying very rudely to rush into the just-vacated men's room.

By the time Mulder makes it into the bar proper, Deep Throat is gone. Scully notices Mulder acting even more bizarre than normal and asks him if he's okay.

Cut to Scully using what appears to be an actual microfiche reader at the FBI headquarters. (Or at least I think it is. I've never actually encountered one in real life Those things were already pretty obsolete by 1993, weren't they?)  She's scanning articles about the air force base, which is apparently like Area 51 except easier to recreate in Vancouver because there's no deserts to fake.

We also get treated to slow camera pans of the article, with words like "military experimenting" and "stealth weaponry."

Mulder is cooking bachelor chow in what is totally not the same kitchen he has later, when Scully calls him.  She starts to harp on him about failing to tell her about the base's UFO rumors, and he freaks out when he hears some really loud clicking sounds that I guess are what you hear when someone is tapping your phone. There's also some guy in one of those so-nondescript-it's-even-more-suspicious vans parked right outside his apartment.

He's either here to spy on Mulder or kidnap small children.

Seriously, conspiracy guys, you literally have access to advanced alien technology and some of the most brilliant scientific minds on the planet. You couldn't come up with a slightly less obvious way of keeping tabs on Mulder? You've also clearly employed people to do this grunt work of tapping and van-sitting, because the Smoking Man is way too important to this stuff on his own - how big is your payroll, anyway? Adding this to the list as #8: the conspiracy sucks at its job.  It's no wonder Mulder believes Kritschgau when he says that the conspiracy has been manipulating him this whole time; in retrospect, these types of surveillance seem like blatant attempts to bolster his paranoia.

Mulder won't talk to Scully on this unsecure, obviously tapped line, and says they can continue this conversation on the flight out.

Apparently whatever that conversation was, it was enough to convince Scully to come along on this crazy train, because suddenly their plane is touching down and our intrepid agents show up at the Ellens Base and knock on Mrs. Budahas's door. They hear some weird quasi-plane noises but before they can go chasing after them with no preparation whatsoever, Mrs. B opens the door. Mulder flashes his badge and they get invited inside, where Mrs. B starts telling them about her husband's descent into military guinea pig.  She says about 2 years ago he started getting a rash, and then his personality changed, and he started using fish food as a seasoning. She tried to talk to him about it, but he'd start yelling and shake like he was having a seizure. She also says that another guy on the base "went kinda crazy"... but at least that guy came home.

Mulder and Scully immediately head to the McLennen house to see this other guy, who is plucking out strands of his hair one by one and using them to make fishing lures.  Yup, I'd feel totally safe welcoming this guy back into my house. Nothing weird going on here.

Mrs. McLennen says she considers herself lucky to have him back alive, and that his condition was probably just caused by stress.  She hasn't been brainwashed by the government in any way, obviously, and the military just takes such gosh darn good care of them. And she seems really pissed at Mrs. B for bringing the FBI into all of this. Is it just me, or is this Air Force Base like some deeply creepy cult?

Mrs. B gives Scully a list of numbers which she herself has tried "a thousand times," because of course an unknown and unwelcome FBI agent is going to have more luck than an actual military wife. As Scully and Mulder walks away, she diagnoses Mr. McLennen with "stereotypy", which she says is a condition brought on by extreme stress that occurs in POWs (and animals in shitty zoos) and but which Wikipedia describes as the repetitive motions and rituals of autism has nothing to do with stress whatsoever.

Mulder finds it unlikely that a test pilot, who is supposed to thrive under pressure, instead folds under it.  Scully mentions the Aurora project (which will come up again the Dreamland episodes, awesome!), a secret subortibal spy plane project, and suggests that maybe these pilots have been flying those planes and are the washouts.  Mulder counters that, based on all the photos and commendations hanging on the Budahas's wall, the colonel never washed out of anything in his life. This you noticed, Mulder, but not Deep Throat locking you in the bathroom for some awkward posturing?

Back at the hotel, they've apparently been trying that list of numbers Mrs. B gave them and having about as much luck as you'd expect. The best Scully got was a guy named Kissel who will meet with them "a week from Friday" which I guess is military speak for "the twelfth of never." Mulder picks up a phone book - oh wow, remember when those were things people used? -

to look up Kissel's address and they head over to bother him at home. This doesn't seem like proper investigative procedure - ignoring official channels and instead ambushing military personnel in their own homes - but we're just gonna go with it, here. Kissel speed-walks away from them, calling this an invasion of his privacy (he's right), and demanding they leave his property (because this is basically trespassing) as Mulder bombards him with questions about Budahas. Kissel slams the door in their faces.

Scully snidely remarks that it's a good thing they kept their appointment, and suddenly a random guy in glasses shows up to talk to them.  He's Paul Mossinger and he works on the local paper; he'd heard from Mrs. McLennen that they were up here looking into the "Budahas thing."  Mulder brushes him off like an overly enthusiastic sales associate at Macy's, saying their just looking around.  Mossinger says that a lot of people come here just to look around, mostly UFO nuts, and they hear another weird quasi-airplane pass overhead.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a secret government aircraft constructed using technology from crashed UFOs!

Mossinger asks about Budahas again and Mulder keeps rudely dodging the questions.  Is it because this guy is the press? Because I think that means he would actually know more.  This is, like, the only person in town you've met who actually wants to talk to you about THE THING YOU'RE HERE TO FIGURE OUT, and you're being a total dick to him, Mulder. #6.

Mulder does ask if Mossinger knows where they could find one of "those UFO nuts," and so they wind up here:

Remember when I said Ellen's was like Area 51 but easier to tuck into the Canadian landscape than a desert base? This totally proves it. I bet the original script for the episode called for them to go to Area 51 and the base nearby (which is Nellis, by the way, very similar to the fictional Ellens) and find the UFO nuts at the Little A'le'inn. But the production team was like, "Guys, we're in freaking Vanvouer, we can't simulate the Nevada desert here," so they changed it to Idaho and saved the Area 51 idea for season 6.

Mulder and Scully enjoy their diner food while talking to the waitress (who seems to also be an owner or manager or something) about her amateur UFO photos hanging by the bar. Scully thinks this is all bullshit, especially since this woman wants to sell prints for $20 a pop and of course Mulder has to buy one. Scully leans in and calls him a sucker.

You're too cute, Scully.

Mulder asks the waitress where he could see a UFO, and it's just too much for Scully who jumps out of her chair before Mulder's obsession spreads to her like some contagious disease.  She's outside reading a map because it's 1993 and they don't have smartphones yet

and when Mulder comes out she informs him that Ellens Air Base isn't even on the map.  Mulder of course knew this already, but it's cool because the waitress gave him directions to a UFO-sighting spot.  This must be why Mulder insists on driving everywhere - he just likes to keep Scully in the dark. #6.

The park next to a fence lined with barbed wire and Mulder grabs some binoculars from the trunk (where they sit in the same alien emergency kit as his orange spray paint). Scully accuses him of using this whole case as an excuse to look for UFOs, and she's totally right. He doesn't give a shit about Mrs. Budahas and her missing husband, or about what the hell happened to Mr. McLellen.  All he wants is evidence that there's actually a conspiracy and/or proof of UFOs. Remember in the pilot when he told Scully he didn't care about anything but exposing government secrets? This is that sentiment in action, folks. #6.

I guess Scully is super mad at him, because she sulks in the car so long that it gets dark and she falls asleep; she wakes up when some weird vibrations shatter the back window and Mulder shows up to drag her up the hill to see these crazy dancing lights. He says they've been dancing like this for almost half an hour. So why didn't you go get her then, Mulder? I mean, I know you're fascinated and all, but you've spent so much time trying to convince her that your crackpot theories are correct, I think you'd jump at the opportunity so show her some concrete proof.

Scully is trying to find a mundane explanation when another light appears, moving towards them rapidly - and oh shit, this one's a helicopter, and it's chasing them. Bet you wish you'd gotten Scully up here earlier, don't you, Mulder? Maybe then she'd have had more than 5 seconds to see the lights and be convinced it wasn't lasers or something. But nooooo, you had to #6, and now Scully's going to think the first lights were helicopters or some other ordinary thing, too.

Two startled stoners pop out of the bushes as the copter approaches, and Mulder and Scully decide to chase them, too. They even pull out their guns (for the first time), even though chasing two teenagers in the dark over uneven terrain does not seem like the optimal time to have your firearm in your hand.

Our agents catch up to them and hey look, it's Seth Green!

But before Scully can bond with him over their shared ginger heritage, the chase copter shows up and reminds everyone that they're trespassing on government property and should probably get out of there.

The group heads to a diner of some kind - because remember, every town must have one open at all times for these kinds of things - and Scully asks what exactly they were doing out there. Seth Green - so 90s that he's wearing a thermal shirt under a freaking purple-flannel-lined jacket - says they were essentially tripping balls while listening to music and watching the lights. He also says there's a "yellow base" where all the weird stuff gets stored, and Mulder seems to totally buy this story even though this kid is about a million miles from being a reliable witness.

Look at this outfit. Just screams "my information is trustworthy and accurate," doesn't it?

Then some creeper in a sedan rolls up outside and radios in that he's "got a 20" (which actually is military speak for knowing someone/something's location). Whoever's on the end calls him Redbird.

Seth Green uses his burger to demonstrate the lights' maneuvering capabilities, which makes Mulder giggle, which makes Scully giggle, and I can't believe how enjoyable this scene is. Mulder holds up the picture he bought at the Little A'le'inn Flying Saucer and asks if the ships look anything like that. Seth Green says no... they look exactly like that. Dang, Seth, you totally got 'em with that one.

The next morning, our agents drop off the two stoners and their sweet scooter at what is presumably their house... and Mulder actually says "Later, duuude," and tries to do the surfer hang ten sign thing. Mulder, you're in Idaho. Don't be an idiot.

I guess the kid gave him a demo tape, because Mulder sticks it in the car's tape player and starts jamming to it... and Scully shuts it off immediately.  It's like watching my parents on a road trip or something. Dad would put on some bitchin' classic rock and Mom would switch it to some generic Michael Bolton light rock crap.  I'm filing this under #4, because they're establishing a rhythm of interaction akin to that of an old married couple.  This little exchange didn't need to be in there at all - they could have included 6 more seconds of dancing lights in the previous scene - but instead they chose to showcase the developing dynamic between these two.  Also Mulder's "jamming" face:

Scully asks if Mulder believes everything those kids said, and Mulder actually says, "Why wouldn't I?"

Scully: Mulder, did you see their eyes? If I were that stoned...

Mulder: [wiggles eyebrows] Oooo! If you were that stoned, what?

Scully: Mulder, you could have shown that kid a picture of a flying hamburger and he would have said that's exactly what he saw.

Mulder busts out a photo of the UFO that crashed in Roswell in 1947, which looks exactly like the one in the diner photos. He tells Scully he knows she doesn't believe in this stuff, but just hear him out: the mysterious Ellens base, which doesn't appear on the map, is supposedly one of the sites where parts of the wreckage were shipped. Scully uses her catchphrase for the first time ("Mulder, are you suggesting/saying/telling me") to ask if he thinks the government is flying UFOs and Mulder's all, "Of course not, don't be silly!... Just planes built using UFO technology."

It's either laugh or punch him in the face. I'm not sure I would have made the same decision.

Scully, ever the rational scientist, questions the reliability of this evidence: two blurry photos, one nearly 50 years old and the other purchased at a roadside UFO-themed diner. Mulder insists there's a remarkable resemblance, and Scully insists there's no proof they're genuine. He pulls the whole, "What about what you saw!?" line that he'll use again and again, and she says, "Just because I can't explain it, doesn't mean they were UFOs."

Actually, Scully, that's kind of exactly what UFO means. UFO has become almost completely synonymous with "alien spaceship" but really it means Unidentified Flying Object.  Literally, a flying thing that can't be readily identified or explained. So yeah, because you can't explain it, it actually means they were UFOs. And Mulder points this out to her, so points for Mulder.

Still, Scully points out, none of this explains what happened to Colonel Budahas - y'know, the whole flimsy pretense you put together to come out here, Mulder? Remember that guy, and his terrified wife, and the military who won't tell her anything?

Back at the hotel, Scully gets a message at the front desk and runs to inform Mulder that Colonel Budahas has come home. They head over to the Budahas house and find Mrs. B in tears, scared to death of the man claiming to be her husband. She insists that it's just not him, that they've done something to him.

Mulder asks the guy claiming to be Mr. Budahas if he knows where he's been the last 4 months, to which the guy replies he's been in the hospital. He seems to know everything the real Budahas would know - his birth date, his kids' names, even some stats regarding the Green Bay Packers (whose sweatshirt he's wearing) - but Mrs. B repeats that it's just. not. him. Then Mulder asks him about some random piloting maneuver, and Budahas can't answer. He can't remember.

They leave the house and Mulder starts saying how he thinks "they" selectively erased his memories, and Scully tells him that the science necessary to do something like that simply doesn't exist. "Neither does the technologyto fly the aircraft we saw last night," he counters.

Go put some ice on that burn, Scully. We'll be waiting.

Back in the car, Scully asks why anyone would even want to erase these memories, and Mulder says it's all about information control, and that Budahas could have been a security risk. Scully think the memory loss may be selective amnesia related to his nervous breakdown (which really does sound pretty reasonable).  She laughs when he mentions UFO technology again, like a mom who knows her son has a crazy imagination and isn't it cute and jeez when will he grow out of it?

Then there's a pair of bland sedans converging on them, nearly running them off the road, and about a dozen suspicious individuals in dark glasses hop out.

They order our heroes out of the car and promptly start patting them down, going through the files in their car, taking or destroying all their evidence. At least this time they didn't burn down some innocent bystander's hotel. When Mulder asks what this is all about, he gets a punch in the kidney and some excuse about "national security." Also, doesn't the guy on the right here sort of look like Dan Akroyd?

Where does the Conspiracy group find these lackeys? What the hell kind of recruiting do they do to find people willing to be this dodgey and go around roughing up and robbing federal agents? Did they all have to go to Men's Warehouse together and get matching suits? Is there some dealership around here that specializes in nondescript grampa cars? How the hell can the Syndicate maintain any form of information control when they have so many damned underlings?

The Bland Sedan Brigade says they'll escort the agents back to their hotel, and we cut to Scully trying to track down this mysterious figures via their license plates and having absolutely zero luck. Mulder comes to the conclusion that those choppers last night were after them, not the two stoners, that the military knew they were coming before they even arrived, and that Colonel Budahas was returned as a decoy. He tells her about Deep Throat trying to keep him away from the case, and about the phone tap. Scully is understandably upset:

Like seriously, Mulder, that was a shitty thing to keep from your partner. What if the Bland Sedan Brigade had decided it was easier to murder you than to let you go, and telling Scully all this conspiracy stuff earlier could have prevented it? It's one thing for your paranoia and stupidity to endanger your own life, but putting Scully in danger is a total dick move. #6.  It takes a helluva long time for this message to sink in for Mulder, basically until Scully's abduction in season 2 and again with her cancer in season 4.  It's weird to look back at these early episodes and see how totally blase Mulder is about possibly endangering Scully's life, when later he will go to such extremes to protect her. #4.

Mulder's convinced there's an actual UFO here, and that the military is so concerned with keeping it a secret that it will sacrifice the lives and minds of its pilots.

Scully: If, if that were true, it would be a national scandal.

Mulder: No no, you're not thinking big enough, if it were true, it would be confirmation of the existence of extra terrestrial life.

Scully: Did you ever stop to think that what we saw was simply an experimental plane. Like the stealth bomber or, this Aurora Project. Doesn't the government have a right and a responsibility, to protect it's secrets?

Mulder: Yes, but at what cost, when does the human cost become too high for the building of a better machine?

Scully: Look, these are questions we have no business asking. Our kidnap victim is no longer outstanding. Let's get out of here Mulder, while you still have a job.

You go, Scully. Way to be the bigger person here and try to protect you partner, despite the fact that he felt no similar obligation towards you.

Mulder tells Scully he's going to shower and pack so they can leave, and Scully doesn't appear even the least bit suspicious at what is obviously a line of complete bullshit.  She hasn't developed her Mul-dar yet, but she'll start calling him on this crap someday, just you wait. It's not until she literally hears the car start up that she thinks maybe he's not going to proceed in a sane and rational manner about all this.

Way to ditch your partner, Mulder.  Way to completely ignore her feelings and her completely rational concerns FOR YOU, and run off on your own ill-conceived adventure. #6.  This also means that, once again, Scully is conveniently out of the way when the actual paranormal shit goes down.

The stoner kids lead Mulder to the hole in the fence and give him directions to their UFO-watching spot. Mulder asks where the "yellow base" is, and Seth Green tells him it's like 10 miles and he definitely shouldn't go there and of course Mulder completely ignores him.

Mulder crouches down in the middle of nowhere, waiting for dark to solo storm the high-security, high-secrecy military base. Then we get these iconic shots

as a UFO passes right over his head.  Now the show has enough material for, like, a million promos. Which is good, because this scene cost them a huge chunk of their special effects budget.

As the UFO flies away, a pair of military vehicles with flashing lights show up to chase Mulder; guys in fatigues jump out, wrestle him onto a gurney, and carry him away. Then they hold him down and inject him with stuff. See what happens when you ditch Scully???

Bad things, Mulder. BAD THINGS happen when you ditch Scully.

Scully, meanwhile, is trying to get a line to Washington but can't.  She leaves her gun behind as she goes to the hotel desk to try again, totally not noticing one of the Bland Sedan Bridage roll into the parking lot. The desk phone doesn't work either, which the clerk blames on the military.

Meanwhile, Mulder gets unloaded back at the base, where he blearily makes out the outline of a UFO-shaped something-or-other through sheets of translucent plastic and layers of military-grade seditives. Then he passes out. You're such a reliable witness, Mulder.

Back at the hotel, Scully heads to her room only to see Mossinger (the reporter from earlier) coming out of it. Instantly suspicious, she reaches for her gun only to realize she left it behind. Real professional, Scully. This whole gun-forgetting thing happens WAY less often in later seasons because of shit like this. Mulder and Scully learn pretty quick that they have to always be prepared to shoot things.

The radio in his car starts saying shit like "base to RedBird" - it's the same call sign we heard from that sedan outside the diner! Scully immediatley knows something is up, and I had to make a freaking gif of this (which takes forever) because wow, is it a great reaction.

Polite polite polite WOOOSH! Catlike reflexes on this chick.

She jumps straight into Mossinger's car and locks the door, and finds a gun and airbase security ID badge while searching for his keys. It's nice to know Scully isn't the only one who leaves her gun behind in inopportune moments.

Now THAT is what you'd expect from a government-issued ID photo. Mossinger smashes out the window with a fire exintguisher and they struggle briefly before Scully scratches him in the eye. #5. He goes around to the driver's side to get her and she shoves his own gun in his face and forces him against the car, demanding to know who he is. He calls her "Dr. Scully" and says no one wants this to come to violence when she's so far from home, which is way threatening.  Then the stoners pull up on their scooter and tell Scully that Mulder's gone running off like an idiot and didn't come. Scully orders Mossinger to get on his radio and find out where Mulder is, or she's totes gonna call in the media and expose the "experimental aircraft."

Mulder, meanwhile, gets treated to some ridiculously bright lights and random medical procedures.

Cut to Scully holding a gun on Mossinger as he takes her out to the base.  One of the guards radios that "the package is arriving," and Scully tries to maintain her veneer of authority despite knowing that she has basically no control over what happens next. A Jeep shows up and Mulder stumbles out of it, looking less than well. Scully orders Mossinger out of the car, Mulder gets in, and they drive away.  He's pretty out of it and confused; he can't remember how he got there or what's happened to him.

They head back to the Budahas residence and Mrs. B says everything's fine and her husband's getting better and she is in no way afraid of him at all when he calls from the next room to find out who's at the door.  Mulder tires to tell Scully that "they" got to her, but she won't hear him.  She says they don't know anything, nothing more than when they got here, and that's what's going in her field report. So there.

We cut to Scully doing just that - writing a field report stating that nothing could be conclusively determined and that, barring further authorized investigation, case #DF101364 (10-13 is the birthdate of both Chris Carter and Mulder), is closed.

Cut again to Mulder working off some tension by running around a track. When he stops to catch his breath, Deep Throat approaches from nowhere to be all cryptic at him again. He says their lives may be indanger because of the things they've seen, and they have to be discrete - which has never been Mulder's strong suite, so good luck with that.  When Deep Throat turns to leave, Mulder calls after him, "They're here, aren't they?" And Deep throat replies, "Mr. Mulder, they've been here for a long, long time."

Okay, so, I'm not too big a fan of this episode. It's one of those weird early mytharc stories written before they'd really sat down to work out the mytharc itself, so everything is kept even more vague than usual.  Mulder is just such a dick in this episode that I find it hard to side with him, and Scully's explanations are all actually pretty sound. There's zero evidence that there's anything alien-ish going on here, nor is there any conclusive evidence that it's all man-made stuff. So nobody wins, nothing gets solved, no one can remember seeing anything conclusive, and all the evidence disappears.  The highlight of this episode was definitely Seth Green playing with his UFO burger.

Firsts: opening titles, Deep Throat, people on foot being chased by helicopters, "Mulder, are you suggesting..?", human/UFO technology hybrids, random 90s star appearance, 1013

Friday, September 20, 2013

1x01: Pilot

Welcome to season 1, episode 1, the pilot. It doesn't have an official title, though the novelization of this episode was entitled X Marks the Spot.  Was I the only one who read those YA novelizations? Yes? Okay then.

Just a little warning before we start: I've seen this series multiple times, so I'll be referencing characters and plots and events that haven't yet occurred. There will be spoilers.  If you're seeing this series for the first time and reading this reviews, consider this fair warning.

As we go forward with these reviews, I'm going to keep the following themes in mind:

1. The show is as much about Scully's journey toward becoming a believer as it is about the paranormal events she and Mulder encounter.

2. Scully is only a skeptic when viewing things from a clinical distance; when the shit hits the fan, she acts on Mulder's crazy beliefs because she knows it will keep her alive.

3. Mulder isn't right nearly as often as he thinks.

4. The evolution of the Mulder/Scully relationship - not just the romantic involvement that eventually occurs, but their dynamics of trust and distrust, the changing ways they view each other, and the friendship that grows over time.

5. Assault on a federal officer never seems to lead to jail time.

6. Mulder is kind of a dick.

7. Hotel managers must be crazy to rent to FBI agents.

More themes may pop up so we'll leave plenty of space for that list to expand. Now, are we ready? Let's go.

Ooooooh the nostalgia the opening image conjures up.

Also: the only episode to feature this tag:

A young girl in her nightgown runs through the Oregon woods, finally tripping and falling into a clearing. Suddenly a strong wind kicks up, swirling leaves in a vortex around her, and a figure steps out of a bright light. As he reaches her, the screen whites out.

Next thing we know it's daylight (presumably the next day), and the girl is lying facedown, dead in that same clearing as police officers photograph the body.  They find two strange marks on her lower back. Detective Angry Local identifies the girl as Karen Swenson, who went to school with his own son. Another officer demands to know about "the class of '89" and says, "It's happening again, isn't it?" Detective Angry Local stomps angrily away.

Because this was the first episode, they hadn't yet created a title sequence, so what would usually be a pre-credits teaser instead segues directly into the main show.

Establishing shot of the J. Edgar Hoover building, where we'll be spending a fair bit of time over the coming seasons. A hot young Gillian Anderson (who doesn't yet have really red hair but has already established her questionable taste in womenswear that's so prevalent in the first few seasons), makes her way through the building to see Section Chief Blevins about her new assignment.

This is probably one of the better character establishing scenes in any TV drama. Questions from the chief and his associates, and Scully's answers to them, reveal her character history: medical doctor, recruited by the FBI straight out of school, much to the chagrin of her parents.  They ask her about Fox Mulder, and she recites his reputation: Oxford-trained psychologist with an expertise in studying serial killers, helped arrest Monty Props in '88 (is that a real guy? because I don't know, I was 2), but who is dubbed "Spooky" by his peers so is clearly an outsider despite his brilliance.

And there you go. The most relevant backstory for the two major characters told in less than 2 minutes in a way that feels completely natural.

Also, this creepy fuck stands in the background the whole time, putting viewers slightly on edge. Who is he? Why isn't he talking? Why is he smoking in a government building?  Even Scully's attempts at humor, her shy little smile at him, evokes no emotional response. CREEPY.

Blevins tells Scully about Mulder's "side project" on the X-files, and gives her a new assignment: to "assist" Mulder on these cases and make field reports about the validity of the work.

Scully heads down to that beautiful, messy, hoarder-esque basement office and we hear Mulder's sweet voice for the first time, and also his first self-flagellation:  "Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI's Most Unwanted."  Doesn't he just look so cute in his glasses?

He immediately accuses her of being sent to spy on him. Scully tries to maintain a cool but friendly professionalism, while Mulder makes snide remarks and reveals a stalker-like knowledge of her background, even having read her senior thesis on Einstein's twin paradox.  Damn, Mulder, tone down the obsession a little, would you? It's, like, her first day.

Her reaction? The patented Scully glare:

Mulder dims the lights and whips out his beloved slide projector - when was the last time you saw one of those, dear reader?? - to show her crime scene photos of Karen Swenson.  He reveals that an unknown chemical was found in the tissue surrounding those marks on her back, and that it was also found in 2 other cases in 2 other states... in addition to four other people from her graduating class who also died under mysterious circumstances.

Mulder asks her if she believes in the existence of extraterrestrials, and thus we establish the core beliefs of these two characters:

Mulder - that when the logical and plausible fail to provide answers, it's to the fantastic and strange we must turn for answers.

Scully - that there are no answers beyond the realm of science, you just have to know where to look.

Boom. The believer and the skeptic, the yin and the yang that form the hear of this series. This dynamic will be revisited again and again.

Also Mulder keeps pronouncing Oregon as Or-e-GAHN, which bothers me.

On the flight the next day, Mulder stretches out his gangly length and naps Swhile Scully sits primly reading through case material. The plane hits a patch of turblence - Scully freaks out, Mulder just casually laughs off. Characterization, people.  They could have easily left this scene out, since there isn't anything case-related going on, but it reveals little things about our two heroes that help flesh them out as real people.

After landing, they hop in what is presumably an FBI standard rent-a-car, and discuss the case while Mulder munches on sunflower seeds - a seemingly random habit that won't be explained for a while yet but become as much a part of his character as the I Want to Believe poster. It's the little things, the small choices, made before the show was even officially picked up, that make it feel so real.  Did you notice Scully was wearing a gold cross necklace in the interview scene? The wardrobe department didn't make that decision lightly - they knew Scully's faith was going to be an important element of her character and subtly worked it in during scene one of the freaking pilot. Subtlety. Continuity (well, most of the time). These are the things I love.

Mulder explains that the FBI had been investigating this case before, but that the agents were suddenly called back to Washington for no discernable reason. Bum bum BUMMMMMMM.  Scully reveals that the first three Oregon victims showed no strange marks or unidentified chemicals found on Karen Swenson, but that those reports were signed by a different medical examiner. BUM BUM BUUUUUUUUUUMMMMM.

Suddenly the radio starts spazzing out, jumping between stations and emitting a high pitched noise. Mulder stops the car and engages in a small act of defacing public property, and Scully stares on in disbelief:

X marks the spot, get it?

And of course we, the audience, wonder if he always has a can of orange spraypaint in his suitcase or if it was a special occasion.

They roll into town and head straight to the cemetery, where Mulder had already arranged for one of the previous victims to be exhumed. This guy immediately shows up and starts manhandling his daughter (which raises alarm bells for everyone)

and demands to know just what the hell they think they're doing, digging up bodies and playing on his lawn and throwing frisbees up on his roof. Seriously, this guy is such a stereotypical belligerent local it's almost funny. But he's also the local medical examiner who did the autopsies on the first three victims, Dr Nemman,, so we have even more reasons to dislike and distrust him

After Dr. Angry Local's (not to be confused with Detective Angry Local) daughter begs him to leave, our intrepid agents get back to their morning of grave digging. The corpse of the hour is Ray Soames, the third victim who spent time in a mental hospital for post-adolescent schizophrenia and actually confessed to the first two murders... even though he couldn't produce any evidence that he'd really done it. Cause of death was listed as exposure, his corpse having been found in the woods after presumably escaping the hospital.

During this crime scene coffee talk, Mulder asks the key question: how does a relatively healthy young man, missing for only seven hours, die of exposure on a warm summer night in Oregon?

As the crane lifts the coffin from the ground, a conveniently frayed strap snaps, sending the coffin rolling down the hill and breaking it open to reveal...

What the WHAT!?

As everyone else reels from the sight (and smell) of this rotting mutant corpse, Mulder cracks a joke about how Ray Soames probably never made the high school basketball team.  A moment later he snaps into paranoid action, demanding the coffin be sealed and taken to a secure location for Scully to examine.

Cut to Mulder and Scully performing their very own version of Fox's Alien Autopsy special, with Mulder running around snapping pictures like a kid at Disneyland.  Scully proposes that this corpse, which clearly isn't human, could be a chimpanzee or an orangutan, but Mulder ain't buying it. Mulder rattles off the tests he wants Scully to perform (as he does so often, volunteering her for or straight up assigning her more work #6), but Scully insists this is just somebody's sick joke.

Later, Scully types up her notes in the hotel room and we hear, through her recorded autopsy record, that they discovered an unidentified object in the corpse's nasal cavity.  She's also go her gun right by her side, so we know that she's starting to get a little weirded out by all of this. We'll file that under #2.

Next comes another of my favorite little moments that are so easy to miss on first viewing.  There's a knock at Scully's door, and when she asks who it is, Mulder claims to be Steven Spielberg, a cute and obvious reference to the guy who made E.T.  And Scully, who has been so confrontational and distant towards him, cracks an adorable little smile.  Already he's starting to win her over, not with his beliefs (that will take a long, long time) but with his personality.  She's already starting to like him in spite of herself, and to see that maybe he's not totally crazy; her loyalties are already shifting from the FBI at large to Fox Mulder in particular.  We're not even halfway through the first episode and she's already growing as a character.  He doesn't get to see this smile, as it fades before she opens the door, but we do, and we know what it means. #4

Anyway, Mulder just wants to tell her that he's going for a run (which he will often do in times of stress) and asks if she's figured out what that thing up Ray Soames's nose is yet.  The answer, of course, is no.  The whole point of this scene seems to be Scully's slow realization that the world may not be as programmed, categorized, and easily referenced as she may once have believed.

Little tangent here: personally, I think Scully is the more interesting of the two main characters. Mulder was so driven and single minded that he never wavered, never matured as a character. His most interesting personal plotline was when Kritschgau convinced him that it was al a sham, and we saw him truly struggle with his own soul for the first time. Scully engaged in that struggle every day. You can see doubt growing within her as she encounters more and more weird things she can't fully explain. She tries to define these things within the boundaries of science - her belief in which is at least as strong, if not stronger than, her Catholic faith - only to have science fail her time and again.  You watch her grow from a very well-bheaved little newbie agent to a rebel, throwing protocol away to follow Mulder's truth. You see the conspiracy slowly unravel her life, taking away her friends, her family, her health, and very nearly her life. Basically, throughout the series, you are watching Scully become Mulder (a character development solidified in season 8 after he disappears). Which makes her way more interesting to me than the one who started out as Mulder in the first place. To me, the X-Files is as much about Scully's personal journey as it is about unraveling the conspiracy as a whole. #1

The next morning, Mulder and Scully (who is still wearing that weird oversized plaid jacket from her first scene, even though Gillian Anderson isn't even pregnant yet) walk through the grounds of the mental hospital where Ray Soames once stayed. His doctor states that Ray seemed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress, as were several of his classmates whom this doctor also treated.  Two of them are still under his care - Billy Miles and Peggy O'Dell, who are long-term inpatients at the hospital.

When Mulder and Scully ask to speak with them, the doctor reveals that it will be challenging, especially in the case of Billy Miles, who has been in a persistent vegetative state after a car accident. They go to his hospital room and find him lying there in a waking coma, as Peggy sits in a wheelchair nearby reading to him. Mulder tells the doctor he wants to do a medical exam on Peggy and the girl FLIPS HER SHIT, knocking over tables and fighting the nurses ... and then blood starts spurting out her nose.

As they attempt to restrain her, Mulder sneaks a peek at her lower back and sees the same strange marks they found on Karen Swenson. And then they share this look of WTFOMFG:


Visibly flustered, Scully leaves the room, and as Mulder catches up to her she just can't believe what's going on. She wants know how he knew the marks would be there, and he counters by asking if she's going to type it up in a report to hand to her superiors. This mutual distrust underlies much of the first two seasons, and comes back to haunt them time and again; Mulder can't seem to forget or forgive that Scully's original mission was to spy on him so the FBI could justify shutting the X-files down. #4

Mulder insists that the kids were abducted by aliens, but Scully of course thinks there must be a more earthly explanation. They decide to start with the woods where the bodies were found, and where Karen Swenson was found in her nightgown 10 miles from home.

Cue flashlights in the dark.

They poke around for a bit and worldessly decide to split up, because it's very important in the early episodes that Scully never ever actually be present to witness all the weird shit that Mulder sees... like his compass suddenly going wonky.  Scully crouches to examine a patch of ash, pocketing it barehanded, no evidence bag, in a blatant disregard for the proper examination of evidence. She hears a humming noise and sees a bright light and gets all jumpy (because Scully is only a skeptic in hindsight; in the moment of stress, she's a believer #2)...

...only to be confronted with a nice safe rational explanation for it: Detective Angry Local, with his truck's headlights on, saying they're trespassing on private property.

Tails between their legs, our intrepid agents depart. Mulder wonders aloud what Miles was doing way the hell out there in the middle of the night, and Scully shows him her super fascinating fistful of ash. She thinks it may be evidence of some kind of cult ritual, but then Mulder's compass goes all wonky again.  He looks at his watch just before a blindingly bright light makes them all grainy and freeze frame

and their car suddenly rolls to a stop, totally dead.  Mulder's watch now reads 9 minutes later which makes him irrationally happy. The script literally reads "Woooooo!" as he jumps out of the car to dance giddily in the pouring rain, directly over the orange X he spray painted days before.

As Scully glares at this completely insane man she's been tethered to, he explains that abductees frequently report lost time.  Scully - who, if you remember, rewrote Einstein for her senior thesis - insists that time is a universal invariant and doesn't just disappear.  The car starts up on its own, several yards away, which must have a totally rational explanation and is in no way weird at all.

Later, Scully is back in her hotel room, typing up reports that say things like "cannot be validated or substantiated," when the lights go out.  Hope you hit "save," there, Scully. Those old laptops didn't have a recovery feature.

With her laptop rendered useless by lack of electricty - they apparently didn't have batteries, either - she goes to take a candle-lit bath. As she disrobes in front of the mirror, she feels something weird on her lower back.

What follows is... well, it's really weird. Chris Carter had intended this scene to establish the platonic relationship between Mulder and Scully; it was supposed to be an interaction that could be very sexual in other contexts but with them is just an impromptu medical exam between colleagues. Gillian Anderson has called it a bizarre and gratuitous sexualization of her character.  Fans have called it the first glimpse of the sexual tension that will run as an undercurrent for the rest of the series.

Whatever you call it, a scared Scully runs to Mulder (#2), strips down to her undies, and he examines her lower back by candlelight.

That look on his face... that doesn't look very platonic to me.  Maybe he's just awed by the realization that Scully-in-crisis is Scully-the-believer and NOT by her cute little ass.  When he tells her they're just mosquito bites, she collapses against him in relief.

In this moment, we see him concerned about her for the first time.  This is the moment where he (and we as an audience) first see her be vulnerable - not clinical or detached or disbelieving, just scared and then relieved.  He asks her if she's okay, and she's shaking, and there's a sort of surprised tenderness in his voice as if he finds it hard to believe that Scully-not-being-okay is even possible.  Up until this moment, he's been treating her with derision, suspicion, or dry humor, all ways of keeping her at a distance. Remember, he thinks she's a spy; he wants to hate her, wants to push her away so he can continue being a lone crackpot chasing aliens.  But in this scene, when she's scared and it's dark and storming outside, she becomes a real person to him.  He comforts her as best he can and we can see that, just as Scully is starting to like him despite herself, she too is winning him over. So much #4.

And he's just seen her half naked, touched her bare skin, leaned in close enough that you can imagine he smells her skin (and there's definitely a little sniffing action going on there).

Oh yeah, Chris Carter. Totally platonic.

Time passes. We get the sense that it's been a while, because now Scully is on the bed (on top of the covers), wrapped up in blankets while Mulder sits on the floor.  He's recounting the story of his sister's disappearance, and how it ripped his family apart.  How long have they been sitting like this, getting to know each other beyond their initial first impressions of "skeptic" and "believer"?  We don't know, and we never know, but clearly they've grown closer in between scenes. #4

He talks about discovering the X-files and how it became his new obsession; he tells her that he's been trying to access classified government documents but his attempts are being blocked by some unknown, high-ranking officials who are trying to shut him down.  He tells Scully that she herself is part of this agenda, but she insists that she's just here to solve the case.  And she really believes it.

Mulder then tells her about his deep regression hypnosis, and how recovered memories of his sister's abduction.  About the bright light and the strange presence; about how he was paralyzed and couldn't help his sister even as she cried out for him.  He gets that manic look in his eye, the look of a scared boy desperate for answers, and tells her he has to know what the government is hiding about these abductions. And he looks her dead in the eye and drops the line that will define him for many coming seasons: "Nothing else matters to me." Filing this under #6 because that's a pretty shitty thing to say to someone who's been assigned to work with you.

The phone rings, making Scully jump, and it's "some woman" on the other end calling to say that Peggy O'Dell is dead.

They pull up to the scene in the rent-a-car, dodging past multiple cop cars and ambulances. Peggy, it seems, had run out into the middle of the road and been hit by a truck. That's right, crazy wheelchair girl RAN into the road. Aliens are Jesus, making the lame walk and the blind see.  Actually... that's not so far off from a couple future plotlines, but we'll get there when we get there.

Scully kneels to examine the body and notices her watch, which stopped just after 9 pm:

Mulder suddenly starts hurrying her into the car, babbling about the autopsy bay being trashed and the body being stolen and they have to get back to the hotel RIGHT NOW!

Aaaaaaaaand it's on fire.

If I were a hotel manager, I would never EVER allow these two to stay in my hotel. Their rooms get broken into, trashed, and burned down practically every episode. #7

They lose Scully's computer, the x-rays, the pictures of the corpse, everything. So sad.

Then angry local medical examiner's abused daughter comes out of the crowd, says her name is Theresa Nemman, and asks for their protection.  Mulder can't resist a frightened girl and so they take her to a diner (all small towns must have a 24-hour diner in which clandestine meetings can take place over dry toast and bad coffee) where she tells them about all the weird shit going on that no one wants to talk about. Like how she and a bunch of friends from her graduating class will sometimes find themselves out in the middle of the woods with no idea how they got there. And how she has those marks on her back and she's sure she's the next to die. And how her father falsified the autopsy reports because he was trying to protect her.

Then her nose turns into a fountain of blood.

Her father (Dr. Angry Local) and Detective Angry Local show up out of nowhere to take her home "where she'll be safe." Detective Angry Local finally gets a name - Detective Miles, father of the vegetative Billy Miles. BUM BUM BUMMMMMM.  They whisk Theresa away and warn Mulder and Scully to stay away from her and Billy.

Scully starts putting pieces together and reasons that Dr. Angry Nemman was the one who trashed the lab and burned down the hotel, since he's been trying to hide evidence from the very beginning when he falsified the autopsy reports.  She can't figure out his motivation, and Mulder suggests they dig up the two remaining graves.

Cut back to the cemetary, where Mulder and Scully find that someone else actually decided to spend this evening digging up corpses in the pouring rain.  Both graves are empty, and Mulder concludes it was Billy Miles.

Scully's all, "Mulder, you're nuts," but he starts to slowly draw her into his insanity.  He reasons that Peggy O'Dell's time of death was around the same time they lost 9 minutes, and that something else took control over those 9 minutes and made Peggy escape the hospital.

Scully pauses for a minute, as if struggling with herself.

You can just see her thinking about if she wants to admit this next fact to Mulder and to herself, but ultimately she tells him that Peggy O'Dell's watch stopped just after 9 pm.

And this is where the plot gets a little twisted on itself.

Mulder seizes on this proof of stopped time to postulate that there's a force driving this kids into the woods and that the marks are the result of some kind of test being done on them and that maybe that test causes some sort of genetic mutation like they saw in Ray Soames's corpse... and Scully concludes his crazy by saying that that same force summoned Theresa Nemmans into the woods tonight.  But, uh, shouldn't that be Peggy O'Dell, Scully? Cuz she's the one who died. Theresa was just having coffee with you. She didn't say anything about being in the woods tonight. Mulder says it was Billy Miles who brought her there, so I'm going to assume he actually means Peggy... but if she was running under her own power when she got hit by the truck, why would Billy Miles have needed to take her there? Or is this force just working on Billy Miles, who kidnaps his classmates and takes them to the woods?

Maybe Scully starts laughing because she can't believe how ridiculous this all sounds (although at least some of that laughter was Gillian Anderson being so happy she finally got the line right after about a million takes of standing in the pouring rain talking crazy.)

They head to the hospital to examine Billy while a very uncompassionate nurse talks about how hopelessly veggie-like he is... until they find ashy dirt on his feet.

In the hallway outside, Scully just can't believe it - Billy Miles was totally out in the woods with Peggy O'Dell.  Mulder reminds her that she's supposed to be the skeptic here, and now she's straight up admitting that a comatose boy got up in the night to murder someone, and suddenly she's all unsure again because now it as to go in a report.  She gets all rational again and suggests they get a second sample from the forest, since the first was destroyed in the hotel fire.

They spot Detective Miles' truck in the woods, and suddenly hear a girl scream. They go sprinting off into the woods with their little flashlights - the first of many such chases overlaid with tense, creepy music. Mulder being Mulder gets way out ahead (all that tense running really pays off, doesn't it?) and totally misses Detective Miles ASSAULTING A FEDERAL OFFICER, knocking Scully off her feet (#5). Because this is the first episode, and Scully is totally not allowed to actually witness anything blatantly alien-related for, like, 3 more years.

Dazed, Scully looks up at him as Detective Miles creepily reiterates that they should have stayed out of this. He runs off as she struggles to her feet.

Meanwhile, Mulder follows the screams and runs into Dr. Angry Nemman, who points a freaking shotgun at him WHICH IS GROUNDS FOR ARREST (#5), and orders him to get down on the ground. The screams keep going, and Mulder asks now long Nemman is going to let this go on because Billy is totes about to kill his daughter. Nemman runs off.

We see Billy - shirtless for no reason - lifting up an unconscious Theresa Nemman in a swirling vortex of leaves. Dr. Nemman orders him to stop, and Mulder takes him just as he was about to shoot Billy.

The leaves keep swirling, and as Billy turns Mulder spots the marks on his back.  Then a bright light starts to glow around them, blinding Mulder from seeing where it's coming from.

Scully is still getting over that blow to the head and only sees the light from a distance (of course).

By the time she reaches Mulder, the light is gone, Theresa is totally okay, the marks on Billy's back are totally gone, and he's hugging his father.  She asks Mulder about the light, and all he can say is that it was incredible.

Pictured: one woman whose beliefs have been shaken, 
and one man whose beliefs have been reaffirmed. #4

Back at FBI headquarters, Billy is under hypnosis and recounting his first encounter with "the light" - in the forest right during a graduation party.  The light came and took them away to "the testing place," where he was told to gather the others for more tests.  He says he has an implant which would give him orders.

Blevins, Scully, and the Smoking Man watch through one-way-glass as Billy recounts how the light told him that the experiments had to be destroyed, and he's afraid the light will come back.

Back in Blevins's office, the section chief tells Scully that the scientific conclusions in his report seem wholly unsubstantiated. She knows - her reports are personal and she can't draw any conclusions as to what she's seen... or rather, hasn't seen. Blevins can't see any evidence to support the legitimacy of Mulder's investigations, and the crimes that were committed can't even be prosecuted.

WHAT ABOUT DETECTIVE MILES ASSAULTING SCULLY AND DR. CRAZY POINTING A GUN AT MULDER'S HEAD?  There weren't any witnesses to that but Scully's got to have a bruise or something. They should at least get a warning or a fine. Jeez. #5

Blevins reminds Scully that Billy claimed his orders came from an implant in his nose, and that they lost all the physical evidence... until Scully is a total fucking badass and pulls the implant from Ray Soames's corpse out of her pocket. (This scene will be echoed strongly in the first movie, with a genetically modified bee instead of an implant.)  She kept the implant in her pocket and thus it was the only piece of evidence not destroyed in the fire.

Lab tests, she tells him smugly, could not identify the material. When asked what Mulder's thoughts are, she states simply that he believes we are not alone.

Blevins dismisses her, and she passes the Smoking Man in the hall as he goes to enter Belvins' office.

At 11:21 that night, Mulder demonstrates a total lack of inter-colleague boundaries by calling Scully as she lies in bed. #6

He tells her that all their paperwork has disappeared and casefile on Billy Miles has disappeared from Oregon DA's office.  She tells him they'll talk tomorrow - letting the viewer know that her assignment to the X-Files is now ongoing.

Cut to a dark and spooky warehouse. The Cigarette Smoking Man walks down a long hallways between tall shelves of boxes. He stops in front of one box and pulls out a case containing several small vials, each vial containing an implant just like the one in Ray Soames' nose. We watch as he pulls that implant - clearly taken from Blevins' office - out of his pocket, drops it in the case, and walks away. He leaves the warehouse, locking a door behind him that reviews Pentagon evacuation procedures. BUM BUM BUM BUM BUMMMMMMMM.

Overall I'd say this was a very well-written pilot episode, especially at a time when scifi dramas weren't really going on the small screen. Our two heroes are introduced impeccably, revealing enough of their backstories and motivations to flesh them out as real people.  Their relationship is established - skeptic and believer, trust and distrust, cautious inroads towards friendship that would make viewers want to watch its evolution. A taste of the conspiracy comes into play - shadowy government figures, evidence disappearing or being destroyed, and some FBI hotshots who are clearly interested in stopping Mulder from pursuing the truth.

Firsts: Smoking Man, The Glare, Mulder's love of slideshows, sunflower seeds, Mulder overrides Scully's autonomy and demands she do more work, unresolved sexual tension, Mulder and Scully inadvertantly destroy a hotel room, implants and mysterious nosebleeds, running in the dark with flashlights, Scully misses the big paranormal event, 1121, nothing gets solved.