The X-Files: E.B.E.   Rewatch 
August 16, 2015 8:17 PM - Season 1, Episode 17 - Subscribe

After a downed UFO crashes near Iraqi airspace, Mulder and Scully follow an unmarked truck carrying the UFO's occupant.
posted by town of cats (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So glad I added this to the rewatch! I feel like when people who haven't seen much X-Files picture X-Files, this is what they picture: shadowy government guys! Secret military bases! Weird science labs! Lots of running around the country! Paranoid UFO nerds! No payoff at the end! Mulder and Scully skulking around in long black trenchcoats in an airport gift shop (McCarran, no less) unaware that they are not even slightly inconspicuous! And like both the AVClub reviewer and Shaenon Garrity, rewatching this for the first time in years made me so, so nostalgic for the old days when we thought the mythology was actually going to end up somewhere interesting. Honestly, I think the main reason this episode didn't really hold up for me is that watching it now it felt empty and handwavey, like reading a theorem you already know has been disproved. But I know when I first saw it, it was Dense With Portent. And even now, I was planning to watch half of it last night and half of it tonight, but once it was on I couldn't tear myself away. Even now the thing has legs.

And of course, it made me dreadfully nostalgic for the early 90s! It's crazy to think how much the world and technology have changed in the intervening decades (!!) since this episode aired. The idea that the Lone Gunmen's ideas about government surveillance felt totally out there to Scully makes sense when you see how much work it is to surveil these characters. Bugging Scully's pen, putting the listening device in Mulder's's all very in-person and totally labor intensive. And of course, so is everything else. Mulder and Scully spend so much time schlepping all over the place trying to follow this elusive truck, I felt like I was watching a game of Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego. Other amazing blasts from the past include Scully walking up to the counter at an airport and buying a ticket for that day, in cash, while making a pretty unsubtly shady face indicating "I am doing something suspicious!" and the fact that the Lone Gunmen tape their calls on huge reel-to-reel tapes.

There's also some reasonably lovely cinematography in this episode. I loved the shots when they're driving through the forests of Washington with trees looming on both sides. And the opening shot of the star field is a clear Twilight Zone intro sequence tribute.

Huge props to Jerry Hardin for playing Deep Throat to the hilt, every time. I feel like this show would have gotten no traction at all without that allusion to Watergate-era paranoia right out the gate, and Hardin absolutely nails the creepy blend of total sincerity and total insincerity that he needs to nail. X-Files gets better writing, plots, and characterization in seasons to come but I feel like the informants just never topped DT. I think this is his best episode. Did he really kill that alien? We'll never know.

Also OMG that terribly faked picture. Mulder, you seriously had to take that to the lab???
posted by town of cats at 8:44 PM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

No payoff at the end! [...] And like both the AVClub reviewer and Shaenon Garrity, rewatching this for the first time in years made me so, so nostalgic for the old days when we thought the mythology was actually going to end up somewhere interesting.

I'm kinda glad this came on in the pre-DVR era: I missed enough mytharc episodes that I never got caught up in them. The show has good quality MotW episodes so I don't feel like I'm missing out.
posted by Monochrome at 4:43 PM on August 17, 2015

Well, you clearly aren't anything like me, because I borrowed the VHS box-sets from a friend after I started watching so I could binge-watch the mytharc over the summer vacation between 7th and 8th grade. The box sets didn't actually cover all the episodes (I think it was 12 a season) but they definitely erred on the side of mytharc, presumably because the whole reason to buy them was to figure out what the hell was going on in the damn mytharc. At the time I loved them because they felt so juicy but after a few seasons it was clear there wasn't really any there there.

Now, I wish I had those hours of my life back. But at the time it was literally all my friends and I ever talked about.
posted by town of cats at 7:40 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree with the comment above that it does take a lot out of the viewing enjoyment of the mythology arc episodes when you know that it's never going to really add up to much or make sense. I much prefer the monster of the week episodes. However, it's not like there aren't other things to enjoy in these alien-chasing episodes.

In this episode we meet the Lone Gunman for the first time, and we also see a few leaves unfold on the Mulder and Scully relationship. Mulder makes what I think is his first flirtatious comment to Scully ("I think it’s remotely plausible that someone might think you’re hot"), and Scully tells him, "Mulder, you’re the only one I trust." She means regarding their work, of course, as I am sure she trusts her mother and other people from her personal life, but still, it's quite the declaration. And it must be so powerful for Mulder to hear that, given that he's met with so much derision and resistance from everyone else at the FBI and elsewhere.
posted by orange swan at 7:16 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I remember largely enjoying most of the 'The Lone Gunmen' spinoff.

Appreciate being reminded that Mulder was once so completely passionate about discovering the truth. Great contrast for what will be to come.
posted by porpoise at 9:57 PM on March 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

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