Deep Throat feels like a second Pilot episode for The X-Files, but without the awkward clunkiness. The plot is less convoluted, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are vastly improved, and there are hardly any eye-rolling moments involved, other than when someone writes a statistical review of the episode 25 years after it aired.

So please enjoy this statistical review of Deep Throat! Also, check out my review of The Pilot if you have some time.

Overall Score: 81.06/100

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Figure 1 – Episode rating over time in white with reference lines for ratings of 100, 75, 50, and 25.

To see how the episode’s score flows over time, check out Figure 1 which shows some reference lines indicating scores of 100, 75, 50, or 25 throughout. Basically, Deep Throat is a solid episode and straddles that “75” line for most of the episode until around minute 30.  Those first 30 minutes effectively establish the plot and groundwork of the episode but other than our introduction to the titular Deep Throat (who is not named for another 22 episodes or so), it’s pretty standard stuff (hence why it doesn’t break away from that “75” line).  It’s only when Mulder and Scully realize that the government is trying to railroad them from the truth (at that 30 minute mark or so) that the episode starts bordering on “great” and you see a corresponding increase in the slope of episode score compared to the “75” line. There are some great dramatic scenes involving Mulder ditching Scully and witnessing a UFO, Scully rescuing Mulder from his kidnappers, and Deep Throat uttering some classic lines that are pretty memorable to this day (shouldn’t be all that surprising since I watched the episode five days ago).   All of this brings the episode home with a score of 81.06.

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Figure 2 – Chart Showing Breakdown of Type of Scene by Quality

The above chart displays the breakdown of the episode if I assigned each scene a category (dramatic, tension-filled, character development, comedic, or exposition-heavy) as the scene focus and the quality of those scenes. Deep Throat is a very tightly executed episode with character development being relegated to the background (since The Pilot already did tons of heavy lifting). Instead, the episode is broken up fairly evenly focusing on exposition, drama, and tension, all of which is of high quality (every scene in this episode got a rating of “good” or “great”).

So each scene has one focus but can be contain one or more of those aforementioned categories. So a drama focused scene can contain drama, exposition, tension, etc (because my methodology is meant to confuse as much as it is meant to inform). Figure 3 shows the scores and prevalence percentages for those different categories.

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Figure 3 – Quality Score and Prevalence % of Different Scenes With White Line Showing Episode Final Score

Deep Throat thrives with all different types of scenes which is the hallmark of a strong episode. While clearly the character scenes are the cream of the crop according to Figure 3 (because who can’t get enough of an elderly man sidling up to Mulder in a public bathroom or the same elderly man sidling up to sweaty, short-shorts wearing Mulder at the track), its definitely note-worthy that the episode never emphasizes character development as its primary focus (Figure 2).

Figure 4 shows the prevalence of those categories over the duration of the episode. The Pilot was a filled with exposition but since the world was introduced in that episode, Deep Throat doesn’t need to bog things down with info-dumps. Instead, it efficiently introduces all of the plot elements in the first 22 minutes (Colonel Budahas’ disappearance and really bad skin, planes being built from UFO parts, Seth Green’s character and his stoner girlfriend). Up to that point, exposition hovers around 60% (much like how the UFO hovers over Mulder in this episode. Damn I’m good!). Then at the half-way point of the episode, things shift. The exposition stuff is ditched by the dramatic material (much like how Scully is ditched by Mulder in this episode. Damn this just writes itself!!) and the rest of the episode is primarily about Mulder and Scully dealing with governmental shenanigans. Dramatic prevalence spikes from 25% at minute 22 to 53% by episode end while exposition prevalence dips from 60% to 40%.

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Figure 4- Prevalence % Over Time By Scene Type

Meanwhile, the prevalence of the tense scenes follows a similar pattern to the drama, just a bit lower (final prevalence of 28%). Tension is interspersed throughout the early portions of the episode such as the nice helicopter chase (which is surprisingly effective for the second episode in a low budget 90’s show that couldn’t effectively handle two freakin’ CGI lights just a minute earlier). Then from the moment those amazingly over the top Men in Black punch Mulder in the kidneys while Scully tries not to look bored, there is a nice baseline level of tension. It’s not Game of Thrones/Breaking Bad level stuff but its there. We have Mulder ditching Scully like the asshole he is, getting himself kidnapped and mind-wiped at Ellen’s airbase, and having to rely on Scully pulling off a high-stakes trade for him despite her not giving a shit when those MIB punched him in the kidneys.

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Mulder gets violently assaulted while Scully admires his shoes.

And finally the character scenes. As Figure 3 showed, the character moments really shine with a Quality Score of 90.58. However, these character moments are much more subtle here than what we had in The Pilot. Figure 4 shows that after the first ten minutes (where Deep Throat introduces himself to Mulder), the Character Prevalence stabilizes between 20 and 25% (hence why Figure 2 showed no scenes as being character-focused). The character stuff is sprinkled periodically throughout the episode…there are no scenes with huge neon lights screaming “CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT”. We don’t have an info-dump explaining who Fox Mulder is nor do we have Mulder opening up his soul to Scully. No these moments are more nuanced. We get introduced to Deep Throat but we barely learn anything about him other than he watched Mulder’s career from afar and Mulder’s bathroom habits from up close. Mulder and Scully don’t have any overt developments in this episode but we learn more about them. Mulder ditching Scully and Scully putting everything on the line to save him are typical things they do throughout the show but here in the second episode, it’s forms a strong foundation.


So I talked generally about the character development scenes in this episode. Lets look at the characters specifically starting with Mulder and Scully. Just a note, the bar graphs in the following sections show the Quality Scores of the different components/characters. This score is independent of the prevalence percentage and solely looking at the quality of those scenes. The line graphs show the rating for those components/characters as a function of quality and screentime (so a great character will have a low rating if they are in the episode for only five minutes, despite having a high quality).

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Figure 5 – Quality Scores and Prevalence % of Mulder/Scully with White Line Showing Episode Score

The early episodes of The X-Files were hyper-focused on the Mulder & Scully dynamic and with good reason. We are brought into this world through their eyes and it makes sense that we follow them until Chris Carter and his crew would get more confident in focusing elsewhere. Check out how the pink line below (indicating either Mulder or Scully are present or mentioned in those scenes) almost straddles the overall episode score.

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Figure 6 – Mulder & Scully Score Over Time

In Deep Throat, either Mulder or Scully or both of them are in 97% of the episode. The only scene they aren’t present in is the teaser which is why the turquoise line (indicating no Mulder or Scully) peaks so early in Figure 6. Once Mulder and Scully come onto the scene, they are basically attached at the hip until he exercises some poor judgement and abandons one sexy redhead for another at minute 31.

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Neither redhead is all that impressed with Mulder.

This is our first instance of Mulder ditching Scully. It’s a great character moment as it really hammers home how driven Mulder actually is. Right from the early going, Mulder is played sympathetically by David Duchovny (who is much better here than he is in the first episode) but one character-trait that shows up immediately is that he is basically a selfish man-child. He puts up with Scully throughout the episode, even seems to genuinely like her and appreciate her opinions but once she stands her ground and he doesn’t get his way, he basically discards her. It’s a big deal that after all of this, Scully still goes and saves his ass (despite the fact that if he so casually ditches her in the middle of a dangerous case, I’m sure he has no problem ditching her when it comes time to do any sort of office busy-work). While its not verbalized in this episode, I think the act of Scully saving Mulder in this episode really solidifies the trust Mulder has in Scully going forward.

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“Where’s Mulder?! That dick ditched me and was supposed to bring the plates for the potluck!”

Gillian Anderson was the star of the first episode and she’s a major component here but she does take a bit of a backseat to Mulder. With that said, her improvement from The Pilot, while less pronounced (mostly because she wasn’t as weak as Duchovny in that episode), is still impressive as she basically has her character nailed down. Scully has some fantastic little moments showing her humorous side but she also nails all of those dramatic moments she has with Mulder. I particularly appreciate their last scene together where Mulder is still ranting about cover-ups after she went all out to rescue him. She knows some shady shit happened, she knows that Mulder is right about at least some of the things they’d experienced, but she’s just completely fed up and spent. Good stuff.

Even though Mulder ditches Scully three quarters of the way through, it’s not like their plots are completely divergent. Nope, it’s all still related (the show really started to show its confidence later when Mulder & Scully would be working on something completely independent of each other starting in The Erlenmeyer Flask). However, the Mulder solo scenes are longer than the Scully solo scenes; thus why Mulder ends up with a 90.1% prevalence while Scully finishes at 79.6%.

And those scenes Mulder doesn’t share with Scully are generally of higher quality than the rest of the episode. This is the reason Mulder’s Quality Score is higher than Scully’s (81.72 to 78.04). While Mulder and Scully’s debates in this episode are very compelling (much moreso than in The Pilot), they don’t compete with him abandoning all reason and marching onto Ellen’s Airbase by himself or him getting sexually harassed by Deep Throat.

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Yes Deep Throat really has been “watching” Mulder.

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Figure 7 – Quality Scores and Prevalence % of Major Characters with White Line Showing Episode Score

For an episode called Deep Throat, there is a surprisingly low amount of deep throating, either in the sexual sense or in a “Deep Throat, the X-Files character” sense. Jerry Hardin’s character is never identified as “Deep Throat” until much later this season; here he is just a mysterious informant who shows up for 10% of the episode an provides a nice extra layer to the proceedings.

In a lot of ways, his introduction here is similar to how the Cigarette Smoking Man was introduced in the Pilot. Both are shadowy government agents who you’re not quite sure what they are up to. Both characters are present early, disappear for a long portion, and show up at the end of their respective episodes to show just how deep the conspiracy goes. However, CSM’s presence in The Pilot is more of an overt “I am a bad guy” thing. Deep Throat’s introduction here is more vague (in a good way). His motives are unclear and he chastises Mulder a bit during their two conversations but he also gives off that protective fatherly vibe immediately. His presence immediately gives some weight to the idea that The X-Files is much bigger than just Mulder and Scully. He’s not my favorite major side character in the history of the show but he is very effective, hence a Quality Score of 96.17 (he is one of the primary reasons the episode score is as high as it is despite being in it for such a short duration).

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Figure 8 – Character Scores Over Time

But again, Deep Throat is only in the episode for about 4 minutes total. Thankfully, the guest characters in this episode are solid all around (Quality Score of 74.74). We get a wide variety of characters (Mrs. Budahas, Diner Lady, Seth Green the Stoner) and most of them are generally effective. They play off of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson much better than some of the weak guest characters from The Pilot, which helps keep the expositional scenes from dragging. Gabrielle Rose as Mrs. Budahas is particularly effective at grounding the episode with some genuine emotion over her family being basically destroyed…

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…though should this really be her reaction upon her husband’s return just because he no longer is an expert fighter pilot? So shallow.

Really the flaws lie with the villains. The Men in Black play their scene like they are acting across from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and it comes off as silly rather than threatening. And good lord, the character of Paul Mossinger is quite inept. He breaks into Scully’s hotel room without his gun for some unknown reason and with no apparent plan of action in the case of her not being in said room….and then immediately gets captured and traded for Mulder by Scully, an FBI agent working basically her second case out of the Academy. Probably the weakest parts of this episode is just trying to buy these guys as legitimate threats.


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Figure 9 – Quality Scores and Prevalence % of Episode Components with White Line Showing Episode Score

They may not be threatening but they do make up a part of the recurring mythology. I was a bit surprised watching this episode with a more critical eye. I never really considered this episode to be very mythology-centric other than the Deep Throat scenes. However, in this rewatch, I realized it’s much more prevalent than I expected (36%). I think the reason I didn’t realize it is that after Deep Throat introduces himself to Mulder, the next 20 minutes play like a standalone episode (see Figure 10). Then once Mulder and Scully start running into cartoonish Men in Black and discuss the idea that someone wants them off the case, the mythology component ramps back up for the rest of the episode. It may not be the finely-tuned blockbuster style that later seasons made famous but its very effective here (Quality Score of 86.41).

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Figure 10 – Episode Component Score Over Time

And finally, how does the paranormal stuff fit into this? Well it’s prevalence is slightly higher than the mythology (39%) but its more of a steady presence throughout the episode. Interestingly, there are only two overtly paranormal scenes (the scene on the hill with terrible CGI and the scene at the base with not-great-but-WAYYYYYYY-more-effective CGI). The rest of the paranormal is contained in snippets of conversations by the various characters (including that phenomenal conversation at the end between Mulder and Deep Throat) I find that interesting because its not until the next episode where The X-Files lets loose and embraces really focusing directly on the paranormal.

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Though when this is one of your paranormal scenes, it makes sense to avoid focusing on it too much.

And with that, we’re finished with Deep Throat. To me, this is one of the most watchable episodes of Season 1 in that it avoids a lot of the pratfalls that other episodes in the season encounter. Its a lean, conspiracy-laden thriller that just so happens to have two great leads and introduces a fantastic side character. And whereas I found the soundtrack in The Pilot to be completely unmemorable, I love some of the music in this episode, particularly Deep Throat’s theme.

Thanks for reading and check back soon for my review of Squeeze!

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