(Note: This post contains light spoilers for the Jan. 10 episode of “The X-Files.”)
“The X-Files” got back to its conspiracy theory roots with the second episode of Season 11, “This,” sending Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) after a series of elaborate clues to uncover the mystery.
The clues were set in place by series fan-favorite Richard Langly (Dean Haglund), one of the three geeky conspiracy theorists known as the Lone Gunmen who often popped up on the “X-Files” to help out Mulder. And as Mulder and Scully were following the breadcrumbs Langly had left for them from beyond the grave, “The X-Files” managed to slip in an Easter egg homage to “All The President’s Men,” a classic film all about taking down a government conspiracy.
The Easter egg is an easy one to miss. Early in the episode, Mulder and Scully follow clues left by Langly to help them figure out what’s going on, after they receive a strange electronic transmission from him. Trouble is, Langly and the rest of the Lone Gunmen died heroically back in 2002. They’re buried in Arlington National Cemetery because of their sacrifice, so that’s where Mulder and Scully go to try to find some information to go on.
While there, the pair realize that the dates of birth on the Lone Gunmen’s headstones are actually a message, sending them to another headstone. When they figure out which one it is, they realize it belonged to another “X-Files” character: Deep Throat.
Deep Throat was Mulder’s first informant back in the early days of the show, giving him information about the secret government conspiracy that would go on to consume his life. He shares a code-name with the historically famous informant who leaked information to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, allowing them to blow open the Watergate scandal that ended in President Richard Nixon’s resignation.
(In real life, Woodward and Bernstein’s Deep Throat was W. Mark Felt, former Associate Director of the FBI who knew Woodward socially.)
Mulder never knew what Deep Throat’s real name was, but it’s finally revealed when Mulder finds his headstone. During the episode, we see the name Ronald Pakula. That’s the same last name as Alan J. Pakula, the director of the 1976 film “All The President’s Men,” which tells the story of how Woodward and Bernstein broke the Watergate story.
Though “The X-Files” isn’t any more explicit about the Pakula reference, naming the show’s Deep Throat character after the director of a movie about Watergate seems way too on-the-nose to be a coincidence. And after all, “The X-Files” owes a whole lot to media about government conspiracies. It makes sense that creator Chris Carter and the other people working on the show might take the chance to pay homage to a classic.