- “The truth is out there, but so are lies”
- — Dana Scully
"E.B.E." is the seventeenth episode of the first season of The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on February 18, 1994. The episode was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, and was directed by William Graham.
After a downed UFO crashes near Iraqi airspace, Mulder and Scully follow an unmarked truck carrying the UFO's occupant.
Above Iraq, a jet pilot notices a small disc of light that does not appear on his radar but moves erratically out of his line of sight. The Iraqi pilot contacts his base and requests identification of the object twenty-five miles away from him. However, the base personnel do not detect the object on their radar system and ask the pilot to confirm the object's bearings. When he looks for the object, the pilot cannot see it anywhere but mumbles that he did, a second ago. Suddenly, a bright light illuminates his cockpit, as the noise of an engine whizzes past him. The base personnel report he is under attack, moments before the object passes him again. The pilot attains a target lock on the object and fires a missile at it, causing it to erupt in a massive fireball. He reports he has hit the object.
In a NATO surveillance station on the Turkey/Iraq border in Hakkari, Turkey, soldiers sleeping in bunks hear a noise like an airplane falling as the light in the room momentarily darkens. When the soldiers hear a loud explosion outside, they rush to their feet. They hurry to look out a window to see a fiery explosion in a nearby wooded area. One soldier uses a radio to contact Red Crescent and reports a downed plane near the camp perimeter but a man's voice answers that Red Crescent is not currently detecting anything in the sky near the surveillance station. The soldier confirms the sighting and suggests Red Crescent have a medivac unit standing by, before he announces the soldiers are about to investigate the explosion. They leave the surveillance station as Red Crescent contacts Medivac One and reports the incident. Meanwhile, another small disc of light flies over the area and hovers above the crash site.
12:20 AM, Route 100, Reagan, Tennessee, USA
An exhausted truck driver, Ranheim, enters an area of heightened UFO activity in Tennessee, only to experience a power outage on his vehicle. He gets out to investigate. With shotgun and flashlight in hand, he heads towards the back of the truck. As he looks up and sees something in the sky, the back doors of the truck swing open and he fires repeatedly.
FBI Special Agents Mulder and Scully rush to the incident scene. Scully suggests that, because of the long hours worked by the driver and the presence of a marsh nearby, the entire incident could merely have been a mix of tiredness, delirium and Swamp Gas, with the case therefore not being worthy of investigation. Mulder, however, detects radiation levels five times higher than background and crudely measures a slight temporal lag. The multiple sightings on the earlier night lead him to seek an interview with Ranheim.
At Lexington Police Station, Ranheim is being detained on the charge of firing a weapon on a county road. Mulder and Scully interview an exhausted Ranheim, who now reports having seen orange and green lights in the sky and a saucer-shaped craft, contrary to his previous report of seeing a "cigar-shaped and black" craft. He currently seems disinterested in telling his story and wants simply to leave. Since the incident the previous night, he has developed a cough, a fever and a rash. He admits to being an army veteran but claims never to have been in the Gulf when Scully suggests Gulf War Syndrome as a possible cause for his sudden illness. Police Chief Rivers releases Ranheim and sends Mulder and Scully on their way, wanting nothing to do with the case.
At the car rental office, Mulder suggests to Scully that someone had rattled Chief Rivers and that Ranheim was hiding something; at that same moment, a woman in the office asks to borrow Scully's pen for a moment. Mulder speculates that heightened UFO activity may be linked to Gulf War Syndrome, as soldiers report many UFOs during wartime and seeks "expert" advice.
Mulder takes Scully to meet The Lone Gunmen for the first time. After the agents listen dubiously to conversations regarding the Kennedy assassination, the true nature of the CIA and the real reasons for the magnetic stripes inside dollar bills, they discuss Gulf War Syndrome with the Lone Gunmen, who brand some of Mulder's ideas on the subject to be even wilder than their own.
Back at FBI Headquarters, Scully discovers the pen she lent out earlier at the car rental office is now bugged.
Mulder meets with Deep Throat, who passes him an envelope containing intercepted transmissions from Iraqi fighter jets who shot down a UFO, four days ago. As he leaves, Deep Throat tells Mulder he is on "a dangerous path." Scully discovers that the weight in the truck's manifest is about 2,000-pounds heavier than the records from three weigh-stations along the truck's route. She also finds that Ranheim's real name is Frank Druce, a member of Army Special Operations who did serve in Mosul, Iraq. Mulder hypothesizes that Druce was hired to escort the wreckage of a UFO and possibly an occupant to a laboratory in the United States, using the unmarked truck. Mulder and Scully decide to intercept the truck as it heads towards Colorado.
When Mulder returns home to collect some clothes for the trip, he discovers Deep Throat waiting for him in his house, with the apartment's main power switched off. Deep Throat gives Mulder a document which contains a photo taken at Fort Benning, Georgia, where seventeen UFOs were reported in a single hour, perhaps searching for the wreckage and occupant. As usual, Deep Throat dodges a direct question from Mulder and leaves him with more questions than answers.
Mulder falls for the photographic bait offered by Deep Throat and declares they should go immediately to Fort Benning. Scully examines the photo objectively and spots some minor lighting inconsistencies that reveal it to be a fake. After additional analysis by experts at the FBI, Mulder realizes they have been deceived by Deep Throat, a source Mulder had trusted completely.
When Mulder confronts Deep Throat about his deception, Deep Throat explains that there are some things Mulder shouldn't know, that he needed to throw him off the trail and that "a lie is most convincingly hidden between two truths." He denies responsibility for surveillance of Scully but infers that Mulder is being bugged too, a fact later confirmed when Mulder discovers a listening bug hidden within an electrical wall outlet in his apartment.
Upon arriving at McCarran Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada, Mulder and Scully make further inquiries, using public telephones to avoid their calls being traced and eavesdropped. They discover that the truck is heading west and hop on a flight to Seattle. They follow the truck for hours, then suddenly witness a bright light. The truck has stopped and Ranheim is missing. They open the truck and find, behind several boxes of auto-parts, a makeshift medical ward with a restraining stretcher and monitoring equipment. It is now empty, leading Mulder to believe they just witnessed a rescue mission.
The lack of empirical evidence, the normal levels of radiation and zero temporal lag lead Mulder to conclude it was a trick to further throw them off the scent.
Mulder liaises with friends at various UFO hotlines and discovers that the frequent sightings which followed the route of the truck have continued in the vicinity of Mattawa, Washington – around 100 miles from where the truck stopped. The two venture to Mattawa, where UFO party-goers tell them UFOs have been known to hover over the Hanford Power Plant. Mulder and Scully observe Ranheim exiting the power plant and use Lone Gunman Langly's expertise at hacking security systems, to provide forged IDs in order to access the facility.
Mulder and Scully are apprehended inside the facility. Mulder escapes custody and heads for the only area Langly could not get them access to: Level 6.
Level 6 appears to be an area for high-voltage research and a plethora of industrial electrical equipment is arranged around a quarantine cell. Mulder is quickly apprehended by armed guards, who are then dismissed by Deep Throat. Deep Throat informs Mulder the creature is dead, exterminated moments before by the government. He adds that this is standard international procedure and that he once carried out such an extermination himself, during the Vietnam War. Deep Throat reveals that the innocent and blank expression on the creature's face as he killed it haunts him to this day; this is why he comes to Mulder, so that one day, the truth might be known. As Mulder and Deep Throat separate, Scully rejoins her partner and the two are left wondering "which lie to believe."
- Allan Lysell as Chief Rivers
- Peter LaCroix as Frank Druce
- Bruce Harwood as John Fitzgerald Byers (First appearance)
- Dean Haglund as Richard Langly (First appearance)
- Tom Braidwood as Melvin Frohike (First appearance)