Recap / The X-Files S03 E20 "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'"

Blaine: [talking about Scully and Mulder] One of them was disguised as a woman, but wasn't pulling it off. Like, her hair was red, but it was a little too red, y'know? And the other one, the tall, lanky one, his face was so blank and expressionless. He didn't even seem human. I think he was a mandroid.

Jose Chung, a novelist who is writing a book about alien abductions, interviews several people involved in an alien abduction case, including Scully and Mulder. They give wildly and sometimes hilariously varying descriptions of what happened.


  • Absurdism: One of the best examples of this philosophy in recent TV, this episode actually has a serious message under all the comedy: it's about the conflict between the innate human desire to make connections with other and the fact that we are ultimately isolated by the subjective nature of our own perceptions.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Mulder has one of this, when watching Bigfoot found footage.
  • Affectionate Parody
  • Alien Abduction
    • This episode crams nearly every variation of abduction stories (and their possible explanations) into one narrative.
    • It even begins with an alien abduction being interrupted by... An alien abduction.
  • Alien Autopsy: According to Scully's interpretation of events, an autopsy which she performed on an alien and allowed to be video taped became commercially released as Dead Alien: Truth Or Humbug. Embarrassed by it, Scully complains that the video ignores several of her findings, chief among them being that the dead alien was revealed to be a Man in a Rubber Suit.
  • Anal Probing: Played With. It's Scully's opinion that a young couple whom Mulder believes were abducted by aliens were only engaging in sexual activity before they're old enough to handle it. Mulder, not seeing how this could discredit the girl's interpretation of events as revealed under hypnosis (which resembles the typical Alien Abduction story), asks his partner, "So what if they had sex?" to which Scully responds, "So we know it wasn't an alien that probed her."
  • Better Than Sex:
    Lt. Schaefer: Have you ever flown a flying saucer? Afterwards, sex seems trite.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Zig-Zagged. Jeopardy!'s Alex Trebek and wrestler/future governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura appeared in the roles of The Men in Black. The man in black played by Ventura was described as "creepy," while the one played by Trebek just "looked like Alex Trebek," which made those reporting them seem all the more crazy.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: A lot of them.
  • Continuity Nod: Stupendous Yappi, a Phony Psychic we met in "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", appears in a video of the alien autopsy which Scully performed.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    • Detective Manners.
    • Jose Chung interrupts Scully when she seems to want to say what Detective Manners really said.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Chung.
  • Face Palm: Scully has one of these after a bleeping rant by Detective Manners.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up
  • Fictional Document: The book From Outer Space which is being written by Jose Chung.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up
    MIB 1: No other object has been misidentified as a flying saucer more often than the planet Venus.
    MIB 2: Even the former leader of your United States of America, James Earl Carter, Jr., thought he saw a UFO once, but it's been proven he only saw the planet Venus.
    MIB 1: If you tell anyone that you saw anything other than the planet Venus, you're a dead man!
  • Hot Scientist / Fair Cop: The writer Chung fancied Scully, calling her a brainy beauty with good taste in literature.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The local police force, the FBI, the CIA, The Men in Black, and the Military. Wow!
  • Large Ham: You only saw the planet Venus.
  • Meaningful Echo: Certain phrases get repeated often, adding to the overlapping effect of unreliable narration to what really is happening in Klass County.
  • The Men in Black
    • They keep appearing throughout the episode.
    • Mulder himself is referred to as a man-in-black-government-authority-figure type, with a blank expression and emotionless face.
  • Mind Screw: What really happened there, we'll never know.
  • Money, Dear Boy: In-Universe reason why Chung is writing the novel.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Scully is uncomfortable with Detective Manners's cop-mouth.
    Scully: Well, of course, he didn't actually say "bleeped". He said—
    Jose Chung: I'm, uh, familiar with, uh, Detective Manners'... "colorful" phraseology.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Chung is largely based on Truman Capote, with his research trip to Klass County and boasting about creating a "new literary genre" of "non-fiction science fiction" being pretty obvious parallels to the making of In Cold Blood. He's also (like his actor Charles Nelson Reilly) very obviously gay, though this is never directly commented upon.
    • Klass County was named after Philip Klass, a prominent UFO skeptic.
    • Detective Manners was based on show director Kim "Bleeping" Manners, who did curse like that in real life.
  • Prison Rape: Mulder tells Harold that he's likely to experience this. The threat is gentler than you might expect because Mulder is sure that Harold is innocent of taking advantage of Chrissy, and is also trying to get the truth about the UFO.
  • "Rashomon"-Style
  • Roman Clef: In-universe, the novel From Outer Space is based on real events, with the names changed. Fox Mulder, for instance, is represented as a character named "Reynard".
  • Room Full of Crazy: The Conspiracy Theorist who believes in aliens and who wants to be abducted in "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" has a corner in his room which is a nice foil to Mulder's office. He even has a similar poster but the message reads "I believe".
  • Running Gag: "...You're/I'm a dead man!"
    • Also "I know this sounds / this is going to sound crazy."
  • Self-Parody: The episode takes near-constant jabs at the show's characters, narrative structure and Myth Arc (as well as Fox's Alien Autopsy video, for good measure) and ends with Mulder in bed masturbating to the hoaxed Bigfoot video.
    Blaine: One of them was disguised as a woman, but wasn't pulling it off. Like, her hair was red, but it was a little too red, y'know? And the other one, the tall, lanky one, his face was so blank and expressionless. He didn't even seem human. I think he was a mandroid.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Detective Manners in Scully's narration.
  • Stylistic Suck: The "third alien", Lord Kinbote, looks like a stop-motion monster from a 50s B-movie. And he talks in Ye Olde Butchered English
  • Unreliable Narrator: Several of them, some of which are having their unreliable narration re-told second hand by another Unreliable Narrator (either Chung or Scully)
  • Unusual Euphemism: Bleep used as various parts of speech, a-hole and many others.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Roky starts a cult based on his encounter, Blaine takes his job as a power company lineman, Chrissy devotes herself to philanthropy and rejects Harold, Scully reads Chung's book, and Mulder masturbates to videos of Bigfoot.