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Recap / The Simpsons S8 E10 "The Springfield Files"

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Original air date: 1/12/1997 (produced in 1996)

Production code: 3G01

In this tale narrated by Leonard Nimoy, Homer sees an alien in the woods, and while everyone else writes it off as yet another drunken hallucination (since Homer tested "Boris Yeltsin" drunk on Moe's Breathalyzer), Agents Mulder and Scully from The X-Files come to Springfield to help Homer solve the case.

This is the first of four episodes across Seasons 8 & 9 produced during the former by Al Jean and Mike Reiss instead of the current showrunner (in this case, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein). Jean would return as showrunner starting in Season 13.

The tropes are out there:

  • Actor Allusion: Mulder's FBI badge picture shows him sitting provocatively wearing a black speedo, in reference to both David Duchovny's former role in the erotic drama tv series The Red Shoe Diaries and the X-Files episode where Mulder is shown doing laps in a pool while wearing a red speedo.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of The X-Files. Both Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny Special Guest-starred in the roles of their famous characters.
  • Agent Mulder: Homer. Also, Agent Mulder.
  • Agent Scully: Not only the Scully makes a guest appearance, but Lisa demonstrates that she is a hard-core skeptic (with a subscription to a skepticism magazine, even).
  • Alien Episode: Homer sees an alien, and the quest to be believed starts.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment:
    • Homer talks about the Camera Spoofing technique he learned from Speed.
      Homer: I saw this in a movie about a bus that had to speed around the city, keeping its speed over fifty, and if its speed dropped, the bus would explode! I think it was called...The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down.
    • During Rev. Lovejoy's sermon and while all of Springfield has "Alien Mania" due to Homer discovering an alien.
      Rev. Lovejoy: I remember another gentle visitor from the heavens. He came in peace... and then died... only to come back to life. And his name was: E.T., the extra-terrestrial. (sniff) I love that little guy.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: Parodied in Leonard Nimoy's introduction.
  • Big "NO!": Homer shouts it when he hears Bart's ghost story about college costs for Maggie.
  • Birthday Buddies: Homer shares his birthday with the family dog, Santa's Little Helper. However due to the Alien Episode plot that Homer is trying to prove he had an encounter, no one believes his story and instead gives the birthday attention to the dog.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: When Bart asks what Homer will do if they can't get proof of the alien's existence, Homer says they'll make up something and sell it to FOX Network. The two laugh at how they buy anything.
  • Blatant Lies: Homer tries to pull this trope to make his actions the night he saw the 'alien' sound better. Scully quickly calls him on it.
    Mulder: All right, Homer. We want you to re-create your every move the night you saw this alien.
    Homer: Well, the evening began at the gentleman's club, where we were discussing Wittgenstein over a game of backgammon.
    Scully: Mr. Simpson, it's a felony to lie to the F.B.I..
    Homer: We were sitting in Barney's car eating packets of mustard. You happy?
  • Book Ends: The episode opens on Leonard Nimoy sitting in shadow before the camera zooms in on him, and ends by zooming away from the Squeaky-Voiced Teen and fading into shadow.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Leonard Nimoy does this in both his cutaways, then the Squeaky-Voiced Teen does the same at the end.
  • Brick Joke: After Mulder reveals to Moe that he and Scully are FBI agents, and informs the two men in his back room that they have to return the killer whale in there to Sea World. After Mulder finishes his monologue later, the three men can be seen behind him trying to carry the orca, then run off after they spot Mulder, still carrying the orca.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": Leonard Nimoy begins with, "The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It's all lies. But they're entertaining lies, and in the end, isn't that the real truth? The answer is no."
  • Call-Back: Once again, Moe abandons a criminal scheme because he mistakenly thinks people are onto him.
  • The Cameo: As well as the multiple aliens from other companies that appear on the line-up, someone who may be the Cigarette Smoking Man is shown to be looking at Homer when Scully tries to give him a polygraph test.
  • Character Filibuster: Parodied, as Mulder gives a long rant about "the truth". He started during daylight hours, but it's night by the time he's finished. And Scully left as he was getting started.
    • According to the DVD commentary, they just left the microphone on and let Duchovny ramble about whatever he wanted. He went on for two hours before he ran out of steam.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mr. Burns appears early on in the episode, then it's revealed at the end that he is the "alien", after undergoing treatments allowing him to cheat death for another week, which leave him twisted and disoriented, and the green glow comes from his lifetime of working at the power plant.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Homer, not long after being told by the guy selling shirts that the "Homer is a Dope" ones are already sold out, orders two of them. The guy was going to lampshade this in dialogue that wound up being cut.
  • Compressed Vice: The fact that Mr. Burns glows in the dark thanks to decades of exposure to the plant's toxic wastes is never brought up again. For that matter, neither are his weekly treatments.
  • Couch Gag: The family flies into the room wearing jetpacks.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: A non-bloody example, Homer runs away from the alien screaming "Yahhh!". As we watch from above we see him run through a field spelling out the word "Yahhh!" in cursive (including the exclamation mark, which he dots).
  • Crop Circles: Homer runs through a field of crop, screaming "Yahhh!" and creating the pattern Yahhh!, in crop circle fashion.
  • Crossover Couple: Downplayed: Homer drunkenly expresses an attraction to Scully before quickly backpedaling and tearfully begging her not to tell Marge.
  • Crowd Song: At the end, the town spontaneously sang "Good Morning, Starshine" together. Nimoy, Mulder, Scully and Chewbacca joined in as well.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: The Reveal of who the alien is: it's Burns, who undergoes a weekly treatment to stay alive another week and wanders around high from the industrial-sized dose of painkillers he receives as part of it.
  • Delayed Reaction: Exaggerated when Homer is getting his reflexes tested. Scully hits his knee, and Homer responds with an "Ow"...hours later.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "The unsolved mysteries of... Unsolved Mysteries!"
  • Epic Fail:
    • Grampa Simpson ended up lost in the woods while trying to get the morning paper. A few days later, he has his dentures stolen by a tortoise, who then bites Grampa with his own teeth when he (unsuccessfully) tries to get them back.
    • When Homer gets his reflexes tested, it takes two hours for his knee to respond.
    • Homer is unable to correctly recall a movie's title in spite of having repeatedly used the title's only word while describing the plot.
      Homer: I saw this in a movie about a bus that had to speed around the city, keeping its speed over fifty, and if its speed dropped, the bus would explode! I think it was called "The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down."
    • Homer is given a polygraph test to see if his alien sighting is true. The polygraph machine explodes when Homer just answers "yes" to Scully asking him if he understands.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Homer is upset that even Marge would buy and wear a "Homer is a Dope" shirt. He changes his mind upon seeing how good the job of sewing "Dope" on the shirt was.
  • Fake Crossover: With The X-Files. Unlike the debacle that happened with The Critic, Matt Groening's name was in the credits and he actually was cool with having The X-Files cross over to his show, since it wasn't a 20-minute advertisement for the show. Whether or not this episode can be considered canon to The X-Files (albeit taking place much earlier in its timeline) depends on how you interpret a line by Mulder a year earlier, describing a character played by the legendarily odd-looking Michael Berryman as "Homer Simpson's evil twin."
  • Fauxdian Slip: When Homer tries to report seeing the alien to the police, Chief Wiggum responds: "Your story is very compelling, Mr. Jackass, uh, I mean Simpson...
  • Fictional Video Game: There are the arcade games My Dinner with Andre, Panamanian Strongman, a game ending in -"loen", and the arcade game Kevin Costner's Water World. (A real Waterworld game existed for the PC, SNES and Virtual Boy, with one planned for the Genesis, but it was never distributed outside of the Sega Channel).
  • Forgotten Birthday: A quick joke with Homer:
    Homer: I can't believe I'm being mocked... by my own family... on my birthday!
    Bart: It's your birthday?
    Homer: Yeah, don't you remember? It's the same day as the dog's.
    Lisa: [gasps] Oh, Santa's Little Helper! It's your birthday?! We have to do something special! Yes we do!
    Homer: [muttering] Lousy lovable dog.
  • Fun with Subtitles: The typical "location and hour" subtitle of The X-Files appears thrice when the Fake Crossover kicks up, but when the time comes to use it for labeling the Simpson home, whoever writes the subtitles adds the "Simpson House" label and then repeats "All Work and No Play make Jack a Dull Boy" over and over.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: In the opening, Mr. Burns casually asks Smithers if he has any gay plans for the night, meaning light-hearted and fancy-free.
  • Helium Speech: Mr. Burns, after his weekly surgical procedures.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Grandpa is bitten by a turtle with his own dentures.
  • Hostility on the Set: In-Universe, another strike for Kent Brockman: after he says, in his typical way on live television, that the microphone man is going to be fired tomorrow, the microphone man's response is to drop the boom mike on Kent's head.
  • Humans Are Morons: Discussed.
    Lisa: Dad, according to Junior Skeptic Magazine, the chances are 175 million to one of another form of life actually coming in contact with ours.
    Homer: So?
    Lisa: It's just that the people who claim they've seen aliens are always pathetic low-lifes with boring jobs (Lisa notably widens her eyes for a split second, then adds) Oh, and you, Dad. (laughs nervously)
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: After Homer's videotape of the alien is broadcast, Lisa thinks the town won't be won over by three seconds of videotape. Cue the doorbell ringing and Homer finding half the town on his lawn.
  • Left the Background Music On: Homer, pretty scared and paranoid, stumbles along the road in the forest and is scared when a vehicle approaches him from behind accompanied by the theme from Psycho. It turns out it's actually the Springfield Philharmonic Orchestra traveling by bus.
  • Leit Motif: The "alien" gets the main theme of The X-Files as one.
  • Lie Detector: Homer is hooked up a lie detector when investigated by the FBI. Homer is asked if he understood Scully's explanation of how it works, he says "yes", and the detector violently explodes.
  • Low-Speed Chase: This happens when Abe tries to catch the turtle that took his teeth. (It’s currently the page image).
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Not in the actual episode, but the original script ended with the alien's true identity unrevealed, implying Homer really did encounter one.
  • Mundane Ghost Story: Bart's "ghost story" about how much college will cost for Maggie (which freaks Homer out). In a deleted scene, the original "ghost story" was about the ingredients to an Oscar Meyer weiner (which still freaks out Homer).
  • Ninja Zombie Pirate Robot: Mentioned in Mulder's monologue:
    Mulder: The Tibetan numerologists of Appalachia!
  • Noodle Incident: Scully says this is the worst assignment they've ever had, to which Mulder asks if it's really worse than that time with the flesh-eating virus.
    • What led Moe to steal a killer whale from Sea World? And, more to the point, how the hell did he get it in his back room?
    • We never see Homer and the barflies in Barney's car eating packets of mustard.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Played for Laughs when Homer sees a billboard that reads "DIE" on his way home from Moe's, which he screams at. He screams again when a gust of wind moves a tree branch out of the way, revealing the billboard actually says "DIET".
    • When Mulder introduces himself and Scully as FBI agents, Marge goes into a panic thinking it's about the pen she took from the post office.
    • Moe has two. The first is when Mulder introduces himself and Scully to him, and he thinks they're onto him for stealing a killer whale from Sea World. The second is later during the payoff of a Brick Joke while he and the two men are attempting to carry the orca, then they see Mulder and, still carrying the orca, they run for it.
    • Homer has one when he attempts to talk to the alien and he suddenly realizes he's standing in the campfire. His panic causes the alien to retreat. Luckily, Bart recorded the whole thing.
  • Partially-Concealed-Label Gag: Homer finds a sign that reads "DIE" while stumbling around Springfield drunk. He screams in horror. The wind then blows a tree out of the way, revealing the sign to say "DIET." Homer screams even louder at this.
  • Phosphor-Essence: Subverted when the green-glowing space alien who claims to come in peace turns out to be Mr. Burns, who has a Sickly Green Glow from decades of running a nuclear power plant.
  • Police Lineup: Homer is asked to identify the alien he saw from a lineup which consisted of Chewbacca, ALF, Marvin the Martian, Gort and Kang (or Kodos) from the various "Treehouse of Horror" installments.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Homer hears the strings from Psycho while lost in the woods... but it turns out to be an orchestra driving by on a bus.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Homer makes a polygraph machine explode when Scully explains what it does (it'll tell us if you are saying the truth) and than asks him if he understands (he said "yes").
  • Reclining Venus: When Agent Mulder flashes his FBI badge, there is a picture of him posing as a Reclining Venus (half-sitting, half-lying) wearing only black underwear. As most male examples, it's played for laughs.
  • Rule of Three: The alien appears three times over three Friday nights.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Leonard Nimoy concludes his tale after Homer and Bart confirm the alien's existence and recording it during their stakeout. Upon being informed the episode still has ten minutes left, he’s surprised, and says he needs to get something out of his car. Cue him running out and the sound of him driving away. The Squeaky-Voiced Teen then appears and says, "I don't think he's coming back," and is forced to take over. Nimoy does appear later when the town is gathering and preparing for the alien's appearance.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Leonard Nimoy's role in the episode references his old hosting gig on the late-1970s/early 1980s supernatural documentary series In Search of......, counting as an Actor Allusion.
    • On the line-up of aliens, there is ALF, Marvin The Martian, Chewbaccanote  and Gort (according to the DVD commentary, all of the characters were used without permission from their creators [with the exception of Kang/Kodos, since they're part of the Simpsons roster], making it "the most illegal shot in animation." In fact, the worst the staff received was a call from Paul Fusco, creator and performer of ALF, who wasn't brought in to voice his character).
    • Reverend Lovejoy does a Bait-and-Switch Comparison of Jesus and ET The Extraterrestrial.
    • When the whole of Springfield gathers on the point where the alien appears, the Springfield Elementary band is practicing the Leitmotif from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Devil's Tower (a crucial location in the movie) is also featured on the front of Lisa's Jr. Skeptic.
    • Jimbo Jones holds a sign, "ALIEN DUDE: Need Two Tickets to Pearl Jam."
    • Donkey Kong makes an appearance at the Noiseland Arcade, which turns out to be a bust. He ends up throwing a barrel at the Wise Guy, complete with sound effects.
    • Homer uses the camera trick from Speed to skip work.
    • At one point Homer compares himself to "the man who singlehandedly build a rocket and went to the moon" which is the premise of Salvage 1, an old science-fiction TV show that premiered in 1979.
    • The talking frogs from the Super Bowl ad, Bud, Weis, and Er, appear, only to be eaten by an alligator saying "Coors".
    • "Watch the skies!" is from The Thing from Another World.
  • Sickly Green Glow: Mr. Burns's explanation for the glowing, after he was revealed to be the "alien", is that "a lifetime of working in a nuclear power plant has given me a healthy green glow... and left me as impotent as a Nevada boxing commissioner."
  • Signs of Disrepair: An already frightened Homer sees a large billboard that says "DIE." He screams. Then the wind shifts, moving a tree branch out of the way and revealing that the word is "DIET." Homer screams louder and flees.
  • Skewed Priorities: Mulder is more concerned about the rumored alien sighting than the drug and weapon smuggling ring.
  • Special Guest: Leonard Nimoy As Himself (just like in Season 4's "Marge vs. the Monorail"), Gillian Anderson as Agent Scully and David Duchovny as Agent Mulder.
  • Spinning Clock Hands: When Scully performs tests on Homer, she does also the patellar reflex test. It takes one hour till Homer says "oh" and his knee moves a bit. The time is shown with three different shots of the clock.
  • Spiteful Suicide: Kent reports, as a "lighter" aside in his news, the article of a man who spent several years in a coma. After the man wakes up, he asks if Cher and Sonny still have their show, and when Kent answers that they don't but Cher now has won an award and Sonny is a politician, the man simply says "good night" and dies.
  • Sticky Fingers: Everything Homer and Bart use on their stakeout for the alien is labeled with a tag denoting it the property of Ned Flanders.
  • Take That!:
    • Milhouse plays a Waterworld video game, which costs 40 quarters ($10) to play, and after you deposit it, it only goes one move before you need another 40 quarters to play, in reference to the film's over-expensive budget and box-office failure.
    • The highest level of drunkenness in Moe's carnival game-style breath analyzer is "Boris Yeltsin".
  • Time-Passes Montage:
    • First done with Spinning Clock Hands and gradually added Mulder's emptied coffee cups.
    • When Homer was explaining where he'd been to Scully and Mulder at Moe's. One beer turned into 10 before Scully got frustrated.
      Homer: (drunk) And so I says, red M&M, blue M&M, they all end up the same color in the end!
    • Mulder rambles about the truth and the mysteries of our world: he started when it was a clear blue day, but finished hours later at night.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: Channel 6 News uses a file photo of Homer that shows him with his tongue stuck to a lamppost.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The crowd pulls them out when the alien states that he's bringing them love. After he is revealed to be Mr. Burns, Groundskeeper Willie mistakes him for a monster and eggs them on to kill "it". The crowd still attempts to use them even after Smithers states that the alien is Mr. Burns.
  • Uranus Is Showing: Bart dresses up as an alien and yells, "I am the thing from Uranus!" the morning after Homer first sees the alien.
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: Parodied when the alien greets the people of Springfield.
    Alien: I bring you love!
    Lenny: It's bringing love! Don't let it get away!
    Carl: (welding a baseball bat) Break its legs!
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Agents Mulder and Scully's first Springfield scene has a caption describing the place as the Simpsons' home in "Springfield, U.S.A.".
  • Women Are Wiser: When it comes to believing in the existence of an alien, the family echo the original Mulder/Scully gender arrangement; Lisa and Marge doubt (with Lisa a more active skeptic attempting to debunk the claim and Marge simply disbelieving), Homer is the true believer, and Bart claims to believe Homer, though it's unclear whether he's telling the truth or simply wants to tag along and see what's really going on.
  • You Won't Feel a Thing!: Dr. Nick claims that his scary procedure will not hurt.
    Dr. Nick Riviera: Don't worry. You won't feel a thing [exhibits a swirling mechanical device]... till I jam this down your throat!


Video Example(s):


Homer Sees an Alien

While running through the woods, Homer sees a glowing being that looks like an alien (complete with the X Files motif). Despite it asking him not to be afraid, he runs off in terror.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / AlienEpisode

Media sources: