An officer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, accompanied by a crew from the reality series C.O.P.S., responds to a call about a monster attack, and encounters Mulder and Scully, who are on the same trail.
The entire episode is presented in the style of COPS, and was filmed with the co-operation of the makers of that series.
This episode contains examples of:
- As Himself: Many of the police officers were real L.A. County Sheriff's deputies.
- Amateur Film-Making Plot: Mulder and Scully accidentally cross paths with a C.O.P.S. shooting crew and star in the episode, despite not being actors.
- Bizarro Episode: In-Universe, one for C.O.P.S. (if it ever even aired In-Universe). Also an unusual format and a pseudo-Lower-Deck Episode for The X-Files proper.
- Black Boss Lady: Sergeant Paula
- Camp Gay: Steve & Edy
- Crossover: With C.O.P.S..
- Eldritch Abomination: The MOTW. Never shown, takes the form of your mortal fear, and utterly beyond physical reality. Mulder even describes it as a force rather than a physical entity, which makes sense considering that it kills one unfortunate nurse by becoming the hantavirus.
- Extremely Short Timespan: All of the events of the episode happen during a single night.
- I Know What You Fear: The monster of the week could sense people's worst fear and made them real. Some were literal monsters (a wasp man or a generic villainous killer). A man panicked because he thought his partner would leave him (but the monster ignored this because it was not a mortal fear). One woman died of exotic disease simply because Scully had mentioned its name.
- Jitter Cam: The episode was filmed with hand-held cameras while running and moving and presented as a part of reality show. They used some of the actual crew from COPS to get the look and feel right.
- Lower-Deck Episode: While Mulder and Scully have a large amount of camera time (but not following them constantly, they appear rather cryptic to the others who interact with them), the majority of the episode focuses on the regular people of the Sheriff's Department and the camera crew following them getting increasingly puzzled and freaked out at the unusual situation that is plaguing the city that night.
- Mockumentary / Found Footage Episode
- Nothing Is Scarier: The Eldritch Abomination.
- Parody Assistance: An actual film crew of C.O.P.S. and post-production graphics package was graciously used for this episode.
- Pixellation: In a parody nature, this pixellation is done on a prostitute named Chantara Gomez (played by actress Maria Celedonio) in the so-called fact that her identity has to be protected.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: In typical C.O.P.S. fashion, this happens whenever anyone swears (particularly Sergeant Paula, who appears to have a bit of a foul mouth). Lampshaded by Mulder at one point; when Scully is complaining about the cameras recording them, Mulder points out that they're not being recorded live since Sergeant Paula freely said "[BLEEP]."
- The Unsolved Mystery: The episode ends with the monster running away (and never seen on-camera), Skinner stopping the COPS crew (and the regular cops) from doing a follow-up, and the regular cops going back to their beat with puzzlement at what the hell just happened.