|José Chung's From Outer Space||Credits||Gallery||Transcript|
"José Chung's From Outer Space" is the twentieth episode of the third season of The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on April 12, 1996. The episode was written by Darin Morgan, which would be his last writing credit for The X-Files, and was directed by Rob Bowman. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, separate from the series Mythology arc.
An alien abduction of two teenagers with different versions of the same facts prompts a science-fiction novelist to write a book about the incident. However, no one involved with the investigation can tell him the full story with any accuracy.
A UFO seems to cruise across the sky. The UFO is actually the bottom of a basket from an electric company van and a utility worker, Roky Crikenson, is inside the moving basket, inspecting the power-lines in Washington's Klass County.
Inside a passing car, two teenagers, Harold Lamb and Chrissy Giorgio, are out on their first date, when Harold prematurely professes that he is madly in love with Chrissy. Their car suddenly loses all power and, as two beings that seem to be Grey aliens walk towards the vehicle from under the bright light of a hovering, disc-shaped UFO, a frightened Chrissy Giorgio asks Harold what the beings are, to which he replies "How the hell should I know?" The teens soon lose consciousness and, as they are dragged towards the UFO by their abductors, a triangular UFO appears beside the first craft. Moments after a third alien appears, this one a ferocious beast completely different from the other two, one of the Grey aliens asks the other Grey alien, Jack, what the newly arrived monster is, to which he replies, "How the hell should I know?"
In the basement X-files office of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, author José Chung contemplates the UFO on Fox Mulder's "I Want to Believe" poster, admitting that he never gave much thought to the idea of life on other planets. Chung's interviewee, Special Agent Dana Scully, says that she also did not consider it much, before she took her current job, and apologizes for the absence of Mulder, her FBI partner. She and Chung exchange compliments, with Scully confessing to being a fan of Chung's literary work. When Scully becomes curious why Chung is writing a book about an alien abduction even though he has no interest in such matters, he explains that his motive is profit from creating, with his next book, a new literary genre, non-fiction science fiction. Scully urges him to report the truth in his book but Chung wordily explains that "truth" is entirely subjective. As he takes notes, Scully begins to recall what happened, mentioning that the supposedly abducted girl was found on the morning after her disappearance had been reported.
In Klass County, Chrissy Giorgio, the girl of whom Scully is speaking, sits alone in her car, dazed, looking bedraggled and fingering a button while Scully recounts that the female abductee was suffering a loss of memory, her body showed signs of physical abuse and all her clothes were both inside out and backwards.
In the X-files office, Chung exclaims how he has had many mornings like that. He and Scully discuss whether they prefer the term "abductee" or "experiencer" and Scully explains that the girl was considered to be neither, at the time she was found, as she seemed to have been the victim of date rape instead.
As Scully continues with her account, mentioning that the girl received her "visitation" later that night, Chrissy Giorgio lies asleep in her bed. She awakens, upon finding that her nose is bleeding, to see a shocking, momentary vision of a Grey alien at the end of her bed, where a small toy cat actually sits. She moves to her bedroom window, from where she sees a silhouette that seems to be from a Grey alien, until Harold Lamb steps into the light below Chrissy's first-floor bedroom. Chrissy is annoyed and upset to see her visitor, implying that she holds him responsible for raping her, and - moments after her father shouts angrily from inside, suspecting an intruder - Harold flees from the house, telling Chrissy that he loves her. Scully relates that the police then apprehended Harold at his own home.
Harold is subsequently questioned by both Detective Manners and then by Mulder and Scully, telling the detective that he and Chrissy were abducted by aliens but apparently admitting to the agents that he raped Chrissy. In the consecutive questionings, both the detective and Mulder individually note that Harold does not seem sure of his account, before he says to both, by way of explanation, that what happened seems highly crazy. Harold, according to what Scully tells Chung, passed a lie detector test regarding his claim of alien abduction, before she and Mulder arrived, but Harold is not willing to take a lie detector test for Mulder, concerning his own claim that he raped Chrissy.
While Scully tells Chung that Mulder continued the questioning with Chrissy, the reportedly abducted girl sits in the police questioning room with her parents and the two FBI agents. Mulder asks her whether she is experiencing a list of symptoms, to each of which Chrissy answers positively. As Mulder speaks to Chrissy's parents, Scully skeptically relates to Chung that Mulder became convinced that the girl was suffering from a condition he termed "Post Abduction Syndrome" and persuaded the girl's parents to allow their daughter to be hypnotized.
In the X-files office, Scully specifies that she is skeptical about the use of hypnosis as an aid of memory. Chung, mentioning one of his previous books that Scully compliments, muses over the unexplained power of hypnotism.
In the police interrogation room, a Dr. Fingers hypnotizes Chrissy while her parents, Mulder, Scully and Detective Manners watch. Describing her observations to an unseen Dr. Fingers, Chrissy sees herself strapped to a grid-like vertical table in a darkened area she refers to as a "spaceship", surrounded by Grey aliens standing in the same positions as her human observers with a seemingly drugged Harold Lamb on a similar table next to hers, in the same position where, inside the interrogation room, a box of donuts sits on a table. The aliens, according to Chrissy, do not visibly speak, although they argue and do something to her that the leader claims is for the good of her own planet but that she does not like, describing it as being like he is inside her mind and is stealing her memories.
Following the hypnosis session, Mulder and Scully argue about the legitimacy of Chrissy's account but their discussion is interrupted by Detective Manners who shouts that the agents have mucked up the investigation, using, amid his tirade and in place of a curse, the term "bleeped".
Scully explains to Chung that, even though she is using a stand-in verb for her account, the detective did actually swear. She is about to reveal what expletive Manners really used when Chung stops her from doing so, admitting that he himself is already well aware of the detective's "colorful phraseology".
Continuing his use of the replacement words, Manners insists on keeping the boy in custody and, even though Mulder argues that Chrissy's account under hypnosis seems to confirm Harold's alibi, the detective completely disagrees.
Harold Lamb finds himself in one of many cages as noises of torture resound in the distance. Chrissy is in the same cage, but she is unconscious, and in a nearby cage, sits a Grey alien, of whom Harold demands to know what it wants with himself and Chrissy.
In the police interrogation room, Mulder asks Harold how the alien responded and the boy starts to recount the alien's only reaction.
The Grey alien smokes a cigarette in its cell and Chrissy regains consciousness, confused about their present circumstances. Even though Harold assures her that he will protect her, she is pulled, screaming, towards a light that momentarily shines into their cell from above, while the ferocious alien's monstrous roars can be heard and Harold fearfully curls up into a ball.
When Mulder asks Harold what the Grey alien had been doing during these events, the boy states that the alien had been saying repeatedly, in English, just one thing. The alien is then shown saying, over and over, "This is not happening."
Harold tells the alien to be quiet before being taken up towards the light himself, leaving the alien to its repetitive behavior.
Harold tells Mulder and Scully that he does not know where he was taken because he was shielding his face due to being in constant pain. The boy claims to Mulder that he had suddenly been flying through the air before he had collided with the ground and that he had then immediately run to Chrissy's house to check on her safety but, when Scully directly asks if he and Chrissy willfully partook in sex that night, he implies that they did by replying with concern that, if Chrissy's father discovers the truth, he himself will be "a dead man."
Scully later presents her opinion to Mulder that what actually happened to the teenagers was simply underage sex, but Detective Manners bursts in on their conversation and announces that someone is claiming to have witnessed the teens' abduction.
The agents then question this supposed witness, Roky Crikenson, who gives them a written account that he says he wrote over a straight forty-eight hours, following the abduction. He warns the agents that they are endangering their lives by reading the document due to an incredibly weird experience that happened to him, one night before now.
Roky is sitting at his desk, in the same place where he has been talking to the agents, when a car speeds into his garage and a man from inside the car remarks that no other object has so often been mistaken as being a UFO than the planet Venus. Roky asks, "Really?" but he is now recounting his story to the agents. He adds that he knew the situation was weird because he hadn't then warned the visitor off his property, like he usually did. Mulder interrupts Roky to guess that the man had been dressed entirely in black, a conclusion that Roky confirms in wonder before Mulder explains that the Men in Black have been associated with close encounters since the 1950s.
Chung further lectures Scully about the history of Men in Black but she suspects that no amount of historical knowledge about such men will lend credence to Roky's statement.
In Roky's garage, the Man in Black tries to persuade him that all he saw was Venus. A second, even more mysterious Man in Black momentarily towers over Roky before the first Man in Black threatens Roky that, if he announces to anyone that he saw something other than Venus, he will be "a dead man". The Men in Black then climb back into their car and, although Roky insists that he won't be threatened, the first Man in Black reminds him that he just has been. The visiting car then backs out of the garage at speed, exactly like it arrived but in reverse.
Roky leaves the agents with his written testimony and mysteriously exits his garage.
Mulder later reads the account aloud, in his and Scully's motel room. According to the statement, Roky witnessed the third alien attack the two Grey aliens, from the safety of his truck, but then experienced a life-changing event.
Roky is driving along a road in Klass County when his truck stalls and he sees the beast-like alien slash out at the two Greys, who cower below the monster. As Roky futilely attempts to hide in his truck, the ferocious alien plods towards the vehicle and, in eccentric English, assures him not to be afraid as his efforts are needed for the survival of humanity. The alien begins to explain to the puzzled Roky how he can accomplish his task but the alien's sentence is finished by Mulder, reading from Roky's written account. Mulder continues with the story, mentioning that the alien, referred to in the text as "Lord Kinbote", quickly took Roky aboard a hover vessel and into inner space, heading towards the Earth's molten core, Lord Kinbote's domain.
Chung and Scully discuss their extreme skepticism concerning Roky and his claims, but Chung is more profuse in his doubtful reaction and wonders how Mulder could have believed such nonsense. Scully explains that, on their usual X-file investigations, Mulder commonly explores every possibility.
In the agents' motel room, Mulder realizes that Chrissy's account is the only one that does not add up so, ignoring Scully's objections, he starts to make a telephone call, to have the girl re-hypnotized.
Indeed, Chrissy is again put into a trance by Dr. Fingers, witnessed by her parents, Detective Manners and the two agents. Her supposed recollection now matches Harold's but she also apparently recalls being questioned by a group of official-looking men who stand in the same positions as her current observers. The men argue, attempting to locate UFOs and the closest man to Chrissy apparently begins stealing her memories, telling her it is for the good of her country.
Following the hypnosis session, Scully and Mulder privately argue about whether Chrissy's account was being influenced by Mulder and Dr. Fingers. Just as Mulder starts to explain that he thinks aliens are not actually involved, Detective Manners enters and announces news that some crazy individual is claiming to have found a real live dead alien body.
José Chung questions the geeky Blaine Faulkner, who explains his bizarre desire to be abducted by aliens and begins recalling that he had been out in a field.
As he wanders through that darkened field, he tells Chung that he was hoping to stumble across one of the few UFO sightings that had been reported in the area. Moments later, he stumbles in the field and, as he races back away from an unseen horror, he relates to Chung his own regrets regarding having called the authorities.
As Blaine explains to Chung that his regrets came from encountering the authorities' companions - who he describes as Men in Black - Scully and Mulder arrive in the field with Detective Manners and several officers, encountering Blaine. Blaine describes Scully as one of the Men in Black, unconvincingly pretending to be a woman, and Mulder as a mandroid whose only reaction was upon seeing the dead body. In the field, Mulder emits a single high-pitched yelp, but remains otherwise expressionless. Under instructions from Detective Manners, the officers pick up the lifeless, Grey alien body that Blaine earlier tripped over. Scully threatens Blaine as the investigating team leave, warning him that, if he tells anyone what happened, he will be "a dead man".
Back in Mulder's basement office, Scully passionately repudiates this account in her conversation with Chung, and remembers that the investigators even allowed Blaine to view the subsequent autopsy.
Blaine bursts into an autopsy room to find Detective Manners, Mulder and Scully. The detective tries to restrain an uncooperative Blaine from approaching the alien body, where Scully is starting her autopsy, but Mulder asks the otherwise unwelcome visitor if his video camera actually works, to which Blaine nods.
The operation, conducted by Scully, is filmed through Blaine's handheld, amateur camera and the footage is hosted by The Stupendous Yappi. As the host is speaking, the footage suddenly rewinds; Chung has been watching it on a television in the X-files office. He interestedly continues to watch it with Scully, who is embarrassed about the video and complains that all her significant findings have been edited out of the footage.
In the autopsy room, where Blaine is still filming, Scully finds that the "dead alien body" is actually a costume containing a dead human man. Blaine seems disappointed by this finding and rushes out of the room, apparently about to vomit. Even though the investigators are uncertain of the victim's identity, Mulder suggests that they can ascertain that information from the military database.
Scully is later pacing through a corridor outside the autopsy room, carrying a document about the man, who is actually Major Robert Vallee, when she meets Mulder. He implies that Blaine is missing and Scully notifies him of her discovery that the dead man was indeed from the military, as Mulder suggested. The two agents are then approached by an armed unit of Air Force officers, led by Sergeant Philip Hynek. Mulder claims that the missing Lieutenant Jack Sheaffer was earlier in the corridor but then pretends to come to the conclusion that Sheaffer is still missing.
The same conclusion, regarding Major Vallee, is assumed by Sergeant Hynek, upon finding that the autopsy room, where Scully had been autopsying Vallee, is now empty. Mulder follows the Air Force officer out of the room, intent on finding Blaine.
Mulder's quarry is meanwhile at home, watching his video taped footage, when the two Men in Black arrive, forcing their way into his apartment and removing his video. Blaine encounters the more mysterious of the two men before uttering the same uncooperative statements he made upon being restricted from entering the autopsy room, repeatedly citing "Roswell!". He is finally knocked unconscious by the first Man in Black. As his dazed body lies on the ground, Blaine relates that he lay there for an unknown duration before something caused him to regain consciousness. Mulder slaps him and he awakens. Blaine is forced, by an uncharacteristically violent Mulder, to reveal that the "other Men in Black" took the video and is threatened by Mulder that, if it is learned that he has lied about the video, he will be "a dead man".
In Blaine's bedroom, Chung wonders why his interviewee is not nervous telling his story but Blaine attributes his courage to years of playing Dungeons & Dragons, a statement that Chung laughs at before realizing that Blaine is being serious.
While Mulder drives along a highway, Scully comments that her FBI partner had recovered the video and was returning to the motel when what happened next, according to his account, was more odd. Mulder comes across a naked man, walking across the highway. Mulder immediately believes the man is Lieutenant Scheaffer, the currently missing pilot, but the naked man neither confirms nor denies this possibility, instead repeatedly remarking, "This is not happening!"
- Although officially titled "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", this episode is also simply known, by members of the production crew themselves, as "Jose Chung". (The X-Files (season 3) DVD)
Story & Script
- This episode was the last of four that were written by Darin Morgan, the others being Season 2's "Humbug" as well as the earlier third season episodes "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "War of the Coprophages". He previously contributed the story for "Blood", but that episode's teleplay was credited to the writing duo of Glen Morgan, Darin's brother, and James Wong. In the knowledge that this episode would be his last one, Darin Morgan admittedly threw in everything he wanted to, when writing the episode.
- According to Darin Morgan, he had the elements for this episode's script for a really long time although the main idea of the teaser - two kids being out on a date when they are abducted by aliens before a third alien arrives and abducts them all - was the only one that he had, before joining the writing staff of The X-Files.
- Morgan researched reports made by self-proclaimed abductees and included many ideas from these accounts in this episode, including the idea of Chrissy Giorgio being found with her clothes on inside out and backwards.
- During a casting session at which Darin Morgan was present, a very short man came in to audition. Morgan thought the man maybe didn't look like the writer Truman Capote, but that he sounded like him. Following the casting session, Morgan started to come to the conclusion that the way he would do the story was to have a writer like Truman Capote writing a version of an alien abduction that would be similar to In Cold Blood. Morgan then found that the rest of the plot came to him very easily. When this episode's title character is introduced in the episode's script, his description mentions that he is a "Capote-esque man".
- Originally, José Chung was actually an entirely fictitious character created by the writing staff as a practical joke; writer John Shiban repeatedly phoned the office, pretending to be this character, who was supposedly an aspiring writer, intensely curious about an unsolicited script he had submitted even though Chung kept being dismissed. His repeated dismissals prompted more than a little surprise and confusion from the recipient of the calls, when Chung's name turned up on the script for this episode.
- This episode's script describes the opening shot of the episode as essentially "aping the opening shot of Star Wars".
- In the teaser, the script specifies both that Johnny Cash's version of "Ring of Fire" is playing in the sequence where Roky Crikenson puzzles over the electrical failure and that Social Distortion's version of the same song is playing inside Harold Lamb's car. However, neither version of this song was included in the final version of this episode.
- The script describes the exterior of the Grey aliens' flying saucer as "just like the one from Duane Barry (2X05)", referencing both the name and production code of that Season 2 episode. The room inside the same craft, as apparently recalled by the hypnotized Chrissy, is similarly described in the script, when it states, "The interior is the same as in "Duane Barry" (2X05)."
- The script describes a loud revving that is momentarily emitted from Lord Kinbote's UFO as being "like Steve McQueen's car in Bullitt."
- The episode's script also describes the monstrous alien, Lord Kinbote, as a "Behemoth from the Planet Harryhausen", referencing the work of Ray Harryhausen, renowned for his brand of stop-motion model animation. According to special effects makeup supervisor Toby Lindala, members of the crew, including himself, were all big admirers of Harryhausen's work.
- In Lord Kinbote's first appearance, this episode's script mentions that the alien belts out a roar that "puts Godzilla to shame." When the creature confronts Roky Crikenson, the script states that the beast has a bellowing voice that is "bass-drenched with significance like James Earl Jones's".
- When the seemingly injured Harold appears outside Chrissy's bedroom window, the script states that "his shirt is torn like Stanley Kowalski's".
- As is specified in this episode's script, Blaine Faulkner can be seen wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a design advertising Space: Above and Beyond, a television series created by Glen Morgan and James Wong.
- Also in the script, Blaine's cluttered apartment is said to include "Star Trek memorabilia." There are references to Star Wars memorabilia (a Milllenium Falcon hanging from the ceiling). Also there's a poster similar to Mulder's "I Want to Believe" next to his window.
- A video that appears in this episode is titled "Dead Alien -- Truth or Humbug?", a reference to the title of "Humbug", the first episode that Darin Morgan wrote.
- Klass County was named after Phillip J. Klass, a writer of books debunking UFO sightings. His book UFOs Explained includes the sentence, "No single object has been misinterpreted as a 'flying saucer' more often than the planet Venus." This line is extremely similar to a line of dialogue that, in this episode, the first Man in Black says to Roky Crikenson.
- Sergeant Phillip Hynek's name is not mentioned in the episode itself, although his rank and surname are provided in the episode's end credits sequence and his first-name is taken from the script. The character was named after J. Allen Hynek, a researcher who once worked for the United States Air Force and wrote the book The Edge of Reality: A Progress Report on UFOs.
- Likewise, the characters of Robert Vallee and Jack Scheaffer were named after UFO authors Robert Schaffer and Jacques Vallee.
- Later in the episode, Jack Scheaffer can be seen making a mountain out of his mashed potatoes. This is a reference to Devil's Tower in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in which alien abductees continue to see the same mountain after their encounters.
- The first-name of fictional fictional character Reynard Muldrake is similar to the French word "renard", meaning "fox".
- In this episode, the book that Chung mentions and Scully compliments is called The Caligarian Candidate. The title of this metafictional novel is a reference to both The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Manchurian Candidate, both of which have an emphasis on hypnotism and mind control.
- Detective Manners was named after Kim Manners, who directed both "Humbug" and "War of the Coprophages". By the time this episode was written, the director and producer had earned himself a reputation on the series for swearing a lot, like the character who shares his surname. Having once been an actor, Kim Manners was, at one point, going to play the detective himself and agreed to do it but he proved to be too exhausted from his last directing assignment, "Teso Dos Bichos", to do so and realized that, for the good of the series, his first loyalty was to directing rather than acting. Contrarily, Darin Morgan thought that Kim Manners, who was permitted to read the script beforehand, only claimed to be tired but was actually both scared and did not want to curse repeatedly on-camera.
- The road in Klass County was actually in the Greater Vancouver District, up above the studio, and was a very familiar location to the production crew in the third season of The X-Files, as scenes from the series were often filmed there.
- The Ovaltine Café - one of Vancouver's oldest cafés, located at 251 East Hastings Street - was selected as the diner setting in which Mulder speaks with pilot Jack Scheaffer and eats slice after slice of pie. The location was scheduled as the second of the day on which it would be used and involved a unit move from a nearby residence. Although such a move usually took a lot of time, the move to the diner was faster than would normally be expected. Director Rob Bowman had returned to his hotel for a massage, not expecting that the move would be as exceptionally expedient as it had been, and the crew thus spent an hour drinking coffee, awaiting the director's arrival.
- The café was one of the very few locations, in the production of The X-Files, that required virtually no prep, with the series' set dressing and construction departments being totally superfluous. The props department was merely required to place edible pies in the racks and this was the only change that was deemed necessary.
- Due to the amount of details in this episode's script, Rob Bowman realized that the audience was not going to understand the episode unless he told it in such a way that they could see into the story, using repetitive staging and anything he could do to give the audience hooks, along the way, to help them remember how things tied together. Bowman himself admittedly had to read the script about fourteen or fifteen times before he could really understand the episode in its entirety and then held an extremely detailed meeting with Darin Morgan to discuss every aspect of the episode.
- Rob Bowman was also concerned about ascertaining that he was not making an episode that ridiculed The X-Files, which he felt protective over.
- Darin Morgan thought that many of the production staff and crew were extremely apprehensive about doing this episode and were unsure of it until after the first day and a half of shooting, in which the first scene between José Chung and Dana Scully was filmed, and the crew discovered that they enjoyed working with Charles Nelson Reilly.
- Similarly, according to Rob Bowman, more people than on any other episode he had previously worked on came to him and explained that, although they did not understand how the episode completely fit together, they were willing to simply comply with the director's instructions and follow the screenplay while hoping that the end result would be understandable.
- The director found that half the trick of filming this episode was trying to keep everyone, including Gillian Anderson, from laughing off-camera between takes of the scenes with Charles Nelson Reilly.
- This episode was produced at a time in the production year when many individuals working on the series were beginning to feel their energy fading, so the episode provided a welcome respite for everyone on the series.
- Just as the production crew were about to film William Lucking in the bucket that features in this episode's teaser, the actor broke the bucket as he stepped inside it so the crew, after already having taken three hours of preparation time, had to stop to glue the extremely intricate underside of the bucket back together. On the morning after this sequence was filmed, Rob Bowman called Darin Morgan to complain that the shot had taken all night.
- A notebook in which Chung supposedly writes was actually a book of scribbles and Charles Nelson Reilly never really wrote in it.
- Similarly, the manuscript for José Chung's book, From Outer Space, was merely a copy of the episode's script.
- The alien bondage equipment, as seen in Chrissy Giorgio's hypnotized account of being aboard a Grey alien spaceship, constituted a technical challenge, as the equipment was meant to be revealing without running afoul of Fox's broadcast standards department.
- Mulder actor David Duchovny later joked that the small falsetto yelp he does in this episode comes close to approximating his singing voice. (Trust No One: The Official Third Season Guide to The X-Files) Chris Carter was of the opinion that only in a Darin Morgan script could such a yelp from Mulder, upon seeing an alien, be found. (The X-Files (season 3) DVD)
- This episode marks the first time when The X-Files' theme by Mark Snow was employed as dramatic underscore and the first time in the series when the whistle sound, incorporated into the same theme, was used anywhere other than in the episodes' credits sequences. The episode's uniqueness gave Mark Snow the gumption to add this sound and melody. The composer altered the fifth of the melody's first six notes to create a more bittersweet tone accompanying Chung's monologue about loneliness, at the end of the episode.
- The star-field in the opening shot of this episode was entirely fake.
- Both UFOs that appear in this episode's teaser were computer-generated. A corny sound effect was added to the footage of the circular UFO's descent, which Darin Morgan professed to have always liked and believed was the only thing, prior to the triangular UFO's arrival, that was atypical of the reports of alien abduction scenarios.
- Regarding the deteriorating Grey alien costumes that the two extras wore for this episode's teaser, the paint was coming off and the necks were unfurling during production.
- Even though the production crew wanted to make Lord Kinbote seem like it was a product of stop-motion animation, as the creature was an homage to Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion monsters, the crew did not have enough time to do a real stop-motion puppet so they instead decided to use a costumed performer. Toby Lindala asked stunt coordinator Tony Morelli if he wanted to play the alien character, mentioning that the crew needed someone big, before Morelli accepted.
- To make the alien seem taller than Morelli naturally was, the costume incorporated stilts that were about a foot-and-a-half tall and were similar to really high shoes, so that the costume stood about seven-and-a-half feet tall and Morelli's feet were actually situated in the knees. Inside the suit, Morelli walked on his tip-toes. Toby Lindala - who also had a small, hand-held version of the character - thought both that this method of walking was crazy but that it also lent a lot to Morelli's movement and Mat Beck was amazed that Morelli managed to keep his balance.
- The mask that Morelli wore also featured remote-controlled eyes and eyelids, which moved, and the eye movement was servo-activated. A cup that was added, during the mask's design, to hold the eye-piece was digging in to Morelli as he continued wearing the suit.
- Morelli spent longer than ten hours inside the costume, where it was hot, uncomfortable and hard to breath, and his duration inside the outfit not only won the respect of both Toby Lindala and Mat Beck but also rivaled Darin Morgan's own ordeal playing the Flukeman in Season 2's "The Host".
- To complete the effect, the production crew shot footage of Morelli wearing the costume while the camera was running extremely fast, essentially varying the camera speed, and then removed several frames, by playing with the shutter, so that his movements looked jerky. Although this episode was directed by Rob Bowman, Mat Beck - who normally worked as the visual effects supervisor - also directed some second unit footage, including the shots of Lord Kinbote.
- To mollify Fox because the censor was concerned, Beck's visual effects unit was called upon to cover-up actor Daniel Quinn's bare butt, in the scene where Mulder is driving and meets Quinn's character, Jack Scheaffer, walking naked across a highway. The effects team achieved their task by adding, with the use of a lens flaring device that Rob Bowman typically used, a huge effect flare, coming off the headlights of Mulder's car.
- According to the unauthorized reference book X-Files Confidential (p. 12), this is the only episode of The X-Files' first three seasons which "could possibly be interpreted as a hoax," even though Chris Carter originally announced – when the series was first presented to the press – that many hoaxes would be uncovered by Mulder and Scully during the series' run.
- For a variety of reasons, this episode quickly became a favorite for many members of the production personnel, including both cast and crew. On at least one occasion after the third season ended, Gillian Anderson immediately cited the episode as being among her highlights from the season, stated that she felt episodes like this one were what kept the series both fun and worth constantly doing, and lauded director Rob Bowman on how slickly the episode had been produced. Bowman himself found that the episode was simply "a kick to do" and ultimately came to the conclusion that the theme of the entire episode, despite its comedic overtones, was actually a serious one about a person's perception of reality and how it can be altered by mere words. (Trust No One: The Official Third Season Guide to The X-Files) Chris Carter thought that Darin Morgan had not only, with his last episode, wanted to achieve perfection but had also actually been successful in doing so and Carter learned that Darin Morgan considered this episode to be his tour-de-force, of the four episodes he had written for The X-Files. Bruce Harwood, actor of recurring character John Fitzgerald Byers, believed it was simply fun to play with the format of television and thought that this episode did that, particularly well. (The X-Files (season 3) DVD)
- Darin Morgan's favorite line of this episode was "This is not happening". This same phrase would later be said again in Season 8's "Redrum" before being used as the title of another eighth season episode, in which the phrase is again repeatedly said (like it is in this episode), by the character Richie Szalay - a UFO fanatic, like this episode's Blaine Faulkner.
- This episode was also well-received outside the production staff. For their work on this particular episode, both art director Graeme Murray and set decorator Shirley Inget were nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Individual Achievement in Art Direction for a Series.
- Darin Morgan was told by many people that their children had woken up in the middle of the night, terrified because of the image of the alien at the foot of Chrissy's bed.
Cast and Characters
- Although the story had been partly inspired by writer Truman Capote, he was unavailable to guest star as the title character himself (having been deceased since 1984). Morgan then suggested the very strange alternative of Rip Taylor, who Morgan personally wanted to play the character, but Taylor also proved to be unavailable. When Charles Nelson Reilly came in to audition, Morgan and Frank Spotnitz turned to one another, impressed, and commented that Reilly had been very good. According to Rick Millikan, however, there was some initial uncertainty regarding Reilly's audition but there was no question, after the fact, that he was the right person for this episode's title role.
- Reilly was perhaps the biggest revelation to the crew, several members of whom approached Morgan to thank him for casting Reilly. The actor captivated virtually everyone involved in the episode and energized the production staff with his infectious enthusiasm. Comparing Reilly to Peter Boyle, who had appeared in the title role of "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" but - upon arrival - had not wanted to do the episode, R.W. Goodwin saw that Reilly certainly wanted to do this episode and was even thrilled to be doing it, profusely thanking Goodwin. Costume designer Jenni Gullett and assistant costume designer Janice Swayze both found Reilly to be, by far, the most interesting guest they costumed during The X-Files' third season.
- The live-wire guest star caused the production to be thrown into chaos, though, as he never stopped talking during or after his scenes and the episode was one of the most difficult to film because Reilly was so funny; he would have people laughing during takes as well as between takes. R.W. Goodwin thought that the most fun on the episode was Reilly's presence and became impatiently eager to watch dailies because he found Reilly to be not only hysterical when performing his lines of dialogue but even funnier when he would go off them, forgetting his own lines. Goodwin was puzzled how Gillian Anderson could continue to act and keep a straight face, because Reilly was so outrageously funny, but Anderson was both amazed and delighted by Reilly, who she thought was unique. Reilly's antics included repeatedly crying out for a nurse, each time he needed to consult with the script supervisor, and nicknaming everybody, casually referring to Gullett and costume supervisor Gillian Kieft with nicknames like "senorita" and "Carlotta".
- The actor improvised his own move, in the first scene that features Scully and José Chung, when Chung reaches across Scully's desk and momentarily put his hand on her arm, confirming with the word "exactly" that she is right in thinking that he wants to hear her version of the truth.
- Charles Nelson Reilly subsequently reprised his role as writer José Chung in the Millennium episode "José Chung's Doomsday Defense, making his character the only one to have first appeared in The X-Files before making a crossover appearance in Millennium. The two most frequently seen main characters from Millennium, Frank and Jordan Black (played by Lance Henriksen and Brittany Tiplady respectively), also made a crossover appearance between the series when they both appeared in The X-Files's seventh season episode "Millennium", although this was produced and aired after the conclusion of their series.
- For the roles of the two Men in Black, professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was cast as one but Darin Morgan was unsure who should play the second. His brother, Glen, suggested casting Johnny Cash in the part and Darin Morgan thought that was a perfect idea, due to Cash having been the original "man in black", but Cash was unavailable. Alex Trebek was then suggested and he also wanted to do it so, with Chris Carter's approval, Trebek was cast.
- David Duchovny and Alex Trebek previously appeared together in a 1995 episode of Celebrity Jeopardy!, a special edition of the game-show Jeopardy!. Both versions include a Double Jeopardy! Round and are hosted by Alex Trebek. The particular episode of Celebrity Jeopardy! that featured both him and Duchovny also included Stephen King, the winner of that episode.
- The fake Grey aliens in this episode were played by extras, makeup assistants, who had not had a lot of acting experience. The crew tried to get these two extras to relate to each other, during the episode's production. Gillian Anderson showed one of these aliens' costumes to her year-and-a-half old daughter, Piper Anderson, on the episode's set. According to Rob Bowman, the extras inside these alien costumes were a couple of skinny guys who were not very helpful and were extremely miserable because of the extreme difference in temperature inside and outside their suits, which were essentially falling apart during production.
- Alex Diakun (Dr. Fingers) previously played Curator in The X-Files episode "Humbug" and Tarot Dealer in "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose".
- Larry Musser (Detective Manners) previously played Sheriff John Oakes in The X-Files episode "Die Hand Die Verletzt".
- Michael Dobson (Sergeant Philip Hynek) previously played Marksman #2 in The X-Files episode "Duane Barry".
- Charles Nelson Reilly as José Chung
- William Lucking as Roky Crikenson
- Daniel Quinn as Lt. Jack Sheaffer
- Jesse Ventura as 1st Man in Black
- Sarah Sawatsky as Chrissy Georgio
- Jason Gaffney as Harold Lamb
- Alex Trebek as 2nd Man in Black
- Andrew Turner as CIA Man
- Michael Dobson as Sergeant Philip Hynek
- Jaap Broeker as The Stupendous Yappi
- Mina E. Mina as Dr. Hand