X-Cops is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc, and is only one of two episodes presented in real time - with events occurring the same time the audience experiences them.
Something is terrorizing an urban neighborhood and Mulder and Scully are there to find out what... along with the crew of the hit television show COPS.
The episode begins with the opening of COPS before cutting to Keith Wetzel, he explains what it's like being a cop then he receives a call regarding a 'monster' in a small L.A. suburb (the episode is set/shot in Los Angeles). The officer responds to the call, pulls up outside of the women's house, talks to her and then proceeds around to the rear of the house. As the cameraman runs to keep up, camera jogging wildly about, the officer runs back yelling and screaming for the cameraman to go back to the car. They reach the squad car and call for backup just as the car is violently flipped and smashed by an unknown force that the two can't see. Scene fades and opens to the
officers in the street, examining the squad car, talking amongst themselves etc. The Sergeant asks the officer what happened, suggesting it might have been a group of gang bangers. The officer, afraid to acknowledge that he'd seen anything paranormal, agrees that it was gang bangers. The sergeant asks him how many, but before he can give a straight answer, suddenly all of the officers run off after receiving a call about two armed individuals. The cameras follow the officers down the street and into an alley where Mulder and Scully are standing, baked in light, with their hands in the air. The agents explain the situation, telling the Sergeant that they work for the FBI and that they were investigating a number of reports of monsters in the area, that only appear when the moon is full.
Mulder talks with Deputy Keith Wetzel, whose patrol car was flipped, about what he saw. Mulder seems to be describing a werewolf and explaining someone else was killed by one a month ago on the full moon; he urges the deputy to be put somewhere he can’t endanger the lives of others. The officer’s Sergeant, Paula Duthie, thinks Mulder has lost his mind. Scully is embarrassed that they are being filmed since it's an episode of Cops and thinks Mulder should tone it down a bit.
Deputy Juan Molina talks with the woman whose home was nearly broken into and explains she is describing it as a “claw monster.” The sketch artist begins working with her to make the drawing while Mulder shows Sgt. Duthie the claw marks on the door. The sketch turns out to be Freddy Krueger and when Scully returns from the hospital with the released deputy she tells Mulder it wasn’t a bite on Wetzel’s arm but a cluster of insect bites. Mulder begins to rethink his werewolf theory and believes something else is at work.
The police scramble around as they get a call about something down the block. They all head over and find Ricky the sketch artist on the ground by a pay phone with claw marks cutting through his bullet proof vest.
Scully finds a pink press-on fingernail at the crime scene. Mulder, Scully, Sgt. Duthie proceed to the home of the gay couple that called in the attack on Ricky. Steve and Edy explain they just saw the young man struggling but nothing attacking him. They recognize the fingernail as being from a local prostitute by the name of Chantara Gomez, with bubble gum pink hair to match the nails.
Mulder and Scully find the woman after a drive around the neighborhood with Mulder speaking heavily to the camera crew in the backseat and Scully pretending they don’t exist. Mulder tells the woman to tell him whatever she saw regardless of how bizarre it might be. She says it was her boyfriend, Chuco Munoz, who attacked the
sketch artist. An extremely disappointed Mulder calls it all in and the police and the two FBI agents gather at crackhouse Munoz is lurking in.
Chantara Gomez is extremely agitated as everyone prepares to storm the house. She keeps saying Munoz told her he would twist her head around like a chicken’s head. Sgt. Duthie assures her that she is perfectly fine given the number of police around her.
Led by the police and followed by the camera crew, Mulder and Scully enter the crack house and wander past the many people being arrested. They enter the bathroom by the kitchen and find an overdosed man with a dragon tattoo on his head. Chuco Munoz has been dead for days.
They rush outside at the sound of gunfire. They find Deputy Keith Wetzel firing into the night but see nothing. He pleads that he did everything he could to save her when “it” came back. Checking on Chantara Gomez they find her with her head twisted around just as she had feared.
They talk with Sgt. Duthie and some of the other officers about the whole thing not making any sense. Nothing could have gotten past Wetzel and though relatively green, he is a good deputy. Bullets are found in the street, having impacted with something.
Mulder prods Wetzel a bit and the man admits to what he saw (or thought he saw anyway) and describes it as a “wasp man,” something his older brother made up when they were kids to scare Wetzel. Mulder takes Scully aside, with the camera crew still hovering about them, and suggests that given how people see it as different things, perhaps it is some kind of shape-shifting entity that feeds on human fear. It appears as a person’s worst nightmare and feeds off the terror they feel. Scully plays along with the theory and wonders how you could even catch something like that. He suggests that if they learned how it chose its victims they could figure it out. He recounts to her that there is a chain of victims that the attacks followed, but she reminds him that it skipped Steve and Edy.
Mulder and Scully return and stay with a feuding Steve and Edy for a few hours but nothing happens. No creature attacks them and when they leave the house they run into Wetzel and more film crew people. Scully leaves on her own to perform an autopsy on Gomez while Mulder and Wetzel go out on patrol since Mulder figures Wetzel
might see it again. Mulder and Wetzel talk about how Mulder believes him about what he saw, how being thought crazy could ruin Wetzel’s career, and how dangerous it is out there on shift.
Scully begins to perform her autopsy on Chantara Gomez under the nervous coroner’s assistant’s gaze. The woman is concerned about talk of a contagion. Scully assures her that there is no contagion and that the woman died from a broken neck not the Hanta virus or something. The mention of that specific virus alarms her and she soon collapses, bleeding from the nose and mouth, with Scully demanding the camera crew call 911.
Mulder, Scully, and Sgt. Paula Duthie debate what is going on over at the morgue after the coroner’s assistant develops the symptoms of Hanta virus instantly and died. Mulder postulates that some force or entity is in this area given the high crime rate and the terror of everyone in the area. A perfect feeding ground for something that needs fear as its sustenance. Mulder suspects that since Scully had no fear of contagion while the assistant had the fear, she died. A lack of fear is a form of immunity to the entity. Moreover it is a mortal fear that the thing needs so Steve and Edy and others have escaped harm. They don’t really believe him but Mulder points out that Wetzel is probably in danger since he was backing him up earlier and now he is alone.
They return to the crack house where Wetzel has gone, the camera crew is hiding in the closet and Wetzel is missing. The entire episode is all a dream, and Scully woke up in the office. Mulder tells Scully, she explains she had a bad dream. Mulder tells Scully that she's an x-file.
- This episode was made to look like it had been shot exactly like a normal episode of COPS, except its seemingly freestyle story was scripted and intentionally involved Mulder and Scully as the episode's main focus.
- Judson Mills as Deputy Keith Wetzel
- Dee Freeman as Sergeant Paula Duthie
- Michael Maher as Redhead Deputy
- Perla Walter as Mexican Lady
- J.W. Smith as Steve
- Curtis C. as Edy
- Tara Karsian as Coroner's Assistant
- Lombardo Boyar as Spanish Speaking Deputy
- María Celedonio as Chantara Gomez
- John Michael Vaughn as Soundman
- Daniel Emmett as Cameraman
- Frankie Ray as Crackhead
- Solomon Eversol as Sketch Artist
- Cheryl Comstock as Sheriff #1
- Ron Gilbert as Sheriff #2
- Diane Harris as Sheriff #3
- Boris Nikolof as Sheriff #4
- Scott Arger as Sheriff #5
- Kevin Beggs as Sheriff #6
- Esther Myare as Sheriff #7
- Steve Sciacca as Sheriff #8
- Mary Campbell as Sheriff #9