"The Future is Today": Unlocking Science Fiction

X-Files Background Materials and Episode Primers

X-Files is set in our present; however, its paranoid premise is that the world is secretely being run by oppressive secret agencies intent on keeping the populace ignorant about "the truth," which Fox Mulder believes to be "out there."  What that "truth" is remains a mystery through most of the series, ranging from government propaganda to real alien invasion to god.


"Jose Chung's From Outer Space"
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"Jose Chung's From Outer Space"  (Season Three)

Fox Mulder is particularly interested in proving the existence of aliens since he believes that his sister was abducted by aliens when he was a little boy.  Generally, he is the intuitive believer character, and was an up-and-coming FBI profiler before being assigned to the X-Files.  His nickname among other FBI agents is "Spooky."

Dana Scully trained as a medical doctor prior to joining the FBI and was assigned as Mulder's partner in order to scientifically disprove his work on the X-Files.  She counters Mulder's character by being the skeptical, scientific, and rational analyst.  She was abducted, whether by aliens or a covert government op., at the end of the first season and continues to experience the ramifications of those events.
Cultural References

The opening sequence is a reference to the first scene of George Lucas' Star Wars.  The entire episode includes most of the stereotypes of 1940s and 50s B-movie science fiction.

Lord Kinbote is a reference to Nabokov's Pale Fire, specifically the character Charles Kinbote.  Pale Fire is about the difficulties of determining the difference between fiction and reality, or the contention that, as Jose Chung puts it, "truth is as subjective as reality."

Alien Autopsy is a show that aired on Fox prior to the airing of "Jose Chung" and received enormous ratings.  The autopsy scene in this episode is a parody of that show.
The potato-mashing scene (in the Diner) is a reference to Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

Fox's pie-eating episode appears to be a reference to David Lynch's Twin Peaks, in which the main character loves to eat pie.  Fox demonstrates a similar affection for pie throughout the run of The X-Files.

Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who appears as a Man in Black (itself a reference to a comic strip that later became the film (and its sequel), Men in Black), is best known as a wrestler (as in the World Wrestling Federation), although he later became the Governor of Minnesota.
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"Killswitch"  (Season Five)

Co-writer of this episode (along with Tom Maddox).  Gibson is one of the founding fathers of the cyberpunk genre of science fiction.  His 1984 novel Neuromancer introduced into both technical and popular realms many of the terms used to described the internet today.  Ironically, the novel itself was written on a typewriter and Gibson himself was, at the time, ignorant of computers.  His most recent novel, Pattern Recognition, is the first to use “Google” as a verb.

A reference to former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega.  Noriega acquired a highly unsavory image in the American press, but matters became more complicated with the disclosure that Noriega had been in the pay of the U.S. Army and the CIA for more than 30 years. He had been working as a double agent, collecting money from the United States while at the same time working for Communist governments, turning over highly classified U.S. intelligence materials to Cuba, facilitating the sale of restricted U.S. technology to Soviet bloc countries and selling arms to Cuban-backed guerrillas in Latin America -- all in addition to the millions of dollars he pocketed in drug trafficking.  In December 1989 U.S. armed forces invaded Panama, captured Noriega, and brought him to Miami for trial. He was convicted in 1992 on eight counts of racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering and is serving a 40-year sentence in a U.S. federal penitentiary.
Song recorded by, among many others, Morty and Al Nevins.  A repeated line in the song is: “Together at last at twilight time.”



The most loyal and longest lasting of the Mulder-helpers. They are conspiracy theorists and their musings are often wild. Mulder calls them when he needs to know the latest rumours and theories. Truth is as rare as trust with them…lying is ok if it serves their purpose. They edit 'The Lone Gunman' and the 'The Magic Bullet' and are rarely seen in daylight. Having met Mulder in the “Unusual Suspects” they often help Scully and him with information.

The expert on information systems and the military; worked for the government (in the FCC) until 1989.  Despite looking like a professor who has wandered into a CIA rendezvous by mistake, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of conspiracy theory and current speculation ranging from the Kennedy assassination to the latest in DNA research.

Formerly a cable salesman, is the expert on photography and surveillance.  He is the main contact with Mulder.  Looking like a dirty old man, he behaves like that when faced with Scully who he has a major crush on.  His best dialogs are with Mulder who mercilessly teases him especially about his crush on Scully.  The actor playing Frohike was originally a crew member for the show until cast in this role.

The communications specialist of The Lone Gunmen group; before he joined up with the Gunmen he sold illegal cable devices.  Probably the most paranoid of the Gunmen, he doesn't entirely trust Mulder but jokes with him the most. Along with being most paranoid and most humorous he's also the weirdest: he automatically records every incoming phone call, and is as conversant with current conspiracy theory as his two co-conspirators.

Her eye make-up is a visual reference to Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner.  In that film, one of the hunted replicants is a young girl named Pris (played by Daryl Hannah), who is memorable for her pale white face make-up, black-ringed eyes, and blonde hair.

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