Nisei (The X-Files)

Nisei (The X-Files)
The X-Files episode
Nisei YXF.jpg
An Alien as seen in "Nisei"
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 9
Directed by David Nutter
Written by Chris Carter
Frank Spotnitz
Howard Gordon
Production code 3X09
Guest stars


  • Gillian Barber as Penny Northern
  • Corrine Koslo as Lottie Holloway
  • Brendan Beiser as Pendrell
  • Lori Triolo as Diane
  • Paul McLean as Coast Guard Officer
  • Yasuo Sakurai as Kazuo Sakurai

Also starring:

Episode chronology
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"Nisei" is the ninth episode of the third season of television series The X-Files.



In Knoxville, Tennessee, a mysterious train car is left in a railyard. That night, a group of Japanese scientists enter the car and conduct an autopsy on an alien body. The scene is being recorded and transmitted via satellite. Suddenly, a strike team storms the car and kills the scientists, taking the alien corpse away in a body bag.

Fox Mulder purchases a video recording of the autopsy, which cuts out just before the scientists were killed. Mulder believes the tape to be authentic, but Scully is obviously skeptical. When the agents go to Allentown, Pennsylvania, to track down the distributor of the tape, they find him murdered. The agents pursue and capture a Japanese man, Kazuo Sakurai, who is identified as a high-ranking diplomat. Skinner appears and orders Sakurai released. Before doing so, Mulder searches Sakurai's briefcase, finding a list of Mutual UFO Network members and satellite images of a ship. The Lone Gunmen identify the ship as the Talapus, a salvage vessel docked in Newport News, Virginia. Meanwhile, Sakurai is assassinated by the Red-Haired Man, an MIB assassin.

Scully investigates the MUFON group, discovering several women who claim to recognize her from her abduction experience. They have similar implants to Scully's, and inform her that they are all dying of cancer. The encounter causes Scully to have flashbacks about her abduction, leaving her shaken. Meanwhile, Mulder goes to the Newport News shipyard, only to be told that the Talapus has left the port. However, Mulder finds the Talapus and searches it. Armed men arrive and scour the ship, but Mulder manages to escape. He later finds a warehouse where a craft is being fumigated by a hazmat team. Mulder believes the craft to be of alien origin, recovered by the Talapus.

Mulder meets Skinner at his apartment, which has been ransacked. Skinner confronts Mulder over the briefcase, the absence of which has caused an international incident with Japan. Skinner refuses to assist Mulder any further with his case. Mulder meets with Senator Richard Matheson, who gives him the details on the videotaped autopsy, linking it with the larger conspiracy of the alien-human hybrids. Mulder investigates further, discovering that the Japanese scientists were members of the notorious Unit 731 during World War II; like the Nazi scientists in "Paper Clip", they were recruited by the government to develop the hybrids. Mulder believes that the scientists killed on the videotape were working on a secret railway, transporting test subjects.

After sharing her MUFON findings with Mulder, Scully runs her implant through the FBI labs to gather technological information about it. She also analyzes the autopsy video, realizing that one of the scientists seen, Dr. Ishimaru, experimented on her during her abduction. Meanwhile, Mulder goes to West Virginia and tracks down the secret train car, watching a group of Japanese men place what seems to be an alien-human subject on board. Mulder is unable to catch up with the car as a train pulls it out of the railyard. Meanwhile, another Japanese scientist, Dr. Shiro Zama, waits for the train at a station in Ohio; he is forced to board after his bodyguard is killed by the Red-Haired Man in the restroom. The Red-Haired Man follows Zama aboard the train, which is headed to Vancouver. Mulder tracks the train to the Ohio station, but learns it has just left when he arrives.

Meanwhile, Scully goes to Mulder's apartment and is met by X, who warns her to keep Mulder from getting on the train. Scully calls Mulder, who has managed to drive ahead of the train and is just about to jump onto it from a bridge. Despite Scully's pleas, Mulder jumps onto the top of the train as it speeds past below.


This episode was originally intended to be a stand alone mythology episode, but was lengthened to a two parter, resulting in it being delayed several weeks. A co-executive producer called this episode and its second part 731 logistically huge. The stunt where Mulder jumped on a moving train was worked on for six weeks. While there was some alarm in having David Duchovny do the stunt, the actor, who had previously performed his own stunts in the episode Ascension was willing to do it and considered it a fun experience. The producers used trained rangers to play the soldiers in the teaser, part of an attempt to keep the show grounded in reality at all times. A 10-year-old boy was used to play the dead alien on the autopsy table. The boy's twin sister was used to play the alien on the train car. Both underwent extensive makeup including oversized dark contact lenses to create the effect of the alien eyes.[1]

After watching the video bought by Mulder, Scully criticizes it citing the 1995 alien autopsy video – a hoax made by Ray Santilli, a British video producer. Coincidentally, Fox ended up re-airing the alien autopsy video the night following this episode's original air date.[1]

The episode features the first appearance of Agent Pendrell, who appeared in numerous other episodes in the third and fourth seasons. Pendrell was named after a street in Vancouver.[2]

The title, "Nisei", refers to the term used (in countries of North and South America) to specify the son or daughter of an 'Issei' couple born outside Japan. The term nisei Japanese American refers to nisei living in the United States.[3]


"Nisei" won two Emmy Awards: one for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Editing for a Series" and one for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series".[4]

This episode earned a Nielson rating of 9.8, with a 17 share. It was viewed by 16.36 million people.[5]


  1. ^ a b Lowry,Brian (1996). Trust No One: The Official Guide to the X-Files. Harper Prism. pp. 126–27. 
  2. ^ Lowry,Brian (1996). Trust No One: The Official Guide to the X-Files. Harper Prism. p. 126. 
  3. ^ Lovece, Frank (1996). The X-Files Declassified. Citadel press. p. 206. 
  4. ^ "IMDB". Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  5. ^ Lowry, Brian (1996). Trust No One: The Official Guide to the X-Files. HarperPrism. p. 251. 

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