Grotesque | The K Files | The X Files Podcast | Case File 408
The K Files agents continue our pursuit of serial killers of The X Files in Grotesque! Mulder goes hunting gargoyles, but sees only a familiar face in the mirror in this third season horror show.
Open the case file below:
About the Episode:
The agents assist Mulder’s former mentor with a case involving a serial killer who claims a gargoyle spirit committed the crimes. When Mulder joins the case, his obsession with solving it causes Scully to question his sanity.
Grotesque premiered on the Fox network in the United States on February 2, 1996. The episode is a “Monster-of-the-Week” story, which means its plot stands alone from the series’ wider mythology. “Grotesque” earned a Nielsen household rating of 11.6, being watched by a whopping 18.32 million people in its initial broadcast. That was a solid audience in 1996 an is massive by today’s standards. The episode received mostly positive reviews from television critics.
Gordon was inspired to write the episode after walking on the streets of New York and seeing several stone gargoyles staring down at him from buildings there. Gordon developed the concept with series creator Chris Carter, who suggested adding more mystical/emotional aspects to the episode (as he is always wont to do).
Kim Manners called Grotesque his favorite third-season episode and praised David Duchovny’s performance especially: “Duchovny drove himself, and he was brilliant in that show.” Manners also said of the episode: “I think ‘Grotesque’ is a frightening show. I think it is a disturbing show, and I think that’s why—for me—it’s such a good show. We pulled it off making the viewer feel uneasy. I even found it a difficult show to watch. Yeah, it was a pretty dark hour of television and I would like to do more of those.”
In order to get a proper feel for the episode, Manners listened to the music from the 1990 film Jacob’s Ladder until his wife “finally asked, ‘Do we have to listen to that (bleeping) CD again?” Manners also theorized that the episode may have been the template for the show Millennium, which premiered on Fox the following television season.
It’s certainly dark enough to be part of the Millennium oeuvre. Check out our investigation into the Millennium crossover episode of The X Files
A group of artists sketch a nude male model in a drawing class. One of the artists, John Mostow (Levani Outchaneichvili), looks disturbed and draws a demonic creature in the model’s place. Even more disturbing, while using a utility knife to sharpen his pencil he cuts his hand then smears the blood on the drawing. After the session, model walks to his car and is attacked and killed by an obscured assailant.
The following morning, Mostow is arrested in his apartment by an FBI task force led by Agent Bill Patterson (Kurtwood Smith aka Red Forman), who finds the utility knife from the murder covered in blood.
Mostow, an immigrant from Uzbekistan with a history of involuntary commitment, is charged with killing seven men by mutilating their faces. Mulder and Scully become involved when Mostow insists that he was possessed during the killings and his claims are given credence when another murder occurs after his arrest.
Mostow draws a gargoyle and claims it made him kill. Mulder meets with Patterson, his former mentor, who has spent three years on the case. The relationship between the two is tense, and Patterson is skeptical of Mulder’s theories. Mulder and Scully go to Mostow’s studio and discover a hidden room full of gargoyle sculptures, plus bonus corpses within them.
A glassblower is attacked and hospitalized. Patterson finds Mulder in the library studying gargoyles; he tells Mulder that he’s wasting his time and is a disappointment to him. Scully goes to Mulder’s apartment and finds it covered with gargoyle drawings.
Mulder, having sculpted a gargoyle himself in Mostow’s studio before falling asleep, awakens to find a figure with a gargoyle-like face standing over him; he gives chase but is attacked, his face slashed with a utility knife. Mulder refuses to explain to Scully why he was in Mostow’s studio.
Disturbed by his behavior, Scully confronts Patterson, who tells her not to try and stop Mulder from doing what he’s doing, because she won’t be able to. Mulder goes to see Mostow again, but Mostow will not tell him how to find the creature that attacked him.
Scully finds a disassembled utility knife at the latest crime scene with Mulder’s prints on it and notices that the murder weapon is missing from the evidence room. She meets with Skinner, who is also worried about Mulder’s behavior.
They’re not wrong: Mulder has a nightmare about being attacked by a gargoyle that is really himself. He wakes up and goes to Mostow’s studio again and finds a severed arm. Mulder searches Mostow’s studio and finds Nemhauser’s body inside a new sculpture. Mulder is then confronted by Patterson, who is unaware of how he arrived at the studio. Mulder deduces that Patterson is the killer, based on his three-year obsession with Mostow and his request for Mulder to investigate the case.
In the last scene, Patterson is pressed against the bars of his cell, screaming that he is innocent, while the camera focuses on a gargoyle drawn in blood on the wall of his cell.
Earlier in the episode, Mulder told Scully that he and Patterson disagreed on the best way to investigate serial murders, that Patterson always tried to empathize with the suspect and imagine himself in the killer’s place. Mulder’s closing narration concludes that it was this that eventually drove Patterson to insanity: “…But if a man’s character is his fate, it’s not a choice but a calling…”
The truth is already here.
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Sourced: Wikipedia, IMDB