Recap / The X-Files S03 E14 "Grotesque"

A serial killer claims that he committed his crimes under a demonic influence. More murders are committed while he is in custody — has the gargoyle spirit found a new instrument, or is it the work of a more mundane copycat?


  • And I Must Scream
  • Badass Bookworm: Mulder studies at the library and gets a lot of books around him.
  • Broken Pedestal: Agent Patterson who was Mulder's mentor at the Behavioral Sciences Unit.
  • Captain's Log: Mulder's reports.
  • Cat Scare
  • Criminal Mind Games: Possibly Patterson towards Mulder.
  • Dark Is Evil: Mostow's studio, his drawings and sketches.
  • He Who Fights Monsters:
    • Agent Patterson pays a terrible price for tracking the evil.
    • Mulder is slipping into darkness as well but he subverts the trope.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: The opening scene has with the killer (who exclusively targets men for reasons that are never fully clear) gazing intently at a nude male model.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Scully thinks Mostow suffers from a dissociative disorder and Mulder informs us that he spent the better part of his twenties in an insane asylum.
  • The Killer in Me: Patterson seems to be horrified and distrustful when Mulder reveals to him that he is the copycat.
  • Man Bites Man: Agent Nemhauser was bitten by Mostow when the FBI were arresting him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The killer is eventually revealed to be a profiler who looked too long into the abyss of a particular serial killer and turned into him. Whether this is a psychological effect or transferred demonic possession is left up to the viewer.
  • Mundanger: Maybe, see the trope directly above.
  • The Profiler: Agent Patterson and his team. And of course Mulder.
  • Red Herring:
    • The killer bit Agent Nemhauser and it's frequently mentioned and shown.
    • Mulder's a bit of one, too, although they obviously realized that no one was going to believe he had become a serial killer, necessitating Nemhauser's presence.
  • Room Full of Crazy:
    • Mulder sinks deep into ugliness and madness of the case. At one point, there are sketches of gargoyles all over the walls in Mulder's apartment.
    • Mostow's studio.
  • Serial Killer: A very disturbing one who kills young men via blood loss due to facial mutilation, in an attempt to re-create the gargoyle-like evil face he claims to see.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Agent Patterson has a strange but understandable attitude towards Mulder. He feels that he threw away his amazing talent and instead of profiling criminals he chose to chase aliens and the paranormal. Mulder thinks that Patterson never thought highly of him. However, Patterson is probably a bit envious of Mulder's abilities and according to his team, he starts telling "Mulder stories" about him being "some kind of crack genius" when he's drunk.
  • Tuckerization: Agent Nemhauser is named after the executive producer Lori Jo Nemhauser.