Mulder is called away from a stakeout and assigned to investigate a murder in a seemingly perfect town.
This episode contains examples of:
Adventure Towns: Mulder is investigating a case in Bethany, Vermont, in a seemingly perfect town in New England.
Babies Make Everything Better: Averted. Ellen got pregnant with Katie and thought her family life would be splendid. Her husband married her only because she got pregnant and had actually wanted to break up with her.
Creepy Crows: Raven appears at every crime scene and several other times.
Insane Equals Violent: The monster-of-the-week is revealed to be Ellen, who has dissociative multiple personality disorder: split personality. She wasn't aware that it was her who was committing the murders.
The Killer in Me: Ellen Adderly really didn't know she was the killer and was horrified as anybody with the murders of her friend and later her rival in their community. At one point she believed she was about to be attacked by the stringy-haired creature she saw in the mirror.
Magic Mirror: Every crime scene involved a broken mirror or shiny surface so that Ellen could not actually see her true self when she was murdering.
The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Every mirror at every crime scene and other mirrors elsewhere as well were shattered so that Ellen would not see her true self. She suppressed this side of her personality.
Serial Killer: The set-up has Mulder and Scully staking out a bar, trying to capture a murderer of prostitutes. Subverted, there was no serial killer after all. It was a religious man who took the prostitutes to his shelter, trying to rescue them from their sorry life.
Shown Their Work: Little extras pop up in this episode that are quite impressive, given that they are mostly things that would go unnoticed by the average viewer. At the start of the case, Skinner hands Mulder the file for Martha Crittendon, which has a page listing her address and phone number. The address has a 05032 zip code, which is the real zip code for Bethel, Vermont. The correct area code of 802 is also used for her phone number. This shot lasts approximately two second long. In addition, most of the license plates on the cars in the episode are correct for Vermont, from the all-green plates on cars parked on the street to the all-red license plate on the sheriff's car to denote it as a municipal vehicle.
Split Personality: The perpetrator of the week is Ellen, who wasn't aware that she committed the murders. Her aggression was how she dealt with her husband's cheating on her.
The Stakeout: Mulder and Scully stake out a bar from a cold room across the road.
Stepford Smiler: Ellen pretends everything is like a fairytale between her and her husband with their sweet baby girl and perfect-perfect home, with her lavish dinners and lavish breakfasts. He feels trapped and she's aware of it, yet only unconsciously.
Stepford Suburbia: Everybody seems to be happy but nobody truly is, at least not the characters the audience gets to know. This little town is seriously disturbed.
Uncanny Village: Lampshaded by Mulder, who says that the town is dressed up a little nicer but underneath the surface, it's the same seamy underbelly as the dirty bar with prostitutes which Scully is staking out.
Wholesome Crossdresser: In the original case, the one that Scully was working on. They were staking out a bar where a female Serial Killer kept appearing and disappearing. However, it was a man dressing up as a hooker who tried saving the women from prostitution.
Written-In Absence: Scully spends most of the episode offscreen, pursuing the case Mulder was called away from at the beginning, to give Gillian Anderson time to direct the following episode.