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Recap / The X-Files S03 E22 "Quagmire"

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Season 3, Episode 22:

"Looks to me like something took a big bite."
Written by Kim Newton
Directed by Kim Manners

Scully: Because those creatures don't exist, Mulder. They're folk tales born out of some collective fear of the unknown.
Mulder: Well, how many folk tales do you know that could eat a boy scout leader and a biologist?

The agents finally get around to tracking a purported Stock Ness Monster, which may come with personal losses. Especially for Scully.


  • Adventure Towns: It takes place in Heuvelmans Lake, Blue Ridge Mountains, GA.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The episode never confirms which human casualties Big Blue and/or the alligator were responsible for, which one sunk the boat and which one was eating the frogs.
  • Believer Fakes Evidence: The local bait and tackle shop owner is shown walking through the swamp in boots, making fake dinosaur tracks in order to promote his business and the mythical Big Blue.
  • Death of a Child: Queequeg. Scully's Pomeranian was eaten by the monster. In fact, it was an alligator. Probably.
  • Finish Dialogue in Unison: Mulder talks about Ahab and his wish to have a peg leg, and shares his favourite line, which they finish in unison.
    Scully: And that's not flippant?
    Mulder: No, flippant is my favourite line from Moby Dick. Hell is an idea...
    Mulder and Scully both: ...first born on an undigested apple dumpling.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: One victim is found in the lake with everything missing from waist up.
  • Heroic BSoD: Scully briefly goes into one after her dog, Queequeg, is eaten by the water creature. This means that she cannot hear what Mulder is trying to explain to her about their case.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Invoked by Mulder, who claims to have always wanted a peg leg on the grounds that if he were disabled, just getting through everyday life would be enough of a heroic accomplishment that he wouldn't feel compelled to spend his life obsessively questing for the Truth.
  • Killed Off for Real: Scully's pomeranian, Queequeg. Let's just say it wasn't a contest when that dog dared to challenge the hidden water creature. Who was later revealed to be an alligator.
  • Mister Muffykins: Mulder is not pleased that Scully brought her small dog Queequeg.
  • Moby Schtick: The biggest Shout-Out to Moby-Dick that appeared on the show. When Scully's dog Queequeg (named after the harpoonist) dies, Scully talks about the book as her favourite since she was little, and she reminiscences about her father reading to her from it. She compares Mulder's self-destructive obsession with his quest to Ahab's white whale. Mulder and Scully even share a favourite quote, which they recite in unison: Hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple dumpling.
  • Monster of the Week: A Stock Ness Monster, mixed with proper Americana.
  • Mundanger: The thing responsible for the killings is not Big Blue the sea monster, but an alligator. Or was it? At least a few of them? Probably the gator. The thing that slammed into the boat? There's no gator alive that is big enough to sink a boat of that size.
  • Nature is Not Nice: Lampshaded by Mulder and Scully's exchange after their boat sinks and they are marooned in the middle of the lake:
    Mulder: You know, living in the city, you forget that night is actually so, uh... dark.
    Scully: Living in the city, you forget a lot of things. You know, there you're always thinking about being mugged or hit by a car. It's not until you get back to nature until you realize that everything is out to get you. That's why my father always taught me to respect nature... because it has no respect for you.
  • Not So Remote: Scully and Mulder have been exploring the lake at night, and their boat crashes and sinks. They spend quite a long time on a rock, and Mulder even quips about cannibalism. They are saved by Dr. Farraday later that night.
    Scully: We would have been out here all night if you hadn't answered our distress call.
    Farraday: Oh, I didn't. I was walking by, I heard you talking.
    Scully: Walking by?
    Farraday: Yeah, the shore is just a stone's throw from here.
  • Not the Nessie: Mulder went after this case to prove that a lake serpent was responsible for the numerous deaths. He's disappointed to find out a dangerous alligator.
  • Real After All: Mulder is leaving, disappointed that it was Not the Nessie, but an alligator. They miss seeing Big Blue, resurfacing on the lake.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Heuvelmans Lake is named after Bernard Heuvelmans, the so-called "Father of Cryptozoology".
    • The unseen water monster spares one of the main characters to eat a puppy - like Bruce in Jaws.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Mulder and Scully investigate reports of a lake serpent and find a surprisingly ordinary, albeit still deadly, alligator. This being The X-Files, however, after they've left, the ending shows there really is a serpent in the lake.
  • The Stoner: The two survivors of the trio of stoners from "War of the Coprophages" turn up again, looking for new highs.
  • Toad Licking:
    Dude: Saw this, you know on the Discovery Channel. They got like this, you know, cult built up around these toads. The skin's got these, hallucinogenic properties. Lets you see all these visions. It's really spiritual. It's supposed to take the doors of perception, and swing them so wide open, you know, plus you get to see all these cool streaks and trails and crap. [licks the toad]
  • Wham Shot:
    • The final confrontation between the mysterious creature and Mulder ends with the latter expending all his rounds into the former. When it cuts to the dead animal, which is illuminated by Mulder's torch, it turns out to be an alligator, and not Big Blue.
    • That being said, the ending of the episode shows Big Blue surfacing in the lake, and going back under water, revealing it was actually real.

"That's why these missing stories have endured. People want to believe."


Video Example(s):


Big Blue

At the end of "Quagmire", when it's revealed that all the deaths were caused by a huge alligator, Mulder is a bit saddened that the legendary Big Blue isn't real. Just after he and Scully leave, however, the lake monster is briefly seen emerging from the water.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / RealAfterAll

Media sources: