Having or characterized by bizarre or obscene distortions usually in appearance.

The X-files

Episode: 3X14
First aired:1/2/96
Written by: Howard Gordon
Directed by: Kim Manners

This is such a cool episode, kinda dark, but very good.

At an adult art program, students sketch a nude model. John Mostow, a student, however sketches a grotesque gargoyle smudging blood on the canvas after cutting himself. The model leaves later but finds his car door jammed shut. Suddenly he is slashed by something and screams. The FBI later breaks in Mostow’s apartment and arrests him. Mostow bites Nemhauser, one of the agents. As they drag him out, a senior agent, Bill Patterson, finds a bloody razor.

Mulder looks over the case and notes that Mostow is a Soviet emigrant who spent time in an asylum before arriving in the states. He is suspected of killing seven men. Mostow says that a spirit possessed him during the murders. Another body is found after his arrest, mirroring the same pattern of mutilation. Mostow has scrawled a gargoyle image on the floor saying it killed the men, that it found someone new.

Patterson, Mulder’s former mentor, snidely asks if he suspects the involvement of little green men or hounds of hell. The agent notes that his unit spent three years working the case and that his file led to Mostow’s arrest. Mulder is nevertheless hostile to Patterson saying that he objected to his belief that if you want to catch a monster, you’ve got to become one yourself.

Mulder checks Mostow’s studio finding sculpted gargoyles in a secret room with human corpses inside them. Elsewhere, a glassblower is attacked with the same signature facial mutilation.

Nemhauser talks to Scully and tells her that Patterson may have requested Mulder’s involvement that he actually admires his former protégé. Mulder reads up on gargoyles in the library and Patterson finds him saying that Mulder is wasting his time and that Mostow is crazy. He also expresses disappointment in Mulder saying he was mistaken in the notion that Mulder might have put his feet back on the ground.

Scully visits Mulder but finds, in his apartment, the walls covered in gargoyle drawings. Mulder wakes in Mostow’s studio, chasing a figure through the darkness and plummeting over a railing after the figure slashes him with a blade.

Scully wonders why he was in Mostow’s apartment in the first place but Mulder only says that what attacked him was not human.

Scully believes Patterson is testing Mulder, but when she confronts him, Patterson tells her to let Mulder do what he has to. Mulder visits Mostow, wondering why the figure didn’t kill him as it did the others, punching him when he won’t provide the answers on how to find it. Mostow says that it will find him and maybe it already has.

Scully finds a blade at the crime scene with Mulder’s prints on it, and the murder weapon is missing from the evidence room. Skinner questions Scully about the weapon but she doesn’t answer. He asks her if she is worried about Mulder. She doesn’t answer but her expression gives her away and Skinner says that is too.

Mulder awakens from a nightmare and returns to Mostow’s studio where he discovers a new body in a pool of blood. Receiving a message from Nemhauser that cuts off suddenly, Scully calls the number and is surprised when Mulder answers. She asks about the knife and Mulder insists he didn’t take it. Mulder finds Nemhauser’s body in the gargoyle.

Mulder turns to see Patterson saying that he killed him. Mulder realizes that Patterson lived in Mostow’s head for three years and that the violence lived on inside him, with Patterson requesting Mulder in the hope that he would stop him. Scully enters suddenly pulling her gun and telling Mulder to drop his, which allows Patterson to flee to the rooftop. He ambushes Mulder and the two struggle until Patterson is shot, collapsing to the ground wounded. Two weeks later, Patterson yells like Mostow saying that he is innocent.

Important Quotes:
Mulder -- "If you want to catch a monster, you have to become one yourself."

Mulder (voice-over) -- "Could this be the same dark force at work? Its ultimate expression the destruction of the flesh? Of the very hand that creates it? Is this evil something born in each of us? Crouching in the shadow of every human soul waiting to emerge? A monster waiting to violate our bodies and twist our will to do its bidding? Is this the monster called madness?"

Scully -- "I was scared, Mulder. I didn't know where you were. I kept trying your cell phone but you didn't answer."
Mulder -- "It was turned off."
Scully -- "You turned your phone off? Why do you even bother carrying it?"

Skinner -- "Do you have any insight into Agent Mulder's current disposition of his mental state?"
Scully -- "I know Agent Mulder is working very hard on this case at your request, sir."
Skinner -- "Are you worried about him, Agent Scully?"
Scully -- "No... sir."
Skinner -- "Off the record." (Scully doesn't answer but sadness and resignation says it all). "So am I."

Scully -- "Okay, Mulder. Listen to me carefully. I want you to stay exactly where you are. I'm going to be there in a few minutes and we're going to work this thing out together. Okay? Mulder?"
Mulder -- "Yeah."

Mulder -- "We work in the dark. We do what we can to battle the evil that would otherwise destroy us. But if a man's character is his fate, it's not a choice but a calling. Sometimes the weight of this burden causes us to falter. From the fragile fortress of our mind. Allowing the monster without to turn within. We are left alone staring into the abyss. Into the laughing face of madness.

Back to The X-files: Season 3
Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

Why do the lilies goggle their tongues at me
When I pluck them;
And writhe, and twist,
And strangle themselves against my fingers,
So that I can hardly weave the garland
For your hair?
Why do they shriek your name
And spit at me
When I would cluster them?
Must I kill them
To make them lie still,
And send you a wreath of lolling corpses
To turn putrid and soft
On your forehead
While you dance?

Gro*tesque" (grO*tesk"), a. [F., fr. It. grottesco, fr. grotta grotto. See Grotto.]

Like the figures found in ancient grottoes; grottolike; wildly or strangely formed; whimsical; extravagant; of irregular forms and proportions; fantastic; ludicrous; antic. "Grotesque design." Dryden. "Grotesque incidents." Macaulay.


© Webster 1913

Gro*tesque, n.


A whimsical figure, or scene, such as is found in old crypts and grottoes. Dryden.


Artificial grotto-work.


© Webster 1913

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