episode by Howard Gordon
summary by Pellinor
Internal dating: No dates given, though the preceding episode is dated around January 12th 1996. Annoyingly, the date is left blank on the evidence bag that Scully studies.
A group of art students are drawing a naked male model. One of them, John Mostow, nervous and twitchy, is scribbling wildly at his paper, drawing a grotesque face instead of the face of the model. Sharpening his pencil with a craft knife, he cuts himself and stares wonderingly at the blood, finally smearing it on the eyes of the picture. As the class ends, he rushes from the building into the night, as a stone gargoyle looks down on him.
The model, returning to his car, is attacked. We hear his screams, but don't see his attacker.
Early in the morning, an FBI team burst in an arrest Mostow, who bites Nemhausser, one of the arresting agents. After everyone had left, an older agent (Bill Patterson) surveys the studio, taking in the wall-full of grotesque drawings. Under the bed he finds a bloody craft knife.
In the X-Files office, Mulder tells Scully about the case. Mostow, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, has been arrested for the murder of at least 7 young men over the previous three years, slashing their cheeks and their eyes. Mostow claims to have been possessed while committing the crimes. Scully points out that that's a common claim by criminals with dissociative disorders, seeking to distance themselves form their action. Mulder then tells her that another identical murder happened the previous night, even though Mostow was in custody. It can't be a copy-cat as the exact details of his crimes had never been released.
Mulder and Scully visit Mostow in the DC Correctional Complex, Lorton, Virginia. He hides from the light, and begs them to leave him alone. Scully is cold and hostile to him, but Mulder crouches down to his level, calling him "John" in a quiet voice. Mostow has drawn a grotesque face on the floor, and Mulder asks him what its name is. Mostow says it did the murders, but Scully firmly reminds him that his fingerprints were all over the murder weapon, and he will be tried under the death penalty. Mostow calls her a fool, saying "it" laughs at people like her who think they can hold it by locks and walls in prison. "With a snap of its finger it makes men leap into Hell just to see its reflection." When Scully asks him about the latest murder, he gets distressed, saying "it" has found someone else just as it found him.
The cell door opens and Bill Patterson calls Mulder and Scully out. "So what is it, Mulder? Little green men? Evil spirits? Hounds of Hell?" Patterson asks. Mulder doesn't answer him, but turns to Scully and introduces her to Patterson, saying he runs the Investigative Support Unit at Quantico. She says she's read the book he wrote, and is honoured to meet him, but Patterson is hostile, asking her if she believes Mostow is possessed. "Strange company you keep, then," he mutters, when she says that of course she doesn't believe it. "No-one would ever guess how mean-spirited you are," Mulder says, walking away, but Patterson calls him back. He says his Unit worked three years on the case, so he knows all about the case. Mostow worked alone, no question about it. This new killer worked alone, no question about it.
Patterson asks Mulder if he's asked Mostow about the gargoyle drawings. "I didn't get a chance to," Mulder says, referring to the way Patterson called him out of the cell. Patterson tells him Mostow claims to draw them to keep his demon at bay, and Mulder nods, consideringly, saying that's the reason throughout the ages for the construction of gargoyles. "Come on, Mulder, I don't need a history lesson," Patterson snaps, "and I don't need anyone indulging this guy's story." Mulder reminds him that Skinner asked him to get involved with this case, and suggests Patterson take it up with him if he has a problem with it.
Scully asks Mulder when he fell out with Patterson, but Mulder says Patterson has never liked him. She says she's heard he was "the fair-haired boy" when he joined the Bureau, but he says that, right from the start, he refused to "get his knees dirty" and play the dutiful student. Scully says that from what she heard a lot of men did worship Patterson, joining the FBI as they aspired to be him. As Mulder unlocks the door of Mostow's studio, he says, "Patterson had this thing about tracking a killer. If you wanted to know an artist you must look at his art. What he really meant was that if you wanted to catch a monster you must become one yourself."
Inside Mostow's studio they see hundreds of gargoyle pictures on the wall. Scully is startled by a black cat which disappears under the bed. When Mulder looks to see where it went, he finds there is a secret room hidden behind the wall. Scully advises him to wait until they can get some light, but Mulder pulls out a tiny torch and goes alone into the room. He finds lots of clay sculptures of gargoyles. At first he shouts back and tells Scully what he can see, but then he stops in front of one of the sculptures, holds the light in his mouth, and pulls at the clay with his fingers. A mutilated dead face is revealed beneath the sculpture. "Mulder, what is it?" Scully keeps shouting, but he doesn't answer.
A glassblower is attacked and mutilated in the same way as the others, although he isn't killed. Scully and Agent Nemhausser discuss the case at his bedside. Scully tells Nemhausser that 5 bodies were found in the secret room, and that Mulder thinks it will do him no favours with Patterson. Nemhausser is surprised to hear that Mulder thinks Patterson doesn't like him. He thinks Patterson secretly went to Skinner and requested Mulder's involvement in this case, as he was so thrown by the new murder after Mostow's arrest. "Late night, couple of beers in him, he starts telling me Mulder stories, like he was some cracked genius," he tells her. Patterson comes in and the three agents talk about the case, but the victim starts panicking, and the nurse throws them out.
Mulder is working in the library at Georgetown University, researching gargoyles. In voice-over, he talks about the recurring gargoyle image that has lived for over a thousand years, almost as if it has a life of own, resurrecting itself through "tortured human expression... haunting men inwardly so it may haunt mankind for all eternity." He speculates that this could be the thing that haunted Mostow, driving him to kill. "Could this be the same dark force at work, it's 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 that violates our bodies and twists our will to do its bidding. Is this the monster called madness?"
Patterson arrives at the library to find Mulder asleep, head resting on the desk. "What do you really expect to find here?" he asks, disparagingly, when Mulder awakens with a start. Mulder says he has several theories, but won't tell Patterson what they are. "You're wasting your time," Patterson said. There's no point trying to understand the gargoyle since it's just the raving of a madman. "I have to tell you, I'm really disappointed in you," he tells Mulder, when he suggests Mostow could be telling the truth. "Well, I wouldn't want to disappoint you by not disappointing you," Mulder replies. "After all these years I thought you'd finally put your feet back on the ground," Patterson says. "Clearly I was mistaken." As he leaves, Mulder lets his head sink forward into his hands, then slowly stands up and walks to the window. As he stares into the dark, a stone gargoyle stares in at him and t hey appear as if mirrored in the same window.
Scully lets herself in to Mulder's apartment some time later, finding the walls completely covered with Mostow's gargoyle pictures.
In Mostow's studio late at night, Mulder stares at more of the pictures, moving his hand over a gargoyle face as if trying to absorb it. In a series of dream-like images, he's seen staring at the pictures, then modelling the clay into a gargoyle image. Finally he falls asleep, fully clothed, on Mostow's bed.
He is woken by a figure, not entirely human, bending over him. He chases it onto the roof but it slashes at his face and he falls off the roof, falling onto a pile of sacks.
Later, Mulder sits unresposively as a paramedic patches up the cut on his forehead. Somewhat testily, she asks him where he's been for the past two days, and why she couldn't call him. "My phone was turned off," he mutters, and she asks him why he even bothers carrying it. The second the paramedic finishes, Mulder walks off, ignoring his advice about checking for infection. Scully gives chase, asking what he was doing in Mostow's studio at three thirty in the morning. "I was working," he says. "This thing exists, Scully. It's real," he says. "It?" she demands, incredulously, insisting that Mostow and now some other sick human is doing the killing. "Whatever attacked me wasn't a person," Mulder says. Scully accuses him of seeing what he wants to see. "What makes you think I would want to see that?" he shouts. As Patterson and Nemhausser listen in the background, she shouts at him, demanding that he just listen to himself. "You're starting to sound like M...." she says, cutting herself off quickly and changing the subject, telling him that she's seen his "new wallpaper." Patterson is testing him, she says, telling him what Nemhausser said about Patterson actually requesting him on the case. Mulder is silent, and gets into the car. "Mulder, where are you going?" she asks, with an angry sigh, as he drives off.
Scully confronts Patterson, asking him what he's aiming to do. "I think you knew exactly how Agent Mulder would respond when you brought him on this case," she tells him. He tells her that she should address any concerns about Mulder's behaviour to Mulder himself, as it's no business of his. Scully says she wants him to be honest with himself about his motives. "Is this some kind of a payback for what happened eight years ago, because Mulder quit the ISU?" she asks. "My motivations aren't that petty," he says. "I asked for Mulder because I want to close the book on this godforsaken case once and for all... Let Mulder do what he has to do. Don't get in way, and don't try to hold him back, because you won't be able to."
Absently rubbing the bite inflicted by Mostow, Nemhausser watches, a strange look on his face.
Scully prepares to drive away, but notices a craft knife on the ground, under another car.
Mulder goes to visit Mostow in prison, asking him why "it" didn't kill him. Mostow says Mulder wouldn't understand. "Help me to understand, John" Mulder asks, crouching down next to him. "You have to help me go deeper. You have to help me get inside its head like it got into yours, so I can understand what it wants." "You have felt its hunger," Mostow tells him... "Nothing can be done." Mulder demands that he tell him how he can find it, hitting Mostow when he refuses. "It can find you," Mostow says, as Mulder holds him by the throat. "Perhaps it already has."
Scully consults Agent Sherhalis in the Latent Fingerprints Section of the Sci-Crime Lab. She finds that the fingerprints on the knife were Mulder's.
Scully goes to the Evidence Room L-7 and looks at finds the bag where the original knife had been stored. the bag is empty, but no-one has signed for taking the knife out.
Skinner asks to see Scully, and asks her about the missing knife, and the fact that Mulder's prints were all over the knife. "Do you have you any insight into Agent Mulder's current disposition or mental state?" he asks her, and she says simply that he's been working very hard on the case, at Skinner's request. "Are you worried about him, Agent Scully?" he asks. "No sir," she replies. "Off the record?" he asks. She is silent, but her face gives her away. "So am I," he says.
At night, Mulder is in Mostow's studio, surrounded by gargoyles. Suddenly a figure knocks him down, and, as Patterson and Nemhausser watch dispassionately, it slashes his face. Mulder awakens with a start, asleep fully clothed on his couch, drenched with sweat. He gets up and walks out.
Mulder drives to Mostow's studio, staring straight ahead like a man possessed. he finds a new sculpture, and a pool of blood. Seeing a severed arm, he sinks down to the ground, and shuts his eyes in horror. XXX Scully gets a message from Nemhausser on her answer machine. The message is cut off suddenly, and she calls back as soon as she gets it.
Mulder, still crouching in the corner, hears the sounds of a phone. Walking as in a dream, he takes the phone out of a jacket draped over a chair and answers it. "Mulder?" Scully says, surprised. She asks him is he's seen Nemhausser, and he asks her why he should have. Looking suspicious at his monosyllabic answers, she asks him about the knife. He says he did look at it in the evidence room. "I wanted to hold it. I wanted to see what it felt like in my hand," he tells her, but she can't comprehend it. "I didn't take it," he says, sensing her suspicion. "Listen to me carefully," she says, speaking as to a child. "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 is silent for a long while, staring at the new sculpture. "Yeah," he says, vaguely, cutting off the call.
Mulder pulls the clay off the new sculpture, revealing a dead face. Hearing a sound behind him, he whirls round with his gun, only to see Patterson. "It's Nemhausser," he says, pointing to the face. Then he looks at Patterson's hands, covered with clay. "But you already knew that, didn't you?" he says. Patterson claims not to know what he's talking about. "Are you out of your mind?" he asks. "Not me, "Mulder says, raising his gun. "Not now." Patterson looks at his hands, a look of horror growing on his face. Mostow stole three years of his life, Mulder said, and he spent those years "sinking deeper and deeper into the ugliness, just like you taught us to do." After catching Mostow, all that ugliness was still there, Mulder says, and Patterson, driven to kill, knew Mulder was the only person who could stop him, which is why he didn't kill him that night in Mostow's studio.
"Mulder! What the Hell are you doing?" Scully asks, bursting in with a torch which she shines right in Mulder's eyes. "You don't understand!" he tells her. "Help me to understand," she says. "Help me to understand why you have a gun n Agent Patterson." Patterson takes the chance and runs away, knocking Scully to the floor.
Mulder and Scully give chase onto the roof. Patterson is running scared, looking in horror at his hands. After a long chase, Patterson attacks Mulder, but Mulder manages to grab the gun and shoots him. A stone gargoyle watches from the roof.
Two weeks later, Patterson, in prison, yells that he didn't do it - that it wasn't him.
Mulder's closing voice-over: "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 faith, his fight is not a choice but a calling. Yet sometimes the weight of this burden causes us to falter, breaching the fragile fortress of our mind. Allowing the monsters without to turn within and we are left alone to stare into the abyss, into the laughing face of madness