Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The X-Files: Grotesque (3.14)

I remember that as a kid, back in the dark ages of the 1990's, that I actually read the novelization of this episode before I saw the episode itself. Yep, remember novelizations? Heh. Grotesque is almost a spiritual successor to last season's Irresistible, both of which help lay the groundwork for Chris Carter's Millennium, especially with the insight into the criminal mind. Grotesque is arguably a better episode than Irresistible, if only because it has far more ideas, and we don't have the seemingly requisite "Scully-in-peril" third act twist.

At the heart of Grotesque is the importance of Mulder and Scully as a team. While they're split apart for long periods here, it's down to their relationship that Mulder is saved in the end. Agent Patterson doesn't have his own Scully; leaving him to be consumed by the very evil he was investigating. There is real care and compassion displayed by Scully throughout this episode, and her brief scene with Skinner perfectly captured their mutual fear that he has finally gone off the deep end.

I should also add that this episode looks gorgeous. It's all moody blacks and blues, characters bathed in other-worldly light and some great uses of shadow, sinister alley ways and rain-drenched rooftops. It feels like an adult psychological thriller along the lines of Manhunter or The Silence of the Lambs, and it's a real testament to the show that they're now able to create these movie-esque hours with so much visual greatness and atmosphere, all in forty minutes.

Grotesque enraptures you from its opening sequence, displaying shocking amounts of horror that perfectly fits the episode's title, and a surprising amount of psychological depth. Could have done without the cat leaping out from off-camera, though. Chortle. Rating A+

Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Walter Skinner); Levani (John Mostow); Kurtwood Smith (Agent Bill Patterson)
Writer Howard Gordon Director Kim Manners

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