Mulder and Scully investigate the brutal animal attack of a little boy in Connecticut, while suspecting darker forces are at play.
In Eastwood, Connecticut, a little boy named Andrew sings a catchy kids cartoon song while playing along with his "Mr. Chuckleteeth" toy. His mother receives a call from an other person that causes her to lose focus on her son. The boy spots a life-sized version of Mr. Chuckleteeth meandering in the forest around the park. He shouts for his mom to check out the clown hiding behind the trees, but the woman is just too engrossed in the argument with the caller, telling him to stop calling her. When she turns around, Andrew is gone. She screams his name, but nobody calls back. Meanwhile, deep in the forest, Andrew is playfully calling out for Mr. Chuckleteeth. The boy follows him to many locations of the forest, as an unseen danger approaches the now terrified boy at a crushing speed. A few hours later, the cops search for the boy where one of them happens to be Andrew’s father, Officer Rick Eggers. Officer Wentworth spots something on the ground, which turns out to be the dead body of Andrew. His father rushes to see his son but is held back by the other officers.
Scully examines the casefile paperwork in the woods, showing that the boy was viciously attacked. Scully notes that the coroner found that Andrew had a crushed windpipe and vertebrae. Strong says that there’s a new predator; a hybrid between a coyote and a wolf called the coywolf. Mulder explains that the bureau has jurisdiction over the investigation of the murder of the immediate family of a law enforcement officer. Strong is taken aback and trades glances with Wentworth, shocked by the fact that the FBI thinks that this is a murder. Andrew's body is brought in for an autopsy. Scully observes that the neck injuries were most likely a product of being shaken to death. Mulder sees something on Andrew’s ankle, looking like sand or salt. Meanwhile, the whole town gathered at Andrew’s funeral. Diane is affected by the fact that they can’t even do this with Andrew’s body there.
At the Strong household, Anna sits with Mulder and Emily as they try to get information from the kid. Anna asks her mom for some orange juice, while Mulder takes a look at the books in the living room. One is named “Grimoire of the Eastwood Witch." The TV starts blaring the Mr. Chuckleteeth song. Emily turns around and tells them that he was in the forest. Back at the police department, Rick Eggers is doing a search on the sex offender database, and finds Melvin Peter. Scully enters the Chief’s office to report her findings. When her and the Chief go to look for Mr. Eggers, they run into Wentworth, who says that he just saw Rick leave the station in a rush. They walk outside, seeing Eggers zoom past them in a patrol car. Strong and Scully get in another patrol car and chase after Eggers. Eggers gains distance on them and gets Melvin's house. He kicks in the door, blazing his gun, and calls for him. Strong and Scully enter the house to find that Peter is not home. Mulder shows up and searches the house with Scully. Scully spots numerous pictures of the man dressed in clown getup at children’s parties. Mulder opens a closet door to find a monkey rattling inside a small cage. He jumps away from it, but the closet reveals much more like outfits, clown shoes and a mask of Mr. Chuckleteeth.
Back at the Strong household, Emily continues to watch TV, while Anna gets her lunch ready. Outside, Emily spots a "bibbletiggle" standing on her lawn. Anna calls for her to turn off the TV to find that Emily is now missing. A few hours later, Mulder and Scully pull the jacket away from a body, revealing it to be the dead body of Emily, killed in the same way of Andrew. Mulder notices that there is a salt circle around the body, suggesting use of witchcraft. Meanwhile, by the park, Peter has returned to the neighborhood. A patrol car pulls up behind him, being Officer Eggers. The cop climbs out of the car and rushes toward Peter and pulls the confused man out of the car, accusing him of killing Andrew. In the woods, Mulder walks up to Strong. He thinks that he closed the case to hide that he knew someone was practicing witchcraft and that it was associated with Andrew’s murder. Strong concedes. At the park, a crowd has gathered around Eggers who’s savagely beating Peter to the ground. He keeps shouting that Peter is the one that killed his son, but the man defends himself, claiming that he has never killed anyone. Wentworth tells Eggers to stop, but he refuses and the people around him are goading him to keep beating the man. The other officers finally arrive and try to disperse the crowd but it is still too much of a mess until Mulder fires his gun into the air. Eggers is taken off of Peter. Mulder puts his gun away. All of a sudden, Eggers pulls his service weapon instead and shoots Peter in the head.
The judge puts Eggers on bail, despite the obvious murder. At the Eggers’ home, Diane pours herself a glass of alcohol as Rick comes back to the house. He confronts her right away, knowing about the affair. Diane leaves the house and drives to a freeway, where she runs into the ghost of Andrew and flips her car, killing her. Meanwhile, Rick drives to Strong’s home. He kicks in the door, calling out for the chief and shouting to Anna to stay put that this is only between him and her cheating husband. Rick spots the Mr. Chuckleteeth doll running around the house. He turns to the living room where the television turns on and plays a demonic version of the cartoon. Eggers chases the clown to the front of the house, where Strong is at, pointing his gun. Mulder and Scully arrive to see Officer Eggers, dead. Mulder and Scully arrive at the park and head into the woods with their flashlights. Strong gets deeper among the trees looking for the woman. He spots Anna in the woods, in a salt circle. The hellhound comes from behind and attacks Strong, killing him. Mulder and Scully rush over to stop her, with the hellhound also behind them. All of a sudden, Anna bursts into flames, and dies.
A few hours later, the magic has been casted back to the underworld. The cops gather once more around the park, to process the events around the deaths of Anna and Strong. Scully hands the book to Wentworth, explaining that somehow it didn’t burn. Scully asks Mulder to leave the town, fearing something else will occur. As they drive away, the merry-go-round where Andrew last played, starts spinning slowly on its own.
- The coy-wolf, or coyote-wolf hybrid is a mixture of Canis latrans and Canis lupus, originated from the Great Plains States, and has gradually migrated to the Eastern Seaboard by way of Canada.
- John Wayne Gacy, was a serial killer who murdered children, and buried them in his home outside Chicago. He dressed as a clown, and lured teenagers into his orbit under the pretext of providing work.
- Scully stated "... sometimes the simplest of competing theories is actually the right one", which is allusion to Occam's Razor. In the philosophical sense of the word, a razor is a principle that allows one to rule out ("shave off") unlikely explanations for a phenomenon.
- Mulder made mention of the FBI jurisdiction over the killing of the immediate family of a law enforcement officer. That is a reference to Title 18 of The United States Code ( Section 115(b)(3), to be more specific), it was put on the books to deter interference of a criminal investigation.
- Scully's original workup of the assailant: male, age 19 to 42, with a criminal record. And probably lives near and frequents the park. Would know the boy's play schedule. And most disturbingly, these types of killers get aroused at the suffering of their victims. Also, he would be emboldened by escaping detection - and would likely kill again.
- Scully revised her profile when she spoke to Chief Strong. She stated " When the child is under the age of five, the majority of assailants are in fact ...". She is referring to a 2007 study where nearly fifty percent of children under the age of five were committed by a close family member .
- Scully also stated : "Most of the time, friends and family can't even contemplate that the suspect is capable of these crimes because they carry out their fantasies in private... When the suspects are confronted, they have a tendency to become violent towards themselves."
- Based on Mulder's brief recount of the region: In 1658, a Puritan midwife named Goodie Bishop was accused of witchcraft and lying with the devil and she supposedly, spontaneously combusted in front of the assembled townsfolk.
- A Hellhound is a large black dog that guards the gates of the underworld.
- A Grimoire has instructions for summoning spirits and demons.
- In witchcraft, magic circles are used to summon spirits and demons.
- When casting spells or curses, salt protects the caster from the demons unleashed.
- In the 16th and 17th century, witches were said to conjure spirits called familiars, which usually took the form of animals. But sometimes could take human shape in the guise of the victims' ardent desires or a beautiful woman luring a man to his death.
- A nutmegger is a life-long resident of Connecticut.
- David Duchovny as Special Agent Fox Mulder
- Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Scully
- Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Walter Skinner
- Alex Carter as Chief Strong
- Erin Chambers as Anna Strong
- Jason Gray-Stanford as Officer Eggers
- Ken Godmere as Melvin Peter
- Sharon Taylor as Diana Eggers
- Sebastian Billingsley-Rodriguez as Andrew Eggers
- Emma Oliver as Emily Strong
- Sean Campbell as Officer Sean
- Roger Cross as Officer Wentworth