‘Monster of the Week’-Week: “Squeeze”

Welcome to “Monster of the Week”-Week, 2020! In honor of Halloween Quarantine, we’re bringing you an entire week of episode reviews on a thoroughly binge-able, creepy show: The X-Files! You’ll meet some of our favorite monsters, the least competent conspiracies, and some of Mulder’s most ridiculous-yet-dead on theories! Feel free to break out the pumpkin ale or mulled cider, because we’ll have a running “Drink When…” list for the entire series!

A quick thanks to the podcast Fox Mulder is a Maniac and the web comic Monster of the Week. They are far funnier and more dedicated reviewers than I. If you love The X-Files but also love mocking The X-Files, check them out!


Doo-Doo-Doo-Doo-Doooooo-Doooooo


“Squeeze” || Season 1, Episode 3

We cold-open on Baltimore, Maryland. An Unnamed Businessman approaches an innocent-looking storm drain. But that storm drain is anything but innocent! We see a humanoid face with yellow eyes lurking within. Ah, time for an IT rip-off.


Never trust drains! Never!

Unnamed Businessman enters his office building and takes an elevator up to his floor. He heads for his office, but behind him the elevator doors open again. The elevator is gone, and we see the cables swaying as if something is climbing up them.

Unnamed Businessman gets on the phone, complaining that his presentation didn’t go well. That presentation is about to be the least of his worries.

After hanging up, he steps out to get some coffee. We see a breadbox-sized air vent within the office being quietly unscrewed from the inside.  A pair of hands lift up the vent from within.

A moment later, Unnamed Businessman returns. The door slams shut. Struggling and growling emit from within.

We quickly cut to what is now a blood-spattered office with a now-dead businessman. Above, the air vent has been replaced and is being re-screwed in from the inside.

Credits!



Scully is having a very nice lunch with a very young Donal Logue. You may know him as a classic “That Guy” character actor, including as Lt. Bullock on Gotham. Today, he’s playing Agent Tom “Overly Aggressive” Colton.

Scully and Colton are discussing a former colleague who recently got a promotion because he “lucked into” the World Trade Center bombing. That’s some interesting phrasing right there.

Scully endures some ribbing about being partnered with “spooky” Mulder. But even at Episode 3, she’s decided he’s a great agent. To be blunt, that’s awfully generous of Scully given what Mulder pulls in those first two episodes: spray-painting an ‘X’ on a road to mark when a car radio goes crazy; bought dinner for two trespassing teenagers because maybe they believe in UFOs; snuck onto a secure military base with said teenagers. ‘Great agent’ indeed.

Agent Colton sheepishly admits that well maybe there’s a case he’s working on that’s a bit “spooky.” Not that he needs help or anything.

There’s a serial killer active in Baltimore that’s claimed victims with no consistent race, age, or gender. A commonality between the victims is that they’ve each been found in an inaccessible, locked-from-the-inside location. But, hey, all good, he’s got it under control and definitely isn’t desperate for some assistance.

Oh, also, all the victims’ livers were ripped out. With no tool used, just the killer’s bare hands. UM, that sounds like a way more important commonality, Agent Colton.

Scully notes that that sure as fuck sounds like an X-File. Agent Colton denies this, and continues to be overly defensive about needing help. His exact words are “I’m going to solve these murders!” Spoiler: He will not.

Yet Agent “I got this covered and can do it all by myself” Colton still asks Scully to look over the case histories and visit the latest crime scene.

These case “histories” only go back six weeks. Colton is either very lazy, doesn’t have enough clout to have people under him doing these tasks, or…. is this some kind of come-on to Scully? Is this the FBI agent version of asking someone out for coffee? “Maybe you could come with me to chill at the blood-spattered scene of a homicide. No pressure, though…”


Target acquired….

Scully presses, “Do you want me to get Mulder involved?”

And Agent Colton is all “Ha ha, nah! … maybe. …yes, please.

Agent Colton firmly establishes himself as a douche canoe by encouraging Scully thusly: “Maybe you help us out and you won’t have to be Mrs. Spooky anymore.”

Oh yeah, I hope this guy gets his liver ripped out. Or at least gets so frustrated by Mulder’s spooky shenanigans that he pulls his own hair out.


Next, we see Mulder and Scully at the office building crime scene. Scully privately confers with Mulder. Maybe he could try to not totally embarrass her in from of the other kids and be a little less spooky today?

Mulder plays dumb. Is he off-putting? Why? Because he springs slideshows of cattle mutilations on people at the drop of a hat? That’s just embracing THE TRUTH, Scully!


Mulder’s only saving grace is how David Duchovny somehow makes him charming.

Oh look Agent “Douche Canoe” Colton has arrived, all “So Mulder, is this the work of little green men?”

Bro. If you’re gonna be an ass, why did you ask him to come down to your crime scene?

Mulder replies with his best sarcasm, like it’s a fine wine he has been saving in the fridge for just this occasion.

Hey boys, just FYI: someone was murdered in this room a scant 24 hours ago. Perhaps we could focus on that instead of this snide-off?

Agent Colton says he has a theory for how the killer got into the office. But the show cares so little that we never hear it. And for the record, this place doesn’t exactly look like the Fort Knox of office buildings. The hullabaloo about “how ever did the killer breach this impenetrable fortress of cubicles???” is a bit much.

Mulder locates what looks like a metallic shaving on the floor of the office, right under the air vent. He examines the air vent more closely, while Agent Colton gets all huffy about Mulder being so foolish as to look at things! Within the crime scene he was asked to look at!

Mulder dusts the air vent for fingerprints, aka does his job. Maybe Agent Colton could give that a try.

Agent Colton points out that the vent is 6 x 18 inches, so there’s no point in printing it. Well I dunno, maybe the killer stashed a weapon in there? Or the liver? Maybe this is a sequel to Murders at the Rue Morgue and a monkey is involved?

Before you can say “I fucking told you so,” Mulder reveals an unnaturally elongated fingerprint on the vent. Gasp! Perhaps it is a monkey! An aye-aye even!


Yellow eyes? Long fingers? I’ve found the culprit!

Later, Mulder shows Scully that similar fingerprints have been found at other X-Files crime scenes, also with victims in locked places, also with missing livers, also in the Baltimore area.
Why didn’t Mulder bring this up before? Well because five murders took place in the 1960s, another five took place in the 1930s, and a couple more took place in 1903.

Scully wonders if this is a cycle of copycat murders. But Mulder points out that matching prints have been found at the crime scenes through the decades. He reminds Scully that each fingerprint is unique. Yes, Mulder, she’s an FBI agent, she knows. Oh, welcome to our first “Drink when…”: Drink when Mulder explains something to Scully that she would obviously know.

But don’t worry, Mulder doesn’t think it’s aliens. …well frankly, why not? Mulder has (and will) jump on ALIENS as the theory for far less. Hell, this actually does sound like it could be the human version of cattle mutilations. Or perhaps the Chupacabra has expanded its prey?

Well never mind that, what matters is that since these cases go back all the way to 1903, they pre-date Agent Colton’s claim on the case. Technically, all of the cases of this killer, therefore, belong to the X-Files. Not gonna lie, bureaucracy being used for revenge kinda Does Things for me…

But Scully points out that won’t work. Lest we forget, everyone hates Mulder. So, Agent Colton isn’t going to just hand over the case to him.

Mulder’s bright idea is “they do their investigation, we’ll do ours, and never the twain shall meet.”

Yeah, we’ll just run parallel investigations on the same case, not communicating or collaborating. What could possibly go wrong? Well, maybe 9-11, Mulder. Maybe it could get you 9-11.


“Mulder, that’s irresponsible, even for you.”

Scully provides Agent Colton with a bland profile of the killer, even by FBI standards. “Well he’s probably a guy between the ages of 25-35 with above average intelligence. Meeeeeh, good luck.”

She suggests that Agent Colton’s team put surveillance at the previous murder sites. The killer might return to the scene of the crime to relive the thrill of the murders. Agent Colton approves and offers to give Scully some surveillance shifts. She’ll get overtime, plus some time away from “spooky” Mulder. …well if this is overtime, it doesn’t give her time away from her usual shifts with Mulder. Agent Colton: not too bright.


Meanwhile, Mulder makes the interesting point that livers are known to have regenerative properties, and therefore that could hold significant symbolic value to the killer. True. …or he’s eating them. In fact, Mulder, you just made a joke about aliens eating livers. It’s a Hannibal Lecter line. Some actual murderers have eaten livers/organs for non-supernatural reasons. What if it’s that?

Spoiler: the killer’s eating the livers.

But there’s an outstanding question: how does this killer actually kill the victims? Getting a liver ripped out of your body (surprisingly) won’t kill you immediately. You can live at least a day, sans a liver. Oh well, guess the script decided to just skip over that.


Later, Scully is on a surveillance shift in the parking garage under the office building of the latest crime scene. All it takes is a couple of ambient noises for Scully to whip out her gun. Another “Drink when…” is “Drink when the agents take out their guns for no good reason.”

Scully bumps into Mulder, and she doesn’t apologize for almost putting a hole or two in him.

Mulder is here just to say that the surveillance idea is stupid. He claims that the killer’s thrill comes from being able to sneak into seemingly impossible-to-enter places. Therefore, the past crime scenes will be stale to the killer. …So Mulder, you’re disrupting a homicide investigation to gloat? Did I get that right?

But as Mulder swaggers his way out of the garage, he also hears suspicious noises. The agents hear banging in the ductwork, indicating someone climbing through it. The creepy musical score tells us that the killer has indeed returned, so suck it, Mulder!

Scully points her gun at the ductwork, which is just impressively dumb. She announces herself as an armed federal agent.

Rather than answering “Nobody here but us rats”, a figure emerges from the ductwork vent. It’s a scruffy man in an animal control uniform who looks rather mild and normal. But the musical cue tells us that this is not so!

Meet the very first X-Files Monster of the Week: Eugene Tooms. …Um, yeah, spoiler, he’s the monster.


He’s a little underwhelming, I know.

Tooms is arrested and, for once, Mulder tells Scully that she was right. Sadly, we don’t get to see Scully’s victory dance (I’m picturing something like the Elaine Dance from Seinfeld, but somehow made sexy?).


We next see Tooms taking a polygraph exam. The polygrapher could not be less impressed about being left alone with a man whom she has to ask about removing livers from people.

Meanwhile, the FBI team is behind the two-way glass observing. I assume they’re just crossing their fingers that the monster they’ve arrested won’t attack the polygrapher.

The polygraph questions include “Are you over 100 years old?” to a guy who looks about 29 years of age. But between asking about livers and being immortal, the polygrapher isn’t tripped up once. This woman is a rock-solid professional.

After the exam, the polygrapher says that Tooms passed it with flying colors. But Mulder points out that Tooms did fail on two questions: if he was over 100 years old and if he was at one of the crime scenes in the 1930s. The polygrapher tries to explain her interpretation of those responses, and of course the men just talk over her.

One of the other agents aptly replies, “I’d have a reaction to those stupid questions too.”

I mean, he’s got a point.

Tooms has provided legitimate reasons for why he was found in the ductwork. He works for animal control, the building called animal control about a bad smell in the building, and indeed a dead cat was found in one of the ducts.

But I’m confused—is animal control usually the first call in response to bad smells? What about your maintenance staff? Even if a dead animal is the cause, why call animal control? I’d say once an animal is deceased, it is the definition of ‘controlled.’

Seeing as how Tooms also isn’t walking around with sausage fingers, Agent Colton is convinced that Tooms isn’t their man. He’s set to be released. Agent Colton tells Scully that he’ll get her reassigned out of the X-Files, especially now that they all know Mulder is insane. He says this all right in front of Mulder too. Awkward.


Scully talks with Mulder later, annoyed that he was acting territorial over the case. What no one says out loud is the obvious fact that Mulder and Colton are not merely territorial over the case, but over Scully. Gross.


“She’s my not-girlfriend whom I totally respect as a fellow professional!”
“No, she’s my not-girlfriend whom I totally respect as a fellow professional!”

But Mulder wants to show Scully the magic of computers!

Mulder is comparing Tooms’ intake fingerprints to the prints from the crime scenes. Of course, Tooms’ fingerprint is not aye-aye size. So to make a proper comparison, Mulder warps and stretches the fingerprint image to match the old prints’ size.

They are a perfect match! Scully is aghast!

Yep, I’m sure that’ll hold up in a court of law. “We used MS Paint to distort the fingerprints, your honor. That’s just science.”


Brilliant, can you also use the spray-paint tool to write “Tooms Did It” in the print?

We later see Unnamed Businessman 2 arriving at his suburban home. Tooms is watching his next prey from a nearby shrubbery. Having transformed into his slightly more monstrous self, Tooms’ yellow eyes watch Unnamed Businessman 2 enter his home.

This definitely doesn’t look like a challenge for Tooms’. It’s a regular suburban house, it wouldn’t require him to user any special powers at all. Any latchkey kid has figured out, at least once, how to break into their own stupid suburban house.

But choosing the overachiever route, Tooms uses his monster powers to crawl up the brick chimney on the exterior of the house. This is something a neighbor or passing jogger would totally spot.

Tooms gets to the top of the chimney, and suddenly I realize where this is going. Is he about to go full-on Gremlins? (You know the scene…)

An interesting move, but is this really a novel method for Tooms? I’d think he would’ve pulled a chimney murder heist in 1903, before home security was invented.

I’m just saying, I’m seeing these choices and I’m not thinking “clever monster” or “super predator.”

But yep, there he goes. We see Tooms’ power is to be able to stretch himself unnaturally. He extends his right arm down the chimney.


What I wouldn’t give for this power when something falls between the seats in my Subaru.

But what’s weird is that Tooms’ approach is to put his right hand in, stretch it out…and just have the rest of his body awkwardly follow.

His left arm is pinned to his side as it follows his shoulders and head after the right arm. I would think you would want both hands out in front and your shoulders fully mobile?

That’s just me though, I’m not some “super-evolved mutant.”


That just doesn’t look comfortable.

Meanwhile, inside the house Unnamed Businessman 2 is going about his usual evening routine. This apparently includes lighting a fire in his second-floor fireplace. I imagine this is where he sits, drinks scotch, and says to himself, “Why do I live in a big house in the suburbs all by my lonesome? Why won’t Betty in Accounting return my calls? I don’t even have a dog. I should get a dog.”

Unnamed Businessman 2 lights the fire. Is Tooms’ about to go up in smoke? No! Tooms emerges from the shadows and attacks!


We cut to later at the brand-new crime scene. Agent Colton is losing his damn mind. How dare this killer keep killing before Colton catches him!

Colton says his new theory is that this is some kind of “organs on the black market” scheme. Oh yes, because livers physically ripped right from the source are the best. Most organic that way.

Agent Colton says aloud, “I’m willing to give any theory a shot!”

Right on cue, Mulder enters the scene, as if to answer “Any theory, you say?”

Agent Colton tries to kick Mulder and Scully off the scene, but Scully bureaucracy-beats him into submission. Oh yeah, Scully. You bind him with that red tape. You bind him nice and tight.

More elongated fingerprints have been found at this crime scene, so I guess Agent Colton is going to hunt down some aye-aye selling organs on the black market.

Evidence also indicates that Tooms took something from the crime scene. Well, surely, if that were important to the plot, the script would’ve mentioned that at the previous crime scenes. Oh, what’s that script? You took a nap and forgot? And now we’re just stuck with that plot point 2/3 of the way through the episode? Well okay then. Add this to the list, Dear Reader: Drink when the script takes a nap and forgets a plot point.


You’re not getting away with this, you son of a bitch!

Cut to: Oh boy! It’s microfiche time!!!

The address Tooms’ gave at his arrest is an abandoned building, so he’s seemingly in the wind. Mulder shows that he’s found Tooms’ address from 1903 census information. Um, weird, because that’s not a year we would’ve taken a census. Shenanigans! I call shenanigans on you, Script! Also, why answer the census at all if you’re a monster? Monsters aren’t a recognized demographic by the Census Bureau!

Scully suggests a theory that might’ve mattered much earlier in the episode, but now it’s irrelevant, so I’m going to skip over it.

Mulder points out that, as per the previous cycles, Tooms will kill one more victim before going dormant for another 30 years. If they don’t catch him now, he’ll disappear and get right back to murdering in 2023. So I guess we have that to look forward to.

Mulder and Scully dig deep into microfiche to find clues as to Tooms’ whereabouts and territory. We get a montage of epic research. This is high quality television, circa 1993.

Scully manages to find the current address of the detective who investigated the 1933 murders. Well what about the detective that investigated the murders in the 1960s? Surely the more recent cycle would be just as, if not more, valuable?

But oh well! We go talk to elderly, hardened, retired detective, Frank. Upon the agents’ arrival, the old codger says he’s been waiting for the agents for 25 years. …Okay, well that makes no sense because the cycle of the murders is 30 years. And he investigated murders 60 years ago. Did you forget your own timeline, script?

Frank regales the young whippersnapper agents with what it was like investigating gruesome murders in the 1930s. By 1963 when the murders restarted, Frank couldn’t investigate because he was just a desk jockey. …but, why? Why not have the same detective working the same cases? That doesn’t make sense for the police department OR a script. It would’ve been so cool to have a True Detective-style spin-off movie or miniseries, following Frank as he encounters these murders 30 years apart.

Frank says that those murders haunt him. In fact, when he hears about genocides, he thinks of those murders. ….Okaaaaaaaay. In fact, he goes so far as to surmise that all the horrible acts that humans are capable of somehow gave birth to this humanoid monster.


Everything is Nazis? Not such a paranoid idea, circa 2020….

I mean it’s an idea. It’s certainly an idea. But this guy “only” 24 bodies or so under his belt. That’s not good but it isn’t comparable to, you know, genocide.

But whatever! Welcome to The X-Files: we play fast and loose with subjects like genocide. In fact, add this to the list, Dear Reader: Drink when the show goes out of its way to connect to genocide.

Frank offers the agents a true crime treasure trove: his box of old evidence from the previous murders. OH MAN. This could lead to so many podcasts!

That box includes a preserved piece of liver from one of the victims. Neat. Seems Tooms isn’t the only one who collects trophies!

Frank shows the agents a photograph he surreptitiously took of Tooms in the 1960s. It seems Tooms hasn’t aged a day since. Tooms was apparently working for animal control even back then. Why does that matter? I’ll explain shortly.

The agents realize that Tooms has likely lived in the same place all these years: the abandoned building he gave as his address to the police.

If this is true, why would he give the police that address? Was he feeling particularly honest that day?

In any event, it’s time for Our Intrepid Agents to go poking around some abandoned industrial buildings. Yee haw!

In this scene, we get the only episode screenshot used in the opening credits, where Mulder and Scully enter a dingy apartment with guns and flashlights drawn, their faces horrified.

And you know what they see? They see nothing. There’s an old mattress against the wall, there’s some boarded-up windows. But Mulder notes that there is a feel of evil within the room. Perhaps this is where CPAC met last…


“It smells like The Heritage Foundation in here, Scully.”
“Oh, I’m gonna be sick…”

Mulder pulls the mattress aside and discovers a massive hole in the wall. Time to go climbing in the walls! Yay!

The agents climb down into an old coal cellar. They find a table laden with various knickknacks—Tooms’ trophies. How convenient of him to just leave them out in the open like that.

Nearby, the agents find a massive nest structure. It’s made out of rags, newspaper, and some biological substance that looks really, really gross.

“Looks like an opening,” Scully says, finding a hole in the nest. “Think there’s anything inside?” Great question, Scully, great question. A question for the ages, because we DO NOT need to answer that question. Instead, we can leave and hope we never see this nest in our nightmares.


Oh no, that’s going right into the ‘forget about this forever’ drawer.

Oh, gather ‘round children! For it is now time for Mulder to launch into his theory for the episode. Mulder has decided that Tooms is the result of a genetic mutation, creating a superior super predator. He can hibernate, in this gross nest, for 30 years at a time without aging. Ever 30 years, he awakens and consumes 5 livers to sustain himself and stave off aging before he hibernates for another 30 years.

… Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like a failure of evolution. That makes no sense. It makes anti-sense. What good is a mutation that creates a solitary creature that sleeps all the time? And why would Tooms keep following that cycle? “Oh I get to wake up in a world I do not recognize, spend about 2 months killing people, and go back to sleep. Then it starts all over again.”

Who cares if you don’t age if you’re not spending that time doing anything but sleep? Also why does that mean he needs to sleep in a gross nest? Also why does he bother getting a job every time he awakens? It’s not like he has rent and groceries to pay for!

Our Intrepid Agents decide it’s time to bring in the cavalry. UM, on what basis? You found a gross pile of bile of newspapers, therefore Eugene Tooms is the killer?

As they head out, we see Scully suddenly pause, thinking she’s caught on a nail or something. But she seems to free herself and moves on. Out of the darkness, we see Tooms’ hand descending from the ceiling…clutching Scully’s necklace. Ruh roh!

And yes, it is finally time to add to the list: “Drink when Scully is arbitrarily singled out to be attacked/kidnapped by the Monster of the Week.”  


“Yes, I will target the woman even though Mulder is the only person on Earth who has guessed my convoluted secret!”

Later, Mulder is setting up a surveillance team outside of the abandoned building. Scully is back at the FBI offices when Agent Colton busts in, all in a tizzy. How dare they use two of his agents to stake out a location where they’ve seen a suspected murderer?

Colton proclaims that the building is a dead end, as it’s been condemned for 10 years. 10 years? Does no one in Baltimore know what the word “condemned” means or is Baltimore bureaucracy is impressively sluggish?

Also, seems Colton has decided to boost his own his bureaucracy stats. He’s gone above Mulder’s head to the regional ASAC (I don’t know what that means but it sounds important) to call off the surveillance team. Colton then grabs Scully’s office phone so he can call Mulder to gloat about calling off the stake out. How mature.

The way Colton talks to Scully throughout this episode is so dripping with condescending sexism, that it almost makes me mad that the script does it. Scully retorts that if this is how Colton’s going to try to climb up the company ladder, she can’t wait until he falls on his ass. Ha ha, okay script, I might forgive you.


Later, Scully returns home. We see that she is being watched by Tooms. Um, how did he find out where she lives? Oh, you took another nap, script? Well, okay.

Meanwhile, Agent Colton apparently never made that gloating call. Mulder arrives at the stakeout, finding no one else there. Mulder appears as confused and concerned as the guy who didn’t get the memo that the happy hour meetup has been cancelled.

Mulder, brilliant detective that he is, assumes that Tooms attacked/abducted Scully (as, again, will become a running theme in dozens of episodes to come).  He rushes into the abandoned apartment building to play rescuer.

At home, Scully leaves a voicemail at Mulder’s office. She says that she’s going to keep the bureaucracy beating against Agent Colton going. She actually says that she is “furious.” …And you know, she just sounds passively annoyed.

To cool off from being so furious, Scully starts running a bath. Because of course she does. That’s what all women do when they have Emotions, right?

Outside her bathroom window, we see Tooms creeping.

Back at the abandoned building, Mulder comes upon the trophy table again and sees Scully’s necklace. You can almost see the wheels slowly turning in Mulder’s eyes. “But if that’s here, and she’s not then…..sacre bleu!” Mulder drives off to the rescue!

Meanwhile, Scully tests the temp of the bath water when suddenly—GROSS—Tooms’ yellow, thick bile drips down from the ceiling and onto her hand. EW, EW, EW.


“I know I should run, but first I must puke.”

Scully looks up to see the bile dripping out of the vent above her.

She GTFO’s and runs for her gun. Scully aims her weapon at the bathroom, waiting for Tooms to emerge. She looks awfully not freaked out for someone who has a fucking murderer lurking in her ceiling.

However, seems the ceiling vent was a ruse!

Tooms grabs at her from a vent in the floor. We see Tooms’ face and arms squeezed into the small space as he growls, yellow eyes blazing.



But it seems Tooms forgot all about his super stretch powers and Scully’s able to wriggle away from him. Tooms leaps out of the vent and grapples with Scully.

As sadly becomes a trend in this series, Scully does not shine in physical combat. As a trained FBI agent, she is absurdly easy to subdue in almost any given situation.

Tooms pulls up her white blouse, exposing her lower abdomen. He forms his hand into some sort of karate chop and I’m not sure where he’s planning to go from there. Surely he doesn’t remove his victims’ livers via a secret Kung Fu move. He’s a mutant, why not give him claws or something? Did the stretch special effects devour the episode’s claws budget?

Mulder arrives and this super-evolved predator is overcome by simple handcuffs. …couldn’t he just, I dunno, squeeze out of those? Too late to think about that! We have an episode to wrap up!


We later see old detective Frank reading about another genocide in the newspaper. Frank, buddy, that cannot be good for you. He sees an article about Eugene Tooms finally being caught. Oh I bet that article is a trip. “Local animal control employee attacks FBI agent after authorities discover he was living in a cocoon of bodily fluids and newspapers.

We do a scene transition off that same newspaper (smooth!). Tooms tears out the article, licks it, and adds it to the new nest he’s building in his prison cell.

Um, can he do that? Why would they let him do that? Seems a health and safety risk. Like a big one. I feel like if you are going to imprison someone in a mental institution, the literal least you could do is prevent them from creating nests out of bile and paper.


The grossest papier-mâché.

Scully and Mulder observe Tooms in his cell. Seems Tooms’ medical exam came back with abnormal skeletal and muscular development and a declining metabolism. Will this be enough to claim in court “keep him locked up because he’s a mutant”? Spoiler: it will not.


Later, some poor minimum wage-paid orderly has to try to feed Tooms. Wonder if they’re serving liver and onions tonight?

As the meal tray is slid through the slot in his cell door, Tooms smiles wickedly. The slot seems to emit a white light, a clear door for Tooms’ freedom.

But spoiler: Tooms’ won’t even need to break out. In a later episode, his case gets dismissed faster than you can say “Agent Mulder, did you just call the defendant a mutant?”

But don’t worry! Mulder murders him with an escalator.

Credits!


This episode is a good pick for introducing newcomers to The X-Files. They can get a sense of the show, including its internal tropes.

That includes the trope of “well, we’ll never be able to arrest this person on the basis of being a mutant, but maybe if they do something really stupid like attack an FBI agent….”

But the episode also showcases how, through creature creation in the script and special effects department, the show works its ass off to creep you the hell out.

I remember Eugene Tooms being a far creepier monster to me when I watched this episode as a kid. As an adult, Tooms’ stretch powers seem to be limited or come-and-go.

As a whole, Tooms is a complex villain and monster, but to the point of it just being confusing. So he’s a transforming, yellow-eyed, stretchy, liver-consuming, bile-nest hibernating, 30-year cycle killing, ageless mutant that was borne of humanity’s evil acts? That’s a bit Much.


We’ll get you next time, aye-aye!


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