Friday, October 4, 2013

1x03: Squeeze

I am the key figure in an ongoing blogger project; a project to review each episode of The X-Files in chronological order.  It's a global project, actually, with awesome readers in the highest levels of nerdiness and hopefully it will be read by every man, woman, and child on the face of this planet.

As we go forward with these reviews, I'm going to keep the following themes in mind:

1. The show is as much about Scully's journey toward becoming a believer as it is about the paranormal events she and Mulder encounter.

2. Scully is only a skeptic when viewing things from a clinical distance; when the shit hits the fan, she acts on Mulder's crazy beliefs because she knows it will keep her alive.

3. Mulder isn't right nearly as often as he thinks.

4. The evolution of the Mulder/Scully relationship - not just the romantic involvement that eventually occurs, but their dynamics of trust and distrust, the changing ways they view each other, and the friendship that grows over time.

5. Assault on a federal officer never seems to lead to jail time.

6. Mulder is kind of a dick.

7. Hotel managers must be crazy to rent to FBI agents.

8. The enormous top-secret government conspiracy actually really sucks at keeping things quiet.

9.  There are some serious homoerotic undertones in this show.

I reserve the right to add more items to this list as the series progresses and you can't stop me!

Just a little note before we start: I've seen this series multiple times, so I'll be referencing characters and plots and events that haven't yet occurred. There will be spoilers.  If you're seeing this series for the first time and reading this reviews, consider this fair warning.

Welcome to 1x03: Squeeze. The first of the "monster of the week" episodes - those that have nothing to do with aliens, abductions, or government conspiracies and instead focus on mutants, monsters, and the occasional serial killer.

The episode opens on Baltimore, Maryland, and some dude walking down the street.  The camera keeps cutting to a sewer drain, with creepy music playing, so we already know something terrible is going to happen.  Then Some Dude starts walking in slow motion as the color drains from everything else around him ...

Hey, isn't this the same thing that happens in Tithonus in S6?

Oh shit, never mind that, there's a creep in the sewer.

Some Dude arrives in his office building, which has a state-of-the-art security system consisting of one guy watching one black-and-white monitor showing one view of the elevator lobby.  And it's not even a very good view (or the security guy isn't paying any attention whatsoever) because moments after Some Dude gets to his floor, the elevator doors open again - but this time on an empty shaft, with the cables twitching as if something is climbing them.

Our great hero, Some Dude, sits at his desk and calls his wife to tell her he's going to be home late since things aren't going so well at the office. Aw, poor Some Dude. I already feel bad for this guy who is totally not about to be brutally murdered or eaten in any way.

Remember this snow globe, folks. We'll see it again.

We cut to a close up of an air vent, and something is unscrewing the screws, presumably from the inside... which is totally impossible, actually, and is one of the things that really bugs me about this episode.  If you screw the vent cover to the wall, the screw goes into the wall and thus can't be reached by something inside the vent.  Unless you did a really shitty job of it and just sort of hung the vent on there, leaving the screws for decoration... in which case our liver-eating mutant buddy wouldn't need to be unscrewing them at all.

Our brave and noble Some Dude, slayer of hideous monsters and defender of the weak and innocent, grabs himself a nice cup of coffee and doesn't seem to hear the building and increasingly creepy music.  He closes the door to his office and we hear the sounds of a struggle, but the only visual cues are the rustling of his blinds and a sudden dent in the door. Then we see blood dripping slowly onto the carpet and pan up to his desk, splattered in blood; a reflection briefly shows our beloved Some Dude, who shone too brightly for far too short a time, lying dead. Then we pan back up to that vent and just catch a glimpse of something scurrying back inside.

RIP Some Dude, you sweet prince.

Opening credits roll.

"The Truth is Out There" fades and we Scully actually engaging in normal human behavior, having lunch with a classmate from Quantico.  Take note of the times we see Scully having interactions with friends from her past, because they will get to be fewer and fewer as the series goes on and Mulder becomes basically her sole social contact.  Part of this is just Stockholm Syndrome as her world becomes more and more focused on Mulder and his insanity, and part of it is that as her life gets weirder, she is less and less capable of finding things in common with anyone outside said Mulder insanity.  Plus she gains a reputation as "Mrs. Spooky" at the FBI, so she can't really make any new friends at work.  Poor Scully. Putting this as #1 and #4.

They talk boring work shit that doesn't really matter because we'll never see this guy again and holy shit, it's Donal Logue!

Donal Logue teases her about "close encounters of the third kind" and Scully defends Mulder by saying that, despite his "out there" theories, he's a great agent. The Stockholm is already going strong, I see.

Logue confesses that he's dealing with a rather "out there" case right now - a serial killer has committed 3 murders over the last 6 weeks, and the cops can't determine any sort of point of entry for the killer. One victim, a college girl, was found dead in her dorm room with the windows locked and the door chained from the inside; the last victim, beloved and sorely missed Some Dude, was in a "high security office building" and yet nobody heard or saw a thing. Scully asks if they could be suicides, but Logue pulls out what must be a rather grisly crime scene photo (which we never get to see because this was 1993 network TV and we hadn't been desensitized enough by things like The Walking Dead yet) and says each victim's liver had been ripped out - no cutting tools used, just bare hands.

Logue slyly asks Scully to come look at the case as a favor, but he doesn't seem too enthused with Mulder coming along... probably because he knows Mulder is a nutcase who will start talking about liver-eating mutants and totally make Logue look like an ass in front of his superiors and try to take over the whole case. Logue wants her to know that this case could be his big break... and it could also mean Scully gets out of being "Mrs. Spooky." That's a low blow, dude. 

Poor Scully looks so conflicted about this. We already know that her loyalty to Mulder is growing and that she's starting to like him despite his weirdness... or perhaps even because of it. She's sort of an uptight, highly logical, super organized person; you have to wonder if maybe she sees Mulder as the sort of free spirit she was never able to be.  But we also see, in this scene, that there's a part of her that wants the sort of success her classmates from Quantico are having.  Looking back, this is one of those episodes where she really could have gone another way: chosen her career over Mulder and had a normal life.

I'm adding one to this list, here: #10: The X-files department is super toxic to anyone who comes close to it.  Already, this early in the series, we're seeing this assignment strip Scully of her sterling reputation within the FBI; we're seeing its alienating effects on her social life; and we're seeing how the rest of the bureau doesn't want to touch Mulder with a 10-foot pole because of it.  And those are the tip of the iceberg compared to all the horrible shit that is yet to come.

Anyway, jump to the crime scene where dearest Some Dude met his tragic end. Mulder's wondering why Logue and his colleagues didn't come to him directly, and Scully thinks it just might have something to do with his reputation as an utter nutcase... and Mulder seems genuinely confused by this, and maybe even a little hurt.

I don't know why you're surprised at this. You called yourself "the FBI's Most Unwanted."

Logue walks in and asks Mulder if this looks like the work of little green men. Mulder just decides to fuck with him and says they're actually little grey men, and that Reticulans are notorious for the extraction of human livers due to iron depletion in the Reticulan galaxy.

Mulder, this is why no one wants to play with you. #6.

Scully gives Logue an apologetic look and they start to discuss the case; meanwhile Mulder starts taking a look around and notices a few funny fibers just below the vent, so he decides to dust it for prints.  Logue does the standard "what do you think you're doing, you're crazy" routine until Mulder actually does pull a really weird-looking print off the vent.

The following day, Mulder puts on his smart glasses and shows Scully slides (actual slides!) of fingerprints from previous cases in the Baltimore area, all with unidentified points of entry, all with their livers removed... and all with the same distorted shape as the one from sweet, beautiful Some Guy's office. Scully wonders how Logue didn't know about the previous murders, and Mulder reveals that they happened before he was even born, and some before his mother was even born. There was even a case of stolen liver murdr in 1903, before fingerprinting was even a thing. 5 murders every 30 years, and 2 to go this year.

Scully's mind goes to copycat killers, but Mulder reminds her that the prints are a perfect match - it could only be one killer. As Mulder starts throwing out spooky theories, Scully reminds him that this is Donal Logue's case... but he says that, as the murders in the x-file date back to 1903, they had it first.

Scully tells him, in as gentle a voices as she can: 

SCULLY: Mulder, they don't want you invovled. They don't want to hear your theories. That's why Blevins has you hidden away down here.

And he reminds her:

MULDER: You're down here too.

#4, #10

He suggests that they conduct their own investigation, separate from Logue's, and nobody has to know about it.

Scully goes to do what she does best: type stuff up.  Her voiceover tells us that the killer is most likely a male between 25-35 who's wicked smart.  We see some blueprints, presumably of the site of Some Dude's tragic and untimely death, as Scully postulates that the killer may have superior knowledge of the buildings and duct works where the murders occur, or that he could be blending in as maintenance or delivery workers.  She looks at the slides of the elongated fingerprint, clearly wondering about it

but her voices glosses over it, focusing instead on the liver extraction as "the most significant detail."  Her voiceover segues directly into a meeting with Logue and his superiors as she suggests that the killer is taking liver trophies as a way to cleanse himself of his own impurities in a form of obsessive compulsive behavior.  She tells them that, since they can't predict who will be the next victim, their best bet is to stake out sites of previous murders because the killer will most likely come back to relive the emotional high.

And isn't this the kind of shit that Mulder should be telling them? After all, he got his gold star in profiling serial killers.  I wonder if these are Scully's original theories or if Mulder was feeding her lines for her report.

Everyone is all super impressed with her rational explanations, and Logue's boss wants to starts the stakeouts tonight.  He invites Scully along... that is, as long as she doesn't mind working in an area that's more "down to earth" nudge nudge wink wink.  Everyone at the table has a good laugh, and you know that just has to sting something fierce by the look on her face. #10 all over the place!!

Put some cold water on that burn, Scully. It helps.

It's a good thing Scully has a real stubborn streak, or all this derision would have driven a hard wedge in between her and Mulder, rather than drawing them closer.  She could have abandoned him at any time, sided against him and given the Smoking Man all the ammo he'd need to shut the X-files down through official channels, but instead she stuck with him and ultimately developed an "us against the world" mentality.  You go, Scully. #4.

Cut to late at night, Scully on a stakeout.  She's just reporting her position over the radio when she hears some banging noises. She draws her gun and gets out of the car - I'm hesitant to file this under #2 because at this point we don't know if she believes Mulder's theory or not and could be just exercising normal caution when there's a serial killer on the loose. She almost shoots Mulder in the chest as he jumps out from from behind a corner. 

Real professional, there, Mulder. Not sure if #6 or he's just terrible at his job.  Y'know, we're gonna put that as it's own thing.

11. Mulder is They're both actually terrible at his their jobs.  Remember last episode when he let an old man get the drop on him in the mensroom at that bar?  Someone as paranoid as Mulder, who's also had FBI training, should not have let that shit happen. Just like he should know better than to run around making a bunch of noise and then leap out at someone who's on a stakeout for a freaking serial killer.  And Scully's no shining star here, either.  I'm pretty sure stakeout protocol is 2 people to a position (or at least, that's what every other crime drama has taught me AND it's what we'll see several times later in this series), and she also should have radioed in that she'd heard something before leaping out of the car to go poke it with a stick.  So yeah, they're both kind of bad at their jobs.

Mulder has apparently just shown up to tell Scully this is all a waste of time and that she's totally wrong about this whole case (#6), but as he leaves he hears some movement in a vent duct and runs back to get Scully so they can poke it with a stick together.

Scully orders the vent monster to come out slowly.  Just as Vent Monster comes out and puts his hands up, their backup arrives. Wow, that was fast, guys. What, did you have literally every member of your squad in this same parking structure?  And if you did, why did you leave Scully - the only female on this case, and a rather short and unimposing one at that - all alone at her own position? Not that Scully needs male protection (because she's a badass, except when plot dictates she be a victim), but y'know, protocol and shit.

Logue and his men arrest Vent Monster - who's really just some skinny guy in a dusty shirt - and Mulder begrudgingly admits that Scully was right! Confetti! Balloons! Case closed! Party time!

Except we're only 15 minutes in, so there's actually no way Scully was really right. 

After a commercial break, we come back to Vent Monster undergoing a lie detector test while Scully, Mulder, Donal Logue, and his superiors watch through one-way glass. The test administrator is asking a bunch of questions about the murders, and Vent Monster very calmly denies any involvement. She asks if he's over 100 years old; Logue scoffs that must be some kind of control question, but Mulder says he put that question in himself. Vent Monster denies it.

Afterward, the test lady says Vent Monster got an A+, passed every question, and says as far as she's concerned, he had nothing to do with those murders. Thanks for your input, lady, but as lie detectors aren't admissible in court, and you're not wearing any sort of badge, I'm gonna go ahead and say your opinion doesn't really mean much. Mulder takes a look at the results himself and we get this nice shot:

Mulder and his crackpot theory, examining evidence on one side of the table, while everyone else (including Scully) stands at the other end, satisfied they know everything already.  Mulder says Vent Monster missed questions 11 and 13 - the ones about being over 100 years old and about having been at a crime scene in 1933.  Logue's boss angrily dismisses Mulder's theories and evidence and says he's going to let Vent Monster go free. He storms out.

Logue asks Scully if she wants to storm out too, and she politely tells him to go fuck himself because she's assigned to the X-files now.  

TOM COLTON (Donal Logue): I'll see what I can do about that.

SCULLY: Tom, I can look out for myself.

Translation: Back up off me, dude. I'm a strong, independent woman who don't need no Logue.

What follows next is another of those little scenes that's easy to overlook, but speaks to the Mulder/Scully dynamic.  They walk out together, and Scully wants to know why Mulder was pushing his theories when he knew they wouldn't believe him.  He answers in classic Mulder style: he runs into so many hostile nonbelievers that sometimes he just has to fuck with their heads, even though he knows it will lead to his ridicule.  Scully tells him that he seemed pretty territorial, and we think maybe she means about the case... but then he starts playing with her necklace

and we get the sense that maybe he was being territorial over her, as well. Scully seems surprised by this rather intimate act - they've had very little physical contact since that hug in the pilot - but doesn't say anything.  He tells Scully that even if she doesn't agree with him, she respects the journey of the investigation... and if she wants to run off with them, he won't hold it against her.  He starts to walk away, and after a brief pause, SHE FOLLOWS HIM.  She had her out, she could have sided with Logue and his asshole buddies, but she's seen the way they treat Mulder and she'd rather go with him.  She says something about how she just has to see what evidence he has to back up his bizarre polygraph theory, but we know it's more than that. We've seen her growing loyalty to him, and we've seen how already she doesn't have anywhere else to go. Scully and Mulder vs. the world.  #4.

Cut to Mulder and Scully looking at Vent Monster's prints (now identified as Eugene Tooms) on a truly ancient-looking computer.  Mulder isolates one of the prints and pulls it up against the elongated one from his file.

And OMG you guys, Scully is eating sunflower seeds in this scene. The conversion is complete. One of us! One of us!

Anyway, utilizing a feature that no fingerprint software could possibly actually have, he stretches out Tooms' print, overlays it with the elongated one, and proves they're a perfect match.

Scully's all WTF how? Mulder says all he knows for certain is they let the guy go. 

Cut again, this time to a dark night and car pulling into a driveway.  A pair of yellow eyes watches from the bushes as a man gets out of the car and walks inside... and just like with dear departed Some Dude, all color fades to black and white except around this man. Tooms emerges from the bushes and watches the man through the window.  As the man walks about his house - checking the mail, making himself a drink, generally just settling in after a long day - Tooms Spidermans up onto the roof and starts Mister Fantastic-ing his way down the chimney, like some ultra freaky supervillain Santa Claus.

The Man - who I don't like as much as Some Dude, who was obviously the true hero of this story - adjust a little glass knickknack on his mantle and bends down to light a fire.  Unfortunately for him, Tooms is one fast motherfucker and is already out of the chimney; he leaps from the shadows and presumably eats the man's liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Ft ft ft ft ft ft ft.

(And yes, I'm pretty sure this whole episode was inspired by Silence of the Lambs. Chris Carter has stated multiple times that Clarice Starling was his inspiration for Dana Scully's character, so we know he's a fan.)

The next day, Logue and his buddies are examining the crime scene.  He says they should start checking liver transplants, wondering if this could be a black market thing.  His boss thinks it's a silly idea but Logue says, "At this point, I'm willing to give any theory a shot."

Mulder shows up right on cue.

Logue tries to bar their access but Scully reminds him that they're authorized to be there, and gosh, wouldn't it just be such a black mark on his record if word got out that he was obstructing another officer's investigation.  Logue lets Mulder by but demands to know whose side Scully is on. She tells him, with a small degree of contempt in her voice, "The victim's."

Boom. Suck on that, Donal Logue. You're all worried about how this case is going to make or break your career and not giving a shit that people are dying and you don't know why, and you're dismissing outside-the-box theories that could save someone's life.  Meanwhile Mulder (who is just as driven to solve the case, mind you) will do and think whatever's necessary to find the killer without giving a shit about his career or reputation.  Not that he has much to lose, but still... it's the principle of the thing.

Pictured: the face of a man who just had his ass handed to him by a ginger with shoulderpaads.

Mulder looks around the fireplace and notices that someone else has dusted a print on the side - one of the super elongated ones.  He also sees four smaller prints on the mantle and guesses that Tooms took something; sure enough, we the audience notice that the little glass knickknack is missing.

I love it when shows present evidence in this way.  The character realizes something at the same time the audience does, even when we have slightly different information.

Mulder and Scully go dig through some microfiche - seriously, was this a thing in the early 90s? - and find Tooms' name on a census from 1903, with an address one floor below that of the 1903 victim.  Scully thinks the record could be Toom's great-grandfather, with genetics explaining the similarity in prints and the passing down of sociopathic behavior. Scully, come on, you know better than this. Fingerprinting 101: everyone is unique. Even identical twins have different prints.  There are similarities that might lead a naked-eye observer to believe two prints are identical, but you two have scanned them through a computer. 

Scully just doesn't want to believe.

Mulder reminds Scully that if they don't catch Tooms now, they won't get another chance until 2023, so they need to start digging through the census data as well as marriage/birth/death certificates. He jokingly asks her for some dramamine, because the microfiche reader makes him seasick.  (This comes back in Dod Kalm and a few other later episodes; I never noticed this offhand remark before but it's kind of neat that they planted this relatively minor character trait so early and stuck with it.)

Hours later, they haven't found anything.

Pictured: Two people wondering how the hell they wound up here like this.

As far as they can tell, Eugene Victor Tooms was never born, never married, never died... at least not in Baltimore county.  The one thing Scully did find was the address of the investigation officer of the 1933 murders at Powhatan Mill.

They head over to the retirement home where officer Frank Briggs now lives. He says he's been waiting 25 years for someone to show up and try to catch this monster.  The scenes still haunt him:

FRANK BRIGGS: But those murdres in Powhatan Mill, when I walked into that room, my heart went cold, my hands, numb. I could feel it... When I first heard about the death camps in 1945, I remembered Powhatan Mill. When I see the Kurds and the Bosnians, that room is there, I tell you.  It's like all the horrible acts that humans are capable of, somehow gave birth to some kind of human monster.

Damn, Briggs. You deep.  Maybe Mulder and Scully should be taking the stuff this guy says with a grain of salt, since (1) he's super old, (2) these murders happened 60 years ago, and (3) he's clearly developed some sort of maniacal fixation on the case. But no, they just sort of accept all of this because #11.

He shows them a trunk full of all the evidence he collection - both officially and unofficially. 

When the murders started again in 1963, he knew it was the same person, but he was on a desk job and no one would let him near the case.  He tells them about the trophies that went missing along with the livers: a hairbush, a mug.

Mulder asks if Briggs has ever heard of Eugene Victor Rooms; Briggs says he did some of his own surveillance in '63 and shows them a photo he IDs as Tooms.  He shows them another photo of the apartment building, and in a cool transition, the shot fades from photo to reality as Mulder and Scully pull up to the building in their car.

They poke around inside - this scene is the origin of one of the clips used in the opening credits, so yeah Scully, we're all really glad you wore that hideous burnt orange suit so we can be reminded of it every week for the next 7 seasons.

The building appears to be abandoned, but Mulder claims he can feel the same spookiness that Briggs felt. Mulder pushes aside an old mattress to discover a sizable hole in the wall. They just whip out the flashlights and head on in, which you could not get me to do in a million years.  (Of course, I've see The X-Files so I know what that kind of nonsense leads to.)

They find an old cellar full of Tooms' trophies - including the glass thing from the latest victim and a snowglobe that we the audience recognizes as Some Dude's.

Sorry, I'm tearing up a bit just thinking about him.  The loss is still so fresh and raw.

Off in the corner they spot some kind of psychotic papier-mache project. Mulder theorizes it's some kind of nest and so promptly stick his hand straight in it. When he pulls its hand back, it's covered in slime. Scully tells him she thinks it's bile and Mulder drops one of my favorite lines:

MULDER: Is there any way I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?

You'd be amused to find how many of my image placeholders are just the word "eeeeewwww."

With mental gymnastics that no one who didn't write the script could follow, Mulder starts theorizing that this is Toom's hibernation nest, where he naps for 30 years at a time in between liver-eating sprees; he thinks Tooms is some sort of genetic mutant capable of living off human livers for long periods of time.  He wants the building under surveillance, which Scully knows will be a difficult sell.

As they leave, Scully stops suddenly and says she's snagged on something.  She twists around a little and gets free, and we see Tooms in the rafters holding Scully's necklace.

This is an interesting shift in Tooms' pattern that's never really explained, as before he's always taken the trophy after selecting and killing his victim.  We have no reason to believe he ever stalked any of them; the two we've seen on screen make it seem like he just spotted them randomly, followed them to the scene, and then ate them.  We don't know whether the whole draining-of-surrounding-color thing indicates that he's noticed something special in them and chosen them as victims because of it, or if it means he's just focusing on them randomly and going into hunter mode.  If it's the first, that might explain why he chooses to target Scully as his next snack; he may, in fact, have chosen her when she first caught him coming out of that vent.  If it's the second... well, maybe she just walked by at the wrong time looking delicious, but he could easily have targeted anyone else.  This is the third episode, though, and we haven't seen Scully in immediate danger, so the Powers That Be dictate she has to be targeted by something by now or else risk becoming too much of a strong female character.

Sometime later, Mulder is in his car staking out the building when two agents come in to relieve him. Tells them to keep an eye out for Tooms and that he and Scully will be back in 8 hours to relieve them. And they're all, "You got it, Spooky," and laugh as he walks away.

Elsewhere, Scully is sitting in some office organizing her enormous ... is it a pocketbook? a messenger bag? a purse? who knows ... when Donal Logue bursts to yell at her about using two of his men to keep surveillance on a condemned building, just because Mulder said to. He basically tells her that Mulder has tainted her with his crazy and now he doesn't want to play anymore, and says that he's called off the stakeout. And this is why I love Scully:

SCULLY: Is this what it takes to climb the ladder, Colton?

TOM COLTON (Donal Logue): All the way to the top. [smug face]

SCULLY: Then I can't wait 'til you fall off and land on your ass.


Colton tries to call Mulder to gloat, but there's no answer at his apartment. Jackass.

Cut to Scully pulling up outside her apartment building.  We can see Tooms watching her from the shadows, and as she walks from her car to her front door we see all color drain from the scene except for Scully. 

The reason Colton couldn't reach Mulder is that Mulder has already gone back to the stakeout and is confused when he can't find anyone else there. He calls out for Scully then goes into the building to look around.

Back at Scully's apartment, she's trying to call him but gets his machine instead.  Wow, it's a good thing the show only has cell phones when it's convenient or this ending wouldn't work AT ALL. Also this is totally not the same apartment she has later in the series... which makes sense considering all the shit that goes down here. 

She leaves him a message saying how furious she is with Colton for calling off the surveillance and asks him to call her when he gets back.  After hanging up, she goes to draw a bath.

Baths are fucking dangerous in this show, in case you didn't know.  Any time you see a bathtub, you should start getting scared. Nothing good happens in bathtubs.

She walks out of the bathroom to, I dunno, get soap or something, and we see Tooms reach up to the window. And he's naked. Because breaking into a woman's bathroom to violate her body wasn't enough of a metaphor, he has to be naked while he does it.

Meanwhile, Mulder is back in the condemned building digging through Tooms' little love nest again when he spies Scully's necklace in the pile of trophies.

Back at Scully's apartment, she's getting read to have a real nice bubble bath at the end of a long and stressful day, when a lump of bile falls on her. She looks up and sees bile dripping out of her ceiling vent, then runs out of her bathroom to grab her gun because #2.

Mulder tries to call her from his cell phone (how convenient!) but the camera shows us the phone lines to her apartment have been cut.  Seriously, this is way more planning and stalking than Tooms has ever shown when going after a victim. What is it about Scully that makes serial killers break their patterns in order to get her?

Scully examines her vents at gunpoint and of course, the moment she turns away from one, Tooms bursts out and grabs her leg. She manages to wrestle out of his grasp and scrambles into the bathroom ... rather than, say, towards the phone or the front door. Seriously, did these people not pay attention in their training? FBI agents are trained in how to think rationally in high-stress situations and yet Mulder and Scully repeatedly seem to forget this shit. #11.  

Maybe we can forgive them, though, because I seriously doubt there's a class at Quantico that deals with how to handle a freakishly-stretchy liver-eating Hannibal Lecter suddenly bursting out of your heating vent.

Mulder come squealing up to her apartment just as Tooms leaps out of the vent and pins Scully to the bathroom floor. He sits on her stomach as they struggle, and she jams her fingers in his eyes. He grabs her hands and pushes them to the floor over her head, exposing her stomach ... because half the times Scully is in trouble, it's a rape metaphor.

Mulder bursts in and Tooms tries to bolt, but Scully leaps up off the floor and tackles him because she's a fucking badass. Tooms turns the attack on her and tries to choke her, but Mulder manages to get a cuff on his wrist, drawing Tooms' attack towards him. Scully grabs his arms and gets him cuffed to her bathtub.

(Why doesn't Tooms pull a Leonard Betts here and use his super stretchy powers to get out of the cuffs??)

Mulder asks Scully if she's okay; she's leaning against the wall, breathing heavily and probably already rationalizing all of this nonsense, and manages to nod.

There's nothing super interesting going on in this scene. She just looks so cute all tousled.

Clearly Mulder hasn't developed his Horatio Caine pun skills, because the best "gotcha" line he can come up with is, "He's not going to get his quota this year."

Even Tooms looks unimpressed.

Seriously, Mulder, it's like you weren't even trying.
Back at the retirement home, Frank Briggs is reading a newspaper and sees an article about Tooms' arrest at the bottom of the page.  He closes his eyes and starts to sob a little in relief.

In another cool transition, we see that same article of Tooms being slowly ripped apart.  Tooms licks the paper, crumples it up, and adds it to the nest we seeing building against the wall of his cell. 

Mulder is watching Tooms through the window in the cell door when Scully approaches him. She tells him she's ordered some genetic tests and that preliminary medical exams have revealed abnormalities in his muscles and skeleton, and some weird metabolic changes.

Mulder's not paying attention. He's just watching Tooms shredding paper.  And he delivers this creepy line that makes me want to put motion sensors on all my air vents:

MULDER: All these people putting bars on their windows, spending good money on hi-tech security systems, trying to feel safe. I look at this guy and I think, "It ain't enough."

They walk away and we watch as a guard brings Tooms a meal tray, sliding it through a small opening on the middle of the door.  The final shot of the episode shows Tooms gazing at this opening and smiling.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this episode. I find it very odd that the thing that brought Mulder and Scully onto this case (the unknown PoAs at the crime scenes) was the one thing that they didn't really talk about outside of that one scene with the prints.  They spent a lot of time discussing the possibility (or impossibility) of Tooms being a bajillion years old, but sort of glossed over the whole "he's a super stretchy mutant capable of elongating and compressing himself through tiny spaces" thing. Seems kind of important.  His hunting patterns weren't very firmly established, either; he just went after Scully because it was convenient for the plot.  The writers could have just as easily had him attack, say, Donal Logue; maybe Logue had a distinctive pin or something that Tooms swiped and that's what led Mulder and Scully to him.  

It's possible I just want to see that smug asshole get bitten in the stomach by something paranormal.

I do like the character development in this episode, clearly illustrating Scully's increased alienation (pun intended) from her colleagues as she gets pulled deeper and deeper into Mulder's world - a theme that pops up a few times in the early seasons. They lay it on a little thick here, but I do love it when Scully basically tells Donal Logue to go fuck himself.

Firsts: monster of the week, Eugene Victor Tooms, Scully chooses Mulder over a normal life, Mulder mentions seasickness, bathtub of terrible danger, Scully in mortal peril

New items on the list:  
10. The X-files department is super toxic to anyone who comes close to it.

11. Mulder and Scully are both terrible at their jobs.


  1. I love how detailed your reviews are! It's really fun to see all the little details, and how they match with your list.

    Did you know that Tooms is played by the actor who was Percy in The Green Mile?

  2. Tooms is one of the best X-Files bad guys, and his episodes are among my favorites!