I’ve been delving into the popular sci-fi series The X-Files for a while now, making many attempts and failures to engage with its first season. Now it’s summer, and I’ve been weaving in and out through the series various episodes, trying to piece the gigantic enterprise together. It may seem strange for me to go back and recap an over two decades old television show, in some ways that type of thing is what the blog was built for. Join me this week as I review/recap the third episode.
I guess one could say that the first two episodes of The X-Files were “Monster of the Week” episodes, since I don’t think they end up having much to do with the mythology over all (more so with “Deep Throat” than “Pilot”), but “Squeeze” is definitely the first straight up, 100%, no doubt about it monster of the week. It’s all Tooms all the time, and what a great way to kick off this type of episode on the show.
It’s interesting to think about how this show handles it’s story lines and how different episodes are structured. It’s famous for alternating, giving you some episodes which are almost completely stand alone having little to nothing to do with the larger context of the show, and then switching it up with episodes that develop the continuing conspiracy plot. It’s way too earlier to tell which one works better for the show at this point, but having gone through a bunch of it and then circling back to review gives me somewhat the benefit of hindsight. The mythology ones might be the ones you get invested in and drive you to watch the next episode, but the monster of the week ones are the ones you remember because the stories are so much more manageable. I don’t freaking remember what the conspiracy arc was doing in the middle of season three, but I sure as hell remember that stretchy monster that crawls through vents and eats people’s livers.
Said monster is Eugene Victor Tooms (Doug Hutchinson), a creepy guy who through some unexplained mutation, kills people in that way and does so every thirty years, without aging. The cold open, illustrating most of this without showing very much of the monster at all, is pretty gripping. We see screws unscrewing from the inside of the vents, seemingly by themselves. We see green eyes peering out from a sewer grate. And last, but not least, we, on the outside of a door, see a guy get slammed into that door. And that’s why it’s an x-file.
Our way into this case is kind of interesting, it comes by way of an old classmate of Scully’s, Tom Colton (Donal Logue), who doesn’t believe the case is an x-file, because he doesn’t cotton to such nonsense. He wants to do Scully a favor and get her out of working with “Spooky” Mulder for a bit. The case is so obviously an x-file though, once it gets going, 3 ostensibly unrelated victims, with no identifiable point of entry at any of the crime scenes. Colton’s obviously very condescending towards the x-files as a department and Mulder as an individual; all he seems to care about is advancing his career. This only becomes more apparent as the episode goes on, and the real mystery here is why Scully ever hung out with this idiot in the first place.
The best part about this episode, besides the legitimately creepy monster, is we get to see Mulder doing some actual police work. A lot of times, as in last week’s episode, he just kind runs around spouting weird theories, which eventually turn out to be right because it’s his show, and Scully is just kind of being disapproving in the background. Here, we see him lift fingerprints and match them to two series of 6 unsolved murders in ’63 and ’33, with a possible connection to another series in ’03. He has to go out on a limb and claim that they suspect can stretch himself, accounting for the elongated fingerprints, but it actually makes a lot of sense and Scully is mostly on board. Also he notably says “I find no evidence of alien involvement” and says Scully is correct about her profile on two different occasions. One of the most rewarding things about The X-Files is when the teamwork between these two is working well, and it’s really great in this episode. I don’t know if it’s just supposed to be a reaction to Colton, but who cares about him.
The episode ends with Scully in danger, something that the show goes back to over and over again. On my first run through, I was never quite able to decide whether I actually thought the show had Mulder save Scully more than vice versa or not, so that’s something I’m trying to keep tabs on this time through. Last episode we got Scully saving Mulder, and this week we get sort of the reverse of that…. it’s really a team effort this week though. Nevertheless, Scully is the one who needs the saving. But who can really complain when it’s done as well as it is here? Everybody needs to be saved sometimes, right?
At this point, Scully and Mulder have basically figured out the monster’s MO. Before we cut to commercial break, we see quite a terrifying shot of Toom’s hanging from the rafters and lifting Scully’s dangly necklace off her. It’s a really suspenseful and terrifying visual, letting you know exactly what’s coming next. When we come back from commercial break, we get another terrifying POV shot of Scully in her house, and even though it doesn’t seem to be showing anyone in particular’s POV that’s what it feels like and it’s creepy. Eventually the monster is revealed and captured, Mulder showing up at the last minute to help Scully out. They stick him in an institution, but don’t think we’ve heard the last of Eugene Victor Tooms….
This episode does everything a good “Monster of the Week” episode should do. We have a really gross monster, good team building between Mulder and Scully, a bunch of creepy and suspenseful shots, and a government standing in the way of the truth. I’m not sure I’ll be able to say the same of the next episode, but we’ll see next week.
“Is there anyway I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?”
Long story short: 3.5/4 stars
Click here to read my review of next week’s episode, “Conduit”