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October 10, 2015

The X-Files: Squeeze & Tooms - VIDEO

by Brett Love, posted Jul 23rd 2008 1:02PM

The X-Files on VHSDo not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of classic TV shows.

(S01E03 & S01E21) We almost take it for granted these days that a DVD set of our favorite shows will be forthcoming. We might not always agree with the scheduling, but it's a pretty safe bet that most everything we watch in the coming season will be arriving on DVD eventually. It wasn't like that back in the wilds of 1993. But things were about to change.

I'm not sure if The X-Files was the first show to embrace the home video market, but it was the first one that I took notice of. And it was the first one that I actually bought ... on VHS. That gorgeous three tape box set in the picture is one of three that I have, and each of them carry a whopping six episodes on their oh so delicate tapes. For X-Files week, I dusted this one off and fed my VCR the tape containing "Squeeze" and "Tooms," two of my favorite early episodes.

More than likely, if you ever saw Eugene Tooms, even once, you remember him. When I told my friend Sarah I was watching these episodes she said, "Eugene Tooms was f*cking freaky." And it's hard to argue with that. If you didn't see it, I'll hit the high points.

Donal Logue - The X-FilesScully is asked to join in on an investigation by an old classmate from Quantico, Tom Coulton (a young Donal Logue). There have been a series of murders with impossible entrances. No sign of how the murderer got in and out of the crime scene. Of course, with Scully, you get Mulder.

Scully is still very unsure about her relationship with Mulder, and what her association with him says about her. We see it repeatedly here as everyone just assumes that Scully's assignment is something she is looking to get out of as soon as possible. And we also have a steady stream of references to "Spooky Mulder." Of course, Mulder does little to change any of it. You see a good example of that in the following clip.

The mark of the murders is the removal of the liver, and not by surgical means. They are ripped out with bare hands. At the scene, Mulder finds an elongated fingerprint that leads him back to an x-file. These murders are part of a series. Five murders every thirty years. He theorizes that they have all been committed by the same person. Scully, ever the skeptic, thinks genetics could account for it.

Doug Hutchison - The X-FilesShe does a profile that ignores most of Mulder's theories, but does end up with them finding Eugene Tooms at the scene of one of the murders. Mulder is convinced Tooms is their man, but Tooms passes a lie detector, only failing on odd questions Mulder had inserted, like "Are you over 100 years old?" Nobody will accept Mulder's theory and Tooms is released.

Mulder and Scully eventually track down where Tooms is living, but he's not there. Rather, they don't see him. He's watching them the entire time, and steals Scully's necklace as they are leaving. He makes his way to her house and manages to once again use his ability to contort his body to get in through her vents, trying to make her his fifth victim. Meanwhile, Mulder is back at Tooms' place and sees Scully's necklace. He arrives as Scully is trying to fight off Tooms and they finally put him away.

But not for long. We revisit the story at the end of season one as Tooms is up to be released from the sanitarium. They were never able to connect him to the murders, so he was only in for the attack on Scully. Mulder testifies against him. Unfortunately, as he launches into his explanation that Tooms is a genetic mutant that can contort his body to gain entry, and that he uses the five livers to sustain him as he hibernates for thirty years, he loses the room. The panel rules to release Tooms. Mulder warns them, "If you release Eugene Tooms, he will kill again."

Mulder makes it his mission to stop Tooms and begins trailing him 'round the clock. Tooms fights back by framing Mulder. After sneaking into Mulder's apartment while Mulder sleeps, he dislocates his own shoulder, breaks his jaw, and adds a shoe print from Mulder's shoe to his cheek. The accusation doesn't stick as Scully lies to Skinner and provides an alibi for Mulder.

Still needing the last liver before he can hibernate, Tooms seizes opportunity. One of the doctors that got him released, Dr. Monte (Paul Ben-Victor) stops by to visit and Tooms takes his liver. Mulder and Scully know that he's now ready to hibernate and search out his nest. They find it in a tunnel underneath an escalator servicing a building that has been built on the site of Tooms' old apartment. Mulder investigates and Tooms comes after him. After narrowly escaping, Mulder turns on the escalator and Tooms is torn to pieces.

There's a lot of interesting stuff here. "Squeeze" is notable for a couple of things. It set the tone for what would become the X-Files monster of the week episode. My dusty old tapes start out with some thoughts from Chris Carter. He says that they knew early on that the UFO mythology wouldn't be able to sustain the show, and that they would need these kind of episodes. "Squeeze" is also the first episode written by Glen Morgan and James Wong.

"Tooms" has a couple of important firsts as well. It introduces us to Assistant Director Skinner. And is the first episode where we hear the Cigarette Smoking Man talk. More importantly, watching the two episodes back to back, "Tooms" really shows how much Scully's outlook changed over the course of the first season. We see that she's now fully committed to her work with Mulder. Even as Mulder cautions her that he doesn't want what he does to tarnish her reputation or career, she assures him that she's with him.

Doug Hutchison - LostAnd finally, some TV trivia. I'd never made the connection until re-watching this episode, but the man behind Eugene Tooms, Doug Hutchison, counts himself among the Lost family as well. Get a look at him as the mysterious Horace Goodspeed from Locke's dream. If that's not enough, apparently Hutchison was so into the Tooms character that he performed the tunnel chase scene with Mulder while completely nude. That's dedication.

"Squeeze" and "Tooms" make for a great double-feature if you have access to the episodes. Eugene Tooms is a great, and really creepy, character, to start with. But the evolution of the relationship between Mulder and Scully is something that really takes you back. Good grief, can you believe that The X-Files premiered almost fifteen years ago?

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I've just been watching/rewatching the show on DVD all month, and I hadn't seen either of the Tooms episodes before now. Sure, it's 15 years late, but these are two of the best episodes in a surprisingly strong first season. Creepy just begins to describe how effective these are.

It's easy to see why the show was able to find success, especially having watched into season 3 so far. Great writing, great production, and a nice mix of episodic and serialized elements (during the early seasons anyway) that few current shows could replicate effectively. Awesome stuff.

July 23 2008 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Squeeze was, I believe, the third episode of The X-Files. The pilot and second episodes were good, but this was the one that really marked the series arrival as a major force on the tv scene.

I shop at multiple Goodwill stores, and almost every time I walk in there are VHS sets of X-Files episodes from the first four seasons.

July 23 2008 at 3:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Glen Piper

Tooms was the episode that sucked me once and for all into the X Files back in the day, and it is one of my very favorite episodes to this very day, along with Squeeze & Eve.

July 23 2008 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These are 2 of my very favorite X-Files episodes. The best line is the one where Mulder gets the bile on his hands and talks about not ruining his cool demeanor (I just saw this referenced in another post about X-Files quotes here on TVS).

Thanks for the memories, as they say ...

July 23 2008 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to PB's comment
Brett Love

That's a great quote, but I"m partial to the explanation about grey Reticulans and the line, "Do you know how much liver and onions go for on Reticulum?" They do both appear in the linked video.

July 23 2008 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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