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Recap / The X-Files S01 E03 "Squeeze"

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Season 1, Episode 03:

Squeeze

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thexfilessqueeze.png
"And he should stick out in a crowd with ten inch fingers."
Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong
Directed by Harry Longstreet

Mulder: I think what we have to do is track Eugene Tooms, there's four down and one to go this year. If we don't get him right now, the next chance is in year...
Scully: 2023.
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An old Academy buddy of Scully's (Donal Logue) asks her and Mulder to consult on a case he is having trouble with, but when Mulder suggests that the seemingly impossible murders are being carried out by a hundred-year old cannibalistic mutant who attacks on a regular 30-year cycle, their help is no longer welcome. With the help of the cop who investigated their suspect in the 1960s, they are able to apprehend the killer.


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Tropes:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Justified; the passageways are as tight and narrow as they are in real life, but Tooms' mutation allows him to squeeze through air vents.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Frank Briggs speculates that Tooms is some kind of personification of all of the worst, most evil impulses of humanity given human form.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Tooms takes something from each victim, such as a coffee mug, an ornamental snowstorm or a hairbrush. Mulder and Scully find this kitschy collection of trophies in his apartment.
  • Comfort Food: Mulder and Scully are seen carrying a snack bar and a pack of sunflower seeds after Colton's team releases Tooms due to him "passing" the polygraph test.
  • Contortionist: Tooms uses his extreme flexibility to squeeze into places to reach his victims that he couldn't have reached otherwise.
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  • Cover Drop: The part in the opening sequence where Mulder and Scully walk into an apartment frame-by-frame? This is the episode where it came from.
  • Damsel in Distress: Scully finds herself seconds away from experiencing her liver being torn away. However, she puts up a brave fight, which buys her enough time to let Mulder intervene and save the day.
  • Deadly Bath: Mulder saves Scully from getting killed by Tooms before she takes a bath.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Mulder is shown photos of Eugene Tooms that demonstrate he hasn't aged since 1933.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: Mulder sticks his fingers into Tooms's nest without wearing a rubber glove and ends up with bile on his fingertips. As a result:
    Mulder: Is there any way I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?
  • Foreshadowing: Mulder's reaching out to touch Scully's pendant during a conversation serves as a directorial NOTICE THIS! for later in the episode when the pendant becomes Tooms' next trophy.
  • For the Evulz: Tooms needs to get human livers for hibernation, but he also obviously kills for the fun and because he enjoys it. He deliberately chooses places that are a challenge to get into as if it were some kind of sport. Moreover, he takes trophies from his victims, sometimes in advance.
  • The Gadfly: Played with; Mulder is mocked for his genuine beliefs in the supernatural and paranormal, but admits to a tendency to play it up around people who are particularly dickish about it just to mess with them, as with when he suggests to Tom Colton with a straight face that an alien race called 'Reticulans' are responsible for the killings due to a bustling liver trade.
    Scully: You knew they wouldn't believe you; why did you push it?
    Mulder: Maybe I thought you had the right guy. And maybe I run into so many people who are hostile just because they can't open their minds to the possibilities that sometimes the need to mess with their heads outweighs the millstone of humiliation.
  • Gunman with Three Names: Eugene Victor Tooms.
  • Horror Hunger: Tooms is a genetic mutant that feeds on human livers. Five of these will provide him sustenance for 30 years. However, he can survive and function without them.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Tooms looks human enough, but he needs to feed off of the bile in livers to survive and he has the ability to squeeze into small places.
  • Hungry Menace: Tooms needs to eat five human livers every thirty years, and will readily murder innocents to obtain his meals.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Tooms, a human genetic mutant, eats humans.
  • Jerkass:
    • Agent Tom Colton. He calls in Scully (and Mulder) for help, but quickly compromises the investigation when it turns out to really be an X-File, and proves to really only be interested in advancing his career.
    • Contrasted with Mulder, who may behave like a jerkass towards Scully — definitely towards Colton — but proves more open and supportive of Scully's actions. When Scully turns out to be right about staking out Tooms' last murder scene, Mulder immediately admits that she made the right call.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Interestingly, it's FBI versus FBI. More specifically, Violent Crimes Section versus The X-Files Division.
  • Lie Detector: FBI uses a polygraph to question Tooms. He fails Mulder's questions about his presence at one old crime scene and being over 100 years old that he didn't anticipate. However, Colton releases him anyway.
  • Little Green Men: Discussed by Colton when telling Mulder to stay off the case. Mulder mockingly counters with a tall tale about little gray aliens from Reticula.
  • Locked Room Mystery: The plot revolves around who could have killed the victims when there's no possible way someone could have entered the places in which they were killed.
  • Mutants: Tooms is a mutant capable of elongating his body.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Mulder recognises Scully's pendant among Tooms' trophies.
  • Older Than They Look: Tooms looks like he's in his late twenties, but his first murder dates back to 1903.
  • Picky People Eater: Tooms only eats his victims' livers.
  • The Profiler:
    • Tom Colton and Dana Scully. She absolutely nailed the profile.
    • Played with for Mulder, who had worked as a Profiler before finding the X-Files. He's convinced the serial killer wouldn't return to a previous crime scene as Scully predicts. Scully turns out to be right as they catch Tooms doing exactly that. Mulder immediately admits he was wrong.
  • Regularly Scheduled Evil: Tooms comes out of hibernation every thirty years.
  • Rubber Man: A rare terrifying example in Tooms, who uses this ability to squeeze into tight spaces to reach his victims and kill them.
  • Sequel Hook: One that actually pays off, unlike many other unresolved Monster of the Week episodes. Tooms is in jail, but has a faint smile as he gazes at the rectangular locked opening in his cell door, undoubtedly hinting that he may escape to kill again.
  • Serial Killer: Tooms kills five victims in each cycle. His victims vary in age, race and gender, with no connections to each other. The pattern was the lack of point of entry and human livers extracted by bare hands.
  • Sizeshifter: Tooms is capable of contorting and elongating his body.

"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'."
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