Season 1

1x02 Squeeze

Air date: 09-24-93
Writers: Glen Morgan and James Wong
Director: Harry Longstreet
Editor: Heather MacDougall
Director of Photography: John S. Bartley, C.S.C.
Documented Phenomenon: Mutant - Human, Muscle and skeletal abnormalities

Episode summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

In Baltimore, Maryland a man exits a resort hotel, he is formally dressed with a briefcase and keys in his hand. Someone is hiding in the sidewalk sewer drain, staring at him. Two yellow eyes fixate on the man as he enters his car. The man enters a secure office building with surveillance; he has exited an elevator and heads down the hall, but a few minutes after the elevator has closed, the doors reopen to an empty shaft, and there seems to be movement with the cable: someone is climbing up. The man enters his office, checks his phone messages, and calls his wife; we learn his name is Usher, that it's about 8:30, and that he's going to be late as a presentation didn't go well. He appears frustrated as he leaves to coffee; meanwhile, a screw on a small air vent screen comes undone and the vent opens, a hand reaches out. As the man reaches his office door, it slams and there's a struggle that can be heard as well as animal-like grunts. The man screams and the door buckles and breaks in a section; someone or something has slammed into the door. A pool of coffee collects on the office carpet as it is revealed that the man is dead, the office is a shambles and droplets of blood are splattered on paperwork. The air vent closes and the screws are turned back in place.

Scully is having lunch with a classmate from the FBI academy, Tom Colton, he mentions that Marty Neil had been promoted to supervisory agent with foreign counter intelligence, New York Bureau. Dana seems happy but Colton seems disgusted and jealous. Scully mentions that Tom's psychological profile for the Washington Crossing Killer helped to capture him - word is Tom is on the section's fast track. Tom makes a snide remark about "Spooky" Mulder. He seems puzzled why she's working for him. Scully defends Mulder, admitting his ideas are a little 'out there'; this prompts Tim to mention his own bizarre case featuring a serial killer. There are no known connections between victims; the pattern is a lack of point of entry. All three victims were found in rooms locked from the inside, the last in a secure office with nothing showing on the surveillance monitor. Each victim's liver was ripped out without the help of any cutting tools. Tom asks for her assistance. Mulder is allowed to come as long as he understands that it is Tom's case. Tom believes if he breaks this case, he can move up.

Later they are present in the office of the last murder victim, Mulder wonders why he wasn't asked directly to be involved and is amused that he is known for having a 'reputation'. Tom arrives; he is sarcastic when introduced to Mulder, joking about the skin color of green aliens. While Agent Colton is being dismissive and talks with Scully, Mulder surveys the room, noticing a fragment of metal on the floor near the vent. He checks the vent, and dusts for prints, finding a strange fingerprint on the lower part of the vent screen.

Back at the bureau Mulder makes a comparison between the print he just pulled and another set of fingerprints from an X-File featuring the same kind of lack of point of entry and same attacks. These events took place in the 1960s, 1930s and 1903 - so Colton is probably unaware of them. Scully is amazed by his suggestion; five murders every thirty years with two more murders due now. Scully says these crimes must be a copycat, but Mulder reminds her that each fingerprint is unique and these old prints match those took at the Usher crime scene. Scully argues about what she should tell the violent crimes section, but Mulder argues that while this case doesn't involve aliens, a man over one hundred years old who can overpower his victims should stick out. He suggests that they do their own investigation, independent of Colton. Scully writes her profile, that the killer is of high intelligence, that he may have an understanding of buildings and duct works, or that he hides in plain sight, posing as a maintenance worker. Scully is unnerved by the strange fingerprint.

In her profile staff meeting she proposes that the killer falls under the classic obsessive / compulsive behavior profile. She also suggests that the killer might return to the location of a previous killing, out of frustration, so the best course of action is to target these locations. The supervisor invites Scully to come on board on these steak outs. At the crime scene of the Usher murder, around 7:15, Scully is sitting in her car in the building garage when she hears a metallic banging. When she gets out of her car, armed, and investigates, she runs into a plain-clothed Mulder. Mulder argues that the killer won't come back to the scene, because the killers thrill is derived from overcoming an impossible entry. He walks away arguing she's wasting her time, but then hears a metallic banging, coming from a metal airshaft that is buckling with something in it. Mulder calls for Scully to call for backup. They approach the vent armed. A man crawls out and raises his hands, the other agents appear, grab and cuff the man. Mulder admits that Scully was right.

The man is administered a lie detector test at the Baltimore F.B.I. Bureau branch. We learn that his name is Eugene Victor Tooms and that he is an employee of the Baltimore Municipal Animal Control, he denies ever killing a human being or extracting a human liver from a person, he is asked if he is over one hundred years old which he replies no, He admits to visiting in Powhatan Mill, but denies being there in 1933, throughout the test Tooms seems unusually calm; Tooms passes and his job status is confirmed. Scully is still puzzled as to why he was in that vent, late at night. Mulder points out that he lied on two questions, the one about his age and the question about Powhatan Mill. The supervisor is hostile and doesn't believe Mulder's argument before he walks out. Scully thanks Tom for allowing her to work with the VCS. Colton makes it clear he thinks Mulder is insane. Dana asks Mulder why he pushed his argument, and Mulder admits that closed minded people annoy him, and that he likes to mess with their heads. Scully observes he seemed like he was being territorial; Mulder admits it and offers that if Scully wants to continue to work for the VCS, he won't hold it against her - but Scully suspects that he has something more in his argument. Mulder shows her a computer analysis that shows Eugene Toom's print, he explains that when the fingerprint is manipulated, it matches the print he found at the Usher crime scene. Scully is speechless over the match.

Tooms waits near a house as a car pulls up and a man exits his car. While the man enters his home, Tooms goes up to the roof and begins to climb down the chimney, stretching his torso on the way down, Tooms has entered the house while the man attempts to build a fire, and Tooms attacks and kills the man. During the police investigation the following day, Colton is starting to look desperate when Mulder and Scully arrive. Colton tries to stop them from entering, but Scully reminds him that they have authorized access to the crime scene, and that a report of Tom obstructing another officer's investigation might hurt his record. Mulder sees another print while Scully mentions the victim's name was Thomas Werner, Mulder points out that something was taken from the shelf above the fireplace.

Mulder checks birth records at the Bureau. Scully discovers that the address Tooms gave was a cover, he'd never lived there and he hasn't shown up for work since his arrest. Based on what he's found, Mulder suspects it all began in 1903 on 66, Exeter Street, and that the first murder occurred in the apartment above Tooms in that building. Scully suspects that it must be Tooms' great-great grandfather, she suggests that genetics might explain the print patterns as well as the sociopathic behavior. That the behavior was passed on to generations, Mulder doesn't buy it. Their only lead is the one surviving investigator of the Powhatan Mill murders, both are aware that they won't have another opportunity to stop Tooms until 2023. They go to Lynne Acres Retirement Home, when the investigator Frank mentions walking into the rooms of those murders in Powhatan Mills - a feeling of pure evil that he can only equate to hearing about the death camps in 1945. Frank gives them a box with all of the evidence he's collected on the case, official and unofficially. Frank knows the name Tooms when Mulder asks him, Frank shows him surveillance photos he took of Tooms, it's the same man and with no change in age from the present. A photo of Tooms' apartment is shown from 66 Exeter Street.

Scully and Mulder go to the apartment building which is abandoned. They enter and find Tooms' old apartment. There appears to be nothing there until Mulder throws back a mattress that covers a hole that leads to an old coal cellar. They find all of the souvenirs that had been collected by Tooms. They find a wall that appears to be deteriorating until they realize that the wall is a nest, made out of rags, old newspapers and what Mulder discovers to be bile. Mulder proposes that it's where Tooms hibernates, suggesting the possibility of a man waking every thirty years - consuming 5 livers during this period to provide sustenance. They plan on organizing a surveillance team until Tooms comes back to the location - Scully thinks it will take some effort to organize it. Mulder stays for the first watch. As they leave, something snags on Scully's neck; the audience realizes Tooms had been there all along, hiding in the rafters and has taken Scully's necklace.

Mulder is relieved of his watch by two other agents. Later however, Tom Colton confronts Scully, furious - Tom has called off the stake out, even though it isn't interfering with his investigation. Tom has pulled a power play and had his regional ASAC ordered the end of the stake out, Scully heads back to her apartment while Tooms is waiting for her. Mulder arrives at Exeter Street to find no one there; meanwhile Scully, at home before she takes a bath, calls Mulder's residence to get no answer, suddenly Tooms appears at the window. Mulder finds Scully's necklace with the trophies and realizes she's in danger. She's about to take a bath when bile drips onto her hand from the air vent above her, realizing that Tooms is there, she runs for her gun. Mulder tries to call her but can't, the phone line has been cut off. Scully, armed, searches her house when Tooms breaks open a vent on the floor and grabs her, and there is a struggle.

Scully scratches at Tooms as Mulder runs into her apartment and reaches them. Mulder cuffs Tooms on the taps of her bath, as Tooms tries to reach at her like an animal. The old detective Frank sees that Tooms has been caught and arrested, to Frank's relief. Tooms is being held and is already starting to lick newspaper to build a new nest. Scully reveals that she ordered some genetic tests, and that an exam has revealed quite abnormal development in the muscular and skeletal systems as well as a continually declining metabolic rate, lower than the levels registered in deep sleep. Looking at Tooms, Mulder realizes that although people order security systems and bars on their windows, this is not enough. They leave as a male nurse brings a tray of food, he opens a locked slot and slips the tray in what is the only opening of a secure room. Tooms eyes the slot, pondering his escape.

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

  • While the ambition of Tom Colton is understandable for a federal agent, Tom is a classic example of a man whose ambition allows him to lose sight of what's important. He seems to forget that his purpose is to protect innocent civilians, while Scully has a more clear-eyed understanding of that. It would be interesting to speculate as to whether Mr. Colton stayed long with the Bureau. Unfortunately, I think it's safe to speculate that in the F.B.I.'s history, there have been real life cases of some agents who have allowed ambition to cloud their priorities.
  • The first exchange between Mulder and Colton is a great demonstration of Mulder's dry, sarcastic and somewhat condescending humor, especially when he deals with narrow minded adversaries. "So, Mulder, whatta ya think? This look like the work of little green men?" Colton says with contempt. "Grey," Mulder replies; Colton reacts with an "Excuse me?" Duchovny's delivery is priceless; "Grey, you said "Green men." A Reticulian's skin tone is grey. They're notorious for their extraction of terrestrial human livers, due to iron depletion in the Reticulum galaxy." Colton scoffs, "You can't be serious." As Mulder deadpans with "Do you know how much liver and onions go for on Reticulum?"
  • The references to Grey's from Reticulum are taken from UFO Research. Some UFO abductees have described Grey skinned aliens from the Zeta Reticulum star system (The Bernard star) orbiting the Orion area. These descriptions have been categorized as type I aliens, type A grey. The descriptions break down further from there.
  • While it will be established in the sequel that there are limits to Eugene Tooms' abilities to stretch and contort his body, one couldn't help but wonder from watching the ending at what point he would fracture or dislocate a limb. In a minor inconsistency with the writing, you have to wonder why other people would not notice him crawling into an air vent.

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

Squeeze was a marked departure in a number of ways. It was the first to feature outside writers with Morgan and Wong. As well, the intention of the episode would be to make it clear that The X-Files would not just be another 'UFO- Alien of the week' kind of a television series: unlike Gerry Anderson's 70s British show UFO or the briefly lived series Project Blue Book, the series would become unlimited in the range of subjects it would explore.

The writing duo of Glen Morgan and James Wong would become two of the most significant contributors to the show. Eventually they would become the executive producers and primary writers of the second season of Millennium. Glen's brother, Darin Morgan, would not only appear as a memorable actor on The X-Files, but would write some of the most beloved episodes of the show. Darin would in addition write and direct two episodes for the second season of Millennium. Based on information uncovered, Morgan and Wong wrote (from Squeeze's initial conception until the time the episode started shooting) five drafts. One draft, that could be referred to as the yellow draft was dated 07/30/93. Which means the other drafts were written between June through August. Multiple revisions are a common practice in series television, very often drafts will be printed on different color paper, so that cast members and crews will be able to keep track.

Morgan and Wong's inspiration came from a ventilator shaft outside their office, as well as Jack The Ripper. Chris Carter contributed to the idea of Tooms eating human livers after he had come back from a trip to France where foie gras is a delicacy, although writers Morgan and Wong explored the idea of harvesting livers. Reshoots were required, as neither Glen Morgan or James Wong were happy with the finished product. They both had problems with the director, Harry Longstreet, and found the first cut to be virtually unintelligible. They believe that the episode was saved in the editing suite. Matt Allair / Robin England

For the scene where Tooms squeezes into a chimney, the production used a contortionist called Pepper. No visual effects were required as Pepper was able to squeeze his entire body into the aperture (though they did use some sound effects like popping bones to add to the illusion). The shots of Tooms climbing down a chimney was achieved in several ways. Pepper was used to crawl through the chimney opening which was the size of a belt, unlike the size of a regular tube shaft. The interior of the chimney was the result of Michael Memirsky's clever art direction as well as Mat Beck's use of a computer generated images. They shot several passes of actor Doug Hutchinson stretching his hand and manipulated it with the computer imager. The shot with Tooms throwing himself out of Scully's vent to attack her was done in a similar manner. First the background set was shot, then Hutchinson was shot behind a blue screen, Mat Beck then used a computer imager to stretch Tooms' body and incorporate it digitally into the room. What was used for the yellow slime that falls on Scully's hand was baking piping gel, one painful side effect of this gel is that when it dried on the skin, it would pull the hair off of the body. Of the primary locations that were used, all of them were found in Vancouver. Calvert Street, in reality, was on 1000-Block West Hastings Street, the underground Parkade where George Usher worked was VPC parkade on East Cordova Street, and 66 Exeter Street was the rear of Ideal Gift and Toy Ltd. on west Hastings Street. Matt Allair / Robin England

When actor Doug Hutchison auditioned for the character Eugene Victor Tooms, Glen Morgan thought he looked too young. Hutchison won them over when Harry Longstreet instructed him to go from a neutral position to an attack position. Hutchinson's improvisation was so jarring as he snapped nastily at the director that it was convincing enough to land him the role. On the day of the audition, Hutchison was suffering from a splitting headache, and after Director Longstreet gave Hutchison direction that left him bewildered, Hutchison sat still for a moment, repeated the direction and then snarled with "You want me to stalk you, you mother (expletive)?" The outburst scared the director but won over the writers, however Hutchison initially thought he didn't get the part when he left the audition. Fortunately his agent informed him had has won the part.

Hutchison was quoted in Starlog with explaining who he used as inspiration for the character; "I was really inspired by Anthony Hopkins's performance in Silence of the Lambs, I thought he had a grasp of stillness in that film that was incredibly powerful, because he had an inner life going on inside." After the first episode, Hutchison had such a strong desire to play the role again, he wrote a sequel script titled "Dark He Was and Golden-Eyed," and sent it to Chris Carter. The actor received a phone call from the Fox lawyers informing him that, legally, they could not allow anyone to read the script. Toom's origin was given in Hutchison's script, connecting him to a liver-eating Central American Indian God.

Eugene Tooms would remain one of the most remembered villains for the fan base of the first couple of seasons. Tooms set a precedent that other writers would try to emulate or top for the eight more seasons that would follow as far as creating human monsters. One of the ironies of Hutchison playing the character was that the actor was a vegetarian. Tooms and Frank Briggs would resurface in the sequel near the end of the first season although Tooms would eventually meet his demise. Aside from Tooms, Doug Hutchison's other infamous character was playing the sadistic prison guard in Frank Darabont's adaptation of Steven King's The Green Mile. Hutchison's other work includes appearing in the features I Am Sam, 2000's Shaft, Batman & Robin, Con Air and The Lawnmower Man. His other television appearances include appearing on Morgan and Wong's Space; Above and Beyond as well as appearing in the second season of Millennium. Recently he's appeared in Law & Order; Special Victims Unit, C.S.I: Miami, Boomtown, and The Practice. Past work includes Murder, She Wrote, China Beach and Party Of Five.

Actor Donel Logue who played the memorable rival Tom Colton in Squeeze, was born in Ottawa, Canada and has had a varied career. He has branched out into producing, writing and directing in addition to his known feature film acting. He recently wrote produced, directed and acted in Tennis, Anyone? His other feature work includes The Patriot, Reindeer Games, The Tao of Steve, Runaway Bride, Blade, Jerry Maguire, and Gettysburg. Actor Kevin McNulty who played Agent Fuller, has had a long standing career. Mr. Fuller not only appeared in several episodes of The X-Files, but he also appeared in the third season of Millennium as well as The Lone Gunmen. His feature work includes Timecop, The Never Ending Story III, Bird On A Wire and The Accused. Other television episodes he's appeared on are The Dead Zone, Smallville, The Chris Issak Show, The Outer Limits, Stargate S.G.1, The Commish, Party Of Five, 21 Jump Street and Wise Guy.

Actor Henry Beckman, who played the memorable role of retired detective Frank Briggs, has had a rich career that began in the fifties. His most noted feature film work includes appearing in David Cronenberg's The Brood in 1979, as well as Silver Streak. His recent television appearances include The Chris Issak Show, and The Marshall. Earlier television appearances include The Commish, MacGyver, St. Elsewhere, Fame, Trapper John, M.D., Quincy, Welcome Back, Kotter, Barney Miller, Police Story and fittingly Kolchack; The Night Stalker.

Episode synopsis and notes: Matt Allair
Page Editor: Red Scully

Please visit J.J. Lindl's Tumbler account, The X-Files Poster Project, to find out how to purchase his work: http://xfilesposterproject.tumblr.com/

Back to top