Season 1

1x20 Tooms

Air date: 04-22-94
Writers: Glen Morgan and James Wong
Director: David Nutter
Editor: Stephen Mark
Director of Photography: John S. Bartley, C.S.C.
Documented Phenomenon: Mutant - Human, Muscle and Skeletal abnormalities

Episode summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

We enter Druid Hill Sanitarium in Baltimore late at night. The camera pans past several cells amidst crying and screaming until we reach that of Eugene Victor Tooms', first encountered in Squeeze. Through the food tray slot we see the prisoner's face, his eyes now piercing yellow, then we see Tooms' hand pass through the slot. He reaches up, his forearm stretching impossibly. It continues to lengthen, further and further. Just as Tooms is about to pull back the heavy iron bolt on the door, two men enter the other end of the hall. One is Dr. Aaron Monte. He walks right up to Tooms' door and knocks on it, calling out "Eugene". The guard opens the door and Monte enters, asking Eugene if he's asleep. We see Tooms rouse himself, with no sign of any distortion, the yellow tint in his eyes now gone, as well. He answers, "No." Dr. Monte says he wanted to see how Eugene was feeling before he went home. He asks the young man if he's nervous about the next day. In reassurance, Dr. Monte says he's had a look at the report that the doctors at the hearing had prepared. They had all agreed that Tooms is ready to be released. Dr. Monte rises, claps Tooms on the shoulder, and tells the young man to get a good night's sleep and to keep his fingers crossed. The door shuts and Tooms eyes tint yellow as he crosses his fingers.

The next day at the Hoover building, Agent Scully is being reviewed by Assistant Director Walter S. Skinner, while the Cigarette-Smoking Man stands nearby quietly watching. Skinner tells Scully that they've been reading her reports and have been displeased with her work. He cites irrational case files, untenable evidence, and inconclusive answers from anonymous witnesses. Scully attempts to defend herself, explaining that the very nature of the cases makes them difficult to present in a cogent way. Bordering on mocking, Skinner posits that she's suggesting they adopt different standards for the X-Files, and that perhaps Mulder has been leading Scully to obstruct justice. She adamantly denies both charges.

She goes on to say that the X-Files need to be viewed with an open mind to which Skinner not-so-subtly suggests that perhaps she's lost her objectivity. Finally, Scully reminds the Assistant Director that she and Agent Mulder hold a conviction or conclusion rate of 75%--far above the Bureau's standards. Skinner says this is their only "saving grace". When Scully heatedly asks what more is required, Skinner says that they require increased reports and more conventional styles of investigation in order to make sure their cases are "by-the-book". Scully retorts by saying "conventional investigation" may lead to a decrease of their success rate. The only response from either of the men is that the Cigarette Smoking Man grinds out his cigarette in an ashtray on Skinner's desk.

We cut to the commitment hearing of Tooms which is being called into session. The first witness called is the court-appointed doctor, Dr. Pamela Koretsky. As she goes to the witness stand, we see that Mulder is there, too.

Karetzky says that she has recently performed a series of diagnostic tests on Tooms, all of which she found negative. Cut to Dr. Collins, who tells the board (reading from a transcript) that Mr. Tooms had recently lost his job as a dogcatcher, after being made the victim of false arrest by the FBI. Afterwards, he claims that his attempted assault on Agent Scully was "hostility directed towards the wrong person". Dr. Monte is called next and relays a conversation he had with Tooms at which time Eugene told him that wants his job at the animal shelter back and that he has learned to focus his attitude elsewhere. He emphasizes this by striking a pad with a pen, and every time he hits the pad, Tooms' (who is observing the proceedings with apparent disinterest) eyes focus and turn yellow. Monte goes on to say that Tooms has responded well to the months of treatment and therapy and is fit to reenter society.

Mulder is then sworn in. Myers, the States Attorney, asks Mulder to give his qualifications. Mulder says he's an FBI agent who spent three years in the Behavioral Science Unit profiling serial killers, at which point Nelson, Tooms' attorney, gets up and reminds the court that Tooms is only being tried for the assault on Agent Scully and not for any other homicide. Judge Kann allows Mulder to proceed--cautiously. As he does, Scully enters the room. Using his slides, Mulder presents the case we learned so well in 'Squeeze'--five murders that took place every thirty years, each in which the victim had his liver extracted and then eaten and each in which a trophy was taken from the victim's home, many of which were found at 66 Exeter Street, the Baltimore address of Tooms' since 1903.

During this, the panel looks at Mulder as if he were the lunatic. When he finally points out that seven of the nineteen murders had elongated fingerprints matching Tooms', Judge Kann finally snaps and tells Mulder to look at Tooms' fingerprints. Mulder goes on to tell the court that Tooms has a genetic mutation that allows him to contort his body and that Tooms needs just one more murder to complete his cycle. Nelson gets to her feet and starts objecting. Judge Kann thanks Mulder and tells him to sit down, but Mulder continues to shout over presenting evidence that Tooms is a threat. "If you release Eugene Tooms, he will kill again," he tells the courts. "It's in his genetic makeup."

After his testimony, Scully goes outside to talk with Mulder. When Scully tries to point out that he sounded like a nut, Mulder says he doesn't care how it sounded as long as it was the truth. He then asks where Scully was. She replies that she was in a meeting with Skinner. When Mulder asks what Skinner wanted, she says: "...to reel me in."

The hearing is called back into session. Judge Kann rules that Tooms is to be set free. Attached to this release are the conditions that he stay under Dr. Monte's care for treatment, that he return to work at the Baltimore Animal Regulation, and that he take up residence with Frank and Christina Ranford, a family trained in helping patients from Druid Hill return into society. Tooms turns and looks at them with a smile that's almost sinister. With that, Tooms is set free.

In the hallway, Mulder tells Scully he's not taking his eyes off Tooms, knowing that the first chance he gets he will kill again. He compares Tooms to an animal who will only kill out of necessity or self-defense. Therefore, he won't be so obvious as to kill the Ranfords as it would be too obvious, and he didn't survive for a hundred years by being obvious. Mulder intends to be watching when Tooms kills again.

When Scully says she'll help him keep surveillance, Mulder tells her that she can't also be tied to this. Instead, he wants her to link Tooms to the earlier murders. When Scully points out that they took place thirty or sixty years ago, Mulder reminds her that there is no statute of limitations on murder. When Scully appears resistant Mulder says, "Look, Scully, if you're resistant because you don't believe, I'll respect that. But if you're resistant because of some bureaucratic pressure, they've not only reeled you in, they've already skinned you." Tooms then walks out with the Ranfords, a big grin on his face. As he walks past Mulder, Mr. Ranford tells him the room in the back is small, but feels that Tooms should be able to squeeze in. He assures Mr. Ranford that he'll have no problem.

Later we see (from the ankles down) a man from the Baltimore Animal Regulation get out of a van, pick a dead rat out of the gutter and put it in the back of his truck. It is Tooms, of course, and after he puts the rat away, he surreptitiously licks his gloved fingers. Suddenly he focuses his attention on an attractive blonde woman across the street getting a cup of coffee. He moves closer and closer but when he's halfway there, a man in a black suit gets in his way. "Could you help me find my dog?" Mulder asks loudly. As Mulder describes his fictitious dog, a thwarted Tooms walks angrily back to his van, gets in and drives away. Mulder looks on, dispassionately.

At the LynnAcre Retirement home, Frank Briggs, the detective who tracked Tooms in 1933 and 1963, crumples up an article on Tooms' release and throws it away, clearly disgusted. "If Tooms gets away now," he tells Scully, "then the next time he takes a life, you'll be nearly my age." Scully asks him if there is anything at all from the earlier murders that doesn't belong that connects Tooms to those earlier killings. Briggs then remembers that in the killings in '63, the victims were all found at the crime scenes (as were the four Tooms killed this time out). When he was sheriff at the time of the Powhatan Mills murders in 1933, however, only four victims were found at the crime scene. A fifth person went missing but was never found. However, an unidentified liver was found at the Roxton Chemical Plant while it was under construction. Though Scully says that was not proof of Tooms' involvement, Briggs is convinced that Tooms hid the body because there was something on it that connected him to the victim. When Scully asks how Briggs could know that, he says he just felt it, instinctively. When Scully asks where he thinks the body is hidden, Briggs says beneath the foundation where they poured the cement.

At the Roxton Chemical Plant, FBI agents use sound penetrating radar to search the cavities in the foundation for anything buried beneath the surface. When Scully tries to explain to Briggs that the radar operator should be able to differentiate between whatever underground objects he may find, Briggs gets her to admit that the operator is just guessing. Scully walks away to ask the operator if he's making any progress. He's not. Briggs wheels away, thinking. A distance off, he suddenly shouts, "It's here. It's right here!"

Back on the streets of Baltimore, Tooms is clearing away dead leaves when he sees a man in a blue jacket walk by. Again Tooms' vision narrows, focusing in on a potential victim, as he walks back into his van and gets in. Like an animal stalking its prey, he zeros in on every sound the man makes.

Back at the Chemical Plant, the FBI is drilling in the spot Briggs identified. The drill hits something and Scully is called in. She brushes away some dirt and reveals the skeletal remains of a hand with a wedding ring on the middle finger.

At a nondescript suburban home, a car driven by the man Tooms has targeted pulls up. Tooms' van is just a few feet behind his car and behind the van is a black car in which Mulder is staked-out. The man works late into the night. Mulder falls asleep during his surveillance of Tooms. When he wakes, he runs out to the van and finds Tooms in neither the front seat nor the back. He runs off just as we see a manhole cover under the van fall back in place.

In her bathroom, the woman is drawn to her toilet as bubbles appear to pop on the surface. She starts to snake out the drain while Mulder runs into an alley. Hearing her baby cry, the woman leaves the toilet and returns to find the snake is further down in the toilet. "Screw it," she says and tries to pull the snake out. She meets some resistance but it comes up and she closes the toilet lid. Her husband is still working on his computer, unaware that a shadowy figure just darted behind his house. We then see a filthy Tooms slowly lift a barred window open. He squeezes between the bars until he is in the house. Suddenly there is a rapping at the front door. The husband answers the summon to find Mulder, who enters claiming there is an intruder in their house. On searching the house, they find the bedroom where Tooms had apparently snuck, then climbed out the window in there to escape. Mulder finds a filthy, elongated handprint on the ledge. He hurries back outside. He sees no sign of Tooms and the Animal Control van is gone.

Later Scully speaks with a scientist at the Smithsonian Institute's Forensic Anthropology Lab. He tells her that the body they found in the cement dates from the mid 1930's. They checked the pocket and found several pennies, the latest dated 1933. Scully asks the scientist for the cause of death, guessing that being encased in cement is generally considered murder. The scientist says he can't tell yet--he found some gnaw marks on the ribs but he thinks those were made by rodents before the body was encased in cement. While admitting it is a long, time consuming process, he suggests another method that is a little unofficial. He tells her that Briggs gave him a photograph of the person who went missing in 1933. He then took the skull and created a computer image enhancement of the face. He shows Scully a picture, and admits that while it's not official, he's pretty sure it's the same person.

Scully shows the photo to Mulder in his car, who says it's not enough. Scully says it's a start, and then remarks to Mulder that it's getting "a bit ripe" in the car. Though he jokes about it as he puts up a pine-scented air freshener, it's pretty clear Mulder's been keeping surveillance for some time. Tooms has yet to emerge from his house. Handing Mulder a liverwurst sandwich, Scully reminds him that proper surveillance requires two agents, one relieving the other after twelve hours. She's worried that such long working hours could result in a mistake on his part that could get him hurt.

When Mulder tells her a request for other agents would be denied, she offers to take the next shift. Mulder tells her he wouldn't want her to have an official reprimand on her record. After trying to call him "Fox" (over which he jests, telling her he even made his parents call him "Mulder") Scully says that she wouldn't put herself on the line for anyone but him. Mulder reacts to this sign of loyalty by joking, "If there's ice tea in that bag, it could be love." Scully takes out a can and says, "Must be fate. Root beer." She finally persuades Mulder to go home, which he reluctantly does, telling her to call if Tooms comes out. He gives her back his sandwich, saying he's only had one bite, and drives away. When Scully walks back to her car, she looks at the bite marks on the sandwich and gets an idea.

Later that night, Mulder is dozing on his couch while 'The Fly' airs on the TV and doesn't hear the sound of the screws in his air duct registers being loosened and falling to the floor. Nor does he see Tooms inflict a deep gouge in his own face with his fingernail.

Later, a detective tells an ER doctor that they found a man lying unconscious in the street, very badly beaten. The doctor notes he has numerous injuries and one of his shoulders has been pulled out of joint. She takes him in to draw some blood as she examines a bruise on his face that looks like a shoeprint. The doctor asks for a snapshot to see if they can ID the shoe it came from. When the doctor asks the victim, who is Tooms, if he could identify his attacker, he whispers a name in her ear. She walks across the room and tells the detective that it was a federal agent named Fox Mulder. Neither sees Tooms pop his shoulder back in place.

That morning, a groggy Mulder walks to the door and opens it to see the detective and a uniformed cop on the other side. When he asks what their visit is about, the cop walks into his apartment until he finds a shoe. When he shows this to detective, the detective tells Mulder to get his things and that he's in trouble. Still confused, Mulder walks forward and picks up one of the screws on the floor from the register. He looks at his, pondering what has happened.

Later, Skinner meets with Mulder and Scully (witnessed by the CSM). When he tells Mulder that the evidence against him is incriminating, Mulder tells him that any good forensic expert would be able to demonstrate that there was a shoeprint but no foot in the shoe at the time of impact. Skinner then asks, if Mulder was engaged in an illegal round-the-clock surveillance of Tooms, how could Tooms have gained access to his shoe? Scully then admits she was helping Mulder watch Tooms. She says at the time Mulder was supposedly attacking Tooms, he was with her in the car. Skinner suspiciously asks her if she is lying to protect Mulder, and Scully counters by saying she would hope that Skinner would trust her as well as she trusts him. Skinner asks her to leave.

As CSM watches and smokes, Skinner tells "Fox" that he was one of the best profilers in the Bureau's history and that many in the Bureau including the director feel his talent is wasted on the X-Files, but they've allowed him to remain on them due to his deep personal attachments. He then says if this attachment not only causes inappropriate behavior in him, but also the agents around him that maybe he should take some time away from the X-Files to clear his head. "Thanks for your concern," Mulder says dryly. Knowing he's been rebuffed, Skinner forbids Mulder to go anywhere near Tooms. He then warns Mulder. "This was close. Any closer and a thousand friends at the Capitol won't be able to help you."

In a forensic lab Scully shows Mulder Tooms' dental x-ray and tells him that Mulder's sandwich gave her an idea regarding the evidence of gnawing that was found around the location of the liver. They also found more human bite-marks on the body and that they can match them to Tooms' teeth. When Mulder points out that Tooms will never sit for an x-ray, Scully shows him a computer program that is capable of reconstructing dental marks based on dental radiograms. They use it and find a match.

In his room at the Ranfords', Tooms is tearing paper into strips (like we saw in 'Squeeze') when Mr. Ranford enters with Dr. Monte. Mr. Ranford then tells Tooms that he and Mrs. Ranford are going out for the night and bids them goodbye. Dr. Monte comments on the quality of Eugene's home, but in Tooms' eyes, Monte's voice and the background fade away. Monte asks Tooms if he's planning on making papier mâché with the newspaper strips. Tooms says yes and begins to walk towards to the door as Monte continues to talk. Before Tooms closes the door, we see that his pupils have turned yellow. Monte asks Tooms if anything's wrong and then in the darkness, there's a struggle and a scream.

Mulder and Scully drive up to the Ranfords' house and find the door open. They enter cautiously, and in Tooms' room, which now has no electricity, they find the corpse of Dr. Monte. "That makes five," Mulder says, noting that Tooms has begun to make his "nest" and that the thirty year period of hibernation will begin soon. Scully asks Mulder where he thinks Tooms would go. When Mulder mentions Tooms' Exeter Street address, she tells him that the row of houses once there have recently been torn down. Mulder asks, "What's there now?"

Sixty-six Exeter Street is now a shopping mall. Mulder and Scully are let in by a security guard and begin the search for Tooms. Scully posits that if Tooms is drawn to this location that his nest may be in the same area as his old one. The area is located near escalators and Scully suggest that he is perhaps on the second floor where there is a storage area. Mulder heads upstairs but stops part way, seeing something. He flicks his flashlight down at a grate on the floor. The two agents lift the grate and find the maintenance access door beneath the escalator. Scully notes there's only room for one of them and prepares to go down. Mulder stops her. "You can get the next mutant," he says charitably and starts down, himself.

He takes off his coat and shoes and heads down the passageway. On the floor, he finds that he has to crawl and he soon spots a yellow substance and more shredded newspaper. He finds the nest, a large, bile-soaked cocoon with a small opening in it. Mulder crawls up to it, and a hand covered with bile suddenly grabs him by the throat. Mulder manages to pull himself free and crawls away rapidly. Tooms bursts out, naked, feral and covered with bile. He starts crawling towards Mulder with a vicious look on his face. Mulder makes it back to the entrance where Scully reaches down and grabs his hand. She starts to yank him out when Tooms grabs on to his legs and pulls him in the other direction. Mulder kicks Tooms in the face and wriggles to freedom, hotly pursued by the mutant. Thinking quickly, Mulder pushes the power button on the escalator. As it starts moving downward, we hear a scream and a loud splat, and the stairs run with blood.

Later Skinner looks at the file on Tooms. He asks CSM if he's read the report. When the Smoking Man nods, Skinner asks, "Do you believe them?" For the first time the CSM answers. "Of course I do." He smirks.

Outside, Mulder observes a chrysalis when Scully walks up to him and tells them they can go. "It's amazing how things change, isn't it?" he comments. "The caterpillar?" asks Scully. He says he means that a change for them is coming. When Scully asks how he knows this, he says, "A hunch." Both agents walk away.

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

  • This marks the first appearance of Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Walter Skinner. Eventually, he will become the greatest ally Mulder or Scully ever had, but it's pretty clear that at this point the writers hadn't decided that yet. His attitude seems to be the same as that of Blevins'--another bureaucrat, albeit a somewhat more human one--and his advice to Mulder smacks of a warning. Of course, it is possible that he fears the Cigarette-Smoking Man's interference--in this episode he frequently looks at him like he was a superior. David Morris
  • The Smoking Man (or CSM, as official publications refer to him) has his first line of dialogue in this episode--and the only line he will have in Season One, for that matter. At this juncture, the CSM still seems like a harmless figure, albeit a shadowy one. It should also be noted that neither agent seems to notice CSM in any of their scenes, perhaps meaning they don't take him seriously. David Morris
  • A number of X-Philes believe that the character of Tooms and story points from Squeeze / Tooms were inspired by a serial murder case from October 1922 in New Jersey, The Halls-Mill Murders. The murders were never solved. Matt Allair
  • The character of Eugene Tooms was popular enough for Glen Morgan and James Wong to write a sequel for him, but they really did some major manipulations of the law to get him out of the asylum. I find it difficult to believe that even Melvin Belli could mastermind a defense of getting four counts of murder, in which the defendant's fingerprints were present, and trophies of the victims were in the defendant's apartment, dropped from an indictment. Even allowing for this legal maneuvering, how did Tooms get sent to an asylum rather than jail for a clear case of assault on a federal agent, which carries a very strict penalty? David Morris
  • The question may have been asked before, but how is it that Scully can say that she and Mulder have a 75% clearance or conclusion rate, when so many of their cases clearly remain unsolved? In this season alone, Ghost in the Machine, Fallen Angel, Genderbender and Born Again will be unsolved. And this isn't counting the mythology episodes, which never have any real solution. Are there other cases than the shows we see on The X-Files that M & S clear? David Morris
  • How old is Frank Briggs? Using the most conservative math, he has to be in his early nineties at the youngest. Yet despite the fact he's in a wheelchair, he seems in pretty good shape. David Morris

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

This episode established the prescient of the stand-alone sequel that would continue to be an occasional feature of the series. Unlike the mythology episodes where re-occurring characters were to be expected, many of these sequels involved Mutants or Monsters. The episode also helps to further the implication over the impending closure of The X-Files unit. Mulder's actions in the previous episode, E.B.E., may have prompted the Syndicate to pressure Mulder's subordinates to take further action. Assistant Director Walter Skinner would have to engage in a balancing act for many years to come, eventually having to visibly side with Mulder and Scully's quest. A number of X-Philes have argued that the episode feels as though it's treading water. Glen Morgan has acknowledged that the inspiration for the episode came from shopping at a Los Angeles mall while workers repaired an escalator.

The scenes with the mall escalator were filmed at City Square Mall on 12th ave, Vancouver. Written approval was required from the store owners in the mall and interior filming was permitted after 6 p.m., only. Actor Doug Hutchison had to suffer the piping gel covering his body for his infamous nude cocoon chase with Mulder. Hutchison fought to play the scene naked, although the producers intended to have Tooms in his animal control uniform, yet Doug Hutchison recounted in a issue of Starlog: *"I just thought that was the silliest thing in the world, that I would be in a fetal position in my nest in my dog uniform. I wanted to be slimed, you know, from head to toe. I had pictured myself nude, like a caterpillar in a cocoon. You sense that I come bursting out of there without a stitch of clothing. It's something you catch on a subliminal level."

Actor Henry Beckman got the role through his Vancouver agent, which he elaborated on in a previous interview: "I went up and did it and apparently they liked it so well that they called me back for another episode, which didn't make me mad at all. I thought it was a pretty good role. I outfoxed all of the machines and found the damn corpse myself!" The veteran actors has acknowledged he had a feeling that the X-Files was going to be a huge hit. He also acknowledged that he still watched the show and his wife and family enjoy it. Matt Allair
Druid Hill is a real location in Baltimore, though I don't know about a sanitarium being nearby. It was used several times in the course of NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street , most notably in the episode 'Stakeout' when ten victims of a serial killer were dug up from that location. David Morris

Mitch Craig Pileggi made his first appearance as Walter Skinner in Tooms, the character would play a pivitol role in the series throughout it's history. So much so that Pileggi would get co-starring billing in season nine. Pileggi started off his career playing psychotic characters, which now seems difficult to imagine, considering the tough, but heroic nature of Skinner. Originally the part was a simple guest starring role, when actor Charles Cioffi was unavailable, yet the producers decided to bring him back in the second season, by the end of the second season Mitch Pileggi was asked to sign a contract for six years. Pileggi based his characterization of Skinner on his late father, who passed away before the actor took on the role. Pileggi described his father as stern with his employers, yet compassionate. Mitch was born April 5, 1952 in Portland, Oregon, In high School Mitch has some acting experiences in the school theatre, yet decided not to pursue acting. He attended Fullerton College for a year as well as University of Maryland in Munich, Germany. He then attended the University of Texas where he received his business administration degree during the 1975-76 term. He then worked as a desk-bound defense contractor monitored by the air force in middle-eastern countries. He moved into acting, working for the Zachary Scott Theatre Company, becoming a regular on theatrical stages, musicals and dramas. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. After several bit parts in various features, his big break came when he appeared as the lead villain in We Craven's Shocker. He met his second wife Arlen Warren on The X-Files set and actor David Duchovny was his best man, they have one daughter.

Mitch Pileggi's feature film work includes Gun Shy, Vampire in Brooklyn, It's Pat: The Movie, Basic Instinct, Guilty As Charged, Return of the Living Dead part II, and Death Wish 4. Mr. Pileggi has had a recent recurring role on Stargate: Atlantis, his other television appearances include CSI, Nip/Tuck, The West Wing, the host of the re-launched In Search Of, That 70s Show, Walker: Texas Ranger, Dallas, Hunter and China Beach.

Paul Ben-Victor is a character actor of some repute, mostly starring in B-films such Attack of the Killer Bimbos and Body Parts. He is best known by this author for his appearance in the HBO drama The Wire (a show, coincidentally, also set in Baltimore) as Spiros Vondoupolous, a captain in the Russian Mafia. David Morris
Mr. Victor's feature work includes Push, Daredevil, Very Mean Men, Crazy In Alabama, A Civil Action, Point Break, Heist, and True Romance. His television appearances include Entourage, CSI, Monk, Alias, Crossing Jordan, The Practice, NYPD Blue, LA Law, The Commish, and China Beach. Matt Allair

Episode synopsis, review and production notes: David B. Morris
Additional review and production notes: Matt Allair
Page Editor: XScribe

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