Wednesday, 18 March 2015

X-Files Rewatch | Squeeze

Here it is, the first 'Monster of the Week' episode. A format that became one of The X-Files major plot points between all the alien abductions and conspiracy theories. Just think of it like the timeline in Back to the Future Part Two, the main timeline being the myth-arc and the alternate timeline (well, in this case not alternate) being the MOTW episodes running beneath it. That's how I like to think of it anyway.

'Squeeze' is definitely one of the eeriest MOTW episodes to ever grace the X-Files realm, no thanks to the performance of Doug Hutchinson as the liver eating mutant Eugene Victor Tooms. I'm not even going attempt to creep you out with the details of Hutchinson himself, just Google him. If both Duchovny and Anderson weren't too keen on him when they filmed the episodes - the latter being the continuation episode of 'Tooms' - then it’s not just me.

This episode made me feel nostalgic for the good old, simple X-Files episodes that season one was full of. It wasn't until watching this again that I realised just how much I missed Mark Snow's ambient synth music. Especially in the scene in which Tooms is being given a lie detector test, with the cheesy synth key being played whenever he says yes to the lie detector. Then you've got Scully's field reports, which I don't remember her ever doing past the first season. I guess it was because they acted as some sort of conduit for the story line through this season as there wasn't really a fixed narrative up until the final episode.

The show had already set itself out to be sci-fi orientated through the first two episodes, but it's this episode that really set out the horror aspect that it managed to weave seamlessly into the sci-fi. It showcases the wonder that is how The X-Files manages to create horror through suggestion rather than special effects or overboard murder scenes. Sure, you get a handful of those later in the series, but it's here that you never see Tooms actually kill anyone, you only hear it. The camera is facing away from each crime scene.

Much like the ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs, the camera pulls away just in time to leave the rest to your imagination. And to show you that sitting in a dark room late at night with only one light on does not fare well in an X-Files cold open.


We get to see Mulder from other people's perspectives throughout 'Squeeze', mainly through his work colleagues. And it isn't good. Everyone seems to think of Mulder as a joke to the FBI, which is obvious through the nickname that they've labelled him with. But just because his reputation gets him made fun of, doesn't mean that his colleges won't use him for his skill in profiling. He seems to take this abuse in stride, though. Either with sarcasm or just ignoring it. He plays on it, messing with them to show that he really doesn't care. He only seems to care what Scully thinks, and she's the only one that is there to defend him.

Through this use of Mulder by his colleagues, we can see how open minded he is when it comes to cases. Even more so than the previous two cases, as 'Squeeze' is the first episode where we're given an extensive investigation into a suspect; a suspect that Mulder can't seem to let go, like with every other case he investigates. He's inquisitive. He's always able to investigate and find evidence that everyone else has missed. Even if that means jeopardizing Scully's stakeout, of which all he had to tell Scully was some information on the case file. He always needs to get the job done, it's in his nature. 

Scully really seems to hold her own in this episode, as it's her that Colton goes to first to get her and Mulder's insight into his case. It's this meeting with Colton that you can see where Scully's loyalties truly lie - through Colton trying to reduce Scully to a nickname like the rest of the FBI has done with Mulder; which she has none of, and defends Mulder right off the bat. She continues to defend Mulder later in the episode, this time with Mulder in the room. Scully knows he can stand up for himself but she also knows that everyone else needs to see that if she can defend him and stick by him, they must be terribly wrong in their judgment of character.

I think this is one of the few episodes that Scully believes in the monster. She has photographic evidence through the fingerprints and the later photographs, she witnesses Tooms' wrath first hand in her own home and she's willing to believe Mulder's theories. She sees it this time due to the overwhelming evidence. Although I'm leaning more towards the fact that she nearly got her own liver ripped out, that must mess with you. Just a bit.

We really get to see Mulder and Scully's partnership strengthen throughout this episode. Whatever the case, they always seem to come to a mutual agreement. Whether they're happy with that agreement, they both seem to side on one side: the victims. This is obvious through Scully voicing her opinion to Colton, but Mulder seems to care about the victim as much as Scully does. Especially through his concern about the bars on windows, that it isn't enough for people to feel safe. Mulder and Scully want to make the world a better place, however insignificant they may be in doing so. The smallest effort to get at least one killer behind bars is satisfying enough for them.

And it's the fact that they work together as an effective team that they're able to get the job done. Mulder's open mind and crazy theories are balanced by Scully's professionalism and rationality, which enable her the ability to reign Mulder in, to make him see the bigger picture. And in turn, make them see the bigger picture together.


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