Wednesday, November 17, 2010

X-Files--"Squeeze"

“Squeeze” establishes two motifs that will run throughout most of the series. One, the non-mythology, monster of the week theme that will allow the series to play with all sorts of concepts beyond alien conspiracies. And two, that even though Mulder is a pariah other agents fear losing their reputations by working with, he is still a gifted criminal profiler who is generally one step ahead of everyone else. The misfit genius, as it were.

An old friend of Scully’s, who is interested in ambitiously climbing the career ladder at the Bureau, has been stymied by a case involving locked room murders in which the victims’ livers have been torn out. He wants Mulder’s expertise, but does not want him anywhere near the in the field investigation. Mulder cooperates, even though none of the other agents want him involved, either.

Mulder notices the similarity between the four liver removing murder and a sequence of five other murders which have occurred every thirty years since 1903. As he now believes the case is an X-File, he carries on his own investigation. Scully has conflicted loyalties and is skeptical of Mulder’s belief the same killer has been active since 1903, but she has gained enough respect for him to both work with and defend him from the other agents, including her friend.

They capture a suspect, Eugene Tooms. He passes a lie detector test, but only Mulder does not buy it. Tooms has a unique physiology that allows him to squeeze into small places, but requires large amounts of iron to sustain him through his required thirty year hibernations. The agents find his nest--an abandoned apartment building that was still in use in his last three killing sprees earlier in the century.

Their discovery of his nest leads to what will become something of a cliché--Scully as the next victim. It makes logical sense from a dramatic perspective. We care about what happens to her more than we would a guest star in the same perilous spot, but the situation occurs over and over again throughout the nine seasons. Fortunately, it is done well more often than not, with Scully often doing as much to save herself as being rescued by Mulder. Such is the case here. Tooms is incarcerated, but it is left open that he is looking for a means of escape, no matter how tight a squeeze the route might be.

I have always been fond of “Squeeze.” The question of what makes the criminally insane tick fascinates me, particularly when their methods and motives are far out there. It is much more comforting when the killer is fictional. We will see Tooms again in a few more episodes.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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