|Original Airdate:||September 24, 1993|
|Written by:||Glen Morgan and James Wong|
|Directed by:||Harry Longstreet|
Mulder and Scully investigate a serial killer who has been active for nearly a hundred years and is capable of squeezing his body through narrow gaps.
At dusk, a business man, George Usher, walks onto a street in Baltimore, Maryland and strolls to his car, unknowingly being watched by a pair of menacing eyes hidden inside a storm drain.
After Usher exits an elevator in an office building, the doors to the elevator open again, but the cabin of the elevator is gone. The cables in the open shaft tremble, as if they are being used for climbing. Usher makes a call to his wife and as he leaves his office to get some coffee, a vent in the office is first quietly unscrewed and then starts to be opened. Usher returns to his office where, after his door is suddenly closed from inside, sounds of a struggle can be heard and the door handle repeatedly rattles. The noises abruptly end as a hole is nearly smashed in the door. As Usher's coffee drips on the floor and he lies dead on the ground, the vent is screwed back in place.
FBI Agents Dana Scully and Tom Colton are having lunch together in a Washington, D.C. restaurant. They are old Academy classmates and make small talk about their careers. Colton is a highly ambitious agent who speaks teasingly to Scully about her partner, Fox Mulder, whom Scully admits is a little "out there". Colton then starts to tell Scully about a case he has been assigned that involves a series of victims, the latest being George Usher, who were each killed in a location where there were no obvious entry points and found with their livers missing, with signs indicating they were ripped out by bare hands. Scully admits the case may be an X-file. Colton is determined to solve the case himself but asks for Scully's help, reluctantly agreeing that she can include Mulder in the investigation.
GEORGE USHER'S OFFICE
In Usher's office, Mulder queries Scully as to why he wasn't personally asked to help with the case rather than her, seemingly surprised when Scully mentions he has an unflattering reputation, and asks if she also thinks he is "spooky". Colton arrives, apologizing for being late, and is formally introduced to Mulder by Scully; he asks Mulder, in a jesting and off-handed manner, whether be believes aliens are responsible for the murder. Mulder plays up to Colton's expectation of him as a kook, expounding on his own otherworldly ideas, before leaving Scully and Colton to converse. Mulder discovers a bizarrely elongated fingerprint on the vent that opened during Usher's murder but Colton dismisses the possibility that anyone could have crawled through it.
In the X-files office, Mulder shows Scully fingerprints that tie the recent murders to a series of related murders that were reported in the X-files, the others having occurred in 1963 and 1933, as well as a single one in 1903. Although Scully protests that Colton never mentioned these earlier murders, Mulder suspects Colton is probably not aware of them. Mulder also concludes, from the pattern of the earlier murders (five each year), that two more are due to be committed, this year. When Scully questions his theories, Mulder clarifies that he does not think the murders are copycats, citing the identical nature of the fingerprints, and does not believe aliens are involved in the case. The two argue whether the case belongs to Colton or them, with Mulder insisting that the murders were in the X-files long before the recent related murders and Scully saying that Mulder's theories are unwanted by the FBI in general. Mulder eventually suggests that they conduct their own investigation, separate from that of the Violent Crimes Section.
Scully types up a psychological profile of the killer and presents it to the VCS agents. On her recommendation Agent Fuller, Colton's superior, organizes stakeouts of the crime scenes, as Scully believes the killer will return to one of them. The meeting ends with Agent Fuller suggesting that Scully work overtime with his team, making a reference to her usual work in jest that draws laughter from the other agents present but discomfort from Scully.
CRIME SCENE, 7:15 P.M.
Alone in a car, Scully is conducting a stakeout in the parking lot of Usher's building when she is alerted by a faint banging noise. She searches in the general area of the sound and is startled when Mulder jumps out at her, with a joke about the situation. Scully is frustrated that he is jeopardizing her stakeout, but he insists that the killer will not return to the building, having already beaten the challenge it presented to him. Mulder starts to head home, but notices that something is moving inside an air shaft. He runs back to Scully, who calls for backup and follows him to the chute. Complying with orders from Scully, a man crawls out of the chute. He is then arrested by backup agents. As Mulder walks away, he admits to Scully that she was right.
A polygraph test is conducted on the Eugene Victor Tooms, an employee of the Baltimore Municipal Animal Control. Colton and Fuller, watching from an adjacent observation room with Scully and Mulder, react with irritation when Tooms is asked two questions that concern the murders from years ago, which Mulder instructed the examiner to include. When asked if he is afraid of failing the test, Tooms shifts in his seat and admits that he is afraid and professes his innocence.
Later, the examiner declares that, in her own opinion, Tooms passed the test. Fuller arrives with news that supports Tooms' story of having been called in to find a dead cat in the ventilation system but Scully maintains, in opposition to Colton and Fuller, that the alibi remains questionable. Mulder notices that Tooms lied on the same two questions that Mulder had the examiner ask, but Fuller disregards this in annoyance, even interrupting the examiner - when she begins to explain the readings to Mulder - by shouting that Tooms was obviously not alive in 1933. Fuller chooses to let Tooms go and hurries out of the room, followed by the examiner. After Colton asks Scully if she is coming with him, she politely declines, nevertheless thanking him for allowing her to temporarily work with the Violent Crimes Section. Recalling their earlier conversation, Colton tells Scully that Mulder is not only "out there" but "insane" before rushing out of the room.
As they walk through a busy work area, Scully wonders why Mulder pushed his theory even though he clearly knew the others would never believe it. He suggests that he did so not only because he believed Tooms was guilty, but also due to his opinion that his own (admittedly) frequent encounters with cynics increases the need for him to play up to their cynical expectations of him. Scully remarks that he was acting extremely territorial but turns away, dismissing her comment. Mulder tells her that she's right about this. He values the fact that, even if she does not always agree with him, she respects "the journey" that each of their investigations takes. Mulder pledges to accept her continued cooperation with the Violent Crimes Section, if she wishes to rejoin them, but she admits to being curious as to what other evidence has caused Mulder to so firmly believe that Tooms committed the murders from years ago.
Using a computer, Mulder digitally elongates Tooms' fingerprint until it matches those found at the crime scenes, definitive proof that Tooms was responsible for Usher's murder as well as the series of murders from the X-files.
Meanwhile, another businessman named Mr. Werner arrives home while Tooms watches from the darkness. Once Werner enters his house, Tooms climbs up the side of the building onto the roof where he reaches down the chimney, his fingers extending as he does so, before squeezing his entire body inside. Werner tries to light a fire in his fireplace but is puzzled when the newspaper does not catch. Tooms attacks Werner from behind as the last remaining embers go out.
While Detective Johnson takes measurements of where Werner's body is in relation to objects in the room, Colton suggests that the latest removed liver might have been placed on the black market. Johnson scoffs at this, since the liver has clearly been ripped out in incredibly crude fashion. Colton, at his wits end, is willing to entertain any theory, but corrects himself and says "any sane theory" upon seeing Mulder arrive with Scully. Colton initially tries to stop Mulder from entering the crime scene, but acquiesces when Scully suggests that obstructing Mulder's investigation could be marked down in Colton's personnel file. When Colton coldly asks whose side she is on, Scully replies "the victim's," and an annoyed Colton walks out. Scully begins to read a profile of Mr. Werner but Mulder cuts her off, having already found another of Tooms' elongated fingerprints on the fireplace. Mulder also notes that something has been removed from the mantelpiece.
Mulder is searching through old records with a microfiche projector, coming across a 1903 census record concerning Tooms, as Scully enters. She notifies him that not only has Tooms' listed address turned out to be fake, but Tooms has not returned to work since his arrest. When Mulder shows her that the address for Tooms from the census record is the apartment below that of the 1903 murder victim, Scully starts to formulate a theory that the previous murders were committed by Eugene Tooms' descendants. Worrying that Tooms will kill one more victim before emerging again in 2023 if he is not stopped now, Mulder suggests that he himself and Scully search through the available records for any more information on Eugene Tooms. The agents are largely unsuccessful in their search but, after they have plowed through the records, Scully informs Mulder that she has found the current address of the investigator of one of the murders in 1933.
LYNNE ACRES RETIREMENT HOME
The agents visit the now-retired Frank Briggs at the Lynne Acres Retirement Home. He recounts how he, an experienced detective at the time, was appalled by the 1933 murders and experienced a sense of evil in the room at Powhattan Mill where they were committed. After Mulder helps the ex-detective get a box, Briggs recollects that he continued to investigate Tooms, unofficially, in 1963, by which time he had been assigned a desk job. The box includes all the evidence Briggs amassed, including a jar containing a piece of another removed liver. Briggs explains that Tooms would also take personal belongings of his victims as trophies, and shows the agents photographs that he himself took in 1933, including a picture of Tooms - in which he looks virtually identical to his current appearance - and the building where he lived, the same address where Tooms was living in 1903 and where the first victim was killed in the same year.
Mulder remarks, as he and Scully enter the bare apartment where the census record stated Tooms was living, that Briggs was right about there being a strong sensation. Mulder discovers a hole in the wall behind a propped-up mattress and the agents climb down into an old coal cellar. There they come across the trophies that Tooms has collected over the years, including the one taken from Mr. Werner's mantelpiece, and find a nest made from rags and newspapers. Mulder touches the construct, accidentally covering his hands in a substance that Scully identifies as bile. Mulder then reveals that he thinks Tooms is a genetic mutant who hibernates in the nest for thirty years and needs the livers for sustenance during his hibernation cycle. Scully reminds Mulder that Tooms will have to return so they decide that, while Mulder keeps watch on the building, Scully will organize a surveillance team. On their way out of the gloomy cellar, she becomes momentarily caught on something in the darkness and a hand, holding her necklace, reaches down from the rafters, where Tooms watches.
66 EXETER ST., 11:30 A.M.
Later, Mulder is waiting in the car that he and Scully arrived in, sitting outside Tooms' building at 66 Exeter Street, as Agents Kennedy and Kramer finally arrive. Mulder reminds them of their objective, adding that he and Scully will relieve them in eight hours if Tooms does not make an appearance. Kennedy casually accepts Mulder's plan, jokingly referring to him with his nickname as he exits the car.
At the FBI Bureau, Scully is preparing to meet Mulder when Colton bursts in. He voices his frustration with the fact that Scully is using two of his men to sit outside a building that has been condemned for ten years, to which she defensively says that his investigation is not being impeded in any way. He tells her that when they had lunch he was looking forward to working with her because he believed she was a good agent, but now he is desperate to remove her from the case, due to her close association with Mulder. Scully is furious when Colton tells her that his regional ASAC called off the stakeout and tries to call Mulder with the news, but Colton insists that he get the opportunity to gloat. Fuming, Scully wishes Colton "luck" with his career and storms out as he calls Mulder, ultimately getting Mulder's answering machine.
Scully drives home and goes inside, not knowing that Tooms is watching her from the bushes across the street.
66 EXETER ST., 7:25 P.M.
Mulder drives up to Tooms' building and is surprised to find no-one no one waiting for him. He runs inside.
In the bathroom of her apartment, Scully gets Mulder's answering machine and relates her aggravation with Colton, telling Mulder to call her back when he returns home. She then starts to run a bath and walks out of her bathroom as Tooms appears in the window, apparently climbing up the outside of her building.
In the cellar, Mulder discovers Scully's necklace amongst the collection of trophies and rushes out.
Scully finishes running her bath and starts to open a bottle of bath salts when bile drops onto her left hand from a grille in the bathroom ceiling. She flees into the living room and grabs her gun.
Mulder rushes to Scully's apartment, frustrated when she doesn't answer the phone - which she can't, because the phone wires servicing her apartment have been cut. Scully is making her way through the apartment when Tooms punches through a floorboard vent and grabs her leg, tripping her up and causing her to lose her gun. Although she manages to struggle free of his grasp, Tooms bursts out of the vent and is about to rip out Scully's liver when Mulder kicks the front door in. Tooms smashes the pane above the bars on Scully's bathroom window but is jumped by Scully. Mulder manages to handcuff one of Tooms' hands but is knocked across the room, which gives Scully time to attach the other cuff to the bathtub's faucet. Mulder victoriously comments, as Tooms gives up, that the killer will not be able to fill his quota, this year.
Detective Briggs is saddened but relieved to see a report about Tooms' capture in the Section Two newspaper.
Another copy of the same article is ripped up and licked by Tooms, who uses it towards building a new nest in the psych ward cell where he is now confined. Mulder is observing the killer through a circular window in the cell's door when Scully arrives. She says official findings confirm that Tooms is genetically a human anomaly. Mulder ignores her, instead lamenting the inadequacy of the public's high security measures. The agents wander away as a food tray is brought to the cell and passed through a small, rectangular slot in the door. Alone in his cell, Tooms stares at the slot and smiles, sinisterly.
- This is one of the most famous episodes of The X-Files and the first official "Monster of the Week". The story would be concluded in the later Season 1 episode "Tooms".
- The frame-by-frame shot of Mulder and Sully in the opening credits is taken from this episode, when they first enter Tooms' apartment.
Story & ScriptEdit
- As the first two episodes of The X-Files had involved UFOs, the Fox network requested that the series try to focus on something completely different. This was also a desire of the production crew themselves, for the same reasons. Chris Carter, when creating The X-Files, had known that he would want to depart from the UFO and extraterrestrial storyline as quickly as possible, because he strongly believed that the series could not sustain itself on that storyline alone.
- This episode bears some similarities to The Night Strangler, the second of two movies in the Kolchak: The Night Stalker series. In that film, a serial killer rose from the Seattle Underground every twenty-one years to strangle his victims and use their blood to keep himself alive for over a century.
- In the writing of this episode, James Wong and Glen Morgan were inspired by Jack the Ripper and a large ventilator shaft outside their office. According to Morgan, the episode's concept began when he and Wong were working late and he asked Wong, "What if we were working late at night and some guy came through that thing?" The writers began to realize the weirdness in the idea of a guy somehow squeezing himself through the grille.
- Chris Carter's contribution was the idea of the killer having developed a taste for human liver. Carter was influenced by a recent visit to France, where he had eaten a lot of foie gras. According to Morgan, the writers settled on the liver as it was "funnier than any other organ." Carter subsequently credited Morgan and Wong alone for having created the character of Tooms, who Carter believed was "a wonderful character", and for having wanted the character to harvest the livers of people. Carter did, however, take credit for having suggested the idea of the bile in this episode.
- According to Carter, the writing duo of Morgan and Wong had also wanted the character of Tooms to do his liver-harvesting on a schedule so that, if he was not caught in the episode, he would disappear again and go into hibernation.
Cast & Established CharactersEdit
- Glen Morgan originally thought that actor Doug Hutchison, a vegetarian in reality, looked too young to play Eugene Victor Tooms (despite Hutchison being 33 at the time). Episode director Harry Longstreet instructed Hutchison to "go from a neutral position to an attack position". When the actor started snapping nastily at the director and disturbing everyone by spontaneously assuming the character's behavior, Morgan was convinced that Hutchison should play Tooms. Longstreet was somewhat reluctant to cast Hutchison, but the producers realized that he was the right actor for the role. During a subsequent interview, Chris Carter commented that he approved of Morgan and Wong's casting decision, remarking that Hutchison was as scary as his role had been written.
- Doug Hutchison would later return as Tooms in titular episode. The actor would then be seen in this role once more, in a photograph that appears in the fifth season episode "The End". Hutchison would also portray the "Polaroid Man" in the Millennium episode "The Beginning & the End", before appearing in archive footage of this character in the episode "Anamnesis".
- Henry Beckman, who portrays retired Detective Frank Briggs in this episode, would also, like Hutchison, reprise his role from this episode in the later first season episode "Tooms". Beckman would then go on to play an Old Man in the Season 5 episode "Chinga".
- Kevin McNulty would not only reappear as Agent Fuller in the third season Mythology episode "Apocrypha" but would, between these two appearances, also play Dr. Christopher Davey in the second season episode "Soft Light". Following these three appearances on The X-Files, McNulty would portray recurring character Dr. Arnett in three episodes of Millennium - "Darwin's Eye", "Via Dolorosa" and "Goodbye to All That" - before appearing as Wash in The Lone Gunmen episode "Maximum Byers", in which the actor was credited as "Kevin Mcnulty".
- Terence Kelly, who plays George Usher in this episode, would later appear in two episodes of Millennium, as Detective Kerney in "Kingdom Come" and as Gordon Davis in "The Fourth Horseman".
- Colleen Winton, after appearing as the Examiner in this episode, would play a Therapist in the fifth season episode "Kitsunegari". The actress would also portray two characters in Millennium, guest starring as Mrs. Dolores Garry in "Covenant" and as Jean Sanderson in "Saturn Dreaming of Mercury".
- Likewise, Rob Morton, who portrays Agent Kramer in this episode, would also play two characters in Millennium, appearing as Lewis in "Dead Letters" and as a D.O.T. Driver in "Skull and Bones".
- Gary Hetherington, following his role as Agent Kennedy in this episode, would return to The X-Files to play Agent Lewin in "Little Green Men", the first episode of the series' second season.
- To painstakingly craft this episode, there were many reshoots, a lot of editorial work by Heather McDougall and the writers, Glen Morgan and James Wong, also worked tirelessly on the episode. Glen Morgan was one of the people involved in the editing process.
- Several cast and crew members, particularly James Wong, Doug Hutchison and David Duchovny, expressed disappointment with director Harry Longstreet, with Wong stating he believed Longstreet did not have respect for the script. Longstreet reportedly shot scenes without additional camera coverage (which gave the editors very little to work with) and even failed to film a scene from the script. As a result, Wong and Michael Katleman (who would later direct the episode Shadows) shot and reshot a large portion of the episode. Hutchison and Duchovny, for their part, found Longstreet's direction to be unhelpful and even "ridiculous," acording to Hutchison. Glen Morgan would later say that production of the episode was plagued with issues, and it "was truly saved in postproduction."
- Chris Carter was visiting the set during filming of the scene in which Tooms reaches down the chimney and then slowly climbs into it. Carter consequently saw how the effect was created.
- The shot of Tooms reaching down a chimney as his hand stretches was achieved by art director Michael Nimerski and visual effects supervisor Mat Beck. First, a performer repeatedly reached down, and then his fingers were digitally elongated. A sound effect was added to complete the shot.
- A contortionist, standing in for Hutchison and hired by the production crew, performed the scene where Tooms climbs down the chimney. Although the chimney was meant to look like it was twenty-feet tall and very skinny, the skinny part was actually only a few inches high, so that the chimney was really more like a belt than pipe, allowing the contortionist to maneuver his way through it.
- For the shot of Tooms climbing out of the low heating vent in Scully's apartment, the effects team first shot the background that they then wrapped in blue before filming Hutchison diving out of the vent. Mat Beck then digitally stretched the actor's body and layered it with the background that had been shot.
- According to special effects artist David Gauthier, the effects team used baking and piping gel for the bile.
- ""Is there any way I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?"" - Mulder
- "So, what is this - the Anti-Waltons?" - Mulder
- Doug Hutchison as Eugene Victor Tooms (First appearance)
- Donal Logue as Agent Tom Colton
- Henry Beckman as Detective Frank Briggs (First appearance)
- James Bell as Det. Johnson
- Gary Hetherington as Kennedy
- Rob Morton as Kramer
- Paul Joyce as Mr. Werner
World Trade Center Bombing - In the opening, Scully and Colton discuss "an old friend from the academy" and his new supervisory position in a high-prestige office. Scully asks how he got to that position in only 2 years and Colton replies that "he lucked into the World Trade Center bombing."