|The X-Files episode|
|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 century 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 yellow eyes from within a storm drain.
After Usher exits an elevator in an office building, the doors to the elevator open again, but the cabin 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 goes 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 large dent is smashed in the door. As Usher's coffee drips on the floor and he lies dead, 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, 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 reported in the X-file, the others having occurred in Powhatan Mill 1963 and 1933, as well as one taken in 1903 (when fingerprinting was still in its infancy). 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 about who the case belongs to, with Mulder insisting that the murders were in the X-files long before the recent series 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. Fuller suggests 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 on stakeout in the parking garage of Usher's building when she is alerted by a faint banging noise. She searches the area 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 Colton and other 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 Powhatan Mill murders, 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 clearly lied on the two Powhatan Mill questions; when the examiner begins to explain the readings, Fuller shouts over her 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 merely "out there" but "insane" before rushing out of the room.
As they walk through the station's bullpen, Scully wonders why Mulder pushed his theory even though it was obvious the others would never believe it. He suggests that he did so not only because he shared her belief that Tooms is 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 skeptical expectations. Scully remarks that he was acting extremely territorial, but then regrets this comment. Mulder tells her he values the fact that, even if she does not always agree with him, she respects "the journey" their investigations take. 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 convinced Mulder 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 previous murders.
Meanwhile, another businessman named Thomas 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 barely catches. 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 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, he 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 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.
Mulder is waiting outside Tooms' building at 66 Exeter Street when Agents Kennedy and Kramer 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 jokingly refers to Mulder by his 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 tells Colton his career can only end with him "landing on your ass" 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 side 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 hand from a grille in the 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 time.
Detective Briggs is relieved to the point of tears when he sees 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 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.
"Oh my God, Mulder! It smells like... I think it's bile!"
"Is there any way I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?"
- - Scully and Mulder
"So, what is this – the Anti-Waltons?"
- - Mulder
- This is one of the most famous episodes of The X-Files and the first official "Monster of the Week" episode. The story was concluded in the later Season 1 episode "Tooms".
- The frame-by-frame shot of Mulder and Scully in the series' opening credits sequence is taken from this episode, when they first enter Tooms' apartment.
Story and ScriptEdit
- As the first two episodes of The X-Files had involved UFOs, the Fox network requested that this episode focus on something completely different. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 105) This was also a desire of writing partners James Wong and Glen Morgan as well as Chris Carter. (X-Files Confidential, p. 40) The latter writing staffer recalled, "We knew we wanted to make it something other than an alien story and a government conspiracy story." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39) Elaborated Carter, "We wanted to get right out of the box after 'Deep Throat'." (X-Files Confidential, p. 40) In fact, Carter – when creating The X-Files – had known that he would want to depart from the UFO and extraterrestrial stories as quickly as possible, because he strongly believed the series could not sustain itself on those kinds of episodes alone. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- 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 here late at night and some guy came through that thing?" (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 106; "Behind the Truth", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) The writers were also inspired by an article Morgan had read about Richard Ramirez, a serial killer who had been dubbed "The Night Stalker" by the news media and had, despite being a large man, supposedly entered each of his victims' homes via a small window above their shower, leaving the dust and soap grime on the sill undisturbed. "I think we took it from there," reflected Morgan. "That was when it was Jim and Chris and I sitting around saying, 'How about this, how about that?' Some things we thought would be too far out there." (X-Files Confidential, p. 39)
- One of Chris Carter's contributions to the episode was the concept of Eugene Victor Tooms 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. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 106) "I thought 'Wouldn't it be intriguing if some human was interested in eating the livers of other humans?'" Carter recollected. "That was the kernel of the idea." (X-Files Confidential, p. 40) According to Glen Morgan, the writers settled on the liver as it was "funnier than any other organ." (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 106) He and James Wong not only agreed on the idea of having Eugene Victor Tooms harvest the livers of people but also wanted Tooms to do his liver-harvesting on a schedule so that, if he was not caught in this episode, he would disappear again and go into hibernation. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- The concept of Eugene Victor Tooms creating nests out of bile was originally suggested by Chris Carter. From it came the line of dialogue in which Mulder wonders if there is any way to quickly remove some bile from his hands while retaining his "cool exterior." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- The plotting of this episode was also influenced by the writers being interested, during the first season, in developing the main characters. "We did some of that in 'Squeeze'," recognized Glen Morgan, "with the FBI keeping the pressure on Scully to report on Mulder." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 35)
- This episode's script went through five drafts. These were dated 13th, 21st, 26th, 27th and 30th July 1993.
- 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. Glen Morgan and James Wong, however, did not take inspiration from the movie upon crafting this episode. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 105)
- This episode's location shooting was all within the city of Vancouver. The street which appears in the installment's teaser was actually 1000-Block West Hastings Street. An office on the fifth floor of a nearby building was also used by the production, though dressed by the set decoration department. The exterior of 66 Exeter Street was represented by the rear of Ideal Gift and Toy Ltd., at 51-53 West Hastings Street. The underground parking lot where Mulder joins Scully on her stakeout of Tooms was really inside VPC Parkade, at 107 East Cordova Street. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), pp. 33-34)
Cast and CharactersEdit
- Eugene Victor Tooms' polygraph test from this episode was used to audition actors for the role, the character's dialogue in that scene consisting of a series of "yes" and "no" answers intended to be delivered with a calm demeanor. Shortly before trying out for the part, Doug Hutchison, who ended up playing Tooms, was handed script pages detailing this scene, from his agent. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 53)
- The making of this episode was enjoyable for Doug Hutchison, who reminisced, "Working with both David [Duchovny] and Gillian [Anderson] was a pleasure [....] They were both really generous to me when I was up there. We didn't really talk a hell of a lot about the characters or anything like that. We mostly had a good time together." Hutchison also observed that cast and crew were "fresh, energetic." He went on to say, "It was a really great feeling on the set. Everybody was excited. Nobody knew what they had–it was that kind of creative whirlwind that happens at the beginning of a series." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, pp. 25 & 53-54)
- Despite normally being stoic, Gillian Anderson was unnerved by this installment. "It was just incredibly creepy to me," she conceded, with a laugh. "I think it was one of the first scripts I read where I was nervous afterward." (X-Files Confidential, p. 41)
- Doug Hutchison returned as Tooms in the titular episode, later in the first season. The actor was then represented in this role once more, in a photograph that appears in the fifth season outing "The End". Hutchison also portrayed the "Polaroid Man" in the Millennium installment "The Beginning & the End", before appearing in archive footage of this character in the episode "Anamnesis".
- Henry Beckman, who portrayed retired Detective Frank Briggs here, also, like Doug Hutchison, reprised his role from this episode in the later first season outing "Tooms". Beckman then went on to play an Old Man in the Season 5 episode "Chinga".
- Kevin McNulty not only reappeared as Agent Fuller in the third season Mythology outing "Apocrypha" but, between these two appearances, also played Dr. Christopher Davey in the second season installment "Soft Light". Following these three appearances on The X-Files, McNulty portrayed 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 outing "Maximum Byers".
- Terence Kelly, who played George Usher here, later appeared 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 installment, played a Therapist in Season 5's "Kitsunegari". The actress also portrayed 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 portrayed Agent Kramer in this outing, also played 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, returned to The X-Files to play Agent Lewin in "Little Green Men", the first installment of the series' second season.
- The cover of the shooting schedule for "Squeeze" featured a large, elongated fingerprint. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 106)
- A great deal of money was spent on arranging the filming of the teaser scene where Tooms secretly watches George Usher through a drainage grate. "A City Hall maintenance person thought we were crazy spending so much money to film red eyes through a drainage grate," remembered Louisa Gradnitzer. "Permission was granted to lock-up the street after 6 p.m." Trying to avoid a lengthy night of filming, the production crew started the day in an office on the fifth floor of a nearby building. The set decoration department had to haul thirty desks, along with associated set dressing, up to the fifth floor within two days. Closing off the street which had been chosen as a filming location also involved some organization. "On the morning of our arrival not one member of my crew showed up early to cone the streets for unit parking," revealed Gradnitzer. "Luckily our location was situated next to a construction site and with a bribe of coffee and doughnuts, a construction worker guarded the street until assistance arrived." (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 33)
- As for depicting the exterior of Tooms' apartment at 66 Exeter Street, an attempt was made to avoid filming on "Welfare Wednesday" – the last Wednesday of each month, when welfare recipients received their cheques. There was no alternative, though, and shooting was consequently disrupted by drunken behavior. The crew felt a sense of relief once they moved into an abandoned boarding house above the Meat Market restaurant in Gastown. On the same day, Louisa Gradnitzer and David Duchovny were formally introduced to one another. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 34)
- According to Special Effects Artist David Gauthier, the effects team used baking and piping gel for the bile. ("Behind the Truth: Squeeze and Tooms", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- For the scene where Mulder and Scully find Tooms climbing up a ventilation system in a car park, Director Harry Longstreet originally chose a ventilation system that was on the VPC Parkade's upper levels. Using that area would have required a huge tenting job to simulate night, at extreme cost. Instead, an exact replica was constructed in the parkade's underground level. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 34)
- From R.W. Goodwin's perspective, the chief challenge of this episode's production was designing the scene in which Tooms, having climbed onto the roof of a house, squeezes down the chimney to enter the residence. "Somehow," stated Goodwin, "we found this contortionist named Pepper." (X-Files Confidential, p. 40) The production crew thereafter decided to hire Pepper. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) "So we brought Pepper to the set," Goodwin continued, "thinking we could get at least part of the scene with him as a photo double. We said, 'Here's the little opening – see what you can do.' Well, Pepper squeezed right down inside the damn thing, right in front of us. He got his whole body inside of there [....] It was amazing." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 40-41) 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 a tall pipe, allowing the contortionist to maneuver his way through it. ("Behind the Truth: Squeeze and Tooms", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Chris Carter was visiting the set during the filming of this scene. Art Director Michael Nimerski and Visual Effects Supervisor Mat Beck were instrumental in the capturing of other footage, apparently from inside the chimney, that involved Doug Hutchison. "They had him reach down [inside the chimney] over and over," explained Carter. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- Building the low heating vent which Tooms bursts out of, in Scully's apartment, turned out to be a challenging task. "We built [it] six different ways from Sunday," Mat Beck remembered. (X-Files Confidential, p. 41) For the shot of Tooms climbing out of the vent, the background was first filmed, then wrapped in blue. Finally, from the same camera position, the set was filmed again, now with Doug Hutchison exiting the vent. ("Behind the Truth: Squeeze and Tooms", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Reported Beck, "Hutchison came rocketing out of the vent [....] It was pretty intense." (X-Files Confidential, p. 41)
- James Wong was extremely disappointed by this episode's production. (X-Files Confidential, p. 39) "The director, I felt, had no respect for us, or our ideas," complained Wong. "In fact, he had no respect for the script. That was the problem we faced as we prepared the show. He didn't shoot coverage." Harry Longstreet even failed to film a scene from the script. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) Noted Glen Morgan, "We wanted certain things which weren't agreed with." Morgan additionally said Longstreet "was a problem." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 39 & 73)
- Glen Morgan theorized that one reason why the production of this episode was unsatisfactory was that, before its making, horror had not been done on television for such a long time and had been a topic of low-budget movies for so long that "people had forgotten how to do it well." (X-Files Confidential, p. 39) An explanation suggested by Chris Carter is that, because this episode came very near the start of The X-Files' run on television, the show's directors didn't yet have a clear idea of what the writing staff aspired to, regarding making the series scary. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39)
- Production on this episode continued without Harry Longstreet's participation. James Wong recalled, "Ultimately, what happened was that Mike Katleman and I had to go back up and reshoot some coverage, shoot [...] [the] scene they didn't shoot, and add a lot of inserts to make it work." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) Offered Chris Carter, "It was painstaking [....] There were many reshoots." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39)
- No visual effects were added for the rooftop shot showing Tooms squeezing down a chimney. The footage of Pepper was left almost exactly as it had been shot, apart from the addition of a few subtle sound effects. "All we added were some sound effects of bones snapping and cracking," detailed R.W. Goodwin. (X-Files Confidential, p. 41)
- The shot of Tooms reaching down a chimney as his hand stretches was achieved by Mat Beck, who did the actual visual effect, and Michael Nimerski. They used the footage of Doug Hutchison performing the required action and Beck altered it with CGI, digitally making Hutchison's fingers seem elongated. Another sound effect was added to complete the shot. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- The blue-screen material which had been used for the shot of Doug Hutchison ejecting from a grate allowed a visual effect to digitally manipulate the actor's appearance. Explained Mat Beck, "I could take his body and just stretch it and then put it back, digitally, into the room." ("Behind the Truth: Squeeze and Tooms", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Beck clarified, "We squeezed him a bit when we put him back in the scene, but not a lot, because Chris Carter insists that less is more [when trying to create scary visuals]." (X-Files Confidential, p. 41)
- As part of the painstaking efforts to craft this episode, a lot of editorial work was done by Heather McDougall. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39) James Wong felt that, while working on this episode in the editing room, he and Glen Morgan "basically had to pull all the tricks we learned at Cannell to try to make it work." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) Chris Carter agreed, "We had had such a difficult time with 'Squeeze' – it took so much care in postproduction to make it what it was." (X-Files Confidential, p. 73)
Reception and AftermathEdit
- The creative staff of The X-Files were at first greatly dissatisfied with this episode. Director David Nutter reflected, "The producers weren't so happy with how the [...] show turned out [....] They had worked very hard to make it work to the point they wanted." (X-Files Confidential, p. 73) The initial dissatisfaction with this installment was true of James Wong and Glen Morgan. Noted Wong, "The dailies that were coming back, we didn't like." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) He clarified, "There were a lot of things that didn't work for us." Morgan added, "When we watched the episode it wasn't scary." (X-Files Confidential, p. 39)
- James Wong ultimately came to the opinion that this is "an okay episode." Moments later, he criticized, "The production of it left such a nasty taste in my mouth that I've never really thought it was that good, but we've gotten a lot of [positive] reaction it. It was creepy, though, and in that way it worked really well. All I can see is what it should have been. It should have been more than it was, though it did do its job." (X-Files Confidential, p. 39)
- Glen Morgan's opinion of this episode was colored by having watched it while it neared completion. "I cannot tell you how unwatchable the first cut of 'Squeeze' was," he related. "When I watch it, I can't even follow the story. I just see where we solved problems, or hope that we solved problems." Morgan came to believe, however, that the episode was saved in post-production, saying, "It was a show that taught us all a lot." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 73 & 39) He additionally commented that the extensive editorial work and multiple reshoots were "because Doug Hutchison was so outstanding you could almost do anything." Morgan went on to comment, "If you really look at it, it's not as good as a lot of people remember, but Doug is just really great [in it]." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39)
- Chris Carter was highly pleased with Morgan and Wong's work on this outing. He not only related that they "worked tirelessly on it to make it right." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39) Carter also opined, "They turned it into a terrific, dramatic, and very scary episode." (X-Files Confidential, p. 40) Other aspects of this outing that won his approval include the invention and casting of the Eugene Victor Tooms character, the sound effect that was added to the shot of Tooms reaching down a chimney (which Carter said "really completes the scare"), and the line in which Mulder ponders how to remove bile from his fingers (which he described as "classic"). ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Carter also thought the episode's cinematography was appropriate. Contrasting this installment with "Deep Throat", Carter said it "was a much more moody and atmospheric episode and needed to be." ("Deep Throat" audio commentary, The X-Files Mythology, Volume 1 - Abduction special features)
- Co-Producer Paul Rabwin regarded Mat Beck's work on the shot of Tooms' fingers stretching as "wonderfully subtle." (X-Files Confidential, p. 41)
- Viewer response to this installment seemed to indicate a preference for Mythology episodes. "When we tested 'Squeeze' with an audience," remembered Glen Morgan, "they said, 'Well, it was okay. I don't know if a person could stretch like that. But I like the UFO and conspiracy stuff.'" Most of the installment's viewers, however, felt a mix of fascination and terror, which Chris Carter virtually always aimed to deliver in episodes of The X-Files. (X-Files Confidential, pp. 66 & 40)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen household rating of 7.2, with an audience share of 13. This means that roughly 7.2 percent of all television-equipped households, and 13 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248) It was viewed by 6.8 million households and 11.1 million viewers. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248; )
- This episode was rebroadcast, along with "Tooms", on 4th November 1995, when the cancellation of a highly publicized boxing match involving heavy-weight boxing champion Mike Tyson – a match called off because Tyson broke his thumb – left a two-hour hole in the schedule. The resultant "Tooms Night" surprised and delighted the viewing audience, including Doug Hutchison. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 11, p. 28)
- This episode rated third in an unofficial poll to find the first season's most popular installment. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 3, p. 31)
- Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 18) rated this episode 3 and a half out of 4 stars.
- The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 3, p. 31) described this as "one of the first series' most chillingly effective stories."
- In his reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman scored this installment 4 out of 5 stars. He critiqued, "This is the first in a long line of human mutant stories, and one of the eeriest. It works like a surreal painting, tricking the brain into accepting the preposterous [....] Since this is the first X-Files episode not to rely upon accepted urban legends but to invent its own slice of the paranormal, it's clever that the absurd never seems too absurd, that we can by degrees find the impossibility of the premise credible. It does this by allowing the horror to work by suggestion, and not hitting the audience with special effects [....] What's so smart about the episode is that by pursuing the investigation of Eugene Tooms with such realism, it makes its flights of fancy seem logical. You have to admire the chutzpah of a story which keeps on showing the FBI react to Mulder's theories with such contempt – quite acceptably – rather than hiding the mockery from sight. It's pre-empting the audience's own response. That said, after the conspiracy of 'Deep Throat', the small-time machinations of Agent Tom Colton climbing the ladder to promotion and standing in Mulder's way seem extremely unsubtle. After an episode in which the government is revealed to be a foe, a story in which our heroes' colleagues sneer at them feels decidedly forced. Full marks, though, to a story which shows Mulder and Scully working as an effective team; Mulder may come up with the explanations, but it's Scully's profile which first captures Tooms. There's no better example in Season One of what each lead character brings to a case – Mulder's there for the maverick flights of imagination, but Scully's professionalism and constant questioning save the day. 'Squeeze' sells itself as a quirky piece of horror, and it's as memorable and as scary as it tries to be."
- Shortly after the production of this episode, Doug Hutchison decided to visit a butcher shop (despite being a vegetarian) to pick out the "biggest, ugliest, spottiest" liver he could find, which he then ordered delivered to Chris Carter's hotel room. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, pp. 53 & 54) The organ Hutchison sent Carter, to thank him for the work, was specifically a frozen calf's liver. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 61, p. 24)
- The frustration which Glen Morgan and James Wong experienced over this episode's difficult shoot led them to subsequently write "Tooms". (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 50)
- Doug Hutchison as Eugene Victor Tooms (First appearance)
- Donal Logue as Special 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 Thomas Werner