|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 since at least 1903 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 onto the floor of an office building, the doors to the elevator again open but the cabin of the elevator is now gone, exposing only the cables in the open shaft, which tremble as if, behind the wall, they are being used for climbing. Usher makes a loving call to his wife, from his office, and as he leaves the room to pour himself some coffee, a vent in the office is first quietly unscrewed and then starts to be lifted open by the fingers of a dirt-covered hand. 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, but the noises abruptly end, a large crack appearing on the outside of the door. As Usher's coffee bloodily drips on the floor from his desk and he lies dead on the ground, the vent is screwed back in place by his mysterious assailant.
FBI Agents Dana Scully and Tom Colton are having lunch together in a Washington, D.C. restaurant. They are old Academy classmates and make smalltalk 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 were each found with their liver having been ripped, using bare hands, out of their body. Although Scully considers the case may be an X-file, Colton is determined to solve the case himself but also asks for Scully's help and reluctantly agrees 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 uncomforting reputation, and asks if she thinks he is "spooky". Colton arrives in the office, apologizing for being late, and is formally introduced to Mulder by Scully but asks Mulder, in a jesting and off-handed manner, whether be believes aliens are responsible for the murder. Mulder intentionally plays up to Colton's expectation of him as a kook, emphasizing his own otherworldly general ideas, before leaving Scully and Colton to converse. Mulder then discovers a bizarrely elongated fingerprint on the vent that opened during Usher's murder but Colton doubts that anyone could have crawled through it.
In his basement X-files office, Mulder reveals fingerprints to Scully 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 begins to say that Colton never mentioned these earlier murders, Mulder interrupts her by stating that Colton is probably not aware of them. Mulder also concludes, from the pattern of the earlier murders, that two more are due to be committed, this year. When Scully questions him about his theories, Mulder clarifies that he does not think the murders are copycats, citing the identical nature of the fingerprints as evidence of this, and professes that he also does not actually believe aliens are involved in the case. The two agents argue whether the case belongs to Colton or themselves, 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, but Mulder eventually suggests that they conduct their own investigation, separate from a simultaneous investigation by the Violent Crimes Section.
Scully types up an impressive profile of the killer at her home and presents it to a group of agents in an FBI conference room. Agent Fuller, Colton's superior, is among these agents and, on Scully's recommendation, he plans on immediately starting the stake-out of the building where George Usher was killed, as Scully believes the killer will return there. The FBI meeting ends with Agent Fuller suggesting that Scully remain with his team, mockingly referring obliquely to her usual work, and the other agents present in the room laugh at Fuller's joke.
CRIME SCENE, 7:15 P.M.
Alone in a car, Scully is conducting stakeout in the parking lot of Usher's building when she is alerted by a faint banging noise. She creeps in the direction of the sound and is startled when Mulder jumps out at her, with a joke about the situation. While he continues to eat sunflower seeds that he has in his hand and starts to follow her back to her car, Scully asks what he is doing there, frustrated that he is jeopardizing her stakeout, but he only replies by insisting that the killer will not return to the building, having already beaten the challenge it presented to him. Mulder walks away, announcing he is heading home, but on his way through the parking garage, he notices that something is moving inside a metallic chute, hidden from sight. He runs back to Scully's car, where she follows his advice by calling for backup and following him over to the chute. Complying with directions from Scully, a man crawls out of the chute. He is then taken captive by other agents who soon arrive and, as Mulder walks away again, he quietly admits to Scully that she was right.
A polygraph test is conducted on the man - Eugene Victor Tooms, an employee of the Baltimore Municipal Animal Control. Agents Colton and Fuller, watching from an adjacent observation room in which Scully and Mulder also sit, react with irritation when Tooms is asked two questions that concern the murders from years ago, after the agents learn that Mulder is responsible for the inclusion of these questions. Shifting in his seat, Tooms replies to the examiner's last question, whether he is afraid of failing the test, by professing that he is, adding that his nervousness is because he is innocent.
Later, in the room where the test was conducted, the examiner declares to Agents Colton, Mulder and Scully that, in her own opinion, the test found Tooms innocent. Agent Fuller arrives with news that supports Tooms' alibi of having been looking for a dead cat in the ventilation system but Scully maintains, in opposition with the beliefs of Agents Colton and Fuller, that the alibi remains questionable. Mulder announces his finding that Tooms lied on the same two questions that Mulder had the examiner ask but Agent Fuller doubts Mulder's discovery in annoyance, even interrupting the examiner - when she begins to explain those readings to Mulder - by angrily shouting at him that Tooms was obviously not alive in 1933. Fuller asserts that he is about to allow Tooms' release and hurries out of the room, followed by the examiner. After Colton agitatedly 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, leaving her alone with Mulder.
As they walk through a busy work area, Scully wonders why Mulder pushed his theory even though he clearly knew the other investigators 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 territorially but turns away, dismissing her comment. Mulder quickly turns her back to him, confirming that she is correct in her observation. 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 follows him up a set of stairs, curious as to what other evidence has caused Mulder to so firmly believe his bizarre theory that Tooms committed the murders from years ago.
Using a computer, Mulder shows Scully definitive proof that Tooms was responsible for Usher's murder as well as the series of murders from the X-files. Mulder is unsure why Tooms' elongated fingerprints were found at each of the crime scenes and is only certain that the killer has been set free.
Meanwhile, another businessman named Mr. Werner arrives home while Tooms watches from the darkness. Once Mr. Werner enters his residence, Tooms climbs up one of the building's walls and onto the roof where he reaches down the chimney, his fingers extending as he does so, before squeezing his entire body down the chimney. Mr. Werner tries to light a fire in his fireplace but a puzzled expression passes his features when the flame does not catch light. Grunting and dirty, Tooms attacks Mr. Werner from behind him as the last remaining embers go out.
While a Detective Johnson is measuring the exact position of Mr. Werner's deceased body in relation to the victim's residence, Agent Colton suggests that the latest removed liver might have been placed on the black market but the detective reacts at the obviousness of the organ having been ripped from Mr. Werner's body. Colton claims he is by now willing to entertain any theory, but changes this to "any sane theory" upon seeing Mulder enter the building with Scully. Although Colton initially tries to stop Mulder from entering the room where Werner was killed, Colton reluctantly allows this to happen after he is reminded by Scully that obstructing Mulder's investigation could be noticeable on Colton's personnel file. Agent Colton asks her to declare her allegiances but she answers that the only person whose side she is on is the victim, and Colton then leaves. Inside the residence, Scully begins to read a description of Mr. Werner that she has brought there but Mulder quickly 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 records using a microfiche projector, coming across a 1903 census record concerning Tooms, when Scully enters. She notifies him that not only has an apartment that was believed to be that of Tooms' been found to have been a cover, where no-one has actually lived, but also that Tooms has not attended his work since his arrest. After Mulder shows her that the address for Tooms from the census record is the apartment below the address where the 1903 victim was murdered, 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 aforementioned investigator, the now retired Frank Briggs, at the Lynne Acres Retirement Home. He lengthily recounts how he, an experienced detective at the time, was appalled by the murders that occurred in 1933 and experienced a sense of evil in the room at Powhattan Mill where the murders were committed. After Mulder helps the detective by bringing out a container stored in the room, Frank Briggs recollects that he continued to investigate Tooms, unofficially, in 1963, by which time he had been assigned a desk job. The container includes all the evidence that Detective Briggs ever collected and, from it, Scully removes 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.
After the agents arrive there in a car, Mulder remarks, as he and Scully enter the bare room where the census record stated Tooms was living, that Briggs was right about there being a certain strong sensation in the room. Mulder discovers a hole in the wall behind a propped up mattress and the agents decide to explore where the opening takes them. After climbing down a short ladder, Mulder and Scully find an old coal cellar, where 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, and he comments on the difficulty of removing it from his hands before trying to shake it off. Mulder then reveals that he thinks Tooms is a genetic mutant who hibernates there and needs the livers for sustenance during his hibernation cycle. Scully reminds Mulder that Tooms will return there so the agents quickly decide that, while Mulder will keep watch on the building, Scully will leave to 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 ceiling, where a hidden Eugene Victor Tooms watches from the rafters.
66 EXETER ST., 11:30 A.M.
A while 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 who their objective is, adding that he and Scully will return there to relieve them in eight hours if Tooms does not make an appearance. Agent Kennedy casually accepts Mulder's plan, jokingly referring to him with his nickname as he exits the car.
At the FBI Bureau, Colton enters an office that Scully is preparing to leave, before she meets Mulder. Colton voices his frustration with the fact that Scully is using two of his own men to sit outside Tooms' building, noting it has been condemned for ten years, and says that, even though he was at first extremely anticipating working with her - when they previously had lunch, together - because he believed she was a good agent, he now is desperate to disassociate himself from her, due to her close association with Mulder. Scully is furious when Colton tells her that his regional ASAC called off the stakeout and, though she starts to call Mulder with the news, Colton insists that he do that himself. With her temper flaring, Scully wishes Colton bad luck with his career and storms out of the office as he calls Mulder, ultimately only receiving Mulder's answering machine.
Scully arrives home at night in a car that she parks, but she is unknowingly being watched and targeted from nearby darkness by Tooms.
66 EXETER ST., 7:25 P.M.
Mulder arrives in a car outside Tooms' building. He is surprised to find no-one else in the area and runs inside the building.
In the bathroom of her apartment, Scully calls Mulder's answering machine and relates her aggravation with Colton before ending the call, telling Mulder to call her back when he returns home. She then starts to run a bath and walks out of her bathroom, completely ignorant of the fact that Tooms is climbing up the outside of her building, passing her bathroom window.
In the cellar at 66 Exeter Street, Mulder is alerted to the danger that Scully is in, when he discovers her necklace amongst the collection of trophies.
Scully, meanwhile, finishes running her bath and is shocked when, while trying to open a small bottle, bile drops onto her left hand from a grille in the bathroom ceiling. She hurriedly drops the bottle on the bathroom floor, causing it to smash, and runs to fetch her gun from her bedroom.
Mulder rushes to Scully's apartment, frustrated when a phone call goes unanswered because - unbeknown to him - phone wires servicing her apartment have been cut, while Scully is attacked by Tooms, who thrusts an arm through an air vent near the floor of her hallway, between her bedroom and bathroom, and immediately causes her to fall to the floor, dropping her gun. Although she manages to struggle free of his grasp, Tooms dives through the vent and, on her bathroom floor, he is about to force his hand inside her torso to rip out her liver when Mulder races into the apartment. Tooms then futilely tries to make a hasty escape out of Scully's barred bathroom window. After Mulder manages to handcuff one of the killer's hands, Tooms turns his aggression on Mulder but is chained by Scully to the faucets in her bath. Scully nods after Mulder asks her if she is uninjured and Mulder victoriously comments, as Tooms relaxes, 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 from a corridor outside the cell, where Scully meets him. Despite her relaying news of official findings that confirm that Tooms is genetically a human anomaly, Mulder ignores her news, 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 food slot in the door. Alone in his cell, Tooms stares towards the slot and smiles, sinisterly.
- This is one of the most famous episodes of The X-Files and was the first of many to feature a "Monster of the Week". The story would be concluded in the later Season 1 episode "Tooms".
Story & ScriptEdit
- As the first two episodes of The X-Files had involved UFOs, the Fox network requested that the series' next story focus on something completely different. This was also a desire of the production crew themselves, for the same reason that Fox had. In fact, 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 by telling only that kind of story.
- This episode is slightly similar 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. The killer would 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 sole 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. The 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 the episode of the same name as his character in this 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 - namely "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.
- Chris Carter was visiting the set during the filming of the scene in which Tooms first 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, towards camera, as his hand stretches was achieved by art director Michael Nimerski and visual effects supervisor Mat Beck, who did the effect. 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, 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 - This is referenced 4 minutes into the episode when agent Scully and agent Colton are talking about work, agent Colton is talking about "an old friend from the academy" and his new supervisory position, agent Scully asks him how he got to that position in only 2 years, agent Colton replies "He lucked into the world trade center bombing"