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X-Files Episode Guide: 'Squeeze'

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X-Files, Episode Guide, Season 1, Episode 3

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The X-Files may have Chris Carter as its creator, but it's not much of an exaggeration to say it would probably never have survived it's first year, let alone run for eight more, were it not for the work of Morgan & Wong, a team that had previously worked together on 21 Jump Street and The Commish, and would later go on to create several movies such as Final Destination. While they would go on to write many superior episodes, it's safe to say Squeeze' is the most important because of what it gave the series. Had the show been based solely on the alien-UFO mythology, it probably wouldn't have lasted. But by creating what would commonly be known as 'Monster of the Week' shows, Morgan and Wong gave the series structure.
The episode does many things well, starting with the teaser, which has us following---something--- down a drain pipe that by the time we realize that we have entered the realm of the impossible, the horror of the murder is upon us. As will be the common almost invariably on X-Files, the explanation for what exactly the killer is so utterly ludicrous that we would laugh if we were to examine it too closely--- so instead, Morgan & Wong have us focus on the investigation itself. And now, for the first time, we get the picture of just how alienated Mulder is, not just from the higher-ups in the Bureau but from the rank-of-file. Tom Colton may be an arrogant little prick who will climb over his own grandmother in order to get ahead (he certainly has held that role in countless fanfiction) but compared to some of the monsters working in the Bureau, he just seems like the gadfly that everyone in the bureau seems to assume Mulder is. At this point in the series, it is possible that even Scully herself considers her stay in the basement a mere way station, but even at this stage of the series, it's clear whose side she is going to come down on when the chips are down.
Squeeze works for several reasons, first and foremost because it shows the two agents actually using forensic science to try and solve these crimes, and we very quickly are getting a picture of how the series is going to function--- the two agents must reconcile their disparate points of view to solve the crime. Mulder may be able to come up with the most outlandish theories inexplicably supported by evidence, but is Scully who puts those pieces together and comes up with a way to catch the killer. It also helps matters that the villain of the piece, Eugene Tooms, is by far one of the most creepy and unsettling villains the series will ever produce. What makes him even more remarkable is how much this relies on Tooms' presence--- he only has one scene with any dialogue, and even that is mostly 'yes' and 'no'. It is a combination of the sinister atmosphere formed by Hutchison's presences, and the fine work of the visual effects. They don't do much with the actual contortions so much as they do with his glowing eyes and the slight glaze of yellow to his skin.
The idea of the FBI react as if Mulder's is theorizing from outside the galaxy will eventually become very annoying, but at the same time, it's utterly understandable. How would you react to the idea of a seemingly ageless serial killer who gains entry into the smallest possible locations to extract their livers with his bare hands. It's far easier to believe that he's operating out of the lunatic fringe., even after he is proven correct time and again. Right now, the one who seems more frustrated by this is Scully; it's clear that Mulder not only accepts this, but considers it par for the course. The key part of the series--- and Morgan & Wong seem to have keened to this faster than anyone else--- is that Mulder is trying not to convince his colleagues, but rather Scully. What is also interesting (especially to those who thought that this would stuck in place for years) is that Scully seems perfectly willing to accept certain amounts of craziness when it can be backed up by science, especially in the first season.
There are parts of this episode that don't quite gel. Tooms may be monstrous, but he is nowhere near the level of malevolence some of the other monsters of the show will eventually produce. Briggs comparing the murder scenes to the equivalent of holocausts and genocides seems rather ridiculous overkill. The idea of Scully becoming the fixation of the killer will eventually happen so often that we'll almost expect it of the writers, but that is only a flaw in hindsight. The idea of Tooms' genetic mutation will eventually be played out in many episodes of the series, but rarely to as good an effect. And the episode setting up Tooms for a sequel is traditional episodic crime drama; the fact that the sequel will come in this season will also seem like overkill. But most of the flaws of the show are only viewed in retrospect, and don't detract from what is a damn unsettling hour of television. There will far better and scarier monsters ahead of us, but few so vitally important to the series working for as long as it did as well as it did.

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