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"Squeeze" is a episode of the science fiction television seriesThe X-Files, aired during 1993. It was the third episode broadcast in the show's first season. "Squeeze" was the first "monster-of-the-week" episode of the series, as the two previous episodes had dealt with alien abduction and UFOs. The episode was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, and directed by Harry Longstreet.

"Squeeze" follows Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in an investigation of a serial killer who has been active since at least 1903 and is capable of squeezing his body through narrow gaps. The episode was generally positively received by fans and critics alike, despite getting a mediocre Nielsen rating when compared to other episodes of the first season.

Plot

In Baltimore, Maryland, George Usher, a middle-aged businessman, arrives at his office building to work late and is killed by someone who enters from the air vent.

Later, in Washington, D.C.marker, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) has lunch with a colleague from the academy named Tom Colton. He asks for her help on a case involving three murders in the Baltimore area. The only common elements in each of the murders were the lack of an entry point and the removal of the victim's liver with bare hands. When Scully meets with her partner Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), he tells her about a series of similar murders that occurred in 1963 and 1933. At the crime scene Scully introduces Mulder to Colton, and while Scully and Colton discuss case details Mulder finds an elongated fingerprint on the air vent. Mulder believes that because five murders occurring in 1933 and five more occurred in 1963, the investigators should expect two more.

Scully builds a profile on the killer, which states that when he is unsuccessful in finding victims he will return to the scene of earlier crimes. While she and Mulder wait in the parking lot of the building where Usher was killed, they catch a man named Eugene Victor Tooms attempting to climb through the air vents. Tooms is given a polygraph test, including questions from Mulder about whether he was involved in murders dating as far back as 1903. Colton and the other agents doubt the validity of Mulder's questions, and let Tooms go. Mulder, however, shows Scully that the fingerprints he found at multiple crime scenes match those of Tooms if they are elongated and thinned. He theorizes that Tooms might have the ability to stretch and squeeze his body more than the normal person. Soon afterwards, Tooms sneaks into a house through the chimney and kills another man.

Mulder and Scully research Tooms, finding no certificate of birth or marriage. The agents meet with Frank Briggs, a former detective, who relates to them his experiences investigating the 1933 murders. He also informs them that a Eugene Victor Tooms has resided at 66 Exeter Street since 1903. The two agents head to Tooms' apartment and find it abandoned. However, after climbing through a hole in the wall they find a nest (constructed out of newspaper and bile) and several trophies taken from the victims. Mulder suspects that Tooms is some sort of mutant that can hibernate for thirty years after consuming five human livers. As the two leave, Tooms, who is hiding in the ceiling, takes Scully's necklace from around her neck.

Two agents stake out at the apartment at the request of Mulder, but Colton gets them pulled off the job. As Scully calls Mulder to inform him of the situation, Tooms breaks into her apartment through the impossibly small ventilation system. Mulder, returning to Tooms's apartment and finding Scully's necklace there, races towards her apartment and helps her handcuff him. Tooms is put in an institution for the criminally insane. While outside Tooms's cell, Scully informs Mulder that medical tests on Tooms show an abnormal skeletal and muscle system and a rapidly declining metabolism. When a guard slides food for Tooms through a slot in the door, Tooms stares at the thin slot and grins.

Production

Coming after two mytharc themed episodes, "Squeeze" helped establish the fact that the show could cover other paranormal subjects as well, and was the show's first "Monster-of-the-Week" episode. Co-writers Glen Morgan and James Wong were inspired to write the episode when they looked at a ventilator shaft outside of their office and thought about whether someone could crawl inside of it. Inspiration was also drawn from Richard Ramirez, a stalker in Los Angelesmarker during the 1980s. The episode has parallels with the second Night Strangler movie, featuring a man who commits murders every 21 years. Series creator Chris Carter came up with the idea to have the villain consume human liver after traveling in Francemarker. The idea to have Tooms to eat liver and the nest used for hibernation came from Morgan and Wong. The two liked the hibernation idea, since if the agents were not able to catch him, he could return after weeks of hibernation.

Actor Doug Hutchison was initially viewed as too young for the role by the producers (although he was 33 at the time), but he convinced the writers to hire him by impressing them with his ability to suddenly transition into an attacking behavior. Co-writer Wong was disappointed with director Harry Longstreet's performance, claiming he didn't have respect for the script. As a result, Wong and another director, Michael Katleman had to re-shoot some scenes to complete the episode.

For the shot where Tooms slides himself through a chimney, the producers hired a contortionist, a man who could "squeeze" himself through small spaces. The producers filmed the shot standing below the contortionist. With computer-generated imagery, they were able to make take his fingers and elongate them.

Reception

"Squeeze" earned a Nielsen household rating of 7.2, with a 13 share. A total of 6.8 million households watched this episode during its original airing. Glen Morgan was very pleased with Doug Hutchison's performance in this episode, calling him their ace in the hole and describing his work as outstanding. An unknown writer from the Vancouver Sun listed "Squeeze" on their list of the best stand alone episodes of the show, saying that the episode started what would become the "creepy" nature of the show, and that it was among the "scariest things" ever seen on television. Connie Ogle from PopMatters ranked the episode amongst their list of the "best" Monster-of-the-Week episodes of The X-Files.

Footnotes

  1. Carter, Chris. (1994). "Chris Carter talks about 12 of his favorite episodes from Season: Squeeze". Fox Home Entertainment.


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