The X-Files (1993) – Squeeze, and Conduit

The third episode of The X-Files introduces us to the Monster of the Week scenario and shows that it isn’t going to be just about UFOs and alien abductions. It also introduced us to an immediately iconic villain with Eugene Victor Tooms (Doug Hutchison).

Squeeze, written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, first aired on 24 September, 1993. Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is approached by an old Academy classmate, Tom Colton (the wonderful Donal Logue) about a strange murder case he’s been assigned, right there in Maryland, and we get the first reveal of the disdain that most of the Bureau has for her partner, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny).

They are asked to assist, with an x-file case tie-in, and Mulder suspects that the murders (there’s more as the episode progresses) are part of a cycle, something that happens every thirty years, going back the better part of a century.

And, of course, Mulder is right. Tooms is able to elongate, stretch and squeeze his body into tight spaces, like ventilation ducts, stalks his victims, attacks, and removes their liver, devouring it. All before he goes into a sleep cycle that rouses him every twenty years to begin all over again.

It’s spooky, funny (the chemistry between Mulder and Scully is wonderfully on point and Mulder gets one of his first iconic lines in the series when they discover Tooms’ hideaway) and the pair work together to capture Tooms and wonder at his strange abilities.

Scully is without her cross this episode, but everything else is falling nicely into place. Sure some of the visual effects of Tooms elongating don’t stand up today, I’m not sure they did at the time, but that doesn’t detract from the horror of the episode.

It’s also cool to see investigating and profiling being a part of the case work that Mulder and Scully are shown doing as they chase down their suspect.

Conduit gets us back on the UFO abduction kick that gives us a few more details about Mulder’s youth and the abduction of his sister Samantha (though the story changes later in the series). Written by Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, this episode first aired on 1 October, 1993.

Mulder becomes way too involved in an abduction case from Sioux City, Iowa, that has parallels to that of Samantha’s; a young girl, Ruby (Taunya Dee) vanishes one night, leaving behind her mother, Darlene (Carrie Snodgrass), and younger brother, Kevin (Joel Palmer).

Scully is unsure about the case, but has been given the x-file on Mulder’s sister, who disappeared twenty one years ago, when Mulder was twelve, and Samantha was eight.

But was Ruby abducted by aliens, or is she just a teenager having a bit of a wild time. There’s evidence suggesting that because of past experiences, but Kevin seems to be serving as a conduit for a binary transmission coming through the television.

And while Scully isn’t a complete believer, and Mulder (gets to say ‘I want to believe’ for the first time in this episode) is a little too obsessed with the material on hand, she realises that there may be more to what is happening when the science backs up some of the abduction claims.

The truth is still out there, and I’ll keep hunting for it as I continue my exploration of The X-Files next week.

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