You think they would have taken me more seriously if I wore the grey suit?
For the most part, The X-Files rarely brought back a monster of the week. But when you’ve got an adversary as unique as Eugene Tooms and one with a backstory that requires resolution as his does, I suppose a return engagement was in the cards from the beginning.
It’s just a shame that “Tooms,” while creepy, isn’t nearly as unsettling as “Squeeze.”
The episode begins with Tooms getting released from jail, having convinced a slew of medical and psychological experts that he’s not bad, he’s just misunderstood. It’s not helped by the fact that Mulder takes the stand and wants to enter into the record his theory on Tooms. (At this point in the series, I have to question Mulder’s credibility as a witness. Given what we saw here and in “Lazarus,” his proclivity to be overly dramatic on the stand really undermines the credibility of any case).
So, Tooms is released and he and Mulder begin a game of cat and mouse. Tooms needs to feed on the fifth liver and go into hibernation. Mulder wants to stop that so they don’t risk losing Tooms for thirty years.
There’s some fun to be had in the game Mulder and Tooms play. But it honestly feels more like Tooms is unwittingly participating in the conspiracy to bring Mulder and his quest to an end and give the powers that be more evidence to close down the X-Files. I like that the show is trying to foreshadow what’s on the horizon — and certainly Mulder doesn’t earn himself any favors here.
Of course, he’s drawing Scully in with him — despite his protests that she needs to stay clear of his Tooms obsession to she won’t have a black mark on her record.
Part of what drove the first Tooms episode was trying to race against time to stop him from killing his five victims. This time around, he only needs one so we get a lot of close calls (including Tooms trying to crawl up an intended victim’s toilet) and Mulder repeatedly acting more and more crazy. Or at least it would appear that way. I may have overlooked some details from the first installment, but was there some reason that Tooms picked his victims. I ask this because it seems he goes to a lot of trouble to frame Mulder for hurting him when it might have made just as much sense for him to feast on Mulder’s liver and go into hiding. Killing two birds with one stone, if you will.
Another question I have on viewing this is just how much time passed from the last episode to this one. I say this because Tooms’ home is torn down and a new, fully functional mall with an escalator is built on the site. I get the feeling that Morgan and Wong had the end set piece in mind and crafted the story of the building being torn down and the new mall built there to build to that.
I also recall on the VHS release of this one that Chris Carter noted that Doug Hutchinson was more than willing to strip down and be covered in good for the climatic chase under the escalator sequence.
As before Tooms is helped by the fact that Hutchinson can make himself look so off or give you the creeps. And yet he’s able to sell enough people in the prison system that he’s not a total creep who needs to feast on a liver and then go hibernate for the next thirty years.
The episode does feature two memorable firsts. It’s our first meeting of A.D. Walter Skinner, a character who will rise to prominence as the show continues forward. It’s also the first time William B. Davis has a line as the Cigarette Smoking Man.