September 2013 sees the 20th anniversary of the first airing of The X-Files . To celebrate this on The Hex Dimension, I’ll be providing you with retrospectives on episodes and I’ll also be covering the films at the points that they fit into the series’ chronology. So, without further ado… welcome to “Squeeze”.
Nowhere to hide
Baltimore, Maryland. A typical looking early evening. And a drain and a bizarre point of view of a man in a suit. The creeping strings. Those strings are used a lot in this episode, setting up their iconic symbology for episodes to come. We know from the strings that the man who has to stay late at work rather than going home, is about to have his watcher come for a visit.
This episode has always creeped me out a fair bit. And it’s the first X-Files episode to really play around with the theme that there’s nowhere for you to hide. It has a strong themes around stalking and home invasion – two subjects that were popular in the fear inducing kind of 24-hours news media of the 1990s.
Mulder and his reputation – the first time it becomes a pain point for the characters. The treatment of Mulder at the hands of Scully’s old friend does a great job of establishing how the rest of the bureau’s regular agents tend to view Mulder. Importantly this is the first episode where neither aliens or the military are perceived by Mulder as one of the main cornerstones of the threat at hand.
The scene where Scully delivers her profile of the killer is cheesy to watch now. Looking back almost twenty years ago, however, it’s clear that criminal profiling like this would not have been something that the audience would have been incredibly familiar with. Scully’s rationalising of the potential suspect in the case shows up more Scully’s medical and science perspectives then has been demonstrated by her general level of disbelief in previous episodes.
It’s sweet how Mulder thinks that the official investigation, even with Scully’s help, is almost completely wrong in its assumptions, but that he’s willing to play along at being undervalued in the case. Or, he’s willing to feel undervalued until his theories are seen as more probable, because Scully’s conventional wisdom runs out of facts to be pegged on. The scene after the polygraph when Mulder is asked by Scully why he pushed for is impossible points of view/lines of questioning is, despite Mulder’s joking tone in his reply, more truthful than he will admit:
“Maybe I run in to so many people who are hostile, just because they can’t open their minds to the possibilities that sometimes: the need to mess with their heads outweighs the… millstone of humiliation.”
We see a lot of Eugene Tooms’ eyes in this episode. Waiting, watching in the dark. And their unnatural colour at these times is very apparent – the orange like shade of the iris making him seem predatory like. When we finally witness Eugene’s amazing feats of dexterity from start to finish, during his chimney climb, the grossness of it all is also shown, with the disjointing of his joints.
The hulking mass of a condemned building that looks every bit the potential lair of a cannibalising monster, all very creepy and all very reflective of its main occupant. Tooms, the way he’s portrayed, always gives me an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach. (I’ve heard that in real life Doug Hutchison, who plays Tooms, is actually a really nice guy.)
No little green men
As I said earlier, this is the first episode of the X-Files where UFOs are not involved. By taking us more into the ideas surrounding subjects like home invasions it sets out a scenario that’s a far creepier experience than the earlier two episodes.
Squeeze is also an important taste of the more monster-of-the-week like nature The X-Files often took on, with a dose of urban myth. Many who remember the series think it’s all about aliens, but it had plenty to do with the fears and apprehensions surrounding the trappings of 20th Century life.
What did you think of this episode? Let us know in the comments below.