September 2013 saw the 20th anniversary of the first airing of The X-Files. To celebrate this on The Hex Dimension, I’m 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 “Tooms”.
The return of Eugene Victor Tooms within the same season was, I suspect, a bit of a creepy event when the episode originally aired. What’s creepier though is that Tooms is let out early from the sanatorium we saw him incarcerated in at the end of “Squeeze”, let out for good behaviour. How is this creepier? It’s because it shows that not only is Tooms quite the contortionist, he’s also quite the sociopath too.
Of course, if you hadn’t watched the earlier episode this one spins off from, I do like the job that Glen Morgan, James Wong and David Nutter have managed to work in the right level of exposition so that you need not go back and watch it. Which obviously would have been a bit of a problem back in 1994.
Apart from all the amazing stuff that happens with Tooms, a long standing character is introduced in this episode: Walter Skinner, Assistant Director at the FBI. If you’ve not really watched The X-Files all the way through before then you can’t appreciate just how this character goes from a man questioning everything that Scully and Mulder do on X-Files cases, to being one of their staunchest defenders.
Suffice to say, at this point in the character’s history, Skinner appears to be little more than a tool for Cancer Man to roll out when things are getting inconvenient for him and his band of co-conspirators. Of course how this developing subplot is important in this episode is that it adds to Tooms’ attempts to undermine Mulder’s credibility as an FBI agent.
It’s painful to watch when Mulder tries to explain why Tooms shouldn’t be released. It comes after “expert” testimony from those who had been treating Tooms while he had been locked-up. While the experts sounded all rational and calm, Mulder is so passionate in his desire to put the truth forward that he comes across as a mad man. But at least from the perspective of the audience, we for once have a better position to understand why people would not want to believe Mulder.
Also, beware of dodgy puns. At least one managed to make it into the dialogue for this episode.
The case of Tooms in the X-Files is one of the few where the original case closed by Mulder and Scully actually involved a conviction of sorts. Normally the subjects of investigation by the two agents doesn’t come to rear their ugly heads again, at least when it’s monster-of-the-week material. This is one of the few cases where the case’s subject does come back and isn’t an alien. There are a lot of characters and phenomena from other episodes in most of the seasons that I would have liked to have seen revisited.
Not that I can blame Carter and co for trying out a little bit of closure for once. And perhaps this is one of the better episodes for providing a sense of catharsis come the end. There are far too many episodes where we’re left wondering what happened next, which is something it looks like they’re trying to address a little in the season 10 comics.
What did you think of this episode? Let us know in the comments below.