Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E21 "Tooms"

[ S1:E20 "Darkness Falls" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E22 "Born Again" ]

Not to be confused with "tombs", Tooms features the first (but not the last) time that a monster-of-the-week recurs in a followup episode (that monster is, of course, Eugene Victor Tooms from Squeeze). But that's not the only thing that makes this episode remarkable. It also features Mitch Pileggi for the first time in the role of Assistant Director Walter S. Skinner, who will become a major supporting character on the show. He is Mulder and Scully's direct higher-up in the bureau, and his association here with the Smoking Man (his own first confirmed appearance since the pilot episode, and his first audible spoken line (four whole words!)) emphasizes the questionable nature of his loyalty and trustworthiness, which will see some development throughout the series. It's almost enough to elevate Tooms to the level of a mythology episode! Surprisingly, Tooms doesn't escape how one would have expected from the conclusion to the last episode he appears in; rather, he is released on parole - in spite of (or more likely exacerbated by) Mulder's incredible testimony.

Memorable quotes:

Skinner: Agent Scully, we have reviewed your reports and frankly, we are quite displeased. Irregular procedure, untenable evidence, anonymous witnesses, inconclusive findings aggravated by vague opinion.
Scully: Sir, the very nature of the X-Files cases often precludes orthodox investigation.
Skinner: Are you suggesting the bureau adopt separate standards for you and Agent Mulder?
Scully: No, sir.
Skinner: Are you suggesting Agent Mulder obstructs you from proper procedure?
Scully: No, sir. If anything, I'm suggesting that these cases be reviewed with an open mind.
Skinner: Maybe your mind has become too open.

(This exchange is concluded with a beautifully choreographed gesture by the Smoking Man that silently plants the suggestion that the government thinks they're solving too many cases - i.e., getting too close to top government secrets).

Scully: Mulder, your testimony, you sounded so...
Mulder: I don't care how it sounded, as long as it was the truth.


  1. This was a pretty awesome episode. Could have used more aliens, but Morgan & Wong's writing was top tier as I expected. Love Mulder's ridiculous argument in front of the review board -- I get it, it's the truth. But rationally thinking, making that argument had no chance of helping them keep Tooms in jail. He and the rest of humanity would have benefitted more from Mulder making up a false profile and saying something that might actually have swayed the board. Mulder's lack of pragmatism is, of course, why we love him, but I'm not sure Scully is rubbing off on him that much.

    Can't help but to notice that James Wong also works on American Horror Story and I just stated Coven, where someone extracts human pancreases to stay young. Tooms did livers but I can't help but to imagine this is self-referential on Wong's part and a tribute to Tooms.

  2. Yeah, fans can find a lot of things to criticize Mulder for, but I love that he values the truth above any practical concerns. I can relate to that. Truth is a virtue in and of itself. After all, that's what makes him different from the men behind the government conspiracy, who believe that the ends justify the means. Actually, a great episode that deals with that issue is F. Emasculata from season 2, which is one of my favorite monster-of-the-week episodes in the whole series.

    And, speaking of my favorite monster-of-the-week episodes in the whole series, I hope you're planning to watch Beyond The Sea (if you haven't already). I watched it again just last night, and despite being accustomed to the more polished episodes of the fourth season, it was still so good. Definitely Top 10 material.