One of the consistencies amongst great shows in their infancy is how inconsistent they are. Case in point, the clever ideas and tense moments of “Squeeze” are evenly matched by its clunky scenes and simplistic characterization. It all adds up to an episode that’s neither bad nor good and might lead to the mistaken impression that The X-Files is only as good as its serialized elements. We’d later learned that the best episodes were those that stood on their own but, for now, we just wish they’d get back to the aliens.
The CoW isn’t really the problem here, at least in its premise. Scully and Mulder are brought in on a mysterious murder case in which the victims’ livers have been torn out. Even more perplexing, all the victims were found in rooms locked from the inside. Organ harvesting is a standard urban legend, but the real hook, for me at least, is the ability to bypass security undetected. The prospect of something we’re unable to defend ourselves against is the stuff classic horror is made of and so it’s too bad they couldn’t have made the actual killer more interesting. I get making Tooms appear unthreatening while in his “human” state, but that doesn’t need to mean boring. Things aren’t much better in monster-form. I get what they were going for with the jaundiced appearance, but it’s not exactly frightening.
Unfortunately, Tooms is still about the best thing the episode has going for it. Scully’s brought the case by an old colleague and he calls her out on the fact that The X-Files are a dead end career wise. Sadly, this guy’s instantly unlikable and there’s never any real chance that Scully would step through the door he offers to open, and that’s rather unfortunate. We see that personal loyalty trumps career ambition for Scully, but its too early in the series for the conflict to have much weight. This is less about her sacrificing anything than it is about realizing her friend’s a jerk.
Mulder, for his part, is aggressively unconcerned about what people think about him, being completely open about his suspicions that Tooms can change his body shape and linking the case to X-Files dating back a century. It’s nice for his character but it’s another missed opportunity for conflict in that he’s also not concerned with what people think of Scully. It’d be better if all their disagreements about the paranormal were accompanied by some more serious issues to work out. Oh well.
They do get some juice out of Tooms coming after Scully and Mulder having to race to the rescue. It’s standard “the killer’s already in the house” fare, but it works for what it is. The agents manage to capture Tooms alive and a medical exam even reveals an “abnormal” physiology to vindicate Mulder’s earlier claims. It’s good that they didn’t fall back on the certainty without proof ending, but I find this one a little too neat.
Someone finally quotes some regulations at an obstructive lawman, thank you Scully! Sorry, but this is one of my pet peeves about these sorts of shows.
The retired cop should’ve played a bigger role in the episode or not been in it at all. As it was, he just felt like filler.
You can definitely see the “Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits” influences on this episode. That’s not a bad thing.
Things could’ve worked better here if the episode had come later in the season AND a better actor had been playing Scully’s friend. Yeah buddy, we get that you’re a sleazy ladder climber. You might actually get “All the way to the top!” if you develop a personality.