Look Dana, who’s side are you on?”
We’re well on our way into Season 1, and after two episodes related to the mythology of the show, The X-Files deals out its first Monster-of-the-Week: the genetic freak, Eugene Victor Tooms. I’ll confess this is one of my favorite episodes of all time, and this rewatch was particularly enjoyable due to the fact that I found a few nuggets of goodness I’d previously missed. That’s saying something folks, because like many of you, I’ve seen this episode more times than I’ve got fingers on both hands. Probably more times than I’ve got fingers AND toes, if I’m being honest.
I must have seen this episode at a critical point during my adolescent development — I have never been able to shake this image from my subconscious. I still, nearly 15 years later, give storm drains a wide berth. He’s in there, y’all. Yellow eyes and all.
George Usher has my deepest sympathies. This poor guy had THE WORST last day ever: presentation fell flat, working late, got wife’s answering machine, attacked by liver-eating-mutant. Ouch.
We find Scully at lunch with an old friend from her class at Quantico. This scene offered me one of those aforementioned nuggets: Scully’s class of cadets is only two years out of the academy at this point. That puts Scully one year out from her rookie year. I can’t believe I missed that the first time around. Colton doesn’t take long to prove himself to be a classic ambitious narcissist. Where Scully can give one of their classmates props for a major promotion, Colton complains about it not being one of them. He then pokes at Scully — inquiring about ‘close encounter of the third kind’ and her partnership with “Spooky “Mulder. Scully immediately defends her partner: “Mulder’s ideas may be a bit out there, but he is a great agent.”This is why we love her. Colton jumps at the chance to segue into a case that’s “out there.” He’s on the rise in the prestigious Violent Crimes Section and he’s been handed the reins to a case that he needs help with. From here on out, it’s clear his motive for inviting Scully to lunch is nothing more than an underhanded attempt at getting Mulder’s input on the case. I’d almost be able to forgive him for this — the guy’s a loser –if he hadn’t already made a jab at “Spooky” Mulder. I’m defensive, I know, but every time I hear it from another FBI agent I get the sudden desire to punch them in the mouth through my T.V. Especially coming from the guy with the striped shirt and polka-dotted tie.
At the Crime scene Mulder is wondering why Colton didn’t just ask him for help. Scully offers that he felt more comfortable talking to her about it because they’re academy chums. It is super endearing that Mulder is shocked to learn he has a reputation.
I love this scene in the office for many reasons:
1. This moment. Duh. He may be half-teasing and half-serious with her here, which is heart-breaking and too cute at the same time. And I just can’t with him. He’s adorable.
2. Mulder’s a keenly perceptive observer of human behavior ( profiling golden boy, remember) and Colton isn’t a mystery. The instant Colton digs at Mulder with a “little green men” comment, Mulder’s done with him. He immediately launches into a tiny rant about the Reticulum Galaxy, and Colton is too dense to decipher if Mulder is serious or joking.
Scully, in all her glory, does nothing to stop Mulder and I love her for this. Her minuscule half-smirk at Mulder’s reticulan comment is a cross between embarrassment and amusement: a lot like when you’re BF says something inappropriate at a party…you’ll berate the behavior later, but you’re trying like hell not to laugh at it in the moment.
3. “What in the hell is he doing?” Working your crime scene, you ingrate. Finding a fingerprint that you missed. Go home or start taking notes, Colton. Fox Mulder is working.
Or go home and change your tie. I mean, seriously???
Returning to their office, Mulder pulls some prints from an unsolved case he found in the X-Files. The dates of these previous murders go back as far as 1903, prompting Mulder to declare that technically, he and Scully had this case before Colton. They decide to work their own separate investigation.
What’s of interest to me is that Scully is the one who pens the profile of Tooms. In all honesty, I’d have expected it from Mulder, as he is the criminal profiler of the pair. But for whatever reason, we’re allowed the opportunity to see her hard at work and listen to her profile as she delivers it to the VCS good ole’ boys. Keep in mind, Scully is only two-years out from the academy, so this briefing with the VCS is a big deal. She’s also the only woman in the room. (Yet another reason I thank Chris Carter for giving her to us). It’s clear there’s a small amount of yearning on Scully’s part to earn her membership to this boy’s club. Everyone in the room is impressed with her profile, garnering her an invitation to join the stake-out. She’s pleased with the results, but uncomfortable at their jab at Mulder: “I know you’re assigned to another area, Scully, but if you don’t mind some over time you’re welcome to come aboard with us on this . That is, if you don’t mind working on an area that’s a bit more down to earth.” After all, she’s assigned to the X-Files too. In her mind, the insult is as much hers as it is Mulder’s.
Scully is assigned the George Usher crime scene and she’s waiting in the parking garage. Riddle me this: why is this adorable man even here? I doubt Scully invited him, so I’m led to believe that Mulder came here to check up on her. After work. Hence the sexy-college-professor look he’s rocking. He thinks Tooms won’t return to this location because he’s already been here and the thrill is gone. Interestingly, this is one of the few times that Mulder is wrong about a profile. But he does this ridiculously cute flailing run when he realizes his mistake, and the way he says “Scullay” is enough for me to give him a pass.
AND…he’s man enough and respectful enough to give her credit for being right in her profile.
Tooms passes a polygraph and the VCS guys are ready to let him go. Mulder insists that “Scully is right. He is the guy.” He attempts to explain that the two questions Tooms clearly lied on are reason enough to keep him in custody. Due to the extreme nature of the questions, the VCS dismiss them and release Tooms. I love these next few moments. Colton asks Scully if she’s joining them and she politely thanks him for the opportunity to work with the VCS, but she’s officially assigned to the X-Files. This moment, for me, is the official stamp on their partnership. Scully makes it clear that she is staying with Mulder. She could easily use this opportunity to step out of their basement office, but she stands her ground alongside her partner. AND, she’s incredibly gracious throughout this exchange. Dana Scully is a class act and we don’t’ deserve her. Colton also gets this glare when he offers to get Scully off of the X-Files:
And THE glorious Shipper Moment is approaching… keep scrolling past these bad ties.
Ah, this moment. It still makes me smile after all this time. Scully asks Mulder why he kept pushing it in that room with the VCS when he knew they wouldn’t believe him. He replies: “Maybe I thought you caught the right guy. And maybe I run into 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.” He does not care what they think of him. Scully accuses him of being territorial in the room, but before she can take it back he has to get her attention and explain his actions. Mulder needs to lock in with her eyes and the only way he can get this done is to touch her.
Why the necklace? I can’t say for sure. Its an overtly intimate gesture, but I think Mulder realizes it is much more powerful than if he had grabbed her arm or said “hey, wait a minute.” When these two have something to say to each other, they need to touch one another. They’ll hone their nonverbal communication to an art form throughout the series, but they always establish some kind of physical contact when one of them needs to hear the words said by the other. Mulder’s taking this moment to let Scully know how much he appreciates and respects her already. He needs her to hear and feel every word that he’s about to say.
“Of course I was. In our investigations, you may not always agree with me, but at least you respect the journey. And if you want to continue working with them, I won’t hold it against you.” **I just pouted a little because he’s so genuine right here.**
She may well be the first agent in a very long time to treat him and the work they do with respect. He wants her to know he appreciates that. He may also be adding a little plea to stay with that gesture. But unbeknownst to Mulder, Scully’s already chosen her side, and she’s wondering what evidence her partner has to back up his theory. I also love that he’s got that bag of sunflower seeds. I can just picture Scully waiting patiently at the vending machine with him… because they’re about to share them.
Mulder and Scully run into Colton the next day at the crime scene. Part of me wishes Scully hadn’t stopped Colton from attempting to block Mulder — what would Mulder have done? I NEED to see that. The other part of me wants to fist-bump her for taking the opportunity to dress this egotist down. “A report of you obstructing another officer’s investigation might stick out on your personnel file.” There is a slight dose of venom in this comment, and Colton doesn’t miss it.
Boom. Seven hells, we don’t deserve Dana Scully.
How do we learn about the present? We look to the past. Why are Mulder and Scully our OTP? Because they were doing this on their third case together:
They leave to meet with the original investigator of Tooms’ murders. He makes it clear that he believes Tooms is the manifestation of evil. Another nugget: Arthur Dales was not the first old man to try and tell Mulder that the cure for what ails him lies in baseball. “I could go home, pitch a few baseballs to my kid and never give it a second thought. You gotta be able to do that. You’d go crazy, right?”
He gives them the address for Tooms’ apartment. Who doesn’t love this shot?
They find a hole in the wall, which Scully has no problem climbing into first. Go, girl! Before them lies the entrance to a mutant’s bile and newspaper nest of disgustingness. He hibernates in there for 30 years, y’all. GROSS. And Mulder just had to touch it.
Mulder goes on to theorize that Tooms is a genetic mutant who needs 5 human livers to provide sustenance to hibernate for 30 years. Scully is okay with this. Wait…what? I guess a doctor can go with genetic freak before alien abduction. In any case, Tooms steals her necklace and plans to put her liver on the menu for the evening.
Meanwhile, Colton calls off the surveillance on Tooms’ apartment and we get this beautiful ending to their friendship. Love her.
Scully goes home to take a bubble bath in her absolutely wonderful claw foot tub. I’ve always wanted one! I secretly love her bathroom. All of it. I’m just picturing how this layout works during all the unseen action in season 7………. shut up. Just look around! You’re thinking about it now too! I’m not sorry.
Tooms attacks Scully, and she holds her own. Look, she’s a BAMF, I can’t say it enough.
Mulder arrives in the nick of time, bursting through the door with what I think is our first Scully’s-in-mortal-peril “Sculllay!” Right? I don’t think he did this in the pilot. Correct me if I’m wrong. Regardless, Go Team. One on one, I’m not sure either of them would have been enough for slippery little Eugene Victor Tooms. Together, though, enough said.
You didn’t really think I’d leave the episode without this one, did you? My little heart still lurches whenever I see it.
This is one of my all-time favorite episodes for so many different reasons. More than anything, this episode is where I believe Mulder and Scully truly become partners and the seeds of friendship are starting to take root.
Now about those ties…
Mulder catches a lot of flak for his necktie designs, and he’ll grace us with some pretty bads ties soon, but Colton’s are just terrible.
So, Mulder, my dear, take solace in knowing that this guy can no longer count Dana Scully as a friend and that he has the WORST ties of the episode.