The first real stand alone episode, or Monster of the Week depending on what you care to call it, sees Mulder and Scully dealing with a hibernatory mutant killer who feeds on human livers every 30 years. Oh, and he can squeeze through the tiniest of apertures. How ridiculous a premise does that sound on paper? No matter, this is handled in a tight and streamlined manner so we instantly bypass all our prejudices about a premise like that and tap into the underlying context of the piece. Namely that’s it’s very scary, and that we’re not safe in our own homes.
The interesting thing about this X File is that it is treated as a proper police procedural. The teaser shows us Tooms at work (although we never see him properly). The second killing is the first time we physically see for ourselves what a monster Tooms actually is, and ironically it’s a much less violent murder than the first. But in the meantime we have Mulder and Scully doing some solid detective work, particularly Mulder with his knowledge of 90 year old murder cases. The Tom Colton character is there to show us the conventional side of police investigating, the addition of the X Files team to show us that on a case like this, when all the proper angles have been exhausted, it’s time to look to the paranormal. Mulder’s belief system being borne out there to the letter.
Here we see a much more confident Scully, both as an agent (not bothered in the slightest about stepping on Colton’s toes) and as an actress (Anderson’s whole vocal pitch and body language shows that’s she’s relaxing into her role). The climax of the piece sees her in the midst of some action too, and although Mulder has to break the door down to rescue the damsel in distress, she at least has the presence of mind to cuff the murderer. And Duchovny too is already in the place where we want him to be. His initial encounter with Colton in which he basically takes the piss out of this straight-back agent is done with just the right amount of casualness. His comeback to Scully (“Do you think I’m spooky?”) also lets us see the first real glimpses of Duchovny’s greatest acting ability – his ease with humour.
“Squeeze” also gives us the chance to appreciate the capabilities of composer Mark Snow, largely for the first time. In “Pilot” and “Deep Throat” the underlying score was just that – underlying – but here it is more prominent and highly effective. Whether it’s the slither effect that Snow uses when Tooms is squeezing himself into some aperture, or the chilling repeated one note he employs at the end of the episode as the incarcerated killer starts building another nest in his cell, both of these show us that Snow too has found his feet with regards to the show in a relatively short period of time.
And of course we love the line about the bile, don’t we? Is there any other show other than “The X Files” which would incorporate bile as a prop? Probably not, and that’s why we love it.