The X-Files A-Z: K is for KILLERS

Baz Greenland continues the alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the many killers the FBI has faced over the years…

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The X-Files is a world populated by some of the most memorable killers ever seen on television. Hannibal might have delivered a chilling adaptation for the modern TV age, Criminal Minds might have seen the FBI profiling the darkest aspects of humanity and crime dramas from CSI to Castle might have delivered some memorable serial killers, but they are all influenced heavily by The X-Files, which gave audiences some of the worst monsters from the small screen.

Some of these were literal monsters, like Eugene Victor Tooms with his need to kill his victims for their livers but there were also some very human monsters too; people driven by the need to kill. And then there are those characters driven to murder, traitors and villains like Alex Krycek, who killed without impunity, either at the behest of the shadowy masters of their own nefarious schemes. I could write ten articles about all the many killers audiences have witnessed over ten seasons and two movies, but here are some of the most memorable ones…

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Eugene Victor Tooms: No killer ever quite got under our skin than this monster, with his ability to squeeze through the tightest spaces, up through the toilet or down the chimney and when he caught you he would rip out and devour your liver. A terrifying killer indeed…

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Luther Lee Boggs: We never saw Brad Dourif’s character kill on screen, as he was already behind bars when the season one episode ‘Beyond the Sea’ began. But with his psychic connection to a new case and the death of Scully’s father and an utterly chilling performance, this was one killer that certainly got under the audience’s skin.

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Donald Addie Pfaster: This death fetish was one of the creepiest killers ever seen on the show. Nick Chinlund’s deeply unsettling performance and the horrifying subject of necrophilia made Pfaster one of the most memorable killers in the show’s history, so much so that they brought him back again five years later.

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Alex Krycek: Mulder’s former partner was a traitor working for the Cigarette Smoking Man, who not only enabled Scully’s abduction, but also had a hand in her sister’s murder, killed Mulder’s father William, tortured Skinner and killed without hesitation, making him one of the most dangerous recurring characters in the show’s history.

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Robert Patrick Modell: Imagine if Derren Brown decided to become a serial killer. That’s what you would get in Modell, a man with the ability to suggest his victims deaths without physically killing them. Aside from the tense Russian roulette scene in ‘Pusher’, which put the lives of Mulder and Scully at stake, his best kill has to be suggesting FBI Agent Burst have a fatal heart attack while on the phone. Another killer so great, they brought him back once more.

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John Lee Roche: Perhaps the most understated killer on this list and the most disturbing, this very human monster kidnapped and murdered children, keeping trophies of cloth hearts cut out of his victim’s clothing. The possibility that he murdered Samantha made ‘Paper Hearts’ one of the most chilling episodes of season four.

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Detective Van Allen: While The X-Files still had plenty of great stories to tell in its later years, there were few killers as memorable as those on the lost above. But Van Allen from season nine’s ‘Hellbound’ might be the most interesting, a reincarnated soul of a skinned victim from the 19th Century, and his modern acts saw him skin the reincarnated killers alive in an act of revenge. The discovery of the skinned victim strung up and still alive might be one of the most horrifying moments the show ever did.

The list of The X-Files killers goes on and on. Who were your most memorable ones?

You can follow Baz at @BazgGreenland on Twitter or follow his Facebook page www.facebook.com/BazGreenlandWriter

Baz has spent 18 months working his way through The X Files, revisited classic episodes and reviewing them at http://www.Thedigitalfix.com

Next time… L is for LUUUUUUURVE…

The X-Files A-Z: I is for IMMORTALITY

Kelechi Ehenulo continues our alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files as I is for IMMORTALITY…

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The rock group Queen famously once said, “Who wants to live forever?”

The notion feels tempting, right?  The ability to see the world beyond its years as it evolves.  When it comes to The X-Files, the concept of immortality is expansive.  Just like how the show finds balance in Mulder and Scully, the same can be applied to the subject.

Immortality (as designed on the show) can be viewed in two ways.

Firstly, there’s the literal sense.  The desire or ability to live longer or extending a natural life.  Whilst the show has always shone a torch into the darkness by exploring the paranormal and alien conspiracies, this concept is not unfamiliar.  In fact, it goes as far back as the first season.

In ‘Young at Heart’, criminal John Barnett defied the odds, which became one of many catalysts that defined Mulder’s behaviour in regards to FBI procedures.  Barnett’s supposed death in prison was a smokescreen.  He became a scientific experiment in which he could age backwards.  Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, his rejuvenated youth allowed him the perfect cover to re-commit the crimes he was famous for and terrorise the agent who incarcerated him.

In season two, ‘Our Town’ looked at immortality not through scientific experiments in which the government took a keen interest in.  The exploration came from food consumption.  The town of Dudley, Arkansas lived a secretive double life where everything on the surface seemed normal but in fact, lived a dark, cultural underbelly.  By resulting to cannibalism, the townspeople indulged in their own twisted version of “the fountain of youth”.  Their culinary delights slowed down their aging, allowing them to appear youthful, defying the laws of nature.  The only way to understand their truth is if you discovered their actual birth certificate, they fed on someone suffering from a disease or the town got sloppy, battling their own interests over their tight-held secrecy.  All the above happened and Special Agent Dana Scully was nearly the next victim.

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The show also looked at immortality in terms of genetics.  Leonard Betts was a human anomaly.  His body riddled with cancer to the point where not only he could diagnose it in other people but they also became his next target and victim.  Driven by compulsion and the help of an iodine solution, Betts fed off it to regrow lost body parts which included his severed head.

The episode ‘Trevor’ went a step further, combining genetics and supernatural phenomenon brought about by the weather.  Wilson Pinker Rawls gained the uncanny ability to pass through objects.  How?  By changing the composition and turning objects into carbon.  Besides an obvious weakness to glass, he was almost indestructible.

And living a longer life has gone as far as granting a person a wish.  In ‘Je Souhaite’, Jenn came across an ifrit.  Feeling intelligent, she spoke up and said “Je souhaite un grand pouvoir et une longue vie” (I wish for great power and long life).  Like a prison tattoo, she was given the mark of the Jinn and became a genie, granting wishes to those who unroll her from her rug.  In her own words, she should have been specific.

But can immortality be looked at in the spiritual sense?  That’s the second examination.

The bible has always inhabited the idea of life after death or an afterlife.  Our spiritual journey is everlasting as we take our next step into the next world.  In The X-Files and for the characters affected, the intentions are often emotional and self-serving.

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Some have gone to the lengths of using their spiritual immortality as a revenge mechanism.  In ‘Shadows’, Howard Graves haunted his secretary Lauren Kyte.  Murdered by his work colleague and refusing to let Lauren suffer a similar fate, he did what was necessary to protect her from harm, including murder.  It was a relationship built on respect and parental-like affection as highlighted in a confession to Mulder and Scully where Lauren openly viewed Howard like a father.

In ‘Born Again’, Michelle Bishop was described as being a “disturbed child”.  But the investigation brought to light that she was possessed by Charlie Morris, a police officer drowned in his tropical fish tank by his colleagues.  Isaac Luria, a Hasidic Jew came back to life on the wishes of his wife to be in ‘Kaddish’.  While it was her intention just to see her husband again after he was brutally murdered in a racially motivated attack, Isaac took on the form of a Golem, an emotionless man-made monster and murdered those involved in his death.

On the other hand, the opposite of the revenge mechanism are spirits finding newfound purposes or roles.  Some are based on the classic good vs. evil battle, transporting souls to where they will be safe and out of the hands of the devil, as displayed in ‘All Souls’.  In ‘The Field Where I Died’, it was reincarnated souls, soulmates reuniting.  And in ‘How the Ghosts Stole Christmas’, the star-crossed lovers Lyda and Maurice just wanted to have fun.  Forming a lovers’ pact, every Christmas Eve their home and their Halloween style antics tormented anyone who dared to venture on their property.  In their own words, they didn’t forget the true spirit of Christmas.

But the biggest question in regards to immortality belongs to a certain FBI agent.  Is Dana Scully immortal?  There’s evidence to suggest that.

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In the clever and hilarious episode ‘Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose’, Scully curiously asked the psychic on how she would die.  “You don’t” Clyde suggests.  Fast forward to season 6 in ‘Tithonus’, Scully is accidentally shot by Special Agent Ritter as he tried to apprehend Alfred Fellig.  While Ritter frantically rushed to get emergency help, Fellig guides Scully not to look at death, thus “transferring” his gift unto her and stealing her death.  Even in the new revival series, Scully casually remarks to Mulder that she’s immortal after surviving a precarious situation in ‘Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster’.

Do I believe Scully is immortal?  I don’t know because it can be viewed either way.

The beauty about The X-Files was never to prove or disprove a theory, if that makes sense.  We are presented with some truths but the show was always an aura of mystery and ambiguity.  It invited you into the debate and tested your beliefs.  Ultimately it came down to the show’s core theme of faith, adopting the same balance principle as you would come to expect from Mulder and Scully and their investigations.  But whatever that result is on what you believe, it doesn’t take away how awesome the character is or the impact she continues to make.

The question is, is there an overall benefit to living forever?  The answer is not that straightforward.

The show treats it as a blessing and a curse.  John Barnett saw his extended youth not as a new beginning to start a new life but as a venture into payback.  He became a figure stuck on a loop, unable to change his addictive and remorseless nature.  The townspeople in ‘Our Town’ ultimately wanted a change of leadership, losing their faith in the man who introduced the culture to them.  Other examples such as ‘Aubrey’ and ‘The Calusari’ showcase the pain inflicted onto others by an unescapable past coming home to roost.

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The Syndicate abused the idea by creating alien-human hybrids (‘Two Fathers’/’One Son’) as an alternative to survive the alien invasion.  Even cloning wasn’t beyond their reach (‘Colony’/’End Game’).  In ‘Je Souhaite’, Jenn being witnessed to 500 years of human history, became tired of watching the stupidity in humanity in asking for the same indulgent wishes.  “Give me money. Give me big boobs.  Give me a big hoo-hoo. Make me cool like the Fonz.  Or whoever’s the big name now.”  In her eyes, humanity has not changed but has led to greediness, shallowness and self-destruction.

However, the ultimate feeling belongs to Alfred Fellig.  Despite his own misdemeanors and numerous attempts to end his own life, eternal life was hell.  Unable to pass over, he spends his time capturing the death of others in his photography.  Psychologically punished and tortured, photography was his way of coming close to experience what death felt like, to stare at its face.  By explaining this to Agent Scully, he paints an ugly picture, killing all aspects of romanticism or any idealist hope.  There’s no such thing as too much life, love or things yet to experience. When your time is up, that’s it.

Maybe that’s the point.  Maybe immortality is something you shouldn’t take in the literal sense.  Given whatever time we have, maybe the true essence of immortality is achieved through actions and sincere acts of integrity.  Through interactions of others and remembrance, they transcend and become something else entirely.  They become stories.  They become examples.  They become legends.

What Mulder and Scully have done is the definition of that.

You can follow Kelechi on Twitter @geekmindUK.

Next time… J is for JOSE (CHUNG)

The X-Files A-Z – H is for HEALING

Jonathan Hargadon continues our alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the history of healing on the show…

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The phenomenon of healing has featured in The X-Files many times over the course of its duration. The season one episode Miracle Man introduced us to the faith healing character Samuel Hartley (Scott Bairstow – later to be seen in Harsh Realm). Hartley performed many miracles and brought a man named Leonard Vance back to life by praying and laying hands on him after he was found dead in a fire. The creator of The X-Files, Chris Carter stated that for this episode he was basically trying to create the image of the Son of Jesus. 

“Samuel was a kid who had been given a gift. Our premise was, what if a prophet or certain someone with special powers was sent down to Earth? What would happen to him?”.

In the season three episode ‘The Blessing Way’, FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is found near death on a Navajo reservation, and is nursed back to health by the tribe, led by Albert Hosteen (Floyd Red Crow Westerman). The episode’s title The Blessing Way is a Native American concept and refers to a ceremony to awaken one to the natural order, choosing constructive and life-affirming choices; healing from intentions and decisions that destroy oneself and others. The four phases of the blessing way ceremony is a healing process that leads to curing.

In the final episode of season three, ‘Talitha Cumi’, the character of Jeremiah Smith (Roy Thinnes) was introduced. In this episode a man draws a gun in a cafe and shoots three people before being shot by police snipers. Smith revived the gunman and his victims by touching them with the palms of his hands. It transpired that Smith not only had healing abilities but also shape shifting abilities. In this episode it is also has revealed that the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) is dying of cancer.

In the first episode of season four, ‘Herrenvolk’, Mulder’s mother Mrs Teena Mulder (Rebecca Toolan) is healed by the bounty hunter (Brian Thompson) who places his hand on Mrs Mulder’s forehead who proceeds to open her eyes. The bounty hunter was summoned to the hospital by the Cigarette Smoking Man whom once had an affair with Mrs Mulder.

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In the season seven episode, ‘All Things’. which was written and directed by Gillian Anderson, Scully enlists the help of a healer to provide alternative treatment for her ex-lover Dr. Daniel Waterson  (Nicolas Survoy) whom she had an affair with whilst at medical school who is recovering in hospital following a previously undiagnosed heart condition – Waterson fully recovers from this alternative treatment given to him.

In season eight, Jeremiah Smith re-appears in the episode ‘This is Not Happening’. Smith has been helping a cult based on the beliefs that an apocalypse is coming and that aliens are taking over. Smith works with the cult’s leader Absolom to heal abductees who have been returned, whose bodies  have been left in a battered and mutilated way by the aliens. Mulder who was abducted in the season seven finale returns and FBI Special Agent Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) asks Smith for his help to heal Mulder. However, this is not possible as Smith is abducted by the UFO.

In another season eight episode, ‘The Gift’, we learn that Mulder was slowly dying of a brain disease. In a series of flash-backs we discover that Mulder visited a soul eater creature, who subsists off human disease, to heal Mulder of his brain disease. Mulder however, took pity on the soul eater. The soul eater does heal Marie Hangemuhl (Natalie Radford) of renal failure, at the hospital, her kidneys are described as “spontaneously healed”. FBI Special Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick) is also resurrected by the soul eater after he is shot dead, however, in resurrecting Doggett the creature has eaten death and subsequently dies.

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In conclusion, healing plays a very important theme in The X-Files and had introduced new characters into the mythology of the show such as Jeremiah Smith and the bounty hunter. Healing has saved Mulder several times from the brink of death, the bounty hunter has saved Mulder’s mother and the soul eating creature resurrected Doggett back to life. Scully (previously a skeptic) also went down the alternative healing route to save her ex-lover and also attempted to get Jeremiah Smith to help her to heal Mulder.

You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @believer1013.

Next week… I is for IMMORTALITY

The X-Files A-Z – G is for GHOSTS

Paige Schector continues our alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the history of spectres on the show…

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Mulder: “Tell me you’re not afraid.”
Scully: “All right, I’m afraid. But it’s an irrational fear.”
–How the Ghosts Stole Christmas (Season 6)

The X-Files tackles the subject of ghosts in the same out-of-the-box manner we’ve come to expect from our show. While many of the atrocities witnessed on the show can be attributed to actual beings — human or alien — there are an array of phantoms sprinkled throughout the run.

The Season 1 episode “Shadows” doesn’t top a lot of fan favorite lists. According to show lore, at this time the show had a directive for Mulder and Scully to investigate and “help people.” So our heroes do their best when inexplicable — and violent — things start happening around a secretary and Mulder determines her late boss is dealing with things on her behalf with telekinesis. We don’t see him at all, but witness the full brunt of his anger. Strangely enough, the very next episode “Ghost in the Machine” isn’t really about a ghost at all. It’s just a pesky old computer trying to take over the world.

scull500Ghosts also stand — or should it be hover? — front and center in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” from Season 6. This one stands as almost a polar opposite to “Shadows,” with sparkling guest performances from Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin as the two spirits in a haunted house trying to talk Mulder and Scully into carrying on a holiday tradition they started, some kind of variation on a murder/suicide pact.

These aren’t your average entities and they have our heroes behaving somewhat out of character. It’s kind of nice to see them off their game for the balance of this one. Scully’s definitely shaken. She’s got detailed explanations for all of it at the ready, but the ingrained cliches from 1,000 horror movies still give her pause:.

“The whole idea of a benevolent entity fits perfectly with what I’m saying. … That a spirit would materialize or return for no other purpose than to show itself is silly and ridiculous. I mean, what it really shows is how silly and ridiculous we have become in believing such things. … That we can ignore all natural laws about the corporeal body … that we witness these spirits clad in their own, shabby outfits, with the same old haircuts and hairstyles, never aging — never in search for more comfortable surroundings. It actually ends up saying more about the living than it does about the dead.” — Scully, ‘How the Ghosts Stole Christmas’

wall500Mulder, usually enthralled with evidence of the supernatural, isn’t so thrilled this time around. Maybe it’s the shots Asner’s Maurice takes at him, which probably hit a little close to home when he deems our FBI guy “a lonely man chasing para-masturbatory illusions that you believe will give your life meaning and significance, which your pathetic social maladjustment makes impossible for you to find elsewhere. You probably consider yourself passionate, serious, misunderstood.”

The resolution to the show’s biggest question — what happened to Mulder’s sister Samantha — happens during Season 7’s “Closure.” In an emotionally charged moment Fox sees her cavorting with many children who died far too soon. They’re still young and beautiful and seemingly unaffected the tragedies that befell them. Are they ghosts? Are they starlight? They certainly fit the textbook definition of ghosts — souls or spirits appearing to the living. It gives Mulder something he (and we) have been awaiting for the longest time. Not only does he accept her fate, but he also attempts to help the psychic aiding the investigation do the same with his own long-lost son.

“You see so much, but you refuse to see him. You refuse to let him go. But you have to let him go now, Harold. He’s protected. He’s in a better place. They’re all in a better place. We both have to let go.”  — Mulder, “Closure”

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Apparitions appear in episodes such as Season 1’s “Space” — an other-worldly ghost inhabiting the body of a former Gemini astronaut — and Season 2’s “Excelsis Dei,” in which a nurse is sexually attacked by an “invisible 74-year-old schizophrenic.” Later in the second season, there’s an unsettling amount of spooks seemingly caused by voodoo in “Fresh Bones” and some poltergeist activity that lures a toddler to his death in “The Calusari.” Was there human involvement or did an executed inmate make good on his threat to kill those he considered responsible in Season 3’s “The List”? Similar questions arise later in that season after Skinner is continuously victimized by an apparent succubus in “Avatar,” and then in Season

Similar questions arise later in that season after Skinner is continuously victimized by an apparent succubus in “Avatar,” and then in Season 4, when ghosts of victims form the basis of Mulder and Scully’s investigation in “Elegy.” Later, it’s Doggett’s turn to be befuddled when an abducted child returns in Season 8’s “Invocation” and a Gulf War casualty gets murderously metallic in “Salvage.”

dadCases could be made for a number of other X-Files in which there is clear and present evidence of manifested legends, but ghosts often have the biggest impact in small moments for our leads on the show — like in Season 1’s “Beyond the Sea” when Scully sees her father, apparently at the moment he has passed away, sitting in a chair. He’s moving his lips and trying to tell her something, but she can’t hear it. But she can hear her late sister, Melissa, in Season 5’s “Christmas Carol,” when a mysterious phone call eventually leads Dana to her daughter. Mulder often thinks he’s seeing spirits from the past, be they past informants or members of his family. In the Season 9 finale, the show rounded up ghosts from the great beyond — Krycek and X and the Lone Gunmen — to aid Mulder when he needed them most.

There wasn’t time for much ghostly presence in the six-episode revival (can’t quite count Mulder’s hallucinogenic Lone Gunmen dream), but here’s hoping for Season 11!

Paige co-writes the Sibling Cinema X-Files rewatch blog with her sister and you can find her on Twitter @maxtuneage.

The X-Files A-Z – F is for FBI

Tony Black continues our alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the institution where the files live…

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Founded in 1908, and later led by the legendary J. Edgar Hoover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the mainstay of The X-Files. While the files and investigations of Mulder & Scully extend across the globe, without the FBI they would find exploring the realm of extreme possibilities much harder. With their office set in the basement of the Hoover Building at the heart of Washington DC, our intrepid agents have the sweet irony of conducting their investigations into the conspiratorial machinations of our shadowy overlords from within the very seat of their power. That contrast sums The X-Files up perfectly.

It wasn’t just Mulder, of course, who investigated these cases at the FBI. A division of sorts existed as far back as the 1940’s, when the very first X-File was opened, and the subsequent investigations by Arthur Dales in the 1950’s (as seen in S5’s ‘Travelers’). When Mulder did pick up the quest in the early 1990’s, he inherited a series of files being monitored by a myriad of FBI section chiefs, assistant directors, deputy directors and shadowy unknown forces.

First there was cuddly old Blevins or aggressive McGrath; then came Walter Skinner, their mainstay and at times nebulous, passive-aggressive ally; AD’s Jana Cassidy looking into Mulder’s domestic terrorism work or first AD, then DD, Alvin Kersh, a sheep in wolf’s clothing ultimately who served as a deeper antagonist to agents John Doggett & Monica Reyes during their overall tenure on the X-Files than Mulder or Scully.

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Many fellow FBI agents alongside our lead characters have come and gone over the years too, sometimes working side by side, other times in opposition. From poor old Reggie Purdue in ‘Young at Heart’, possessed Jack Willis in ‘Lazarus’ or Bob Patterson in ‘Grotesque’, to undercover assassins or turncoats like Alex Krycek, Jeffrey Spender or Diana Fowley, through to the next generation of Leila Harrison or Agents Miller & Einstein in the revival.

What about the ever present ‘Danny’ over the phone? The show’s Maris from Frasier, oft-referenced but never seen, always there to give Mulder a number he needs in exchange for Knicks tickets or some other inducement. This doesn’t even take into account the alien super soldier replacements inside the FBI, such as Agent Crane, or how shadowy players such as the Cigarette-Smoking Man or Toothpick Man could walk the halls with absolute power and impunity, few people quite sure exactly who they are.

Ultimately you can’t really have The X-Files without the FBI. As an organisation, they are an essential part of the cocktail, whether full of suspicious characters or angry bosses under the heel of those shadowy deceiving, inveigling and obfuscating forces. The fate of Mulder & Scully is to forever toil in the basement of this austere government agency and whatever the future of the X-Files, you can be assured the FBI will form some part of it.

You can follow Tony @Mr_AJ_Black.

Next week… G is for GHOSTS…

The X-Files A-Z – E is for EUGENE VICTOR TOOMS

Kelechi Ehenulo continues our alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at arguably the most famous ‘monster of the week’…

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If there’s one thing that helped define The X-Files as a cult phenomenon, it was its ability to mix up its core themes. Expanding beyond the mythology allowed the show to become flexible and appeal to a wider audience. This knack took its shape in what is commonly known as MOTW or ‘Monster of the Week’ – one off (or sequel), genre-crossing episodes exploring the weird and the strange in our world.

One character started and defined that era of storytelling. His name was Eugene Victor Tooms.

Long before Millennium, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation or Criminal Minds, Eugene Victor Tooms operated as your classic serial killer. He followed a strict and unrelenting pattern. He randomly stalked and murdered his victims. He collected items belonging to the victim, a symbolic trophy of his targets. And finally, it’s always five victims before he disappears. There’s an added twist, though… he’s a mutant and has the dangerous ability to squeeze himself through tight spots. Now he probably won’t be accepted in Professor X’s School for Gifted Youngsters, but his modus operandi certainly explains Eugene’s nature.

Eugene’s desires are wild and animalistic. His genetic make-up acts as an uncontrollable and obsessive compulsion. He’s a calculating individual, not afraid of playing the victim whilst providing enough clever, monosyllabic answers to get by. Working the streets as an animal catcher means he can do his job with little or no disturbance. Whilst he watches the world with a quiet voyeurism, to everyone, he’s invisible, hiding in plain sight. When the perfect target is selected, his eyes turn yellow and the world fades to grey. His colourized target stands out from the crowd. He overwhelms his victim with brutal violence, ripping and consuming their liver with his bare hands. Eugene is not Hannibal Lecter. There’s no fine dining decadence with his liver consumption. It acts as food sustenance so when he’s finished, he can hibernate for the next thirty years in his newspaper and bile nest. In other words, given his unique abilities, Eugene Victor Tooms is a predatory survivor.

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In ‘Squeeze’ and ‘Tooms’, The X-Files tapped into the world of criminal psychology and profiling that we may not have been aware of. Mulder and Scully utilise every investigative and technological tools to uncover Eugene’s methodology. It’s unsettling and dark, especially as there’s limited information on Toom’s background.

He’s nature’s greatest anomaly. It’s never really revealed on how he became this way. Why does 66 Exeter Street hold so much value to him? It’s not like he was exposed to toxic waste materials linking back to Chernobyl just like the Flukeman. It’s not like he was a science experiment gone wrong, creating this monster. Did he have biological parents with the same ability? Who knows? He just exists, appearing, disappearing and re-appearing like a convenient myth. He makes time the real enemy. Despite having psychiatric care, his drive, his compulsion and his biological nature always won… and that’s scary. However, the psychosis of Eugene Victor Tooms goes deeper which strikes at the heart at what we value dear.

We see our homes as sanctuaries, a place where we can relax and unwind from the troubles of the world. Now we may not be living in the era where “I don’t lock my doors” doesn’t seem true anymore but the security of our homes is paramount. Whether we just lock our doors and windows or secure it like Fort Knox with panic rooms, let’s be honest to ourselves – how often do you think about that vent, that letterbox, that fireplace or even the toilet? That’s Eugene’s lasting legacy. His genetic and contortionist mutation that allows him to squeeze through small areas, breaks all the rules about home security by abusing our naivety. It results in an uncomfortable and unnerving feeling that not even your own home is safe. One way or another, Tooms will get you.

Despite the horrors of this case, Eugene Victor Tooms provided a positive impact on Mulder and Scully. The ‘Squeeze‘ / ‘Tooms two-parter gave us the first real insight into their partnership. Despite the mockery and the casual digs at Mulder from other agents, it’s Scully who becomes Mulder’s champion and supporter. His theories may be “out there” but she respects the work that Mulder does. She respects the journey, putting aside career opportunities and defying her personal friendship with Tom Colton (wouldn’t it be great to see him back again?)

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As for Eugene himself, his character sets the benchmark and blueprint for the series. Without Eugene, we wouldn’t have Donnie Pfaster, Virgil Incanto or Robert Patrick Modell – dark complex killers with an uncontrollable need to fulfil their deepest desires. So next time when you’re thinking about home improvements and there’s something strange in your neighborhood, it might be worth super gluing your letterbox. You may not get any mail for a while but, hopefully, it will stop Eugene squeezing through for a visit.

You can follow Kelechi @geekminduk.

Next week… F is for F… B… I…

The X-Files A-Z – D is for DOGGETT

Baz Greenland continues the alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at Scully’s season eight partner and unfairly dismissed John Doggett…

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The idea of any character replacing Fox Mulder as the lead on The X-Files should have been unthinkable. The idea that this character could then potentially carry on the show without Scully was even more absurd. And yet that was the situation the show faced when David Duchovny announced that he was only coming back for half of season eight.

Enter Robert Patrick as John Doggett…

Doggett was a character with integrity, dedication to Scully and the X-Files and a grounded sense of reality; he was just the breath of fresh air The X-Files needed. Many fans dismiss him as a product of the declining years of the show but having just worked my way through season eight, I’m going to admit something quite controversial. John Doggett is a brilliant character.

What is so great is that he wasn’t dismissive of his assignment. He spends his first weekend on the job reading up on every case so that when he comes face to face with alien shapeshifters and the black oil he is fully up to scratch on the situation. He shows great respect for Scully even when she is arrogant and dismissive of him in the early days of their relationship and proves time and time again that he is a man of honor, saving her life on several occasions and standing up to the villainous Deputy Director Kersh  when the facts present themselves.

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By the time the episode ‘Medusa’ came around halfway through season eight, there was a strong, respectful working relationship between Doggett and Scully; he demonstrated his ability to take command of an expedition into the subways of Boston while Scully has his back on comms as they investigated the latest threat. Doggett protects Scully’s secret but calls her out when needed and so by the time Mulder returns and is immediately dismissive of this new presence in their lives, Scully is quick to defend Doggett as a man above reproach.

And he really is. His working relationship with Mulder is just as interesting in those late season eight episodes; he has Mulder’s back when they go up against the black oil and he quickly proves himself to the most paranoid man in the universe. It isn’t long before Mulder willingly hands over the keys to the X-Files to Doggett and calls on him to help protect Scully from the threat of alien super soldiers.

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Come season nine, we fully see ‘skeptic’ Doggett investigating the X-Files with ‘believer’ Reyes and it is an interesting new partnership. Doggett isn’t dismissive, even though he is a man that – like Scully – needs hard evidence. He is respectful of the work to the very end. It’s all down to Robert Patrick’s grounded, engaging performance.

Of course, like a lot of the later years, Doggett was cast aside as part of a bad era, but that is unfairly dismissive of the character. He at least deserved a mention in the revival and I am hoping we get at least one appearance from the great John Doggett when season eleven eventually rolls by…

You can follow Baz at @BazgGreenland on Twitter or follow his Facebook page www.facebook.com/BazGreenlandWriter

Baz is currently working his way through The X Files, revisited classic episodes and reviewing them at http://www.Thedigitalfix.com

The X-Files A to Z – C is for CONSPIRACY

Tony Black continues the alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the myriad conspiracies that exist within…

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When we think of ‘conspiracy’ in The X-Files, our minds naturally go straight to the labyrinthian mytharc surrounding alien colonization the show continues to weave as we prepare for Season 11 (fingers crossed), but the word itself has a larger term, defined as such:

the activity of secretly planning with other people to do something bad or illegal

Looking at that definition, conspiracy can be applied in all manner of ways beyond simply the mythology of the series. A major recurring theme is the abuse of power within government or the military-industrial complex on all manner of sinister projects – the human cloning in ‘Eve’, inspiring innocents to murder via subliminal messaging in ‘Blood’, the sleep deprivation experiments on Vietnam veterans in ‘Sleepless’, covering up infection tests of a killer virus in ‘F. Emasculata’ or the similar manipulation of domestic terror cells for a similar purpose in ‘The Pine Bluff Variant’.

Corporate or business conspiracies often circle around paranormal plots; take the illicit business practices of Robert Dorland avenged from beyond the grave in ‘Shadows’, or the bizarre murderous machinations of the cryo-frozen Arthur Grable in ‘Roland’. Then there’s the illegal tobacco testing in ‘Brand-X’ which saw TXF do their version of Michael Mann’s The Insider, with the company being none other than Morley no less! Police or law enforcement corruption and conspiracy.

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Police or law enforcement corruption provides a different element of conspiracy, as witnessed in episodes such as ‘Born Again’ which, much like ‘Shadows’, sees an avenging angel in Detective Charlie Morris seek justice from beyond the grave against his corrupt former partner on the take. The late, great JT Walsh perhaps serves as one of the best X-Files villains in ‘The List’ as the vicious prison Warden, who happily covers up and commits murders inside his prison linked to the titular death list by executed killer Neech Manley, while in ‘Unrequited’ invisible assassin Nathaniel Teager exposes military collusion in Vietnam POW’s who never came home.

Then there are the strange, occult conspiracies perpetrated often by communities, such as the cult of Satanist teachers in ‘Die Hand Die Verletzt’, who in their zeal to commune with the dark lord end up bringing upon themselves a demon they can’t control. Walter Chaco, the long lived boss of Chaco Chicken in ‘Our Town’, rules over pretty much an entire small town of conspirators covering up cannibalistic tendencies, which almost sees Scully quite literally become grist for the mill! Mulder & Scully, in the legendary ‘Arcadia’, pose as a married couple to expose the dark underbelly of a picture perfect community under the spectre of a conjured monster, while ‘Signs & Wonders’ sees a religious conspiracy cutting to the heart of Biblical scripture.

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The conspiracy everyone remembers in The X-Files, of course, is naturally the alien mythology, the mytharc, and the conspiracy of men known as the Syndicate (or Consortium), seeking no less than to aid an alien power to bring on the colonization of planet Earth and the destruction of mankind. Exemplified by the creeping, quiet menace of the un-named Cigarette-Smoking Man, they are the ultimate ‘men in black’ involved in the ultimate conspiracy Mulder & Scully over the series seek to expose, against not just the American people but the entire world.

Conspiracy, therefore, remains the very heart of The X-Files, both in its inspiration and thematic resonance. Even with all the monsters and paranormal forces, the show is only ever as good as the conspiracies lurking within…

Next week… D is for DOGGETT…

You can follow Tony on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.