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…

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TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Humbug vs Nisei / Triangle vs Revelations / Squeeze vs The Walk

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 22nd/23rd/24th

HUMBUG vs NISEI

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Tony: “HUMBUG – a comfortable victory for Darin Morgan’s first legendary comedy, if not quite his best.”

Sam: “HUMBUG for sure! Awesome episode. It’s one of those go to episodes for me.”

Carl: “I’ll eat a cricket if HUMBUG doesn’t win.”

Baz: “I think HUMBUG will win – it’s the first Darin Morgan classic and was a memorable entry in season two. Like 731, it’s a shame NISEI is up against a great episode because it forms part of an exciting mythology story, one of the best in season 3. But 731 is the stronger of the two and against the circus freaks, NISEI won’t win.”

TRIANGLE vs REVELATIONS

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Tony: “TRIANGLE – can’t see past it here, probably quite a rout.”

Carl: “TRIANGLE win. Won’t be close.”

Baz: “Absolutely (and not just because TRIANGLE is my favourite episode). It’s a fantastically experimental, memorable episode, not least because it pits Mulder against a Nazi Cigarette Smoking Man. There’s a lot of love for this episode out there, and understandably so. REVELATIONS isn’t bad, sitting in one of the strongest seasons (three) and with a dark tale about a serial killer hunting a boy with religious markings. It’s good The X-Files fare, but nowhere near the standard of TRIANGLE and honestly, I don’t think a lot of people remembering it that well. TRIANGLE to win by a landslide…”

Sarah: “Absolutely TRIANGLE!”

SQUEEZE vs THE WALK

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Tony: “SQUEEZE – absolute slam dunk for Mr Tooms, part 1.”

Carl: “Yeah, I have nothing more insightful to add. SQUEEZE win. I think I like The Walk more than most people do, though.”

Baz: “THE WALK is okay but SQUEEZE is the most memorable (and possibly best) monster of the week. There is no way Eugene Victor Tooms isn’t going to have a clear victory. SQUEEZE to win by a landslide…”

Sarah: “SQUEEZE will definitely not have to squeeze by on this one. It’ll win with a wide margin!”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.

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…

Young at Heart: Introducing The X-Files to a younger generation

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Carl Sweeney talks about immersing the next generation in his favourite show…

I only fully realised how little sense The X-Files episode ‘Space’ makes when I tried to answer questions about its plot asked by my eight-year-old son.

The period of my life since I became a fan of The X-Files is much longer than the period before it. I can hardly remember a time when this show wasn’t a part of my life in some way. Like many fans, I suppose, my interest was dramatically rekindled in the weeks and months following the announcement of the revival. It was so nice to dust off the DVD boxsets, re-watch the series and share in some of the enthusiasm online ahead of the new episodes. As fun as it was, though, it could never be quite the same as it was first time around. And I knew that the revival, at a mere six episodes, was likely to be all-too-fleeting for my liking.

For Halloween, my son asked me if he could watch something scary. We ended up watching ‘Squeeze’, though I can’t remember exactly how we decided. I wasn’t sure how he’d respond to it but he’s an intelligent boy, sensible and wise beyond his years (in my view, anyway), so I figured he’d be alright.

He really liked what he saw, despite understandably finding Tooms very creepy. He asked to watch more immediately and I was pleased that he wanted to but for a while I said no. When Christmas Eve came around I was feeling generous and I let him watch ‘How The Ghosts Stole Christmas’, which he absolutely adored. Since then, we’ve gone back to the beginning of the series and watched an episode together every Friday night.

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I do understand that many people would consider The X-Files unsuitable viewing for someone so young. I’m fairly liberal about these things and I think that ultimately it depends on the child. I also think that parents have a role to play in discussing and contextualising the things their children see. There are a number of episodes that I think he isn’t ready for just yet so I am skipping a few here and there as we work our way through. If forced to defend letting him watch there are quite a few justifications I might offer (“Scully is such a strong female lead! The show presents science in an interesting, literate way! It’s no more violent than many films marketed at young children today! I was his age when I became a fan!” etc.). However, I guess the main reason I continue to allow him to watch is actually a bit more selfish. I find that I love the experience of watching it with him.

I’ve seen every episode of The X-Files at least twice. The first six seasons I’ve seen many more times. I still love watching them but to say that it’s very familiar to me is an understatement. I can think of a couple of reasons why watching with my son gives me an appreciably different experience.

It’s fascinating to watch this show and see how it helps to fill in gaps in his knowledge. We had an interesting discussion following one episode about what, exactly, a psychic is. Other things we’ve talked about are bile, artificial intelligence and how the FBI differs from the British police. I’m never entirely sure what’s going to pique his curiosity each week, but there’s usually something.

960His wider knowledge of The X-Files is almost entirely limited to what he’s seen so far. He doesn’t have any vague sense that the show may have run for too long originally, he hasn’t heard that the second film was disappointing, he isn’t bothered by any notions that the mythology may end up unresolved. He also has no idea which episodes are generally considered fan favourites, and it’s interesting that the ones he responds to the most are not always the ones I’d expect (he liked ‘Ghost In The Machine’ a lot more than I’d anticipated, for example). He’s seeing everything through fresh eyes.

I can’t see these episodes through fresh eyes again, I know them too well. This is the closest I’m going to get though. It’s so nice to listen to my son’s speculation about what each episode may be about, based on the title alone. I’d forgotten that a lot of Mulder’s quips are laugh-out-loud funny when you can’t recite them in advance. I’d become inured to the fact that there are many times when this show is really, properly scary.

I wonder how he’ll respond to the rest of the show. Will he gasp when Deep Throat dies? What will he make of some of the great characters coming up, like Skinner & Krycek? Will he laugh as much at ‘Bad Blood’ as I expect? What will his favourite episodes be? Can The X-Files find a place in his heart in anything like the same way it has in mine? Will our Friday night ritual get quietly dropped at some point due to lack of interest on his part?

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Not only do I not know the answer to any of these questions, I’m still unable to adequately explain the plot of ‘Space’. I had a lot of fun trying, though.

Carl can be followed on Twitter @csweeney758.