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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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…

Introductions – Growing up Spooky – Sam Turton

Friend: “Did you see the pilot episode?”

Me: “Oh yeah, it was amazing.”

Friend: “I thought the chimp body in the coffin was really scary!”

Me: “Yeah me too.”

This was my very first conversation regarding The X-Files. I had no idea what The X-Files was, I had no idea what a ‘pilot episode’ was. I thought it must be an episode about a pilot. Seems legit.

It was the ‘one to watch’ programme and I didn’t want to be the one kid who didn’t watch it, even though it sounded terrifying, was on at 9pm on Sunday, and I was in Y6 (11 years old). I got home that day and told my mum all about it and begged her to let me watch it that coming Sunday: I wasn’t disappointed. I think my journey started with ‘Squeeze’. You can’t get a much better episode to be your own personal pilot episode!

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Mum was worried I’d have nightmares and never sleep with the light off again; how wrong she was! I was hooked. It became the last ray of weekend light before school again on Monday; it also became a great bargaining tool for the parents. It was The X-Files then bed. So, it became the reason I got in the bath when I was told, the reason I didn’t leave my homework till the last minute, the reason I made my bed in the morning…

I loved being able to join in conversations with my best friend about our new favourite show; we bought T-shirts, made our own collages, got loads of merchandise for Christmas and birthdays… I do remember my auntie questioning my mum’s decision to let me watch it:

“Isn’t that a bit scary? It’s all monsters, and blood, and aliens…”

Yeah it is! That’s what made it amazing! It was all make believe told in a real life way; you didn’t have to be scared because you knew they weren’t real. It was the greatest escape into your imagination.

Anyway, how could you be scared when you knew that the two greatest heroes would save the day? The two most amazing adults in the world! Dana Scully became my heroine, my idol; Fox Mulder became the first boy I ever fancied. It was perfect; perfect episode after perfect episode.

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Obviously, looking back, there are some pretty shaky episodes in series one, definitely not all perfect! In my opinion, ‘Fire’ is the worst episode of the entire canon (‘Babylon’ is a close second: don’t get me started!) ‘Beyond the Sea’ blew me away, and it still remains one of my favourites, probably top ten. Luther Lee Boggs also makes my top ‘monster’ list: amazing acting from Brad Dourif. I remember it being the episode when I really fell in love with Mulder and Scully and really began to care about what happened to them. Of course, as a kid, I also really wanted them to get together: I think they became my generation’s Scott & Charlene.

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The love for this ground-breaking series followed me all the way through secondary school; it formed major parts in science projects, prose writing, and Scully became the reason that I started dying my hair red with semi-permanents at age 13 and carried on with permanents all the way until about a month ago: almost 10 years! I was, and still am, one of those people that can’t believe that there are some people who have never seen it, or have seen it and don’t love it. It became a bit of a mission to convert non-believers: this culminated this year with finally getting my boyfriend to watch all 9 series, and now he loves it too! Series 10 is on the cards.

Throughout the years, one thing has remained constant for me: Scully is the greatest character (possibly in any TV show EVER) and Gillian Anderson is an absolute legend. I love that woman. I loved Science at school: all the dissections, experiments and wearing the white coat. I always pretended I was Scully and some possible major disaster hung on me mixing my bases and acids properly. When I was dissecting a liver, I pretended it belonged to a suspected alien, or had been recovered from Tooms’ lair…

Then, as an adult, I became a teacher (English, not science) and I saw how between the ages of 11 and 15, girls started to lose a love of science. They stopped looking forward to experiments, to making volcanoes with baking powder and vinegar, to throwing small bits of magnesium into water… what was happening? It was then that I became aware of the ‘Dana Scully effect’: the increase in women and girls pursuing STEM subjects at school and University in the 90s/early 00s. I think that says it all. A character so amazing that she inspired young women to follow their passions, and change the world, even though they might have been told that it wasn’t ‘feminine’ (I’m going to blog about this at another time).

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Oh, and can we take a minute to bathe in the glory that is Stella Gibson? Wow. Is this possibly the greatest example feminism around at the minute?

Gibson: “That’s what really bothers you isn’t it? The one-night stand? Man f*cks woman. Subject man, verb f*cks, object woman. That’s okay. Woman f*cks man. Woman subject, man object. That’s not so comfortable for you is it?”

It’s Wednesday 28th September today and series 3 of The Fall starts tomorrow. I can’t wait.

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For me, The X-Files will always be my favourite ever TV show, starring my two favourite actors in my favourite roles. It’s only by re-watching the whole series recently that I can see how much it affected my teenage life. I love it and I always will, even the really bad episodes with the really bad special effects. Series 10 wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea; it certainly wasn’t mine, but roll on series 11!

Sam Turton will be a regular contributor to the blog. You can find her on Twitter @yorkshireramble.