Because cinema is not the only thing in the life of a cinephile, a new nostalgic rendezvous on Large Screen: the cult episode, which will return to a choice piece from a remarkable series.
In the very long list of creatures encountered by Mulder and Scully in 10 seasons, everyone has their preference, their little crush or childhood trauma on M6. A file has even been devoted to it so that the editorial staff can share their nightmares.
But one thing is certain: no one will have been able to forget Eugene Tooms, the killer with long arms, star of two episodes of the first season broadcast in 1993.
THE YELLOW EYES OF THE TOOMS
X Files thus hit hard from its third episode, entitled Cuts (Squeeze). The case begins with a pair of yellow eyes in a Baltimore manhole, fixed on a businessman who will be grabbed in his office by a mysterious creature that has passed through the vent.
These eyes belong to Eugene Tooms, a sort of Machiavellian Mister Fantastic which hibernates for several decades before feeding on human livers to survive. The beast has the uncanny ability to elongate its limbs to stealthily reach its victims through small openings. Suffice to say that the image is as disturbing as it is effective, touching on everyone’s most intimate fears. Doug Hutchison’s sweetly crazy gaze, formidable as Tooms, and the deliciously shrill music, do the rest.
After two first episodes centered on aliens and conspiracies, Fox asks to see another facet of the universe, in agreement with Chris Carter who has always considered the series in this way. This is addressed in a dialogue where, responding to Scully, Mulder exclaims: “No! I did not find any proof of the presence of alien”.
The idea for Tooms germinated in the deranged minds of James Wong and Glen Morgan (executive producers and writers of six first-season episodes) in the production offices one evening. In search of an idea, the duo stopped on an air vent in the room: “What if we worked late here and a guy came over there?”.
Also inspired by Jack the Ripper and the Night Stalker, an ’80s serial killer who entered his victims’ homes through the bathroom window, Wong and Morgan found the first monster of the week from the Serie. Chris Carter will bring the idea of the human liver, marked by a visit to France where he discovered foie gras. They also decide to emphasize the hierarchy of heroes, and the pressure exerted on Mulder and Scully, in order to flesh out the characters.
Whether Cuts became one of the most beloved episodes of X Filesconsidered by many fans as one of the best, it experienced a difficult and even chaotic production. Director Harry Longstreet (who will no longer work on the series) was thus almost replaced to complete the shooting, the writers and producers being dissatisfied with the images shot. Questioned since, James Wong said that the director did not respect the creative team, nor the script, nor even the genre. Morgan also claimed that Longstreet had been a serious problem, to the point of not filming all the planned scenes.
Wong ended up finishing the job to shoot additional shots and scenes, to polish the episode in lengthy reshoots. Despite the very warm welcome to the broadcast, the duo of screenwriters will remain marked by the bitter experience. Disappointed to see that the episode could and should have been better, they explain that it was saved in post-production, and that the success mainly goes to Doug Hutchison, interpreter of Tooms.
HE IS BACK
James Wong and Glen Morgan’s frustration will drive them to write The Return of Tooms (Toms), episode 21 of the first season. Here again, the idea came from something innocuous: the duo looked at an escalator being repaired, and imagined a monster living there. Looking for a way to give audiences a good thrill in the final stretch of the season, Chris Charter and the writers then thought of giving a sequel to Tooms, which had been a success with audiences and fans alike.
This time, David Nutter is chosen. He directed several solid Season 1 episodes, such as the memorable Arctic Project (also scripted by Wong and Morgan), and would later become an essential name on TV – with even a delicious cinematic interlude, Disturbing behaviors in 1998 with Katie Holmes and James Marsden.
The intention is clear: to offer Tooms a worthy episode, and to make up for a few errors in Cuts. The Return of Tooms also allows the series to reopen the conspiracy file and present for the first time Skinner, one of the major characters of mythology.
The reality is however never far away since the writing will be directly influenced by the episode When the night comes (another great moment in the series, with those awful fireflies), the filming of which was very complicated on location. James Wong and Glen Morgan therefore write The Return of Tooms with the official instruction to confine oneself to the interior decorations. Not to mention that arriving at the 21st episode out of the 24 of the season, the team is exhausted, even as the growing success of the series has placed them in the spotlight.
The Return of Tooms no longer benefits from the surprise effect, but remains extremely effective. It offers a worthy conclusion to this unforgettable antagonist, and pays off in particular with an excellent finale under the famous escalator. The character of Mulder, torn between his thirst for justice (the hallucinating scene of the trial) and his fear of the hierarchy (“I know they want to shut down the X-Files”), also gains in nuance.
Thus Eugene Tooms entered the X-Files legend, in particular because he is one of the rare monsters to have had the honor of a sequel – in addition to being mentioned a few times.