- For the character, see Eugene Victor Tooms.
"Tooms" continues on from the events of "Squeeze". The episode is notable for firmly establishing William B. Davis as the Cigarette Smoking Man (Davis had initially appeared in the "Pilot" as an extra, and in "Young at Heart" as a 'C.I.A. agent'). This is also the first and only appearance of Assistant Director Walter Skinner in the first season.
Eugene Victor Tooms, the limb-stretching serial killer who Mulder previously captured, is released from prison and set free against Mulder's advice.
Druid Hill Sanitarium, Baltimore, MD: Dr. Aaron Monte checks on his patient, Eugene Victor Tooms, on the eve of his commitment review. He informs him that he's had a look at the statements of the doctors who will be testifying the following day, and the likelihood of his release is very good. Unbeknownst to him, Monte had interrupted Tooms as he was contorting his body to reach through the food slot, about to unlock his cell door.
At FBI headquarters, Special Agent Dana Scully meets her rarely-seen superior, Assistant Director Walter Skinner. As the Smoking Man inexplicably lurks in the background, Skinner demands more conclusive reports from Scully and by-the-book procedures; their high conviction/case-solving rate of 75% is, according to him, the only thing keeping the X-Files division open.
At the hearing, Dr. Pamela Karetzky testifies that Tooms has shown no signs of physiological dysfunction. Another expert attributes Tooms' attack on Scully to misplaced frustration over losing his job and being falsely arrested by the FBI. Special Agent Fox Mulder grows agitated as Judge Kann dismisses his mutation theory, despite Mulder's evidence showing that Tooms' fingerprints were at seven of 19 crime scenes dating back to 1903. Kann simply says that Tooms doesn't look a hundred years old. Mulder than alienates the judgement panel by arguing that Tooms is a freak of nature and will undoubtedly kill again if released, because he did not procure the last of his usual five livers, which he needs before going into hibernation for 30 years. Tooms is deemed fit to be released, providing he remains under Monte's care, returns to his animal control job, and resides with halfway-house couple Susan and Arlan Green. Mulder vows to keep watch on Tooms night and day, while assigning Scully to go back through the old murders for a lead. When she argues that this would involve unorthodox methods, he nearly accuses her of being cowed by Skinner's warning. As he leaves the courthouse, Tooms smirks at Mulder.
Lynne Acres Retirement Home: Scully seeks help from former detective Frank Briggs, who investigated Tooms' previous two killing sprees and is dismayed at the news of his release. He shows her a jar containing a human liver he'd found at Powhattan Mill's Ruxton Chemical Plant when it was under construction in 1933; the accompanying dead body was never found, something that was not the case with all the other murders Tooms allegedly committed. Briggs suspects that the body was dumped into the cement foundation of the chemical plant when it was still wet, possibly because something on it could implicate Tooms. When conventional methods of searching the foundation prove to be too slow, Briggs acts on "an old-fashioned hunch" and leads the excavation crew to a particular spot, where they dig up skeletal remains.
Tooms, back on the job in his Baltimore Animal Regulation van, is getting hungry, snacking on roadkill as he picks them off the ground before bagging them. He starts to approach a woman on the street in broad daylight when he is stopped by Mulder, who sarcastically asks for help finding his dog, Heinrich. Tooms drives off in a rage. That night, he follows a businessman home, but stays in his vehicle, being closely watched by Mulder. After several hours, Mulder accidentally falls asleep; upon awakening, he finds Tooms' van empty and starts searching the neighborhood - not realizing Tooms has entered the sewers through the manhole grate beneath his vent. After trying to enter through the toilet pipe and being stopped by the businessman's wife (who thinks it's a blockage and uses a pipe snake to force him out), he squeezes through a barred window; Mulder, nosing around the neighborhood, notices sewage from the drains on a windowsill, and tells the owner he suspects an intruder inside. While this forces Tooms to retreat, Mulder loses track of him.
At the Smithsonian Institute's Forensic Anthropology Lab a professor, examining the bones Briggs and Scully found, discovers that the skull matches the photo of a missing person suspected of being a 1933 victim. There are also strange gnaw marks near the victim's ribs. But it's not enough to convict Tooms. Scully worries about Mulder, who has carried on his stakeout alone for three days. She volunteers to take over surveillance in her own car. Mulder agrees and drives off, with Tooms hiding in his trunk.
On his couch, Mulder sleeps through the Vincent Price movie The Fly. Tooms enters through a baseboard vent, but rather than kill Mulder, simply scratches his own face until he bleeds. At a hospital the next day, a detective tells a doctor that police found Tooms unconscious in the street, beaten and kicked in the jaw. Tooms says Mulder did it. While police speak to Mulder at his apartment, they find an athletic shoe matching the imprint on Tooms' jaw. As they prepare to haul Mulder in for questioning, he notices a screw underfoot - from the vent.
At Skinner's office, as Smoking Man watches, Mulder notes forensic evidence shows no foot was inside the shoe when it connected with Tooms' face, and insists Tooms is trying to frame him. Scully lies that Mulder was with her on surveillance when Tooms was admitted to the hospital. After sending Scully out, Skinner expresses admiration for Mulder's talents, but tells him that if stress is making him or other agents behave inappropriately, he should take a vacation, something Mulder halfheartedly agrees with. With a glance toward Smoking Man, Skinner orders Mulder to stay away from Tooms, noting that this was a close call and if it happens again, all of Mulder's Congressional contacts together won't be enough to save his job.
Using dental records, Scully and the Smithsonian have positively concluded that the gnaw marks on the skeletal remains belong to Tooms, which is the proof they need. At Tooms' halfway house, the Greens are just leaving as Monte arrives to check up on Tooms. While Monte makes small talk, Tooms' hunger gets the better of him and he attacks. Mulder and Scully arrive shortly afterward and find the doctor's corpse. Mulder realizes that Tooms will go into hibernation now that he has claimed his fifth victim.
The agents go to 66 Exeter Street, the address of Tooms' old apartment, but the building has been torn down; a shopping mall, City Square, now occupies the site. Mulder enters a narrow utility passageway beneath the foot of an escalator. He pushes through a vent into a cave-like area, finding evidence of Tooms' nesting tendencies - a wall of newspapers held together with bile. Suddenly, the naked and animalistic Tooms bursts through the wall and attacks. With Scully's help, Mulder escapes and turns on the escalator, which drags Tooms to a gruesome, crushing death inside the escalator mechanisms.
Skinner, reading Scully's unorthodox report, asks if the Smoking Man believes it. He knowingly replies: "Of course I do." Outside, Mulder observes a cocoon in a tree and tells Scully he thinks a change is coming for the X Files.
- Doug Hutchison as Eugene Victor Tooms
- Paul Ben Victor as Dr. Aaron Monte
- Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner (First appearance)
- Henry Beckman as Detective Frank Briggs
- Frank C. Turner as Dr. Collins
- Gillian Carfra as Christine Ranford
- Pat Bermel as Frank Ranford
- Mikal Dughi as Dr. Pamela Karetzky
- Glynis Davies as Nelson
- Steve Adams as Myers
- Catherine Lough as Dr. Richmond
- William B. Davis as Smoking Man
- Andre Daniels as Arlan Green