The X-Files: One Shot

1x02: Season 1, Episode 3 (September 24, 1993)

(Director of Photography: John S. Bartley)

Eugene Victor Tooms (Doug Hutchison)—the body-contorting, liver-eating mutant in the series’ first Monster of the Week installment—peering out from a sewer grate (you may have to squint slightly). Even at this early stage, Bartley was playing with levels of darkness, experimenting with the unnerving suggestiveness of a visual void. “Squeeze” additionally utilizes the square and circular shapes of objects and architecture (at times via immensely expressive dissolves) to heighten the threat of a villain for whom such rock-solid structures are no obstacle. The other characters often seem trapped, as much by their own biases (in Scully’s case, ones that she’s gamely attempting to push past) as by an elastic-man killer with a taste for human foie gras. Rhyming with this image, the penultimate shot is a rectangular door slot through which white light and eventual escape beckon.


Candid camera

Dead reflection

Scully squared

Scully circled

Round and round they go

Sphere within sphere

Mulder 1, Skeptics 4

Tooms stretching out (a bit of eerie, uncanny CGI)

The door of perception, cleansed (this shot is, fittingly, replayed in the title sequence through most of the series)

A hand in the window

Tooms grasping

All the news that’s fit to print

The villain captured

Escape beckons…