Narrow  ( Squeeze ) is the third episode of the first season of The X-Files , the main characters of which are FBI agents Fox Mulder ( David Duchovny ) and Dana Scully ( Gillian Anderson ) investigating crimes that are difficult to scientifically explain  .
|Episode of the series "The X-Files "|
The scene where Toms climbs into the chimney was created using CGI and an acrobat stunt double
|Episode number||Season 1|
|written by||Glen morgan |
|Delivery Date||September 24, 1993|
In this episode, Mulder and Scully investigate a series of brutal murders committed by someone capable of reaching their victims through ventilation ducts and other narrow communications. Agents conclude that the killings are committed by a genetic mutant named Eugene Thoms, who goes hunting every 30 years. Narrow was the first episode of The X-Files in the Monster of the Week category - an episode unrelated to the main " series mythology " set in the pilot series .
The creation of the episode was accompanied by numerous difficulties. The conflict between director Harry Longstreet and other members of the crew led to the fact that Longstreet was fired before the end of the filming, and some scenes were not shot as the script suggested. As a result, a large load fell on the team involved in the processing of the filmed material in the post-production period. Despite this, Narrow received rave reviews from critics, who for the most part paid attention to Hutchison's acting and the image he created. The Star newspaper described the series as an episode that "really" sold "The X-Files to the general public."
At the end of the first season, the episode was continued , during which the point was finally set in the case of Eugene Tums.
In Baltimore, businessman George Asher heads to his office in the evening after an unsuccessful business meeting. At this time, someone is watching him from the rain sewer , after which he enters the building where Asher entered, through the elevator shaft. Having entered his office, Asher dies from an attack by an unknown person who leaves the office through a narrow ventilation pipe, twisting the grill screws on the back side.
Former Dana Scully 's fellow student at the FBI Academy, Agent Tom Colton, asks Scully for help in investigating three murders in which the liver was torn from the victims with their bare hands. Colton is at a loss, because all the victims were found in well-guarded or internally locked rooms.
Attracted to business, despite Colton's displeasure, Mulder finds elongated fingerprints on the narrow ventilation grill in Asher’s office. Mulder saw similar elongated prints in archival "classified materials" on serial killings in 1933 and 1963. Since five murders were committed in previous years, Mulder concludes that two more should happen this year. Using the psychological profile of the killer developed by Scully, the FBI begins surveillance of places where recent killings took place in the hope that the killer could return there. In the building where Asher was killed, agents arrest an employee of the Animal Control Department named Eugene Tooms when he crawls out of the vent pipe. Toms successfully passes the lie detector test , with the exception of Mulder’s questions, which the authorities reject as meaningless (for example, the question “are you over 100 years old?”) And the suspect is released. At night, Thoms kills a man by climbing into his house through the chimney of a fireplace .
Using a computer program, Mulder stretches Tomsa’s fingerprints to find that they match the fingerprints found in Asher’s office and the fingerprints in the files since 1933. Scully contacts Frank Briggs, the sheriff who investigated five murders in 1933. Briggs describes how he conducted the investigation and always believed, but could not prove that it was Thoms who did it all. In photographs taken by Briggs in 1963, Thoms looks outwardly the same as in 1993.
Having studied a large number of archival documents, Mulder and Scully come to an empty, abandoned building, where Toms was listed as living in 1903, and where his neighbor was killed that year. Briggs tells them about the same house. In Tums's room, they find a hole in the wall that leads into a dark basement, where there is a huge nest made of scraps of newspapers and rags. Nearby are trinkets - trophies stolen by Toms from their victims. Mulder develops the theory that Thoms can be a genetic mutant that goes into hibernation every 30 years, and the liver of the people he killed supports his strength during this period. Having decided to organize surveillance of the building, the agents leave, and Tums, who was hiding this time on water pipes under the ceiling, imperceptibly breaks the chain with jewelry from Scully's neck. Mulder remains to monitor the building, and in the morning he is replaced by other agents, but later Colton recalls them, believing that surveillance is meaningless. Scully quarrels with Colton and decides to write a complaint about him.
In the evening, Mulder arrives in an abandoned building, but finds no cars with agents. Inside, he finds Scully's chain placed with the other Toms trophies. Mulder hurries to Scully’s apartment and finds her struggling with Thoms, who crawled inside through the vent pipe. Agents manage to handcuff Tums to the bathroom. The mutant is placed in a prison for the mentally ill, where he begins to twist himself a new nest from newspapers. Mulder informs Scully about the results of Tums' analyzes, which revealed an abnormal development of the skeleton and muscles, as well as a rapidly declining metabolic rate . Agents leave, and the orderly brings a tray of food to Tumsu’s cell. Thoms looks at the food distribution window and smirks   .
After two episodes centered around events that would later become one of its main storylines and will be called the “mythology of the series”, “Narrow” became the first series dedicated to another paranormal phenomenon. This type of episode was subsequently called the “Monster of the Week,” since The X-Files was broadcast once a week, and such episodes rarely got continued. The creator of the series, Chris Carter, considered that the show would not be able to keep the viewer's attention for a long time if it focused exclusively on the theme of aliens  .
The idea of a killer making his way to victims through communications came up with script writers Glen Morgan and James Wong at the sight of an elevator shaft located outside their office. Although the episode parallels the second episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker called Night Strangler, where a man commits murders every 21 years, Morgan and Wong claimed to draw inspiration from the serial killer stories Jack the Ripper and Richard Ramirez [6 ] . Chris Carter proposed the idea of a villain eating a liver of victims after he visited France , where he first tried foie gras   . Morgan and Wong included the idea of a nest that Tums would use for hibernation with the expectation that if the mutant was not caught by agents, then it could be returned to the series later  .
The 33-year-old actor Doug Hutchison was approved for the role of Thoms, although initially the producers considered him too young to look. Glen Morgan said that Hutchison “looks 12 years old”  . However, Hutchison managed to impress them, thanks to his ability to suddenly switch from a normal state to an aggressive one  . The actor himself said that he took an example from the image of Hannibal Lecter , embodied on the screen by Anthony Hopkins in the film “ Silence of the Lambs ”  .
Full-scale shooting of the first scene took place near Hastings Street in Vancouver . There, shots were shot near the “Toms house”. When it was necessary to shoot footage, as Tums watches Asher from the rain sewer, the film crew arrived at the place too late, and there were already many passers-by on the street. The series team had to improvise, hiring nearby builders as guards in order to limit unauthorized persons from entering the frame. The shooting of the scene with the capture of Thoms while crawling out of the ventilation pipe in the office building was supposed to take place in a large multi-story parking lot, but for this it was necessary to curtain the building in order to imitate the night. To avoid costs, a copy of the necessary part of the ventilation was built on the lower floor of the parking lot  . Filming near Scully’s apartment was also carried out in Vancouver, where the shots of the pilot series were shot. In the future, the shooting in this place was not carried out due to the limited number of available angles : most of the return points inevitably showed a large parking lot across the road, which did not suit the creators  .
According to Glen Morgan, the shooting was very difficult, and the episode was “saved in post-production”  . Screenwriter James Wong was disappointed with the work of director Harry Longstreet, saying that he "does not respect the script." Longstreet did not shoot one of the scenes prescribed in the script, and the scenes were not duplicated from other angles, as was necessary. Wong, along with another director Michael Keitlmanom, was forced to re-shoot some scenes and finish absent to complete the shooting  . Hutchison also had difficulty with Longstreet, calling his demands on the actor’s game “mocking”  . David Dukhovny also did not agree with the director in the opinion of how Fox Mulder should behave. Duchovny noted that “the director wanted me to be angry with this terrible serial killer. I thought:“ No, this is an amazing discovery! It cannot be criticized morally because [his actions] are genetically determined. I do not blame anyone ” [14 ] .
For the shot, where Toms creeps through the chimney, the producers hired a contorionist acrobat specializing in bending the body into unusual shapes. According to the creators, the chimney was “more of a belt than a pipe” and in fact was much larger than it seemed on the screen. Computer graphics made it possible to extend the fingers on the hands of an acrobat in the frame  . The producer Bob Goodwin at first did not believe that the acrobat would be able to squeeze into the pipe and simply perform the functions of a stunt double, but he managed to get inside completely. The production team only needed to add the sound of crisp joints to the frame  .
The scene in which Tooms enters Scully's apartment was shot with a chromakey . The frames with the actor were combined with the image of a narrower hole through which Thoms allegedly crawls out  . The special effects in the shots with Hutchison were minimized, as Chris Carter and special effects master Matt Beck decided that “less is more” and “a hint of the supernatural will be enough”  .
Although he did not directly influence the plot of the series Narrow, the episode introduced some key thematic elements. Critics described the series as "an episode where Dana Scully must openly choose a side." According to the creators, Scully was originally assigned to Mulder to refute from a scientific point of view his conclusions and, as a result, discredit the work of his partner. In the episodes Pilot and Deep Throat , Scully still balances between her responsibilities and Mulder’s defense, cautiously formulating reports for superiors and even saving him from the military. In Narrow, the conflict with former classmate Colton makes Scully finally choose between Mulder and careerism  . Such an unfavorable development of relations with Colton and other colleagues, whose worldviews are “corporate acceptable models of reality”  , limits Scully's career prospects at the FBI   .
The authors of The Philosophy of The X-Files, Mark Peterson, Richard Flannery, David Luseki, and Dean Kowalski, suggested that hostility between representatives of different groups within the FBI is not “not epistemological , but political "problem. Mulder and Scully are forced to find a balance between the search for the “truth” and the need to bring criminal cases to their logical conclusion as their work requires  . The authors describe this as balancing “between seeking the truth and finding the evidence needed to substantiate the prosecution in court,” which reflected the general public’s perception of the time of the FBI. If the FBI considered it its duty to search for irrefutable evidence for criminal prosecution, the public expected the organization to be objective and apolitical, as people “mistakenly believe that the court was created to establish the truth”  .
Air and Ratings
"Narrow" was aired on Fox on September 24, 1993  . Approximately the number of viewers who watched the first show is estimated at 11.1 million people   . On the Nielsen scale , Narrow received a rating of 7.2 with a 13 percent share. This means that out of 7.2 percent of all televisions that worked in US households that evening, 13 percent were set to premiere the episode  .
Glen Morgan was very pleased with the work of Hutchison, calling the actor “an ace up his sleeve”, and playing the role of Thoms - “outstanding”  . Morgan later authored the script for the episode " Toms ", which is a logical continuation of "Narrow"  . Hutchison wrote a prequel to Narrow under the title Dark He Was and Golden-Eyed ( Rus. He was dark and golden-eyed ) and sent it to Carter, but the script was returned to him unread for legal reasons  . However, references to the character more than once met in the series in the future. For example, in the episode “ Diffused Light ”, written by Vince Gilligan, there is a somewhat ironic reference to Thoms: when a guest disappears from a hotel room closed from the inside, usually the skeptical Scully is the first to inspect the ventilation grill in the room   . In addition, in the mini-series , released more than 20 years after the release of "Narrow", one of the first to appear on the screen is the image of Tums  .
From critics, “Narrow” earned mostly positive reviews. Entertainment Weekly rated the episode 3.5 points on a 4-point scale, describing the series as “an important episode,” while Hutchison’s character was called “disgusting to the core”  . Robert Shirman and Lars Pearson in The Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen ( Eng. Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, The Millennium, and The Lone Gunmen " ) Rated the episode four out of five stars, saying that the background of the episode was the first in the series, which did not rely on" generally accepted urban legends . " According to the authors, the absurd plot is conveyed through the assumptions of the heroes, leaving a demonstration of Thoms' capabilities until the moment when the viewer is psychologically ready to “believe in this absurdity”  . However, it is worth noting that Shirman and Pearson considered Briggs’s dialogue, comparing Thums’s crimes with the Holocaust “not only unnecessary, but frankly tasteless”  .
In an article for The AV Club, Keith Phipps praised the episode, assigning it 3.75 points on a 4-point scale, and emphasized that this role made Hutchison a highly sought-after actor for the embodiment of frightening characters  . Phipps considered the culmination scene in Scully’s apartment “doing the whole episode”, noting “a real sense of fear”, despite the obviousness that nothing would happen to Scully as the main character  .
An 2008 Vancouver Sun article called Narrow One of the best independent episodes of The X-Files. The newspaper wrote that "The X-Files became known thanks to the terrible" monsters of the week ", and" Narrow "was the very one that laid the foundations for this," and that, together with Tumsom, "Narrow" "remains one of the most terrible things shown on television ”  . In the same year, in an article for the Malaysian newspaper “The Star” by Mumtaj Bigam, it was written that “Narrow” was the “episode that“ sold “the idea of“ X-Files to the masses ”, and the series itself was called“ simply brilliant "  . A similar opinion is shared by the author of the book “PopLit, PopCult and The X-Files: A Critical Exploration” ( Rus. Pop-lit, pop-cult and The X-Files: A Critical Study ) Jan Delsara. The writer called “Narrow” the first episode of The X-Files in the horror genre, which later became one of the defining characteristics of the series  . "Narrow" even received a new life in literature: the plot of the episode was adapted for the novel by Ellen Styber of the same name   .
Eugene Tooms himself drew critical attention from critics. IGN columnist Christine Segers placed Hutchison in fourth place in the top ten guest actors on the series, writing: “Even when he doesn't seem to be doing anything, Hutchinson can still make your skin move with his dead, shark-like look”  . PopMatters journalist, Connie Ougle, included Thomsa on the show’s best monsters list  , while Entertainment Weekly freelance columnist Neil Gaiman named Tomsa one of his favorite monsters  . UGO Networks included the character in the list of “Best Serial Killers on TV,” calling Hutchison “uber-creepy”  .
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