Thursday, September 17, 2015

The X-Files - S4:E2 "Home"

[ S4:E1 "Herrenvolk" <<< Season 4 >>> S4:E3 "Teliko" ]

Wow - like last season, this one doesn't waste time in bringing out the big guns. In truth, Home may not have made as much of an impression on me the first time I watched this series - I didn't get into horror until I was a little older - but for its reputation as that episode that was so graphic, it needed a disclaimer. I don't know for sure, but it's possible the episode wasn't even aired in its regular slot during the FX marathon I was watching, because I don't actually remember it until seeing it on one of those 12 hour X-Files marathons they used to play on Thanksgiving (what better choice for a holiday about family!) - literally at the eleventh hour, after the metaphorical kids had been put to bed (not me - younger kids).

And this episode is gruesome (it opens with infanticide, for chrissakes!), putting even the likes of War of the Coprophages and The Host to shame. It's The X-Files meets the Texas Chain Saw Massacre - or The Hills Have Eyes - except that the most disturbing thing about it is not any of the violence or gore, but the horror in its very concept. Like, how it tries to humanize these monsters - the traumatizing opening, for example, doesn't seem to be judging the mutants, or presenting them as a spectacle of evil, so much as emphasizing the suffering they're experiencing as they bury their child (alive). Or how it raises the question of whether government interference is justified, at least insofar as these creatures keep their lifestyle to themselves and don't involve unwilling outsiders.

The tension in the post-opening credits scene is expertly crafted. It's such a Saturday afternoon, all-American atmosphere - boys playing baseball outdoors - but the presence of the ominous house next door is foreboding, and the way that the boy at bat keeps pressing into that dirt ever so subtly, you just know it's only a matter of time before he unearths what's been buried there ever so recently, in a shallow grave. Doing so brings Mulder and Scully out to the sunny town of Home, Pennsylvania (honestly, I could believe this out of West Virginia, but not Pennsylvania) to investigate the case of a backwards family on the brink of inbreeding themselves out of existence. Only the three boys (now grown) have been spotted ever since their parents were injured in a car accident ten years ago, and refused all medical intervention. Scully thinks they may have kidnapped someone for the purpose of breeding, but when the agents investigate, they uncover a truth that is even more horrible.

Observant viewers will have noted by now that The X-Files likes to throw in a good mutant episode near the beginning of each season - Squeeze, The Host, 2Shy - but this one takes the cake. It marks the triumphant return of writing duo Glen Morgan & James Wong, who were responsible for such memorable episodes as Squeeze and Tooms, IceBeyond The Sea, E.B.E., Little Green Men, and One Breath, among others, and who were last seen on this show writing season 2's Die Hand die Verletzt (another episode that turns the comfy, small town ideal on its head). Disturbingly, Scully also grapples with the subject of motherhood in this episode, which will come up again for her character in the future.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: God, this brings back a lot of memories - my sister, all-day pickup games out on the Vineyard, ride your bikes down to the beach, eat bologna sandwiches. Only place you had to be on time was home for dinner. Never had to lock your doors. No modems, no faxes, no cell phones.
Scully: Mulder, if you had to deal without a cell phone for two minutes, you'd lapse into catatonic schizophrenia.
Mulder: Scully, you don't know me as well as you think you do. You know, my work demands that I live in a big city, but if I had to settle down, build a'd be a place like this.

(Yeah. Let's just hope you have better neighbors...)

Scully: Oh my god. Mulder, it looks as if this child has been afflicted by every rare birth defect known to science.

Mulder: Is there a history of genetic abnormalities in your family?
Scully: No.
Mulder: Well, just find yourself a man with a spotless genetic makeup and a really high tolerance for being second-guessed, and start pumping out the little uber-Scullys.
Scully: What about your family?
Mulder: Well, aside from the need for corrective lenses and the tendency to be abducted by extraterrestrials involved in an international governmental conspiracy, the Mulder family passes genetic muster.

Scully: We all have a natural instinct to propagate.
Mulder: Do we?
Scully: There are theories which pose that our bodies are simply vehicles for genes needing to replicate.

Scully: This room alone should convict them.

Mulder: What we're witnessing, Scully, is undiluted animal behavior - mankind, absent its own creation of civilization, technology, and information, regressed to an almost prehistoric state, obeying only the often savage laws of nature. We're outsiders invading the den, trying to take away their one chance at reproducing.

Scully: The way I think it goes here is that Edmund is the brother and father of the other two.
Mulder: Which means that when Edmund was a kid, he could ground the other two for playing with his things?

Mother: I can tell, you don't have no children. Maybe one day you'll learn...the pride, the love...when you know your boy would do anythin' for his mother.

Scully: In time, we'll catch 'em.
Mulder: I think time already caught them, Scully.


  1. This one always stood out to me as the one that they had to air last in the marathons. Rewatched it a year or two ago and it's creepy as heck. Definitely a classic.

  2. Yeah, I miss those marathons. This would be a good year to have one, given all the interest in The X-Files with the new episodes coming in January.