The X-Files: Home   Rewatch 
October 11, 2015 7:33 PM - Season 4, Episode 2 - Subscribe

When a deformed baby's body is found buried in a baseball field, Mulder and Scully investigate a family suspected of inbreeding.
posted by town of cats (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Eurgh. I was dreading rewatching this episode. I know it's a quality hour of TV, but god, do I hate it. I'd only seen it once before, years ago now, and avoided it since because it gave me the fantods. I watched it in the middle of the day, while folding laundry with all the lights on, and it still made me jumpy.

That said, it is kind of the crown jewel argument for the thesis that one of the primary conflicts of the series is that between urban and rural America. And I have to admit it's just insanely well constructed. Everything echoes everything. Mulder waxing nostalgic about the smell of a baseball only to be the one to find the bits of baseball bat embedded in Sheriff Taylor's head - the door lock motif, so familiar to anyone visiting small-town relatives who just love to brag about how unnecessary they are here - the Sheriff telling his wife to hide under the bed, oh god. The recurring shots of the mother's eyes there all alone. "Wonderful, Wonderful!" It's all so scary and so tense and so well paced, the action scenes are all superbly choreographed, that moment in the Peacock house where they show the trip wire that hasn't been triggered yet and you're like WELL someone is definitely going to get run through by that sharpened club and I know a couple federal agents who live to fight another day soooo...

It's not much of an X-File, though, is it. Other than the stupid throwaway Mulder theory that all the Peacock boys are fathers to the child, which is given more time than it deserves, it's really just a horrible incest and isolation story. It's not totally clear to me why they sent Mulder and Scully out at all, really. Do they explain that?

How fucked is it that THIS episode is where they set up the long-playing plot thread of Scully's biological clock starting to go off?? She didn't talk much before Home about wanting to have a kid, did she? Given Mulder's mild incredulity, I think not. And for pretty much the rest of the series, motherhood is one of her profoundest preoccupations. It may be one of the sickest jokes the series ever made. I happen to be pregnant right now with my first son and the line that mother throws in Scully's face about the pride of knowing your son will do anything for his mother literally sent a chill down my spine. Because, you know, that's the kind of thing regular people say about their sons, when you talk about the fact that you're having a son. Augh.

It's great TV but I think I'm never going to watch it again, okay?
posted by town of cats at 7:35 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've never understood why this episode is so very disturbing to people. I mean, sure, it's creepy as hell, but this one is often held up as by far the show's most horrifying hour and I don't get that. The X-Files is full of scary, disgusting things. Why is this family of inbred mutants harder to take than Fluke Man or Donny Pfaster or any number of other X-Files horrors?

According to the episode's page on Wikipedia, the bit about Mama Peacock under the bed was inspired by an anecdote in Charlie Chaplin's autobiography!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:57 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had remembered this episode as premiering at the end of October. The X-Files was shown immediately after the news on my local channel, and I remember the weatherman, finishing up his actual meteorological job on the night this aired, ended his segment with "And now, Zombies".

It didn't freak me out as badly as Die Hand Die Verletzt, but that's only because nothing could ever freak me out as much as Die Hand Die Verletzt.

According to the episode's page on Wikipedia, the bit about Mama Peacock under the bed was inspired by an anecdote in Charlie Chaplin's autobiography!

posted by figurant at 12:05 AM on October 12, 2015

Why is this family of inbred mutants harder to take than Fluke Man or Donny Pfaster or any number of other X-Files horrors?

I don't know about Donny Pfaster, but as far as other episodes go, this one is more plausible than a lot of the other stuff they investigate. Sometimes the scariest stuff is the stuff that really could be happening in that house down the road.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:31 PM on October 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I thought it was a great piece of Southern Gothic, although the setting wasn't really Southern.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:33 PM on October 12, 2015

Yeah, it was clear they wanted it to be Southern Gothic but didn't want to piss off actual Southern viewers/advertisers so set it in PA but threw in a line about the War of Northern Aggression.

I agree with The Underpants Monster that what's creepy about this X-Files is how plausible it seems. It's just humans being creepy and indulging human preoccupations with heredity, purity, family, etc that have been with us as a species for millennia. There's really nothing supernatural in this episode. Just humans being their own weird, twisted, animal selves.

And, I mean, they do bury a baby alive in the cold open? They show the mangled, deformed baby for the autopsy. The Peacock brothers beat the sheriff to death with a baseball bat, and tear the deputy's body apart. IDK. Seems like it's on the high end of creepy/violent imagery for X-Files.
posted by town of cats at 3:47 PM on October 12, 2015

Did any of you ever see the deleted scene for this episode that was included on the series DVD?

There's no forensic facilities at the police station for this small town, so Mulder and Scully are crowded together in a tiny bathroom about to take a look at the Peacock baby. Scully gives Mulder, who's pressed up behind her, a look, and Mulder says to her, "Cell phone," and Scully says something like, "The long awaited answer to a question."
posted by orange swan at 5:44 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Home, PA is a real place -- amusingly, it's around a 15-minute drive from Jimmy Stewart's home town of Indiana, Pennsylvania, and about 25 minutes from Punxsutawney -- but I think the writers chose it for its name, and not because the writers knew a whole lot about the area. (It seems like Mulder and Scully could have called for backup before they went into the house for the final time, right?)

I watched this episode with a group of friends, and we kind of liked it when the deputy went all final third of ‘Hot Fuzz’ on everything and were sad when he got impaled.
posted by jwgh at 6:15 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I remember seeing this with my sister, and we actually thought that when Mulder is introduced to Barney the deputy and Mulder says, "Fife?" and Deputy Barney says, "Paster," that he had said "Bastard", not because, as it seemed at the time, he was calling Mulder a bastard for making a joke he'd probably heard hundreds of times before, but because his last name was actually "Bastard". We thought this so funny that I was very disappointed years later when I found out the deputy's name was Barney Paster.
posted by orange swan at 3:17 PM on October 14, 2015

What a strong episode, especially following a season-spanning two-parter mytharc.

The creepiness for me was, well, incest, but also developmental abnormalities coupled with their aggressive natures. Really empathize with the tragedy of their situation.

Mulder and Scully done right messed up, though. Shouldn't have entered without a warrant, much less overwhelming backup to minimize losses on either side.

Mulder flirting with Scully with the antenna was cute.

Mulder's speculation as to an extraordinarily rare mutation and circumstances isn't completely wrong but the odds of the fetus not spontaneously aborting very early is astronomical.
posted by porpoise at 8:33 PM on May 12, 2020

This is a hard one to watch. The baby being buried alive, the murder of the Taylors, the incest, the gross deformities, the living conditions in the Peacock house.... eugghhh. This probably isn't the worst X-Files episode in terms of watchability for me, but it's certainly up there.

When Mulder says his real preference would be small town life, I thought about the remote Virginia farmhouse he and Scully are living in in I Want to Believe, and if that was why they chose to live there. Though perhaps that's more due to his paranoia about the FBI being on his tail?

Johnny Mathis refused to allow the show to use his version of "Wonderful, Wonderful" so it was re-recorded with another singer. I can't say I blame him. Anyone who watches this episode will never be able to think of the song separately from it again.

There is an inconsistency in the script: Mrs. Peacock is shown screaming in pain during childbirth in the cold open, and then later says she can't feel pain, that having her limbs amputated didn't hurt her at all.

If the oldest Peacock son is 42, Mrs. Peacock would have to be in her mid-fifties at the least, and would be too old to have a baby, but I suppose that's just another abnormality.

It defies belief that the authorities wouldn't have intervened in the Peacock family long before now. When Sheriff Taylor talks about not wanting things to change, I was thinking, uh, do you mean because you have to do your job now? Incest is a crime!

Scully and Mulder needed backup to arrest the Peacock boys, but Scully thought it was too urgent a matter to wait -- she believed there was a woman being held hostage in the Peacock house. That was a compelling reason, but surely they could have called in some kind of back up without too much delay.

Mulder and Scully's response to Deputy Barney Paster's death has always bothered me. First Scully says Paster is dead even though he may not be yet, then Mulder pontificates on the animal nature of the killing while Paster is being bludgeoned to death, and then about one minute later they're joking about the Baaa-ram-ewe thing. You'd think they would have taken at least a few minutes to be shocked and sober about such a tragic and monstrous crime.
posted by orange swan at 12:07 PM on May 13, 2020

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