October 29, 2016

The X-Files 4.2, Home: Wonderful, Wonderful

Posted in TV tagged at 1:08 pm by Jenn

Looking for a picture for this recap was...not fun

Looking for a picture for this recap was…not fun

Summary: It’s a dark and stormy night, and a woman is giving birth, aided by a couple of deformed men. Seconds after the baby’s born, the men take it outside, dig a hole in the muddy ground, and bury it alive. That’s right, it’s this episode! Sometime later some boys put down a home plate in a field in Home, Pennsylvania, and play baseball. The batter hits the ball into the yard of what a kid calls the Peacocks’ property. The kids decide to use a different ball instead of going to get the first. As the batter digs his foot into the ground, something red starts leaking through, followed by a little hand.

Mulder and Scully check out the scene, though Mulder’s more interested in the kids’ baseball than in doing his job. Scully’s able to determine that the person who dug the hole was left-handed. Mulder isn’t paying attention, so Scully says she’s quitting the FBI to become “the spokesperson for the Ab-Roller.” Mulder wants to reminisce about playing pickup games on the Vineyard with his sister. Back then, everyone was safe and there was no invasive technology. Scully reminds him that he would cease to exist without his cell phone. Mulder claims he’d want to settle down in a town like Home.

The agents meet Sheriff Andy Taylor (“for real?” Mulder asks), who’s happy to get some help from the FBI. The town is super-small, and everyone knows everyone, so he’s surprised that someone gave birth to a baby without anyone knowing. Mulder asks if anyone questioned the Peacocks, who’ve been watching the investigation from their porch. Taylor says three brothers live there; their parents supposedly died in a car accident ten years ago. At least, that’s what people think, since the brothers took their parents’ bodies before they could receive medical attention.

The brothers haven’t been questioned because they’re weird, basically. Taylor says they’re completely self-sufficient, live without electricity, grow their own food, and “raise their own stock” (translation: inbreeding). Scully doesn’t care – they’re right next to the crime scene and need to be asked if they saw anything. Taylor argues that they wouldn’t even know what the investigation is about. He loves Home and how peaceful things are; he doesn’t even need to carry a gun. He doesn’t want to admit that bad stuff is creeping in. He’d like to find out what happened without changing things in the town.

The agents decide to examine the baby instead, so they head to the sheriff’s department. They meet a deputy, Barney, and Mulder wonders if his last name is Fife. (It’s Paster, and he doesn’t appreciate the joke.) There’s no lab, so the agents have to crowd into a tiny bathroom for Scully’s medical exam. It’s pretty disturbing – the baby had numerous birth defects. Mulder guesses that it died of one of those defects, not murder, but Scully finds signs that the baby inhaled dirt, meaning it was alive when it was buried.

Outside the sheriff’s department, Scully expresses sympathy for the baby’s mother, who must have been devastated to give birth to a baby with so many problems. Mulder guesses that she didn’t care that much, since she was willing to just throw her child away. Scully admits that she may have been projecting. Mulder advises her to find a man with spotless genetics and “start pumping out the little uber-Scullys.” Scully asks about his genetics, which I’m sure is just her way of making conversation and not any kind of screening.

Mulder acknowledges that the baby’s death is a tragedy, but not necessarily the result of a horrible crime. The parents were probably young and didn’t know what to do with a child with so many defects. Scully says that the defects probably came from generations’ worth of genetic mutations. Mulder notes that Taylor said the Peacocks are pretty messed up, so it’s not that big of a surprise. She reminds him that Taylor also implied that they practice inbreeding.

Scully talks about the impulse to reproduce, which may be carried out in any way possible. It’s possible a Peacock impregnated a woman and made her give birth against her will. This implies kidnapping, which means as FBI agents, they need to keep investigating. As Scully gets up to get back to work, Mulder says that he never saw her as a mother before. (Oh, just wait four years, buddy.)

The agents head to the Peacocks’ house, with its car on the lawn and pig’s head on the front walk. No one answers the door, but Mulder sees scissors and blood on a table, which gives them probable cause to enter the house. A footprint in the blood matches a footprint taken from the mud at the baby’s grave. Mulder wants to put out an alert for the brothers, thinking they took their captive with them and fled when they saw the agents approaching. Maybe, but there’s at least one person still in the house.

Taylor issues warrants for the Peacock brothers, relaying the information to Scully over the phone from his house. Scully asks if he’s seen any abandoned cars in the past few months that might belong to kidnap victims. She wants to follow up on the white Cadillac in the Peacocks’ yard. Once they’re off the phone, Taylor briefly considers bringing his gun out of retirement. Over at the Peacocks’, the brothers stash some weapons in the trunk of the Cadillac and siphon some gas.

Mulder struggles to get reception on the TV in his motel room, which Scully thinks could be a dealbreaker for his decision to live somewhere like Home. He calls her “Mom” as she heads to her own room. She notices that the lock on his door is broken, but Mulder says they don’t need to lock their doors. After she leaves, though, he puts a chair in front of his. Meanwhile, the Peacock brothers get the Cadillac up and running.

Taylor’s wife calls him inside to bed as he’s taking one last look out at the town before darkness creeps in. The Peacocks are on their way over, listening to a cover of Johnny Mathis’ “Wonderful, Wonderful.” Scully’s asleep and Mulder’s managed to find something to watch – a show about pack animals hunting together.

Taylor wakes up when the Peacocks arrive in the Cadillac and tells his wife to hide under the bed. He wants to get his gun but has to settle for a baseball bat. When the Peacocks let themselves in, it’s three against one, and Taylor’s bat isn’t much help. The brothers overpower him and leave his body on the floor right next to the bed Mrs. Taylor’s hiding under. She’s barely able to contain her horror as her husband’s blood seeps toward her fingers. She’s not hidden for long.

The next morning, Paster calls the agents to the Taylors’ house/crime scene. He tells them the Cadillac’s owner was found; she abandoned the car after running out of gas and wasn’t kidnapped by any small-town inbred whackos. Mulder examines the Taylors while Scully looks at the baby’s DNA test, which shows that its cells would have had to divide three times faster than normal when it was in utero.

Mulder wonders if it’s possible that all three Peacocks fathered the baby. Scully reminds him how the birds and the bees work. Plus, there would have to be weakening of the ovum, which could only come from a female Peacock, and there are no women left in the family. Mulder thinks they should go back to the house with backup. Scully disagrees – they need to go right now and rescue the mother. Paster’s on board, ready to avenge his boss’ death.

Scully wonders why the Peacocks would go after Taylor. They would have no way of knowing that he issued warrants for their arrests. The only possibility is that they overheard Mulder and Scully talking when they searched the house, but the agents are sure that no one was home. Well, the Peacocks are there now, and one of them is getting checked over by the person who was in the house when the agents were. She says they need to resist change – the brothers need to make it clear that this is their home, and it’s going to stay that way.

Paster and the agents check out the house from a distance, readying themselves for a raid by donning bulletproof vests and microphones. Paster moves in first, already at the backdoor before Scully can see that it’s been booby-trapped. She’s too late to warn him before he gets decapitated. The Peacocks swarm him, reenacting what Mulder saw on TV the night before. He sees the Peacocks as behaving like animals, apparently because they’re stuck in the past and don’t have any influences from modern times. The agents are outsiders, and the Peacocks are going to try to fend them off.

Mulder decides they should try to lure the Peacocks out of the house so they can’t depend on their traps. His plan is to free the brothers’ pigs so the Peacocks have to come out and round them up. “Scully, would you think less of me as a man if I told you I was kind of excited right now?” he asks. The agents have trouble getting the pigs to move, so Scully tries chanting “baa, ram, ewe” at them, explaining that her nephew loves the movie Babe.

A Peacock leaves the house to wash Paster’s blood off his hands and sees that the pigs have made a break for it. As the brothers chase the animals, Mulder and Scully head into the house, using a board to thwart the booby-trapped front door. They search the house, calling for any kidnap victims, but only find a really old newspaper reporting on Elvis’ death. They see Peacock family photos from previous generations, all showing that genetic mutations have been in the family for decades.

Mulder sees something under a bed, and he and Scully think they’ve found their kidnap victim. Instead, they’ve found the brothers’ limbless mother. Mulder considers her an accessory to her sons’ crimes, but Scully notes that they can’t be sure. They also can’t prove that she’s being held there against her will. She thinks one of the Peacock sons is both father and brother to the other sons and the baby. Mulder tells Scully to explain to Mrs. Peacock that her sons are in big trouble, but she can keep them from getting hurt.

Scully goes back to Mrs. Peacock to try to offer her medical attention. Mrs. Peacock doesn’t want to leave her home. She explains that she doesn’t feel pain, and barely noticed when her sons sewed her up after the car accident that killed her husband. Scully tells her that her sons murdered three people, but Mrs. Peacock still loves them. Maybe one day, when Scully has children, she’ll “learn the pride…and the love. When you know your boy would do anything for his mother.”

The Peacocks realize they’ve been tricked and head back into the house. Mulder tries to barricade the door and hold them off. Scully rejoins him and shoots a couple of Peacocks, though it doesn’t appear to slow them down. They go after Mulder, so Scully lures them away by yelling that she’s getting Mrs. Peacock. When one of the brothers follows her, he’s felled by his own booby-trap.

Unfortunately, someone else has already gotten Mrs. Peacock, and she’s no longer under the bed. The agents search the property, but the two Peacocks who aren’t dead have vanished in the Cadillac. Mrs. Peacock praises her son for taking care of her and tells him they’ll just move on and start a new family in a new home. They ride off into the night, still playing “Wonderful, Wonderful.”

Thoughts: I can’t tell you how much I dreaded having to rewatch this episode. I mean, there’s a reason Fox never wanted to reair it after the first broadcast.

Scully has a nephew? Who’s his father, her jerk brother or her other jerk brother?

So…technology makes us human? Rejecting it makes us act like animals? Civilization depends on advances like TV and the Internet? Mulder must really hate Black Mirror.

1 Comment »

  1. SJSIff said,

    I remember when FX used to air the top twelve X Files episodes, as voted by the viewers, on Thanksgiving. It started at noon and ended at midnight. Home was always voted on the list, usually around #9. But they wouldn’t air it until later at night, because of how creepy and disturbing it is. There would be some note about “The next episode is actually number eight in our countdown, but number nine can’t be shown this early in the day.”

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