Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The X-Files: Home (4.2)

In a particularly sweet moment in this otherwise horrifying episode, Mulder tells Scully that he never saw her as a mother. It's an odd piece of irony, since she's always been the more compassionate and protective of the two. In some ways, she does play mom to Mulder, in that she's always shouting down his outrageous theories and is always intent on sending him down the right track when it comes to their cases. What makes Mulder's comment all the more fun is that the one mother we actually see in Home is plain batshit. An archetypal "stern, protective, imbred incest mommy", if you could actually call that an 'archetype'.

From its opening scene, Home strikes a tone that is as terrifying as it is cinematic. Rain-soaked, beaten-down houses in the middle of nowhere, blood mixed into the dirt, monsters moving in the darkness. It's a ridiculously effective cold open, one which manages to intrigue just as much as it intrigues. And the pace never lets up. The Peacock family are scary-as-hell, murderous hillbillies rendered disfigured and insane following generations of inbreeding. The little details, like the deformed facial features on all of the family portraits, are shocking; while the prosthetic corpse of their young baby is chilling. The mother of the house, a woman who’s lost any sense of her own identity and takes satisfaction in being a restrained, living sex doll for her own sons, is such a grotesque creation that it's surprising that she's so sympathetic. She's just lost her damn mind, and Scully's futile attempts to reason with her are heartbreaking.

There's also some wonderful comedy scattered throughout. I loved Scully's line about watching Babe fifteen times with her nephew; Mulder getting excited about the pig-pushing; and Mulder's suggestion that his partner breed a whole line of "little uber-Scullies" was ridiculously charming.

Clearly inspired by both The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Home is both an episode of pure horror as well as one which has some disturbingly dark humor which, most of the time, works. The obvious irony of Johnny Mathis' Wonderful is inspired; the casual nonchalant-ness of Mulder and Scully's reaction to Deputy Paster's beheading not so much. But this is clearly a Morgan/Wong script because of that very mash-up of genres. They've returned to the series and it's undoubtedly with a bang. Gold stars all round for the guest actors, the set designers and especially the location scouts. A terrifying masterpiece. Rating A+

Guest stars Tucker Smallwood (Sheriff Andy Taylor); Chris Nelson Norris (Edmund Peacock); Adrian Hughes (Sherman Peacock); John Trotter (George Peacock); Karin Konoval (Mrs. Peacock); Sebastian Spence (Deputy Barney Paster)
Writers Glen Morgan, James Wong Director Kim Manners

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