You, the things that “polite” people don’t talk about?
And what better way to talk about taboos than to watch an episode (or 20) of The X Files?
Kids today will never know the struggle. Today, we have Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story, etc. In other words, shows that push the envelope. Shows that “go there”. Or, at least in the case of a certain unnamed show that features a couple of sexy ass bikers, trigger some angry letters from pissed off parents over a “sex montage”…
But I grew up in the 90’s. It was considered edgy when Jessie OD’d on caffeine pills in Saved by the Bell, for pity’s sake! So if I wanted edgy, I was relegated to sneaking R-rated movies from the video store…this was one of the few instances where early-ish puberty was actually a good thing, since 12 year old me actually did look 17.
But then, we had The X Files. And dinner table conversations became interesting, to say the least (at least at my family’s house, which is why I love my family. Taboo? What’s that)
Every week, it seemed like The X Files “would go there.” Circus freaks. Guys that ate human livers. Cannibals that were ground up and fed to their chickens. Major-ish characters being killed off…the list goes on and on.
However, no episode of The X Files had ever managed to earn a “viewer discretion” warning. Chris Carter decided that he could not have this, and brainstormed, until he came up with an episode that would earn that warning…it was a personal milestone!
personal milestone episode was titled Home. Home contained lots of familiar elements: murder, a creepy small town, adorable yet kinda dopey local authorities, along with plenty of blood and gore. However, Home also addressed one of the biggest taboos of all (well, except for Jamie and Cersei): incest. And the products of incest, aka the children born of such unions. And Chris Carter and the rest of the team were cheering somewhere, because they finally produced something that actually had to come with a warning label, and is rarely even shown in syndication today. Meeting personal goals is a good thing!
With that being said, here is my recap and review of the nasty little piece of work, otherwise known as Home.
Oh, as always:
The episode begins with a woman giving birth to a deformed baby. The baby is then buried by three deformed men, in the middle of a rain storm. The name of the town that these events occur in is Home, Pennsylvania.
Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are sent to the town of Home, PA, to investigate the death of the baby, at the request of the local authorities, who are not equipped to deal with a murder in the normally peaceful town. The corpse of the baby is discovered by some local kids during a baseball game.
Agent Scully performs an autopsy on the deceased infant. She discovers that the baby was born with multiple birth defects, but its lungs contained dirt, meaning that the baby was buried alive. Mulder and Scully speak to Sheriff Andy Taylor about the baby and potential suspects for the murder, and notice that that they are being observed by the people in the house across from the baseball field. Sheriff Taylor tells Mulder and Scully that the house belongs to the Peacock family, who have lived there since the Civil War. The house has no running water or electricity, and the Peacock family is self-sustaining, growing their own food and raising animals for slaughter. The parents of the Peacock family were said to have perished in a car accident a few years prior, leaving only the three sons as survivors. It is also implied that the family practices incest.
Scully suspects that the deceased baby is actually a member of the Peacock family, and that the men (as there are no known living female Peacock family members) may have kidnapped and raped a woman. Mulder and Scully investigate the house, and find blood, along with a rusty pair of scissors. At the request of Mulder and Scully, Sheriff Taylor prepares arrest warrants for the remaining three members of the Peacock family.
That night, Sheriff Taylor is uneasy, and is awakened by car pulling up in the driveway, with loud music playing. Unable to get to his revolver, Taylor grabs a baseball bat, but is overcome by the three Peacock brothers, who beat the sheriff and his wife to death.
The next morning, Scully and Mulder meet Deputy Paster at Taylor’s house. The deputy suggests that he and the agents ambush the Peacock house, as he is saddened and angered at the savage death of Sheriff Taylor. Scully deduces that someone must have told the Peacock brothers about the warrants, as the warrants were issued by telephone and the conversation over the warrants was probably overheard by someone in the house. Scully also receives the genetic test results from the FBI’s lab, and thinks that a mistake was made, as the tests show an extreme genetic imbalance that she does not believe can be possible. The results also indicate that both parents were members of the Peacock family, which Scully believes to be a mistake, as she thinks there are no surviving female members of the Peacock family.
Mulder, Scully and Deputy Paster descend upon the Peacock house. The deputy dons a bullet-proof vest and enters the house, only to be decapitated by one of the many booby traps. Mulder and Scully distract the brothers by releasing their livestock, and then sneak into the house, weary of the multiple booby traps.
When they enter the house, Mulder and Scully encounter the Peacocks mother. She is living underneath one of the beds, and is missing both arms, both legs and most of her teeth. However, she is coherent enough to indicate that she is not being held against her will, and that she believes her sons to be in the right, despite the fact that they have murdered two people.
The Peacock brothers realize that they have been tricked and rush into the house, attacking Mulder and Scully. After a struggle, the agents are able to kill two of the brothers. However, they then realize that the oldest brother, Edmund, has escaped with the Peacock mother. Mulder and Scully then issue an arrest warrant for Edmund Peacock, and block the roads out of town, in the hopes that he cannot escape and will be caught to face justice.
At the end of the episode, Edmund Peacock is seen driving a stolen vehicle, with his mother in the trunk. His mother tells him that they must find a new home, so that they can start a new family.
Home is tasteless. And disgusting. And just plain nasty.
In other words, I love it. One of my favorite episodes of The X Files, in fact.
First of all, let’s talk about the gore. Gore is not necessarily taboo, but this was a cable show from 90’s. See the above post about Jessie and the caffeine pills.
So, yes, I was pretty impressed with the gore, after I decided to take a trip down memory lane and watch this episode again. Some of it may seem tame by today’s standards, when shows like Sons of Anarchy depict people being burned alive and Jax going crazy with his metal pipe, like it’s going out of style. But I think that the killing of the sheriff and his wife would be unsettling even today, as the manner was so brutal. That scene made me a little jumpy…I know I won’t forget to lock my door any time soon!
The booby traps set by those Peacock boys were ingenious, to say the least. They say everyone has a talent. That must mean everyone, even genetic mutant freaks: their talent is setting booby traps to kill unsuspecting law enforcement officials.
Another thing I love about this episode is that it is chock-full of “Mulder-isms.” You know, the silly little one liners, delivered in Duchovny’s usual dry manner, the manner that only he can pull off? Telling Scully that the Mulder family passes the “genetic muster.” Changing his mind about moving to the country, since he can’t watch the Knicks game. This is one of the few episodes of this show that I actually find frightening, and Mulder’s humor lightened things up just a little bit.
Ok, let’s get to the good part…
Yes, the taboos…
And there were so many of them…let me count the ways…
First of all, infanticide. That is a subject that makes people pretty uncomfortable, and for good reason. What person who has a beating heart would not be uncomfortable with the death of a baby? Especially the deliberate murder of a baby, even if the said baby is deformed beyond belief and probably doesn’t have much of a chance anyway (see post about the genetic tests run by Scully, which seem to come back with results pretty quickly, even for TV time). Seeing a baby die, much less murdered, is pretty awful. And the way that they evidence was disposed of was pretty callous: the corpse was buried in a field and then found by kids, of all people. And the corpse was not implied, the producers actually showed a good bit of it. In other words, definitely not your typical 90’s TV fare, or even TV fare of today…but you knew that!
And we have…
Yes, the incest! You know that’s what you want to talk about here!
There are not too many taboos in modern society. Our culture has loosened up, at least somewhat. But incest remains a taboo to this day, and likely will remain a taboo for a long, long time. And for good reason: human beings are not meant to procreate with other human beings who are closely related to them. Apparently, there is this whole thing about a gene pool and yada, yada, yada. So most “civilized” societies have done everything they can to make incest unappealing:
Granted, he looks harmless, but I would say this guy is pretty unappealing. Or maybe appealing in an extremely douchey kind of way. I must say, purple is his color, though!
All kidding aide, incest makes people uncomfortable, even though it was actually practiced for centuries, and still is practiced in many parts of the world today. But somewhere along the way (well, probably when folks figured out that when they went outside the family, they were less likely to pass down pesky conditions such as hemophilia), incest became something outside of the norm, and we were taught to fear it. In other words, something that is feared that much becomes great fodder for horror movies…
And a certain TV show centering around a couple of hot FBI agents.
The X Files just reinforced our fears of incest. Would you want to meet these guys in a dark ally?
These guys had no morals. None at all. They murdered people. They dropped trou on command for mommy dearest, in the name of continuing the family tree (well, I think that tree would not actually be a tree, more like a circle, but you get my point). They were implied to be “not all there”, but were actually pretty cunning for “not all there” (see the post about talent and ingenious booby traps). In other words, they personified the incest taboo, reinforcing the fact that we are now “civilized” and have discontinued the practice, if we are smart.
And if you were looking for the ending of this particular episode to help settle your nerves, well then, I have some bad news for you…
The X Files has its share of ambiguous endings (Chinga, cough, cough), but the ending to Home is just downright unnerving. For one thing, the body count. I know The X Files is scary, but some truly innocent lives were lost: a baby, a sheriff and his wife and a deputy. And these people were all murdered in pretty horrible ways: being buried alive, beaten to death and decapitated by a booby trap. Sure, Mulder and Scully lived to fight another day, but I got no sense of victory from this episode…
Which brings me to my next point…
The bad guys won! Sure, two of the three Peacock brothers were taken down by Mulder and Scully (barely) but the family still survived, since the third brother managed to escape, along with mommy dearest (they probably discovered the joys of car sex too). So now they are able to keep it in the family, and produce more monsters somewhere else. And if anyone else tries to bring them to justice for their crimes, he/she will probably have a fate similar to that of Sheriff Taylor. And that is a comforting thought (sarcasm font activated for your reading pleasure).
Well, that’s it for it my thoughts on the family friendly episode otherwise known as Home. Join me next week as I run away to join the circus. Well, not really but I am doing the next best thing: watching and reviewing Humbug!
Tune in next week: same Bat time, same Bat channel!