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Recap / The X-Files S04 E02 "Home"

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Season 4, Episode 02:

"There's something rotten in Mayberry." note 
Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong
Directed by Kim Manners

"We knew this day was going to happen. That they'd try to change the way things are. All we can do about changing things... is be ready for it... be ready for them. Let them know, this is our home and this is the way it's going to stay."
Sherman Peacock

Mulder and Scully investigate after a deformed baby's corpse is found, and uncover the dark history of the family living in a nearby house.


  • Be Careful What You Wish For: At the start, Mulder expresses some nostalgic longing for a life in a sleepy small town like Home and enjoys visiting the town for the case because of it. By the end of the episode, he's seen firsthand that even quaint little villages can have nightmares lurking in their shadows.
  • Berserk Button: Mulder asking Deputy Barney Pastor if his last name is Fife. The way he says no suggests he's been asked this many times and is quite sick of it.
  • Body Horror: The Peacocks are walking embodiments of it, so deformed from centuries of incest that they barely look like people anymore and most of their young are stillborn.
  • Booby Trap: The Peacocks wire up a number of them on their property, such as an axe rigged to swing at intruders.
  • Central Theme: Change in rural communities and how the people there respond to it, as well as the lengths some people will go to in order to defend their ways of life.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sheriff Andy mentions early on that the town is so quiet, peaceful, and interconnected that nobody even bothers to lock their doors at night. This later ends up getting him and his wife killed when they don't think to lock their doors, allowing the Peacocks to easily enter their home and bludgeon them to death.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Sheriff does not go quietly when the Peacocks invade his house and fights back with a baseball bat, but unfortunately it may as well have been made of foam for all the good it does him.
  • Darker and Edgier: Even in the very serious and grim series, this episode takes the cake as one of the darkest, most violent, and most disturbing in the entire show. It was the first to have a Parental Advisory warning and the only one to be a TV-MA where other episodes were rated TV-14. It was also barred from being reran for years. Reportedly, Tucker Smallwood asked a member of the crew if this kind of material was normal for the show. He was allegedly told, "This is awful even for us." Despite that, it's also considered one of the best episodes of the entire series.
  • Dead All Along: Horrifically inverted. The townsfolk are all under the impression that Mrs. Peacock died in a car accident years ago. In truth, she shares her son's unearthly durability and inability to feel pain, and is still alive producing new Peacocks and directing her sons' actions.
  • Death of a Child: The deformed baby dies in the teaser.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Home" is an expression of the episode's themes, and also the name of the town where it is set.
  • Evil Cripple: A hissing limbless mother of the incestuous Peacock clan. She approves of her sons' murderous behaviour. In her eyes they are only protecting their family.
  • Evil Matriarch: Mrs Peacock. She's involved in incestuous relationships with her sons. One of them is the father of the other two. Ugh.
  • Evil Reactionary: The Peacocks are an entire family of theme, being violently opposed to the urbanization of Home and raging futilely against the changing world around them. If they had their way, Home would remain the idyllic rural backwater it is forever.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Peacocks, a severely inbred family willing to do anything to maintain their secluded lifestyle.
  • Foil: The Sheriff to the Peacocks. While both are unhappy about changes to their small town environment, Sheriff Taylor adjusts to it. The Peacocks lash out violently.
  • Foreshadowing: Scully and motherhood. Also mention of "the Mulder family pass[ing] genetic muster".
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • We don't actually see the burying of the baby, but he's heard crying. Still scary as hell.
    • The murder of the Sheriff and his wife is not shown in full, but the scared eyes of her are painful to watch. Poor woman. There is also lots of blood spattered around.
    • The Deputy's death as well, as it cuts away a split-second before the axe reaches his head.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: One of the darkest, freakiest examples of this trope put to screen.
  • Hillbilly Incest: The episode is about a murderous, inbred clan terrified of losing their home to urbanization. They live in the rural small town of Home, Pennsylvania. The matriarch, Mrs. Peacock, is involved in incestuous relationships with her sons, one of them being the father of the other two.
  • Hopeless War: The Peacocks are fighting an impossible-to-win war against the modernization that's overtaking their hometown. By the end, the entire family is dead aside from Mrs. Peacock and her youngest, making things bleaker for them than ever, but they keep going.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Peacocks are so deformed from decades, maybe centuries of inbreeding — possibly in addition to other things — that they may well no longer count as human. At times they act more like animals.
  • Hypocrite: For all that the Peacocks rage against "outsiders" interfering in their town, it's abundantly clear that they themselves are outsiders to the town, being a reclusive family of inbred freaks who terrorize their neighbors the few times they deign to interact with them.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: While the strict events of the episode are a one-off Monster of the Week affair, it contains a great deal of thematic foreshadowing for later events in the Myth Arc, like Scully and Mulder's conversation about motherhood and genetics.
  • Karma Houdini: Mrs. Peacock and the youngest son get away in the end, though how long they can continue to do so is debatable at best.
  • Logical Weakness: The Peacocks' monstrous nature and abilities are the result of massive inbreeding, so naturally they're also very ill and each generation is more malformed than the last, with stillbirths being frightening common. Furthermore, their inability to feel pain means that they often don't realize when they're injured and have to examine each other for wounds after fights.
  • Made of Iron: The ill and deformed Peacocks are surprisingly resistant to gunshots and baseball bat hits. This is Truth in Television, as properly motivated (as in "animalic adrenaline rush") people can do a lot of damage before succumbing themselves. Plus it seems like the inability to feel pain runs in the family as Mrs. Peacock took getting crudely stitched up after the car crash that left her crippled years prior as one would getting breakfast. She even has to examine her sons to see if they injured themselves.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Peacocks don't appear to be out and out supernatural; their monstrous appearances, freakish strength, and seeming inability to feel pain could all be at least somewhat plausibly explained by their severely inbred nature… but those traits are so pronounced and they exhibit so many borderline inhuman qualities (like locating the Sheriff's wife by scent as if they were bloodhounds) that you really have to question if inbreeding could explain it all or if they even qualify as human anymore.
  • Mundanger: The monsters of the week are not paranormal, just monstrous. Downplayed, as the Peacocks are so inbred and inhuman acting that there may well be something less than natural about them (aside from the obvious).
  • Never Heard That One Before: Deputy Barney Paster's reaction to Mulder's joke about whether his last name is Fife.
  • The Nose Knows: After the Peacocks kill Sheriff Taylor, they realize someone else is in the room by smelling her.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Scully to Mulder who is a bit spaced out and playing with a baseball.
    Scully: Meanwhile, I've quit the FBI and become a spokesperson for the Ab-roller.
  • Off with His Head!: Deputy Pastor winds up like this when he accidentally triggers one of the Peacocks' traps.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Mulder and Scully step right into the middle of a Southern Gothic horror story.
  • Parental Incest: Mrs. Peacock engages in incest with her sons, resulting in her birthing her other two sons through her eldest son as well as the birth of other severely deformed babies.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Mrs. Peacock accusingly snarls at Mulder and Scully that they're "Yankees" and express pro-Confederate sympathies. Otherwise averted; the Peacocks are savage and animalistic towards everyone that isn't part of their family unit.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: People took objection to Mulder and Scully's dialogue in the episode being cruel and detached, but such flippancy is pretty common among professions that deal with a lot of death and destruction, such as firemen, policemen, soldiers, and the like, both as a coping mechanism and by being desensitized after being exposed to so much misery in the first place.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Neither Sheriff Andy nor the Peacocks are pleased about the modernization and urbanization that Home is going through, feeling the change is going to take away a lot of what makes the town great. The difference between them is that Andy accepts that change can sometimes be positive and is willing to make peace with it, whereas the Peacocks will fight to the death to enforce their traditional life.
  • Rule of Symbolism: While the Peacocks are on their way to kill the Sheriff, Mulder is watching a nature documentary about African hunting dogs. The narration in the documentary is hauntingly appropriate to what the Peacocks are about to do, not to mention the way they behave in general.
    "The eldest dominant male of the pack moves in to ensure that the prey has been killed, encircling the prey to let the others know it is safe to approach."
  • Shout-Out:
    • To The Andy Griffith Show. When Mulder expresses his desire for idyllic life in an American wholesome town, Scully says it would be like living in Mayberry. The local Sheriff's name is Andy Taylor (Mulder is kinda excited and asks if that's for real). His Deputy's name is Barney. But not Barney Fife (which Mulder hoped for, apparently). It's Barney Pastor.
    • The deformed baby's burial in the intro is very evocative of Buried Child, a play that discusses many similar themes of corruption and the collapse of traditional life styles in rural communities.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Wonderful, Wonderful", a cheery tune by Johnny Mathis is used for both a horrible murder and son/mother mutant sex, trying to conceive another child in a rocking car and all.
  • Southern Gothic: A standout homage to the genre, featuring the crumbling decay and mind-bending horror of a rural, inbred Southern family's small manor contrasted with the changing world around them.
  • Villainous Incest: The Peacock family involve a female matriarch who engages in incestuous relations with her sons, one of them is the father of the other two sons. The mother has also given birth to severely deformed offspring which she and her sons murder during infancy.
  • Womb Horror: Mrs Peacock gives birth to a horrifically disfigured and deformed baby that is later buried alive by the Peacock brothers. Agents Mulder and Scully are both extremely uneasy during the autopsy. The baby's face is distorted and its legs are bent out of shape.
    Scully: Imagine all a woman's hopes and dreams for her child and then nature turns so cruel. What must a mother go through?
    Mulder: Apparently not much in this case if she just threw it out with the trash.

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