Season 2, Episode 2: “The Host”
“The Host” brings us our second most iconic Monster-of-the-week after “Squeeze”/”Tooms”. And for me, personally, the Flukeman is waaaaay more disgusting. Although, on a second watch, I didn’t find it quite so horrible knowing what was coming. And I don’t think that’s the case (for me, at least) with other episodes, like “Travelers”. Nevertheless, the Flukeman is one of the show’s most memorable – and creative – monsters.
Like “Tooms” and “Squeeze” before it, “The Host” has a lot more going on than just the monster. In fact, the monster itself only shows up around the second half. A great part of the episode is spent with Mulder and his continued pity-party, which, as I said previously, is going to stay for a few episodes. It’s more annoying in some episodes than others. In “The Host” it verges on very annoying, but the episode is…distracting enough to keep your mind off of it for a while.
Mulder’s bad mood in this episode is, to be fair, justified, at least initially. When Skinner sends him to investigate this case and he has to wander through the sewage system, it really does seem like it could be a punishment. Mulder messes up, gets kicked off the X-Files, flies to Puerto Rico against orders, and now he’s being sent to investigate a case in which he has to wade through poopy water.
However, as we will soon learn, Skinner doesn’t play around with assignments. He legitimately wanted Mulder to investigate this case. It’s possible that he knew something strange was going on, or he just wanted to get Mulder off the desk for a while before he got restless and did something stupid again. In any case, I think we can safely assume that Skinner’s intentions aren’t malicious.
Scully’s appearance in this episode is limited, as it will be for the next few episodes as well. Mostly, she’s around to do doctor stuff, since she and Mulder aren’t partners anymore. Also, Gillian Anderson was growing more pregnant at this point, which they try to hide by really putting the padding on poor Scully. I don’t think there’s a scene for the next few episodes where she isn’t wearing at least three layers of clothing.
Still, her presence is welcome as always, and it’s nice to see the two working so well together, even if they’re not partners. Actually, that’s probably the reason they are working so well together. They’re grasping every opportunity to be together, and they’re making the most out of it.
“The Host” is also notable for the first appearance of our new informant, Mr. X. Mr. X is a very, very different informant than Deep Throat. Whereas Deep Throat seemed to want to help Mulder because he genuinely cared about Mulder and his work, Mr. X wants nothing to do with Mulder and gives him only as much information as is absolutely necessary. He also has, I’d be willing to bet, the most badass speaking voice in the entire show.
Now, with all that out of the way, let’s get to the star of the show himself: the Flukeman.
I think the reason the Flukeman is such an effective monster has a lot to do with the environment in which he lives. Eugene Tooms may have crawled through air vents, but the Flukeman literally lives in poopy water. As someone who has an intense phobia of public bathrooms, I can’t tell you how many shivers this sends down my spine. I wouldn’t trade places with Mulder in this episode for anything. He has to swim in the stuff.
I’d forgotten how long it takes for the Flukeman to actually show up, and I really like the way he’s introduced. It’s done in increments. First, we see the poor Russian guy being pulled underwater by something. Then we see the workman’s wounds after he’s attacked. Then Scully pulls the fluke out of the dead guy. We finally see the Flukeman’s face when he’s trapped in the sewage system, pressed against the glass. Then, at long last, we get a good look at him when Scully takes a peek through the window.
Remember when I said back in my review of “Ice” that I’ve always been more freaked out by the parasitic monsters, the ones that live inside of you, than the ones that attack you from the outside? Well, the Flukeman is like the worst of both worlds. He’s parasitic in nature, but he’s still this giant thing with a giant sucker that will attack you. And use you to reproduce.
Iconic though it may be, “The Host” does have problems, and I was sad to find that I noticed them a lot more during my second watch. It suffers the same issue we found in “Little Green Men” – there are a lot of great scenes, but they feel jumbled and disoriented. But more than that, this episode just goes on too long. In fact, before I gave this episode another watch I thought it ended at the part where Scully looks at the creature through the window. That’s a typical X-Files ending; Mulder and Scully capture creature, then look through window at creature, speculating about its implications. Or another great ending would have been the part where Skinner tells Mulder this case should have been an X-File, and that they all have to take their orders from someone. Mulder is speechless, not knowing how to respond. Fade to black. Executive Producer Chris Carter.
Instead, we get a whole last third of the episode in which Mulder has to chase the thing down again after it escapes through a Port-a-Potty (granted, that is hilarious). This last part really makes the suspense in this episode wilt like a dying flower. We know Mulder’s going to make it out alive, and we also know what the Flukeman can do. The only suspense left is is Mulder going to catch this thing, and since he already did catch it, it’s suspense on repeat.
And then when the Flukeman is chopped in half, the wilting suspense flower is killed completely. Which is not really typical X-Files. Normally, Mulder would have failed to catch it, and the episode would have ended with the viewers knowing the monster was still out there.
I don’t know why disjointedness is becoming a problem for Season 2 episodes, because Season 2, strangely enough, is one of the most fluid seasons of the series as a whole. A lot is being packed in to each individual episode, though, and it becomes overwhelming.
But still. It’s the Flukeman. How can you not love this guy?
Final score for “The Host” is 7/10. Disjointed but iconic.
- The Flukeman himself is played by none other than the great Darin Morgan, whom we will be talking about a lot in the future.
- Why is radiation always the cause of everything horrible? I’m starting to think that maybe it’s radiation that’s the real great evil in this show, not aliens.
- This episode is SO GROSS. And that’s what we love.