Season 4, Episode 2: “Home”
“Home” is one of the most iconic episodes of The X-Files. It ranks up there with “Squeeze,” “The Host,” and “The Post-Modern Prometheus” as one of the most famous episodes the series ever produced. Watching it, it’s easy to see why.
I mostly try to look at each episode outside of its “historical” context – you know, since I wasn’t there and all – but “Home” is one of those episodes that might get a few eyebrows raised today, but certainly wouldn’t be as shocking as it was in 1996. The thing is, though, that “Home,” while it does contain disturbing material, is also one of the most self-aware episodes of the series. And not self-aware in the “Jose Chung” sense (though there are shadows of Darin Morgan to be found), but self-aware in the way it handles its atmosphere and tone. This is my favorite aspect of the episode, and why I think it holds up so well today.
You see, there’s a reason “Home” is still incredibly beloved. If it was all shock value, then the episode wouldn’t be impressive nowadays. But it’s more than disturbing, it’s…funny. And scary. And legitimately intriguing.
I’m not going to give a plot summary – even some non X-Philes are familiar with this episode – so instead I’m going to focus on what my favorite parts of the episode are.
“Home” isn’t anywhere near the most well-written or thought-provoking episodes, but it is one of the cleverest. The way it paints this picture-perfect little town before ruining the town’s perfect picture is brilliant. The use of the song “Wonderful! Wonderful!” always has me laughing, and to this day I can’t hear the song in a grocery store or wherever without a demonic grin forming on my face. This episode is half-horror, half-joke. It’s almost a parody of itself.
Mulder and Scully have the best banter they’ve had in a while, as well as a few moments to sit back and reflect. In “Home” we hear of Mulder’s admiration for the quiet life, of Scully’s desire to one day be a mother. We see Andy Taylor trying desperately to cling to the unchanging quietness of his home while the FBI come and investigate murder. The sad thing about Andy Taylor is that he’s trying to preserve something that was already corrupted. Not that he could have known about the Peacocks, but by ignoring them, he’s also blinded himself to the horrors he’s tried so hard to keep away. And yep, it ends up getting him in the end.
Beyond the horrific incest story that made the episode so famous (and controversial), what I love most about this episode is really the aesthetic stuff: the lighting, the cinematography, the music, just how well they craft the tone. The tone throughout “Home” is that of cheery horror, and that’s so, so hard to do. It’s almost perfect.
But while I do like this episode a lot, I will admit that I feel a certain distance between myself and “Home.” Not because I think it isn’t good, or even that it’s overrated, but just because I feel like people take it waaaay too seriously. It’s a joke. It’s supposed to be a joke. It’s one of the most well-told, scary, horrifying jokes ever, but it’s still a joke.
But hey, it’s a joke that still makes me laugh (and grimace), so what do I know.
Final score for “Home” is 9/10. While I don’t think it’s the best episode ever, as some seem to think, its brilliance is undeniable. Watch it for yourself – it definitely holds up.
- Mulder and Scully in this episode are just fantastic. This is definitely the best Morgan & Wong script in Season 4, that’s for damn sure.
- Does anyone else think the Peacocks look like Klingons?
- Maybe it’s cute to some people that Mulder says to Scully “start cranking out the little uber-Scullys,” but for whatever reason, I always found it a little…awkward.