- For the town of the same name, see Home, Pennsylvania.
"Home" is the second episode of the fourth season of The X-Files. It was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, directed by Kim Manners, and premiered on October 11, 1996 on the Fox network. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, separate from the series Mythology arc.
"Home" marked the return of writers Glen Morgan and James Wong, who left the show following the second season episode "Die Hand Die Verletzt".
When a deformed baby's body is found buried in a baseball field, Mulder and Scully investigate a family suspected of inbreeding.
SummaryA woman, later identified as Mrs. Peacock, gives birth to a highly deformed child, which her three sons bury at the nearby baseball field during a storm. The next morning, the baby's hand, sticking out of the ground, is discovered by some local children playing baseball on the field. When they arrive at the scene, Scully is already taking notes and Mulder is sniffing a baseball that the children left at the scene, reminiscing about time spent at Martha's Vineyard with his sister, Samantha.
After Scully comments on the community she jokes that Mulder might go into "catatonic schizophrenia" without his cell phone. He informs her that it is a town like this which he would like to settle down in, if not for his job. While talking to Sheriff Andy Taylor, Mulder asks whether the house nearest to the scene - the Peacock house - had been questioned about the baby. Taylor tells them that the house had been built during the civil war and still does not have electricity, running water or heating. There are presumably just the three brothers, as no one has seen the parents since they were in a serious car accident a decade back. Taylor also insinuates that the family members "raise and breed their own stock... if you get what I mean." All the while, the Peacock family watches from their porch.
Inspecting the corpse, Scully comments to Mulder that "it looks as if this child has been affected by every rare birth defect known to science." After a cursory examination in the police station's bathroom (because there is no morgue), they discover that the baby suffocated by inhaling dirt, indicating it was buried alive.
Following the autopsy, Mulder and Scully talk outside the police station. Scully seems distressed by the abandonment of this child and the defects presented. They sit down on a bench and Mulder flirts with her, suggesting that she find a man with a spotless genetic make-up and a high tolerance for being second guessed to pump out "über-Scullys". She inquires about about his family, and Mulder claims that other than the need for corrective lenses and alien abductions, the Mulder family passes "genetic muster". Mulder suspects this case is nothing more than kids disposing of an unwanted birth. Scully believes the child is not a result of a freak accident in mating and must have been inbred as Sheriff Taylor suggested. Scully and Mulder consider this as a seemingly impossible feat, however, since the Peacocks are known to be an all-male household.
Suspecting the birth mother may be a kidnapped woman, the duo proceed to the Peacock residence where they knock on the door. Mulder is about to enter but Scully exclaims that they have no probable cause. After looking inside with a flash light, they proceed within, weapons drawn. They discover bloody boot prints, which match the ones found at the crime scene, and a mud-encrusted shovel. They leave after gathering some evidence, not realizing that someone is observing them from the shadows.
Later that night, Sheriff Taylor calls Scully to inform her that he has put out warrants for the arrest of the Peacock brothers. Taylor then opens a locked box and pulls out his service revolver, which seems to have not been used in a while; he then thinks better of this and puts it back. Scully gathers her things while Mulder fiddles around with the T.V. antenna. He tells her to hold still, joking that she's improving the reception. Scully asks, "Still planning on making a home here?" He replies, "Nah, not if I can't get the Knick's game." She then comments on the infanticide, hoping that does not play into his decision, and says good night. Mulder replies, "Good night, Mom," and as she reaches for the door knob she discovers the lock is broken. Mulder comments, "you don't have to lock your doors around here." He puts a chair against the knob.
The Peacocks are setting out in their car, and the Sheriff seems apprehensive on his porch back at home. His wife consoles him and they go to bed, leaving their front door unlocked. The Peacocks arrive with Johnny Mathis' "Wonderful, Wonderful" blasting, waking the already spooked Sheriff, who tells his wife to hide under the bed. Unable to reach his revolver in time, he arms himself with a baseball bat and attempts an ambush but is overwhelmed by the Peacock brothers, who are armed with homemade clubs and shrug off his attack. They savagely beat the Sheriff and his wife to death before leaving, with Johnny Mathis still turned all the way up.
The next morning Mulder and Scully arrive at the Sheriff's house to find Deputy Barney Paster smoking a cigarette in shock. He hands them the lab report and tells them the car the Peacocks were driving originally belonged to a woman from Baltimore, who abandoned it when it died. Looking at the corpses, Mulder comments that the Sheriff's chest is "one big hematoma" and the Peacocks "really went 'caveman' on them." Reading the lab results, Scully claims that the Federal Crime Lab "screwed up." The results show many of the gene imbalances she had suspected, but to an extent she didn't imagine possible. They also suggest that both parents of the baby were members of the Peacock family, which Scully doesn't understand because no one has seen a female Peacock family member in years.
Eager for vengeance, Paster tells Mulder and Scully he will provide back-up to save the supposed missing woman, whom they believe could have given birth to the baby. The FBI agents cannot understand why the Taylors were murdered at all, since no one could have known about the warrants. They suspect someone must have been in the house when they were searching it.
The three prepare to assault the Peacock residence. Upon arriving, Deputy Paster puts on a bullet-proof vest; he claims he has seen them fire muskets before, and refuses to be taken out by "some antique". Inside, the brothers are told by a shadowy pair of eyes to maintain the Peacock way of life. The agents begin to flank the property and Paster breaks down the front door, only to be decapitated by a booby-trapped axe—too late to heed Scully's warning.
The brothers descend upon Paster's body and tear it apart. Falling back, Mulder recalls a show he watched the previous night about animals and how they hunt. He states that "The eldest will move in to ensure the prey has been killed. Encircling the prey signals that it's safe to approach." He tells Scully they are witnessing undiluted animal instincts. He proposes that they lure the brothers out of the house by releasing their livestock. Upon entering the house and avoiding a trap, Mulder and Scully encounter the Peacocks' mother.
She is in terrible shape, with missing teeth, amputated limbs, and living under the bed on a sled. She screams in terror, and Scully tries to comfort her. The two ladies discuss the accident that killed the Peacock mother's husband and left her without her limbs. The Peacock mother does not hold any resentment towards her children, even when Scully mentions that they have killed two people. She also tells Scully that she knows Scully does not have children, because if she did, she would understand.
The Peacock boys, realizing they've been tricked, rush into the house and attack Mulder and Scully. Mulder and Scully shoot George repeatedly until George finally dies; Sherman chases Scully until he accidentally sets off a booby trap and is impaled by a large spike. During the fight, however, Edmund, the eldest child, escapes with Mrs. Peacock. Once they realize this, Scully contacts the local sheriff's department and orders roadblocks set up. While Scully believes they will be caught, Mulder claims that they are already caught - in a struggle with themselves.
On an abandoned road, Mrs. Peacock and Edmund are in the trunk of their car, presumably breeding again. In voice over, Mrs. Peacock says that Sherman and George were good children and that she and her son will have more members of the Peacock family. She tells Edmund that they have to leave Pennsylvania, in hope of finding a place they can call "home." Edmund then climbs out of the trunk and drives away as "Wonderful, Wonderful" plays on the radio.
- Glen Morgan and James Wong considered bringing back the Peacock family for an episode in the second season of Millennium, but opposition to "Home" from Fox prevented it. (Back to Frank Black, p 109) However, there is a comic which is a sequel of this episode.
- This episode was banned from ever being repeated by FOX due to its graphic nature (the baby murder, the references to incest, and the brutal murders). It has since aired in syndication and is on the X-Files season 4 DVD set. It was also the first episode of the series to receive a "Viewer Discretion Advised" warning.
- For the opening, Fox executives asked that audio of the baby screaming during the burial be removed, as this would be going too far in terms of good taste (especially since the script had courted controversy from the moment it was first submitted).
- This episode prominently features the song "Wonderful Wonderful" by Johnny Mathis (although it is sung by a soundalike, as Mathis refused to allow his version of the song to be used).
- Having spent a year away from The X-Files to create their own show, Space: Above and Beyond, writers Morgan and Wong return here for the first time since season 2's "Die Hand Die Verletzt." The title of their first episode back may also have a double meaning; aside from being the name of the town featured, it could be their way of saying that they are back "home".
- The Peacock house was previously in the Season 2 episode "Aubrey". It had been labelled as an ideal location as far back as that episode and this one was deemed the perfect opportunity to revisit it.
- This episode was being shot during the long period when FOX and NBC were engaged in a "heated argument." The last name "Peacock" was reportedly intended as a backhanded reference to NBC's logo. Glen Morgan has said he named the Peacock family after some former neighbors of his parents.
- Director Kim Manners approached the script as seriously as possible, believing that it was "as classic a horror script [as] I'm ever going to see." Despite this, he considered the shot of the baby's POV as it is being buried "the most awful shot of my career." The director (as well as David Duchovny) later called the episode one of their favorites.
- When trying to drive the livestock out of their pen, Scully mentions the film Babe and imitates a line from the movie (to Mulder's incredulity).
- Tucker Smallwood reportedly did not enjoy making the episode. He came on board with little previous knowledge of The X-Files and was shocked at the content; when he asked the crew if the series was normally so violent, they told him "this is awful even for us." Smallwood insisted on doing his own stunts in his death scene, but reconsidered when he hit his head during a dive to the floor. Finally, for the scene where Mulder and Scully examine the Taylors's corpses, Smallwood had to lie facedown in a pool of fake blood for over an hour and a half.
- This episode marks the first time Samantha Mulder was mentioned in a context other than abduction - at one point, Fox talks about the games he and his sister used to play when they were children at Martha's Vineyard.
- Mulder and Scully should have simply called in the State Police and officers from neighboring jurisdictions to assist them in arresting the Peacock boys (although Scully argues that this would take too long to set up and give the Peacock boys time to escape).
- The science adviser to the series, Anne Simon Ph.D., points out in her book The Real Science Behind The X-Files that the genetic deformities Scully observes in the dead infant (Neu-Laxova syndrome, Meckel-Gruber syndrome and extrophy of the cloaca) are quite rare, and that she would have had to have been well-versed in genetic abnormalities to have recognized all of these conditions without consulting outside experts. Dr. Simon mentions a standard reference book, Smith's Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation, as something Scully may have had the opportunity to consult before this case, thus familiarizing herself with the information.
- Scully makes a minor mistake when describing the abnormalities of the Peacock baby. She describes the deformities as dominant when, in reality, they are recessive. If they were dominant disorders, the Peacock parents would have been dead at birth instead of unaffected carriers. This is mentioned briefly in The Real Science Behind the X-Files.
- A scene was cut in which Mulder and Scully jostle each other suggestively in the tight confines of Sheriff Taylor's supply closet/morgue.
- Throughout the episode, words referring to places people live are spoken at least 28 times ("home" 20 times, "house" 3 times, "residence" twice, "den" twice, and "property" once).
- The playing of Wonderful Wonderful during the scenes where the sheriff is battered to death is not in any kind of musical timeline. The first line plays as the brothers are leaving the house, then there is a scene with the sheriff looking at his gun and being comforted by his wife, then a shot back to the brothers' car and the second line of the song. Then when the brothers arrive at the sheriff's house, both the sheriff and his wife have got ready for and are in bed, but the song is still only about halfway through, and when the brothers get back in their car having killed them, it's still playing.
- Mulder and Scully seem to do a terrible job of clearing the house if they happened to not only miss areas, such as under beds and in closets, where people could be hiding, but they seem to entirely bypass the room with the mother under the bed.
- The actual quote in Babe is "Baaah-ram-ewe", not Naah-ram-ewe. All three elements of the magic word are related to sheep.
- How were the brothers able to quickly exit and enter the booby-trapped doorway that Mulder and Scully trigger on their way in?
- During Mulder and Scully's first conversation with Sheriff Taylor at the infant-burial site, exactly the same reaction shot of Scully is used twice: she makes a facial expression, looks down and to her right, and some strands of her hair blow across the top of her head.
- In the teaser the Peacock mother is giving birth and is screaming in obvious pain, but we are later told that the family shares a genetic disorder caused by their inbreeding (among others) which prevents them from feeling pain.
- Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Paster are clear references to The Andy Griffith Show, where Sheriff Andy Taylor and his Deputy Barney Fife watch over a small North Carolina mountain town. Though Deputy Paster wouldn't admit it, they also both resemble their namesakes: both Andies are calm, laid-back and content with their small-town ways, and both Barneys are more nervous and fond of weapons. Mulder even says "Fife?" when Paster is introduced, only for an irritated Paster to correct him. On first introduction to Sheriff Taylor, Mulder also says "For real?"
Cast and Characters
- Karin Konoval (Mrs. Peacock) previously played Madame Zelma in The X-Files episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose".
- Tucker Smallwood as Sheriff Andy Taylor
- Chris Nelson Norris as Edmund Peacock
- Adrian Hughes as Sherman Peacock
- John Trottier as George Peacock
- Karin Konoval as Mrs. Peacock
- Sebastian Spence as Deputy Barney Paster
- Judith Maxie as Barbara Taylor
- Kenny James as Radio Singer
- Lachlan Murdoch as Right Fielder
- Neil Denis as Catcher
- Cory Frye as Batter
- Douglas Smith as Pitcher