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Production

  • This episode has several rare qualities. Because Chris Carter was usually associated with writing episodes which dealt with alien subject matter, Producer Joseph Patrick Finn called this installment "a Carter script, but a bit of a departure for a Carter script." Carter himself termed this "one of our traditional monster shows – although we don't do traditional monsters, obviously." (X-Files Confidential, p. 92)
  • The genesis of this outing was somewhat revolting. Chris Carter admitted, "'The Host' actually came to me in kind of a very disgusting way." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season Two: The Host", The X-Files (season 2) DVD special features) The episode was inspired by him closely observing worms that his dog had and recently having read a story about Chernobyl and the extinction of species. "I [...] somehow synthesized all that information," stated Carter, "and put it together, coming up with [this episode]." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 55)
  • Mulder's frustration with the FBI was inspired by emotions Chris Carter was meanwhile feeling. He related, "I was in a funk when I wrote that episode, actually. We were coming back from hiatus and I was trying to find something more interesting than just the Flukeman. I was irritated at the time, and I brought my irritation to Mulder's attitude." (X-Files Confidential, p. 92)
  • Chris Carter conducted some research as to how to depict the Newark sewer system, before deciding to make it brick and extremely aged. Carter explained, "My father actually was a construction worker who put in sewer lines and storm drains for a living, so he was a resource for me, telling me how these things were built, how the catwalks looked." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season Two: The Host", The X-Files (season 2) DVD special features)
  • One scene that was the subject of much deliberation was the one in which the sanitation worker coughs up a flukeworm. This was the subject of one of the biggest arguments between the producers of The X-Files and the Fox network during the first two seasons of the show. Fox's broadcast standards department wanted to cut the scene but Chris Carter fought to keep it, warning the network executives, "If you cut this out, you're going to ruin the episode." (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, pp. 26-27 & 165)
  • The engine room in this episode's teaser sequence was briefly considered to be filmed aboard a real freighter. However, it was discovered that no suitable crafts were in port and/or available to The X-Files' production team. Used instead was Port Mann Hydro Substation, at 14115 King Road, Surrey. The sewage treatment plant herein was represented at Iona Island Causeway in Richmond. The medical examination room made use of 1195 Richards Street, near False Creek, and another filming location was False Creek Seawall, near Anderson's Restaurant. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), pp. 55, 56 & 54)
  • Producer/Director Daniel Sackheim was asked to helm this episode by Chris Carter. Sackheim later reflected, "I got a call from Chris Carter, saying that he wanted me to direct one of the early episodes, second season, and he said that the premise of it was about a half-man, half-worm. And I told my agent and my agent said [scoffing], 'If that's what they're doing, the show's not long for television, so maybe you should think of doing something else.' So, I guess he was wrong." ("The Truth About Season Two", The X-Files (season 2) DVD special features)
  • The creative staff took this episode's production in their stride, even though it involved depicting the Flukeman, a Russian freighter and multiple sewers. "Sure, it was hard," acknowledged R.W. Goodwin, "but in the end we did it. There was none of the panic or disbelief that was there the first year." (X-Files Confidential, p. 83)
  • Production Designer Graeme Murray was tasked with constructing a set to represent the Newark sewers. "We actually created that entire sewer set on stage," recollected Chris Carter, "complete with water tanks and running water." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season Two: The Host", The X-Files (season 2) DVD special features) Joseph Patrick Finn added, "On one of our stages we have a pit, which is about ten feet deep, sixteen by sixteen wide. He [Murray] basically built two sewers, with one main sewer that he renovated to a central area." (X-Files Confidential, p. 92)
  • Filming in an actual sewage plant was challenging for the shooting company. Reported Joseph Patrick Finn, "It was also a hot summer day – about ninety degrees – and it was a pretty difficult and smelly day for the cast and crew." (X-Files Confidential, p. 92) Given the foul-smelling location, the warm weather and a 12 noon crew call, crew members were granted the option of taking the day off or wearing special breathing equipment (bought by the production department at enormous cost) which filtered out the most putrid odours. Despite the proposition of a day off, the entire crew reported for work that day, the most common concern being the distance between the sedimentation tanks and the catering truck. As it turned out, the catering vehicle was parked as far away, and upwind, as the region's geography would allow. This was clearly insufficient for some crew members. After lunch that day, a vomiting session took place with multiple production staffers, beside a far fence on the perimeter of the sewage plant. Later, Key Grip Al Campbell remembered, "Whenever I began to feel queasy, I'd visit the primary sedimentation tank – the place where the raw, untreated sewage came in. A couple of minutes of that and I'd go back to whatever I was doing, feeling relieved and grateful that nothing else was as bad as where I'd just been." Shortly before midnight, the plant's emergency alarm system sounded, which resulted in a brief delay from the filming. The production team were informed that the timing of this alarm, sounding during the location shoot, was coincidental and that the production crew was not responsible. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 56)
  • Even though David Duchovny and Darin Morgan appeared together in one of the sewer scenes, Morgan relieved himself in the water. "I figured Duchovny would never find out," noted Morgan. ("The Truth About Season Two", The X-Files (season 2) DVD special features)
  • During production on this installment, a situation arose involving a man who was sub-letting a building at 1195 Richards Street and personnel assigned to The X-Files. The production unit had made a contractual agreement with the lessor of the property to erect a set, in order to represent the medical examination room in this episode. "We were scheduled to film on the False Creek seawall near Anderson's Restaurant and needed another location nearby to complete our day's filming," offered Location Manager Todd Pittson. The construction and set decoration departments required two days to complete the set for the medical room. "Filming [there] was completed without incident and sets folded and removed," recorded Pittson. The next morning, though, the sub-lessee began insisting the production unit had stolen some video lottery terminals which had been in the building. Eventually, it turned out the man was somewhat mentally unstable and no stranger to Ontario's criminal justice system. "I believe that [he] [...] eventually realized that with our knowledge of his criminal background came certain defeat," Pittson hypothesized, "and the harassment soon ceased." (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), pp. 54-57)

Continuity

  • Joseph Patrick Finn considered this episode to have been groundbreaking in the amount to which it reveals such lifeforms as the Flukeman and flukeworms. "Although we had done some creature parts the first year, this time we got to see more of the creatures than we had before," Finn observed. "That was a departure." (X-Files Confidential, p. 92)
  • This episode features the first appearance of the mysterious character known simply as "X". However, his face is not shown until his next appearance, the later Season 2 episode "Sleepless".

Reception

  • Chris Carter was pleased with the depictions of the Flukeman and the Newark sewage system. Addressing the latter first, he remarked, "It was wonderfully done by our production designer, Graeme Murray, and the action scenes in it play so creepy and real that you never, ever doubt that Mulder isn't going underwater and taking a big mouthful of sewage [....] I actually wanted to see less of [the Flukeman] [...] in the show than we did; it just so happens that some of the angles and the lighting showed more of him than I wanted to see. But I think that's what was creepy too, as you never got a perfect look at him until the very end." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season Two: The Host", The X-Files (season 2) DVD special features) Carter cited another highlight as being the fact Skinner, a man Mulder has herewith never considered an ally, gives him a case which is essentially an X-file. "It's an interesting establishing of the relationship between them," Carter said. (X-Files Confidential, p. 92)
  • Daniel Sackheim also thoroughly approved of this outing. "It's classic Chris Carter," he opined. "I remember when I read the script I said, 'You've got to be kidding me.' It has elements of Creature from the Black Lagoon. It's what makes the show the show. Nobody else would attempt to do something like that. It has to be done with a fine touch so that you wouldn't be laughed off the screen. The concept is fairly preposterous, and the subject matter is a little stomach-churning. I think he wrote a terrific script, and I would like to think it was handled adeptly." Sackheim pointed to the scene where a man coughs up a fluke as "such a testament to what is great about the writing of the show: [...] [attention-grabbing] events that don't require any dialogue." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 92-93)
  • The same scene likewise delighted James Wong. "I will never forget that toothpaste scene," he proclaimed. "I thought that was the grossest piece of television ever put on the air, so that was cool." (X-Files Confidential, p. 93)
  • Chris Carter once called this "one of the, I think, ever-popular episodes on the show." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season Two: The Host", The X-Files (season 2) DVD special features) He specified, "'The Host' has become a real popular episode." (X-Files Confidential, p. 92) Frank Spotnitz agreed, "There's something very visceral about this flukeworm and this Flukeman. It really captured people's imaginations and that was one of the big themes of the show, was finding things that were scary and real. And everyone seemed to be able to imagine, you know, for instance being attacked in a porta-potty, something coming out of your toilet. I think it speaks to deep fears – you know, urban myths people have heard their whole lives about, you know, snakes coming out of toilets or being attacked in vulnerable places, like a bathroom."
  • This episode achieved a Nielsen household rating of 9.8, with an audience share of 17. This means that roughly 9.8 percent of all television-equipped households, and 17 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 9.3 million households. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 249)
  • In 1995, The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 2,  p. 32) speculated edits to this installment were probable when and if the episode was shown on BBC later that year. This prediction was made due to the graphic content in this outing, such as the autopsy scene and the Flukeman. The episode ultimately did air on BBC 2, on 4 September 1995.
  • Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, pp. 58 & 61) gave this episode 2 and a half out of 4 stars. The magazine commented, "The series' most graphically gruesome episode so far, the body parts and wriggly flukes are a real kick, but numerous scenes of interaction between Mulder and Scully, and Mulder and Skinner, provide also for excellent characterization. Ultimately, 'The Host' is a letdown, because the pitiable Flukeman is, after all, obviously a man in a suit, and Scully's 'scientific' explanation ventures far beyond extreme possibilities into a ridiculous impossibility. The scene where a lone federal marshal takes charge of the Flukeman slips into TV cliché-land; he might as well be wearing a Star Trek red suit."
  • In his reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman rated this episode 3 and a half out of 5 stars. "This is a decent old-fashioned monster story, given a new spin by being set in the new X-Files-less FBI," he critiqued. "What gives it an extra buzz is that it's Mulder, still in the throes of depression, who all but rejects the case – witness his disgust as he ventures down into the sewers on what he assumes is one more round of routine humiliation – and that it's Scully, still trying to find a way to give her former partner some purpose, who takes the steps to determine the unusual nature of his assignment. In addition, the mysterious phone calls telling Mulder that the successful outcome of the case is imperative for the reopening of the X-Files, and Skinner's own reluctant admission that lives would have been saved had the X-Files been active, give this deliberately familiar story of monster maraudings a greater sense of depth. There are some lovely ideas, too, about the way the FBI is ill-equipped to deal with prosecuting legal proceedings against a human fluke. It's comical to imagine a sea monster being brought to book in a courtroom, but it also helps illustrate that gulf between the show that was (in which Mulder and Scully get to pursue cases only limited by imagination) and the show that is (in which Mulder is still stuck on wiretap duty). It all peters out after half an hour's worth of action, and more's the pity [....] But this is largely a skilful horror story with some great (and grisly) set pieces [....] If by the end of the story you might feel this is just an ordinary X-File, then bring them on: as a baseline episode, this has enough flair and pace to satisfy."
  • After the making of this episode, Darin Morgan and David Duchovny coincidentally sat next to each other on a plane bound for Vancouver, to prepare for "Humbug". As Duchovny was unaware Morgan had played the Flukeman, Morgan asked him to sign a book, addressing it to Duchovny's "nemesis." Though confused, Duchovny did so, after which Morgan revealed he had played the Flukeman. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 57; X-Files Confidential, p. 94) Duchovny was impressed Morgan had been willing to wait half an hour before pulling the prank. (X-Files Confidential, p. 94)
  • The dire circumstances experienced by the crew while shooting at Iona Island Causeway served as a long-standing reminder. "For years afterward, no matter how ugly a location was, I'd remind Chris [Carter] of the sewage treatment plant," Al Campbell divulged, "pointing out that nothing could ever be as bad as that place. And we weren't going back there." (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 56)
  • Although Chris Carter pointed out the Flukeman might return hereafter, Darin Morgan was insistent on not playing the character again. This was due to the discomfort he had experienced while wearing the Flukeman costume for this episode. (X-Files Confidential, p. 94)

Cast and Characters

  • During the making of this episode, David Duchovny never saw Darin Morgan outside of the Flukeman costume. They spoke to one another and got along. (X-Files Confidential, pp. 93-94)
  • Gillian Anderson was heavily pregnant during the making of this installment. "The trick in this episode, as Gillian Anderson's pregnancy progressed, was to shoot her in ways to disguise her pregnancy," reported Chris Carter, "and there are lots of very fancy trick angles, well-placed trench-coats, and scenes where she is seated rather than standing, but I think now, when you look at her, when you go back to look at an episode like this, you see that she's got that radiant glow of pregnancy and that her face is fuller, and she looks so completely different now, it actually [...] [will] be a nice thing for her to, I think, go back and look at as her daughter grows up, to sort of remember what that was like." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season Two: The Host", The X-Files (season 2) DVD special features)
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