Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review - The X-Files Season 4 Episode 1 Herrenvolk / 2 Home


As I stated in my last review, the end of the third season and beginning of the fourth season, in retrospect, is about where the mythology begins to unravel. There is more and more mystery piled on top of the existing mystery without explanation and it all begins to become too much to handle. At the end of the episode, we have more to work with: bees, pollen, clones (including one based on Mulder's sister), X dead, X's replacement, markers in the smallpox vaccinations, Jeremiah Smith getting offed, the bounty hunter healing Mrs. Mulder. If that seemed like a lot, well, it is. And that's just the new content in this episode along. Include black oil, the alien Deep Throat showed Mulder, the Syndicate, and a bunch of stuff I'm forgetting, The X-Files is already jammed packed with layers and layers of mystery which need explanation.

But I gotta admit, "Herrenvolk" is an exciting episode. Mulder is running around the place with Jeremiah Smith, discovering all this new stuff which seems to be of utmost importance, before returning to the hospital with an incredibly haggard look. (Long aside: I read Cybill Sheperd's autobiography a while back and remember her talking about Moonlighting how long it took for her makeup to be done while Bruce Willis didn't need much, and how she's be blamed if she looked tired while Bruce's looking tired only added to the David Addison look. Point being, I wonder if it was the same with David Duchovny because damn does he look jacked up at the hospital.)

Scully, meanwhile, is abandoned by Mulder at the beginning of the episode (the way she kept yelling his name, never getting a response, made me feel really bad for her), and after some initial excitement, returns back to DC to do some investigating. The other plots of the episode feel the same, part of a never-ending cycle of deception. CSM gets X and Mulder has lost an important ally once more.

By itself, "Herrenvolk" is a strong episode, fast paced and everything. That may be enough for those who don't particularly care about the mythology. But for those who try to connect the dots, those who piece together the puzzle Chris Carter has laid out, it all seems a bit much. Does Chris Carter have the answers for all these questions? If he actually pulled through in the end with a non-convoluted explanation, then I would say he's a genius--but that never happened.

Score: 9.1/10


"Home" is an unquestionably classic X-Files episode and memorable to anyone whose watched it. The primary reason is that the episode features some of the most fucked up, degenerate behavior imaginable, directed in the scariest fashion possible. There is a constant feeling of claustrophobia, as Mulder and Scully enter this dark world of the Peacocks and face these horrors. At the same time, though, despite the horror movie setup which often stifles characters, Mulder and Scully, their distinct characterizations in particular, come out. Mulder and Scully can still poke fun at each other even when they are in scary situations.

There is also a disturbing ambiguity in the episode as to who is in the wrong. Obviously the Peacocks are murderers and should be dealt with accordingly, but the initial provocation is in doubt. These are people who isolated themselves from the outside world, unbothered by the tumult of the modern world and not bothering anyone else. But after the baby is found, everything changes. The feds, Mulder and Scully, roll into town, investigating the baby, and everything changes. Even the now-deceased sheriff acknowledged that. There is a touch of sympathy when you think of that it those terms.

The Peacocks were all willing participants in their hellish (from our perspective) and would have been fine if left along. The end result, two dead and only Edmund and his mother alive, is sad in its own way. The incompatibility of the Peacocks and the modern world speaks to the larger idea that the small town life is disappearing. For the mantra "the truth is out there," there is yet another disturbing angle--that the truth and the quest to uncover the truth has with it the destruction of a certain culture and community, much like CSM and the Syndicate hint it.

At the end of the day, "Home" remains a terrifying and brilliant episode whichever way you look at it. There isn't much supernatural element to it and the mystery is largely figured out at the end of the episode. It is the nature of humans that resonates with us and that's where The X-Files strikes its hardest.

Score: 9.8/10
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