25 best standalone episodes of The X-Files

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8. “Home”

Fair warning: this is a gross, violent episode. In fact, it was deemed so disturbing that, for many years, it was difficult to catch reruns of the episode on television. Thanks to the age of on-demand viewing, however, nervous producers and network heads can’t really stand in your way. Since it’s often been cited as one of the best X-Files episodes, it’s really worth your time. If you can stomach it, of course.

“Home” begins in the small community of Home, Pennsylvania. Everything there seems truly idyllic, down to the kids playing baseball in a field and a sheriff named, no kidding, Andy Taylor. However, those kids playing in the sandlot uncover a terrible secret that will soon unraveling Home’s sense of well-being. They discover a body.

Specifically, they discover the corpse of a infant marred by numerous and severe birth defects. Mulder and Scully are called in. When Scully conducts an autopsy, she finds that the infant has inhaled soil, meaning that it was buried alive. Their attention soon turns to the Peacock brothers, a reclusive trio whose home is right next to the crime scene.

Sheriff Taylor tells them that the Peacock family has been living in the home since the Civil War. They have no electricity, heat, or running water. He also implies that the insular family has subjected itself to inbreeding through the generations. However, as far as anyone can tell, only the brothers are left. There are no women, it seems, to produce a baby.

Mulder and Scully begin to suspect that the brothers may have kidnapped a woman and are holding her hostage in their booby-trapped home. Of course, the Peacocks don’t like all of this growing attention. This leads to increasingly violent acts and a startling revelation of what exactly lies within their domicile.