The X-Files

Season 6 Episode 7

Terms of Endearment

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Jan 03, 1999 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (14)

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  • Terms of Endearment

    Terms of Endearment was a perfect and very entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because there was a lot of action, character development, intrigue, and drama. I liked how Scully was stuck at the office doing the assigned work while Mulder was out and about pursuing X-Files against orders. The story was well written for the demon genre and it played out pretty well. Bruce Campbell was a great guest star and I only wish there was more of him or that this was a two episode story arc. I loved the ending and certainly look forward to watching more episodes!!!!!!!!!
  • A demon seems to be stealing babies..

    I hate those episodes that are great for 42 of the 45 minutes and then screw everything up by tacking an ending on that's so absurd and ridiculous that it ruins everything that came before it. This is one of those episodes. I'm rating it higher than I normally would because I was thoroughly engaged from the very beginning ALMOST until the very end.

    The basic idea behind the episode is that a demon is supposedly visiting mothers who are close to delivering their baby and stealing them while they sleep. The woman in the episode is traumatized and attempts to heal while the husband seems strangely distant.. well, it seems he is having an affair with another woman, who is also pregnant with his child.

    Slowly, but surely, we learn that the father is a demon of sorts and he is stealing his kids from the mothers and burying them. I'll be honest: it's been a couple of weeks since I've seen the episode, so I'm a little unsure again of why in the world he was stealing the kids. In fact, that's one of the contributing factors to why the episode fails as a whole. Everything works like gangbusters throughout the first forty minutes: Mulder takes the case after Spender denies it and sort of torments the father/demon, following him until he catches him in the act.. however, once the father is caught, he gives this ridiculous explanation for why he does what he does and reveals the second woman he got pregnant is a demon as well that escaped with his kid.
    Now, this may sound strange without actually seeing the episode, but boy, it just sucks any interest I had in the characters right off the bat. I wish there was a better way for the writers to tie things up, but I guess you can't always win them all.
  • Even Bruce Campbell couldn't save the weird ending in this one.

    For the most part, I liked this episode. I remember watching this episode when I was younger and being really scared by the "devil stealing baby" sequences. Bruce Campbell also does a great job in this episode and its a shame that we didnt get to see more of him in the series.

    This episode also deals with some pretty grotesque subject manner as a preterm baby is basically aborted, buried alive and later thrown into a burning wood stove.

    That said, I never could get into the bizarre ending for this one. It always just seemed really rushed and stupid to me. I mean, the guy is sleeping with two different women trying to sire a child that isn't deformed (as he is some kind of demon), but one of the women just happens to be another demon which is also more powerful than him? Talk about a small world.
  • You saw it coming, right?

    I must admit I found this episode disappointing. It was nicely set up but I found the "twist" with Betsy being a demon too utterly predictable. I can only assume that we were supposed to know a good fifteen minutes before Mulder and Scully work it out.

    The symmetry of two sets of dead babies was a little too neat for my liking. as well as this the formula of Mulder and Scully being demeaned with stupid cases, then sneaking off for something worthwhile is beginning to grate by this point. While people have criticised the run up to this being a cluster of novelty episodes, at least they were all fun to watch. This episode, on the other hand, felt rather contrived. Hey, though, it encouraged me to get out my Garbage CDs.
  • Fantastic episode, one of my favorites. This one involves the devil, demon babies and Bruce Campbell. What more could you possibly ask for?

    I've been looking forward to this episode since I first heard Bruce Campbell was in it. Incredible really, my top-two favorite actors in my favorite show. Unfortunately they weren't in the same episode. Yes, Robert Patrick is my favorite actor, but enough about that. This episode has the single best opening I've seen yet. No other episode has been able to grab hold of me more instantly than this one. And I knew from then, that this would be a really special episode. I would say this one has the most disturbing theme, yes, even more than "Home". I am a little uncomfortable with "baby-killing" in episodes, and this one had like how many, 20-30 or something like that. Thakfully, it never gets graphic and we don't see the killings.

    X-Files have always had great guestappearances, I would say that Bruce Campbell is the best since Brad Dourif in "Beyond the Sea". His character was creepy and more importantly he remained interesting and in the end you felt sorry for him. I liked that the focus remained on that character and his wives, Mulder and especially Scully didn't get much time in front of the camera. The is a great horror episode that I feel is very underrated. Yes, the theme itself is very extreme, I wasn't too happy with it, but it's easy to be forgiving when so many things work perfectly, great and highly memorable scenes right after another, a shocking, unexpected twist-ending and of course, Bruce Campbell. Groovy episode baby.
  • The Devil wants a baby.

    Yup, the Devil wants to get a child. And not just any at that. Has to be a normal child. So the Devil is actually good. But then he meets a woman trying to get a demon-child. She not only gets pregnant with Devil jr. but outsmarts the father as well. Gee.´

    The storyline on this one is so stretched it fades away. Mulder immediately realises that Campbell is up to no good. Yet he doesn't do much to stop him. He seems absent-minded and tired. Isn't he supposed to be risking his job for every x-file he takes on? Why bother if all he does is watch?

    Scully of course is stuck yet again in the office with their stupid humiliating assignment wich at this point gets really old. I mean how often can you stumble across the paranormal, if your not looking for it? Plus Mulder always lets her do the dirty work of interviewing stupid people (Have you ever known somebody to smoke Marihuana - No...) and she has to cover for him. Why weren't they split up like before? Why are they never encountering anything strange along their line of work? at least this way we could have a filler episode that does not ask us to forget that the person they are trying to escape from is an Assistant Director and not some kind of boy scout. Honestly...
  • Bruce Campbell shows up, the story improves!

    A highly pregnant woman receives birth aid by a demon who takes the kid which has horns and a tail.
    The hows and the whys and the whats are pretty straight forward, but - as it always should be with a great suspense story - there is a great twist at the end. In my very humble opinion, Bruce Campbell is the only real Vincent Price of our age.
    He raises an otherwise just well written story up to a new level.

    The story as such has more to think about than most people will see from the first time. I really liked this one. Have a look at it yourself, and if you don't agree... that's okay.
    That's what "opinions" are for!
  • This is the X-files back to it's supernatural best!

    This is more like it from the writers of the X-files. After a lot of humerous epidodes in this series, we get a super supernatural thriller!! In this one a baby scan shows signs of an abnormal growth on the baby's head. During the night a devil like creature takes the unborn baby from the mother, in a scene with a wall of fire and the demonic character delivering the baby. There is a kiln in the garden used for burning garden waste, but inside the detectives find human remains and Bruce is arrested. In the end Mulder and Scully find out he has been living a double life, and track him down to the other side of the county where there is a twist in the tale waiting for all of them...
  • More dead babies...

    Another one of those episodes that you don't want to watch with someone who is squeamish. The teaser is easily the scariest yet in the series. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode is merely average, albeit it with a very good performance by guest star, Bruce Campbell (yeah, THAT Bruce Campbell).

    The premise of the story is actually pretty good, a demon wants to father a normal child. However, the execution of this idea falls a bit flat.

    My chief complaint is with Duchovny's performance. Strangely, he appears as though he is half asleep through the entire episode. In both his inflection and in his body language, he appears as though he is either very tired or very sick. There are noticeable bags under his eyes and his face seems a bit withdrawn. It's also a bit strange that Mulder seems to know exactly what is going immediately upon meeting Wayne, which is a stretch even for the X-Files.

    Scully is absent for much of this episode, just as she was at the beginning of Season Two when the X-Files were closed (for the first time).

    The conclusion contains a twist that is a bit trite and somehow unconvincing. How is it that Wayne's second wife knew he was a demon yet he didn't realize the same about her? It seems a little too convenient and it undermines the story as a whole to have such a weak ending to what had been a promising storyline.
  • The one with the satanic daddy

    A nice episode that doesn’t continue the goodness that were the last episodes. The teaser was priceless, well filmed and possibly one of the most interesting teasers of the show. But as the episode continues I begin to nod off a little bit. The episode is about a couple who are having a baby with satanic body parts. At night something happens to the woman, she gets a visit from Satan and her baby gets taken away. But the husband is acting wickedly suspicious, Mulder knows that there is something wrong with that man. Especially when that man begins to blame the woman and makes her believe she killed the baby and that he burned it’s body to protect her.

    But the man has also a second wife, who is also pregnant only he doesn’t know something about her that will change all. Meanwhile Mulder decides to stalk the guy to death, it’s hilarious how the guy keeps trying to get away from Mulder but doesn’t succeed until he calls the FBI. When the wife with the dead child confronts him, she believes that she didn’t do it after all. So he tries to kill her but is unsuccessful. His other wife has the same problem with the child, it has satanic body parts. But when he tries to steal her baby, she stops him. Turns out that she was lying all this time, while he tried to have a normal baby, she tried to have an evil one, she had all the normal babies buried in her backyard.

    This episode leaves you with a lot of questions, when the guy gets shot he goes into the other woman’s body, did he die or not? Also, the woman didn’t make sense that she was trying to have an evil child with normal men, also that she ran into a man that is evil, or was he? They didn’t even explain what that guy was.
    The episode is very interesting and fun, but all those holes in it makes it a little less interesting to watch.
  • Overall, this episode is another disappointment, emphasizing a focus on the characters as icons rather than fully developed individuals.

    At the end of the fifth season, story editor Tim Minear (mostly known for his later work with Joss Whedon) moved on, having kept watch over one of the more consistent seasons of the series. While the overall season arc didn’t work as well as the one constructed for the fourth season, the stories themselves were more consistent. (Mulder’s character arc is the exception that proves the rule.)

    For the sixth season, David Amann took over the reins, and there was a distinct difference in the quality of storytelling. One cannot and should not place all of the blame on Amann’s shoulders, because the tone of the season was mandated by Chris Carter for the post-“Fight the Future” leg of the franchise. For that matter, Duchovny and Anderson had certain desires for the direction of the sixth season. It all adds up to a less consistent, more iconic approach to each and every episode.

    Amann’s role is mentioned because, in general, story editors make mediocre writers. This is a bit of a gross generalization, but as an example, Minear’s episodes were hardly the highlights of the fifth season. Similarly, on “Babylon 5”, Larry DiTillio was the story editor for the first two seasons, yet his episodes were typically the least effective and least consistent. It could be a question of opposing demands.

    In this case, the writers rallied around a story that focused on Mulder working more or less on his own, yet having very little to do with the resolution of the episode itself. In fact, the story doesn’t resolve so much as come to an end. While this is not always a problem, it gets a little tiresome. The earlier seasons were all about the dynamic between Mulder and Scully, struggling to resolve certain events and situations within their opposing perspectives. This episode, like many in the latter seasons, focuses on one character at the expenses of the other, while missing key elements of the character in the process.

    Mulder is a complex individual with a deeply wounded psychology. The fact that he is an expert on criminal profiling is therefore a neat irony; he can understand the most extreme and dangerous intellects, but his own psychological issues are often left unnoticed by that same keen mind. Mulder yearns for someone to understand and validate his ideas, yet he gains focus and drive from the persecution he invites. He has an apparent “photographic memory”, but he conveniently forgets information on a regular basis, especially when he cannot deal with the implications. This has left him vulnerable to those willing and able to use his own weaknesses against him.

    Past writers have made the mistake of taking his near-perfect memory and insight and transforming them into a near-psychic ability to leap towards the correct paranormal explanation for the incident at hand. More correctly, as described in earlier seasons, his abilities would hew closer to those of Frank Black on “Millennium”. (To further complicate the issue, Mulder does have latent psychic abilities, which has been inconsistently applied over the course of the series.)

    That same mistake is made in this episode, but in far more egregious fashion. In keeping with the more “iconic” version of the character at play in the sixth season, Mulder’s past is ignored in favor of something far less complicated. Thus Mulder claims not to be a psychologist when he is most definitely an expert on the subject (complete with degrees!), and his conclusions are the result of logical leaps instead of analysis of data and study of suspects.

    The Mulder of this episode is not the same Mulder of “Grotesque”, to be sure. Mulder is cast instead as someone who can divine the supernatural underpinnings of a situation in seconds. It doesn’t matter that it makes no sense for him to rummage through Spender’s trash without being noticed. It doesn’t matter that his activities would be under strict observation, especially after crossing Kersh too often in the past few months. All that matters is that Mulder come across as the archetypical rebel, pursuing truth, consequences be damned.

    That is a part of Mulder’s personality, but it could have been explained and explored in more detail and in a manner more consistent with the complexity of the character in mind. Instead, more time was spent on the spurious psychology of Wayne, the demon in search of a human child. In that case, the writers also fail to go far enough. Wayne becomes something of a sympathetic character, but beyond the superficial explanation of what he wanted, there’s no sense of the why. And since this is a stand-alone story, that explanation is never to come.

    This episode owes more to the anthology-esque format that Chris Carter was always looking for, without the balance between natural and supernatural that was at the heart of the series earlier in the run. There is no attempt at a scientific explanation for the events of this episode, and that presents a problem for the series mythology as a whole. How do demonic creatures like Wayne and Betsy fit into the mix?

    Thankfully, the way that Wayne and Betsy are portrayed is not entirely inconsistent with the mythology itself. After all, if most of the oddities of the X-Files universe can be attributed to the genetic abnormalities present within the human genome itself, then why not a rare sub-species of “demons” like Wayne and Betsy. That could explain why Wayne is obsessed with normality; he wants a normal child, because he was born different. Betsy, on the other hand, wants to continue her subspecies.

    In this interpretation, it doesn’t matter if Wayne is normally human with the ability to project the image of a demonic figure and flames into the minds of his victims. That telepathic connection is inherent to the series’ mythology. Similarly, Betsy and her child would likely be able to adapt for life among the humans. Wayne’s ability to “steal souls” could be linked to that ability, a process of stealing away energy.

    All of which is easy enough to work out within the purview of the existing X-Files cases, making it odd that Scully never offered any type of explanation along these lines. Scully has come to the point where she would accept the oddity itself, yet search for some kind of explanation consistent with the data collected. That doesn’t happen in this episode; Scully is used as a sounding board for Mulder and a way to remind the audience that Mulder is under Kersh’s thumb, however haphazardly.

    While the casting of Bruce Campbell is certainly inspired, the character itself isn’t substantial enough for such a talented performer. He does everything possible with the role he was given, but for the character to work, Wayne has to be subdued. With so much focus on that character, the downplayed nature becomes a further liability. A director can only do so much when the material isn’t dynamic enough for an exciting story. The tone of the episode is more appropriate to character study, yet the episode clearly fails to provide even that much.

    The reason is simple, and has been mentioned in nearly every review for the sixth season: the depth of character is lost when Mulder and Scully are portrayed more as archetypes than individuals. The result is an episode that could have easily been lifted out of the schedule with no impact on the season as a whole, and when that’s the case, one must ask why the episode needed to exist in the first place.
  • Totally amazing!!

    Another great episode of The X-Files!

    This time Bruce Campbell stars as a demon who just wants to have a normal child. And there's an awesome twist at the end.

    I love it when they do something totally different on the X-Files, other than the same old stories about aliens & abductions, and these past few weeks of the season were great.

    The writers were really ceative and this time they really outdone themselves.
  • A monster-of-the-week classic with a twist.

    Bruce Campbell stars as Wayne, a man who desperately wants to have children. When his wife, Laura, has a vivid nightmare of a demon stealing her baby - which then comes true - Mulder investigates a possible case of abortion, which turns out to be much, much more.

    As 'monster-of-the-week' episodes go, this is one of the best. Campbell does a nice job as the overly suspicious father, who only wants to have a normal family. Though his guilt is given away in the opening scene, the suspense is built up quite well in the first two-thirds of the episode, as Mulder immediately finds out what he's dealing with and tries to catch Wayne red-handed (literally). There are some humourous moments detailing Mulder's attempts, but this is ultimately a dark episode. Though Wayne is eventually caught, and punished for his deeds, there is something off about the sequence of events, which leads into one of the better twists of an X-Files episode. If you watch carefully, you can guess it, but it's still a nice change from the usual format.

    All in all, this is a solid episode, with good acting, comedic bits, and a clever twist elevating it above the level of most of these type of episodes. The music was very creepy and ominous at times - perfect for the mood - the special effects were minor but effective, and the concept is simple (one would say overtly so, given past episodes) but is carried out extremely well. Among similar episodes such as "Revelations" or "All Souls" - also dealing with devilish themes - it definitely ranks as one of the better ones, further adding to season six's already stellar lineup.

  • A demon wants to be a daddy, no matter the cost to the mothers.

    This is an episode that should be unforgivably goofy (see The Postmodern Prometheus and to a lesser extent, the next episode, The Rain King), but isn't. Be it Bruce Campbell's perfect blend of the ludicrous and the sincere, or the cool visuals, or I don't know what, but the episode works despite itself.