Terms of Endearment
"Terms of Endearment" was a gory monster of the week episode that's hopefully a sign of things to come. This wasn't a comedy and it wasn't a flashy spectacle. It was simple and fun and it represented many of the things we've all come to love about this show.
So here's what happened in this demon fest:
A married couple are receiving some bad news in their obstetrician's office. The sonogram of their unborn child has revealed abnormal growths on their little pumpkin's back and head. The protrusions might be nothing, but it could also be a signal of bad things to come. The couple is obviously upset.
Wayne and Laura Weinsider return to their country home in Hollins, Virginia. They turn in early and Wayne fixes a glass of warm milk for his sleepy wife. Laura begins to fall asleep, but her trip into dreamland is interrupted by blazing flames that tear up her curtains and cover her bedroom walls. She jerks up and sees a red-eyed, winged demon at the foot of her bed. The demon forces her legs apart, then horrifically steals her unborn child. Laura fights, taking a chomp out of the demon's shoulder, but this is a lord of the underworld and a bite from a pair of human incisors isn't going to stop it. Laura calls out for Wayne, but he's no where to be seen. The demon successfully extracts the child from Laura's womb and holds it in the air so the audience can see that the baby does in fact have horns. Such a considerate demon.
Wayne is startled awake by his screaming wife. The demon is gone and it looks like Laura had a really, REALLY bad dream. The dream becomes a whole lot worse when Wayne glances at his fingers and sees blood dripping from the tips. He rips the comforter down and that's when Laura and Wayne realize that it wasn't a dream -- it was all very real.
Days later, in lovely Washington, D.C., Agent Jeffrey "Smarmy Fool" Spender is visited by Deputy Stevens, a Hollins police officer and the brother of Laura Weinsider. Stevens is hoping Spender can shed some light on his sister's baby heist. Spender tells him he'll do all he can. Once Stevens leaves the office, Spender spools the demon baby report through his oft-used paper shredder. Apparently, Spender only deals with mythology-oriented X-files. He's too good for these monster of the week episodes.
Spender is lacking in the diligence department, but Mulder certainly isn't. Mulder's been rifling through Spender's trash and he painstakingly pieced together the shredded remains of Steven's report. Seeing that it's a classic case of a baby-stealing demon, he shrugs off his current FBI assignment and heads to Hollins to check in on the Weinsiders.
Mulder gently interviews the Weinsiders and asks them to recount the events of their fiery night. Laura leaves the room in tears, too upset to continue. Mulder asks Wayne why his wife's statement claims that he wasn't in bed during the abduction. Wayne says the whole thing was a dream and Mulder shakes his head in half-hearted agreement.
Mulder calls Scully because he's got a hunch and the only person who ever listens to his hunches is his partner. Scully is busy performing background checks on potential Department of Agriculture employees, but when Mulder calls she manages to pull herself away from her riveting task. Mulder wants his partner to take a look at Laura Weinsider's charts because, in his mind, this is a classic case of "demon fetal harvest." Scully doesn't buy it, but you know she's going to humor Mulder nonetheless. It appears that a plan is being set in motion, but there's a catch -- Mulder and Scully's conversation was picked up by a baby monitor located in a nearby room of the Weinsider's home. Wayne heard every word they said, including that bit about demon fetal harvesting. Whoops.
Later that night, Laura is ready to turn in, but she can't find her husband. That's because he's outside digging up demon-baby corpses and feeding them into a furnace. Laura wanders into the yard, attracted to the flames like a moth to a flame (or a distraught woman toward a demon baby). Wayne emerges, sweat beading at his brow, and says he was tidying up the yard. At 11 p.m.? For some reason, Laura believes him and traipses back into the house. Wayne turns toward the fire. The evil flames spark across his demonic red eyes and he cries silently in the night. Somewhere, Edgar Allen Poe smiles.
Mulder managed to miss the baby-burning scene even though he spent the night parked at the end of the Weinsider's driveway. He's awoken the next morning by a phone call from Scully. She's examined the file of the Weinsider's stolen baby and she's discovered the protrusions mentioned at the beginning of the episode. She hypothesizes that the growths may be a recessive trait passed on by the mother, but it's unlikely it came from the father's side. Additionally, high amounts of the herb Mandrake were found in Laura's system, and Scully thinks the hallucinogenic herb was used by Laura to induce abortion. In Virginia, according to Scully, it's illegal to have an abortion in the third trimester, so it looks like Laura is going to jail on top of having her baby stolen by a demon. Talk about rotten luck.
As Scully finishes telling Mulder her findings, Wayne drives off in a fiery red Camaro. Presumably he's going to go do whatever it is demons do during the day, but the scene cuts to a different suburban house. A pretty, pregnant woman in a blue dress greets Wayne at the door. Wayne calls her "poopydoo" and let's himself in. It appears that Wayne's been spreading his lovin' all over town.
Mulder and the local police, including Laura's brother Deputy Stevens, have arrived at the Weinsider's home to perform an inspection. Wayne walks through the front door sporting a nasty grimace on his demonic mug. Mulder says he doesn't want to arrest Laura, but if the Weinsiders don't let the police search the house he'll be forced to. The couple give their approval. So the police set about sifting through their property and Wayne seizes the moment to privately tell Laura a lovely little story called "What Happened the Night the Baby Was Stolen." Wayne says that he left the bedroom that night because he couldn't sleep. When he returned he found Laura in a trance and she was clutching their previously-unborn baby. But wait, it gets better. Laura was also chanting the words "Zazas, Zazas, Nastnada" over and over. Seeing that his wife had completely fallen off her rocker, Wayne wrapped the child and burned it in the furnace in the back yard. He did this so no one would ever learn the truth about his baby-killing wife. Unfortunately, Wayne isn't very good at concealing the truth because moments later the police find the baby's remains in the furnace.
So poor Laura is arrested and thrown in the hoosegow because her demon husband won't tell the truth. Wayne relieves his torment by speeding around town in his red Camaro while blasting Garbage (the band, not trashy music). He's on his way to pick up his other wife, Betsy (aka "Poopydoo"), for a doctors appointment. Mulder pulls next to Wayne's Camaro at a stoplight and asks him where he's going. Wayne says that he's an insurance medical technician and he's on his way to visit a client. Mulder politely says he'll tag along to keep his demon buddy company.
With Mulder tailing him, Wayne is forced to improvise. He makes an early housecall at a client's home and manages to squirm his way into the house. His client, a mother of three, patiently allows Wayne to take a blood sample at her dining room table. While he's sucking blood from her vein, three young boys race through the room and run outside. Wayne gets philosophical and waxes poetic about how hard it is to have healthy children. The woman politely smiles and outside you can hear a car horn blaring.
Mulder has arrived and he's showing the three boys how to properly screw around with a Camaro's dashboard. Wayne emerges from the house and Mulder's cellphone rings. It's Scully and she's got a warning for her partner. Wayne called the Bureau to complain about Mulder's harassment. This information was given to Kersh, who now wants to know why Mulder is in Virginia. Mulder snidely suggests that Scully tell Kersh he's performing a background check. While Mulder talks to Scully, Wayne gets into his Camaro and points his big index finger in Mulder's face. For a moment it looks like he's going to recite one of the classic lines from "Army of Darkness," but alas, it doesn't come to be. (I was pulling for "Yo. She-bitch. Let's go!" but I guess that would have been out of place).
Later that night, Wayne visits Laura at the Roanoke County Jail. Laura is having serious doubts about Wayne's story (the one where she killed the child and did the chanting bit). Wayne tries to squirm his way out of the story, but while he embraces Laura, she checks his left shoulder. She peels back his shirt collar and sees the bite mark she left on the baby-snatching demon. Wayne realizes that he's in deep poopydoo so he does the only thing he can -- he uses his demon skills to suck Laura's soul. A wind trail leaps from Laura's mouth and swarms into Wayne's. When the soul-sucking is complete, Laura falls to the floor.
Paramedics arrive and tend to Laura while Wayne looks on, a tear dripping from his eye. She appears to be a goner, but the paramedics have brought the Holy Defibrillator and they shock Laura's demon-sucked heart back to life. Wayne's demon skills are sorely lacking.
Laura is taken to the hospital and Wayne decides to seek solace from his other wife, Betsy. She's resting comfortably at home on the couch, reading over the medical report from her afternoon visit to the doctor. The sonogram has revealed the same growths. Betsy isn't overly-concerned, but Wayne's face drops. He offers Betsy a warm glass of milk.
Wayne makes a special demon's brew for Betsy and brings it to her in bed. She contentedly sighs, gulps the milk, then settles into the sheets. Unlike Laura, Betsy easily falls asleep. Moments later the flames start up and a demon appears at the foot of her bed. Betsy, however, is a bad-ass, and when Wayne the demon tries to nab her baby, she grabs him by the throat and says "What are you doing Wayne?" Wayne's demon skills fail him once again, and this time he's been caught in the act.
While Wayne deals with his dilemma, Scully meets Mulder at the hospital. She's performed a full medical review on Laura and can't find any evidence implicating Wayne in an attempted murder. Curiously, Mulder is happy with this development. He produces a file containing all sorts of interesting tidbits on Wayne Weinsider's life. He's found that Wayne is a twice-widowed Czechoslovakian immigrant previously known as Ivan Veles. Like all good demons, he has other aliases too -- Bud Hasselhoff and Gordy Boytano. He's going to need those aliases because his Czechoslovakian name, "Veles," is synonymous with "devil." Mulder thinks this is the clincher, but Scully rolls her eyes and uses her barbed rationalism to discredit Mulder's hard work. Scully must be suffering from amnesia because she claims not to believe in demons or the devil. Um, Dana? Weren't you the one who BATTLED the devil in "All Souls?"
Regardless, Scully follows Mulder to the Weinsider's house, where the local police are using high-tech equipment to search the back yard. The cops have found a second demon-baby corpse. This does something to Mulder because one look at the demon skeleton tells him everything he needs to know about Wayne Weinsider. Mulder believes Wayne is a demon who's desperate to have a "normal" child. Each time he gets a woman pregnant the children inevitably sport wings and horns, so he's forced to kill them. Wayne will continue to spread his seed until he's successful, which means women everywhere are at risk of marrying a demon man who will impregnate them with a demon baby.
With this revelation, Mulder and Scully realize they must find Wayne before he continues his rampage of love. As they speed toward Wayne's other house (the one he shared with Betsy), they're stopped by an erratically driven red Camaro. Betsy emerges from the car and stumbles toward the agents. Her nightgown is stained with blood and she tearfully says that Wayne took her baby. The agents rush to the house where they find Wayne digging in the back yard. He's crying as he digs, but he's not burying bodies, he's digging them up. He says that he didn't steal Betsy's baby, Betsy took it herself. Before he can divulge more information, Deputy Stevens plants three slugs in Wayne's chest.
Wayne is rushed to the hospital, where he's placed next to Laura in the emergency room. Deputy Stevens is livid, but Mulder calms him down and says they should go to Betsy's room to hear her side of the story. The men leave the ER, and once they do, Wayne's heart monitor goes haywire. He convulses and the soul wind-tunnel spews from his mouth and flies into Laura. Wayne flatlines and Laura regains consciousness.
Early the next morning, Scully is in Betsy's back yard looking at four baby corpses. These aren't demon babies, they're normal babies. Mulder sums it all up: Betsy was also a demon, only she was more evil, and more intent, than Wayne. Her purpose was to have a demon baby, and she finally achieved the desired result when she conceived a child with Wayne. Wayne didn't realize she was a demon until it was too late, so now Betsy has disappeared and she's the proud mother of a healthy demon.
In the closing scene, Betsy drives off in the red Camaro. Securely lodged in the passenger seat is a baby carrier housing a perfect little evil creature. Betsy's eyes take on a soft red glow as she drives around a bend and disappears.
And that's it. Demon babies are usually a tough sell, but the X-files crew did an admirable job with "Terms of Endearment." Let's hope we have more monster of the week episodes on the horizon.
Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.