In this post I will be discussing X-Files season 2 episode 20 titled “Humbug” in conjunction to Kristeva’s theory of Abjection.
There are many instances within this episode that could be considered particularly grotesque: it is set in a circus and explores the humanity and mythic nature of those considered “circus freaks”, but they are not what makes this episode abject. Throughout the episode there are many deaths that seem to be quite suspicious due to the way that they were killed, and the lack of evidence from a murderer except for a small trail of blood out the nearest window. It eventually becomes realized that the one responsible for the murders of these people is actually not quite what a viewer would consider a normal person, but is rather more of a growth out of the side of one of the performers. This growth is the undeveloped twin of the man who lives in a large appendage in his stomach and can enter and exit at his own will. Although he cannot walk he can drag himself rather quickly wherever he needs to go, and the deaths of the people are simply because he is trying to find a new brother to live inside.
Alright, so he is a couple of pictures of the creature/individual so that you may get a better understanding of the situation:
and this is the appendage that he exits from:
Kristeva writes that “It is thus not lack of cleanliness or health that causes abjection but what disturbs identity, system, order” (4). In this specific case, what we are aware of the body to be able to do normally does not usually include allowing a half developed twin to live within the stomach and pop out at will. It is not so much the dis-figuration of the twin that is abject, but rather the fact that this body is not behaving normally or as we have normally believed it to be able to. Kristeva’s theory of Primal Repression also applies to this case: in order to assert our identity we must believe ourselves to be separated from the barbaric, the animalistic. This twin is both of those things, savagely and without thought he rips into each person- crawling along the floor like an animal and scurrying out of sight. He is a double for the man that he came from, and the fact that he lives within him shows that there is no border between the self and the other. Both are one of the same and can come from the exact same place, and that breaks down the borders of traditional meaning attributed to people and situations which makes this episode abject.