Four episodes in, and it looks like the X-Files miniseries has finally shown its hand and revealed one of its major plot lines leading into the finale. William, Mulder and Scully’s child who was born in season eight, is held by some fans as an example of the show’s troubled years after David Duchovny was reduced to a part-time cast member. However, the child has been on the duo’s mind since that decision was made: in the remaining episodes of the series, the ill-fated film I Want to Believe and even “Founder’s Mutation” a few weeks ago. With all the hints and allusions that have come throughout this miniseries, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we learned what happened to William and where he is now come the finale.
“Home Again” is a bit of a mixed bag of an episode. While the scenes between Mulder and Scully on the subjects of William, Scully’s dying mother and their return to work are terrific, I was not particularly sold on the main plot of the episode.
To wit, a violent force in the shape of a tall golem-like figure has appeared to protect Philadelphia’s homeless population, who are caught in a dispute between a selfish property developer and a representative of the city’s schools. The “Band Aid Nose Man” (whose name I suspect is giving Johnson & Johnson a headache) travels by dump truck and viciously murders a HUD agent, (whose death attracts Mulder and Scully in the first place), the school rep and two dopey art thieves. He’s also undetectable, leaving no prints (foot or finger), no detritus, no organic or inorganic material. This monster is effectively undetectable and untraceable. Mulder and Scully eventually find its frightened creator and race to stop it from killing its final victim. They are too late to save the property developer, but the monster is seemingly done for after that as the artist moves on.
Though the five murdered characters did nasty and demeaning things — the HUD agent used hoses to round up the homeless, the developer wanted to move the homeless out of an alley and to an unused hospital so he can gentrify the neighborhood, the school rep who refuses to allow the developer to move the people to the hospital because of its proximity to a school and the thieves who cut art out of a billboard to sell at auction — I don’t think they deserved their gruesome deaths.
Perhaps that was the point of the character. It had been created into existence by a disgruntled street artist, who discovered that it was both alive and out of his control, directed only through sheer hatred and revenge. The monster acts, I suppose, as the artist’s living id as he rips people’s spines out of their body like a Mortal Kombat character.
In all, this A-plot had a nice spooky atmosphere with great mise en scène, but it doesn’t nearly hold my attention as well as the plot with Scully and her mother. During their investigation, Scully gets a phone call from her brother Bill that her mother has had a heart attack and is in intensive care. To add tension to the plot, it turns out that Maggie Scully had appended her living will from requiring life support to a Do Not Resuscitate — a decision that was made without either Scully or her brother Bill’s presence or knowledge. What’s more, Maggie wakes up asking for her estranged son Charlie before falling back into a coma.
Scully’s family has never been really focal in the show the way Mulder’s has, but I liked their appearances when they come up. Scully’s mother Maggie, in particular was a really good character that I wish we spent more time with. Gillian Anderson is incredible in this episode and perfectly captures Scully’s anguish. After Mulder comes to visit, Scully finally gets a hold of Charlie — his voice wakes his mother, who cryptically refers to William before she passes. (William, for new fans was named by Scully because it was the name of both her and Mulder’s fathers, in addition to the name of her brother.)
The episode ends with Mulder and Scully sitting with Maggie’s ashes as they mull over the future. Scully realizes that there was nothing unusual about her asking for her estranged son Charlie or her final words about her lost grandson. She wanted to make sure that Charlie was okay, Scully posits, and wanted them to do the same with William. The cinematography in this scene is fantastic and the slow camera pan around the log that our main duo sits on adds to the atmosphere. Another great addition was as Scully pours her heart out about how she can’t get William out of her head, she calls Mulder by his first name. It subtly implies the emotionally naked tone and makes it one of the best scenes all miniseries long.
“Home Again” feels like a regular, average The X-Files, which is not a bad thing at all. It’s a mostly solid episode that’s subplot just so happens to be more interesting than the main story. Along with Anderson’s strong performance, kudos must be given to Rancid lead singer Tim Armstrong, who puts in a superb guest turn as the quirky and addled street artist Trashman who inadvertently creates the Band Aid Nose Man.
While I wasn’t particularly fond of the main monster-of-the-week plot in “Home Again”, it definitely felt like an old school, spooky monster plot from the show’s heydey. I would really love for this show to come back for good (or at least more than just six episodes) if this is an indicator of its merely good episodes. The show has definitely improved from the premiere, and even though I doubt the rest of the miniseries will be as good as “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” at this point, it doesn’t seem like this revival was a mistake. Hopefully the penultimate episode and finale aren’t messes and I have to eat my words.