“Home Again” was the first episode of the X-Files revival that really drew blood from the struggle of trying to put what’s basically a 10th season together with only six episodes, reintroducing very nuanced storylines while shoehorning in the “Monster of the Week” theme.
This fourth episode starts out in typically creepy fashion. Basically, if you watch the intro to an X-Files episode and aren’t moved to keep watching, you have no imagination. Through the fictional character of the Trashman, a creature exacting violent revenge on perpetrators of the Philadelphia homeless, The X-Files manages to pack what feels like a full-length movie into a 45-minute show.
“Home Again” is an amalgam of a “Monster of the Week” and deeper storyline, embedding Dana Scully losing her mother within the episode, revisiting the pain and suffering she carries from giving up her child for adoption. With two episodes remaining in this revival, there are plenty of mentally torturing (and I mean that in a nice way) storylines to probe. A teaser that aired during the Super Bowl hinted toward a surprising upcoming turn for Scully, but that will probably be the least shocking development of the finale.
The episode begins with the Philly fire department hosing down homeless people in a truly offensive manner to get them to leave an area the city is trying to rebuild, only to see the main perpetrator of the scene get his upper limbs ripped clean off by a menacing character later to be known as the Trashman.
The Trashman is a character that looks like the undead, living in the back of a ghost garbage truck, dismembering offenders and inspiring graffiti of his silhouette in places all over Philly. The story is gripping, though loses a little juice when it’s revealed that an underground artist who somehow has the unique ability to bring his artwork to life is responsible. His talent is explained through the myth of the Tulpa, a magicl emanation conjured up by one’s own mind.
This brought to mind the season four episode, “Kaddish,” which basically exaggerates a myth into a supernatural and violent entity that exacts justice on those doing wrong to people who didn’t deserve it. In that case, it was local Jewish citizens. This time around, it’s homeless people.
As for Scully, she continues to take a beating, now losing her mother to a heart attack. We’re introduced to Charlie, her brother estranged from their mother, who needs to hear his voice before she passes away. Scully’s mother also mentions William, the name of Scully and Fox Mulder’s child given up for adoption, before she dies. Scully finds it odd that her mother changed her will the previous year without telling her daughter. That, along with the strange pendant her mother wears, appears to be setting something up. But will the show have the necessary time to provide a suitable explanation?
The increasing character chemistry between Scully and Mulder is evident during their scene in the abandoned building looking for the Trashman. This has been a nice development since the first episode of the revival. Mulder continues to take on a more humorous role, not totally different from what he was before leaving the original series. He seems to have a aura of being “free” anymore during the revival. What might seem awkward to the new viewer is pretty comfortable for the longtime fan.
The past three episodes have increasingly catered to the X-Phile lifer rather than trying to reach out to new viewers. Six episodes really isn’t enough to tie in the old and recreate the new. Chris Carter and his writers seem to finally recognize that. Several scenes throughout “Home Again” include clips of past episodes, mostly of Scully’s tortured existence on the show, from her abduction and near-death through giving up William.
It’s shocking to think that the journey is almost over. But three of the four episodes so far have been hits. The teaser for the next episode hinted at comedic replacements for Mulder and Scully. And that Super Bowl reveal was one heck of a carrot to hang in front of the viewer. The only hope is that there are more games to be played. Hopefully, Carter is reading. He can have my e-mail if he needs an impassioned pitch.