The X-Files S10E04 “Home Again” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Channel Five, Mondays, 9pm
Writer: Glen Morgan
Essential Plot Points:
- A rude guy ordering around a bunch of homeless people is followed into his office by a giant, barefoot man who climbs off a garbage truck. The man then rips him in two.
- No sooner have Mulder and Scully arrived at the crime scene than Scully gets a call from her brother William in Germany, who tells her that her mum is in hospital after having had a heart attack.
- Scully arrives at her bedside and is rather confused to hear that her mum briefly regained consciousness and asked for her son, Charlie – a son we’ve never heard about before because the family don’t speak to him. What’s that about, then?
- Mulder continues to investigate the case as more bodies pile up. The one thing they have in common is that they’re all dicks who aren’t nice to homeless people.
- Scully’s mother dies – and her last words, spoken to Mulder, are: “My son is named William too!”
- Despite being grief-stricken, Scully insists on going back to work on the case, and she and Mulder soon track down a graffiti artist named Trash Man. They discover that he has brought the garbage truck creature (nicknamed – wait for it – “Band-Aid Nose Man”) to life by willing him into existence to wreak justice on the streets.
- They determine that his next victim will be the guy who’s just put a load of homeless people in a hospital refuge against their will. Sure enough, the monster turns up and kills him. They arrive too late.
- During all of this, Scully has been thinking hard about her mother’s final words and realises that even if you don’t speak to your child, you will think about them to your dying day. She weeps in Mulder’s arms about the fact they gave up baby William.
There’s only one good thing about this disappointingly bland episode and that’s Gillian Anderson’s performance: emoting for all she’s worth by her mother’s deathbed; freaking out when the body is taken to the morgue; tearfully telling Mulder that she regrets William’s loss. She is truly wonderful, giving an acting tour-de-force which unfortunately serves to make poor David Duchovny look a little wooden beside her.
Then again, this isn’t his episode, it’s hers, so we’ll forgive that little issue. In fact, it seems that the running arc plot of this new series is Scully’s guilt at giving up her son, and it’s a rather welcome one – his birth and subsequent dismissal from the original series always did seem a little callous. (Sure, Scully gave the kid away to save his life, but there never seemed to be any repercussions for her… until now.) It’ll be interesting to see where the show goes from here.
Emotional core aside, what else is there to say about “Home Again”? Not much, sadly. The monster of the week is a tulpa – we first encountered one of them in season six’s “Arcadia” – and while it’s kind of cool to think of him as some kind of toxic avenging garbage man (his motto could well be “Takin’ out the trash so you don’t have to!”), he’s actually just a big heap of “meh”. So he can rip people apart? It’s fun the first time – though not for the victim, obviously – but the gore seems rather subdued and his actions stop being shocking pretty damn quick. And as for the scare-factor, we see him far too early on in the episode, removing any sense of the build-up of tension that’s horror filmmaking at its simplest. Plus he’s just a tall bloke with snot-stuff all over his face. Even if he didn’t look a bit slimy, how is a guy with a plaster stuck over his nostrils supposed to be terrifying? Oh dear.
This is a serious misfire after the wit and originality of last week’s episode; a bland script that showcases Scully but does little else, with a run-of-the-mill monster that could’ve been used as a comment on social injustice but simply fails to come to life. The final scene helps a lot, thankfully, as Mulder and Scully discuss their lives while sitting on a log as the camera slowly tracks around them – but it’s too little, too late to help this plodding X-File by numbers.
- “Not even in the proper recycling bin.” Mulder’s on fine quip form when it comes to finding a head in the trash.
- Can anybody else remember Petula Clarke’s “Downtown” being used to soundtrack a murder before? It makes no lyrical sense whatsoever but it’s fun to sing along to while the Band-Aid Nose Man (…sigh) chases his victim around her house.
- Mulder and Scully not only whip out their torches again but they also make a beautifully stylish “X” with the beams. Nice touch.
- Scully tells her mum: “I’ve been where you are. I know Ahab is there, and Melissa.” She’s referring to the episode “One Breath”, in which she lay in a coma, while Ahab and Melissa are her father and sister, respectively. It’s little mentions of previous events on the show that are helping to keep this series watchable despite some wobbly plots.
- “Her last words were about our child, her grandchild, that we gave away!” cries Scully. “Why did she say that? Why did she have to say that?” Parents, eh? Even with their dying words, they can really piss off their kids.
- Mulder’s “Ew, gross!” face upon finding a plaster stuck to his shoe is impressive.
- In yet another outing for the show’s famous catchphrase, Scully weeps for William: “I want to believe. I need to believe that we didn’t treat him like trash.”
- Mulder asks if the head of the school board and the developer are married because she calls him a “douchebag”. Sarcastic bastard. Never change, Fox. Never change.
- Mulder explains what’s happening with the case to Scully, who clearly isn’t listening because her mum is about to die, but he doesn’t seem to get the hint and carries on wibbling out all the exposition we need to hear as viewers. Empathy, dude, empathy!
- Okay, so Margaret Scully didn’t want to be kept alive on life support, and so her breathing tube is removed as per her request. But it does seem a little mean that this was done before her poor son, William, could fly in from Germany to say goodbye. We’re not experts on medical law, obviously, but… couldn’t they have hung on a bit longer? (It also would’ve been nice to see Bill, played by Pat Skipper, one more time – oh well.)
- The Trash Man graffiti artist gets a long speech that seems to be very Deep and Serious and Important but by God, is it dull. Incidentally, he’s played by musician Tim Armstrong, singer/guitarist for punk rock band Rancid.
- Far be it for us to judge those murdered by supernatural serial killers, but Daryl Landry knew someone had been picking off people taking advantage of the homeless, and yet he still followed mysterious noises down a corridor so dark he had to use his iPhone as a torch. And there really is no motivation whatsoever for him to do so; watching that sequence is a masterclass in “this character will do this for no other reason than the writers want him to”. So yup: we’re glad he carked it.
- Scully sobs all over Mulder’s bright white shirt but somehow doesn’t get any mascara or eye-liner on there at all. Damn, that’s some impressive war paint.
- Pure coincidence, of course, but in the teaser we’ve just seen a guy rip both arms off some poor dude and, post opening credits, the first name to pop up on the cast list is “Tim Armstrong”. Snigger.
- Best Quote: Mulder: “What? I wasn’t gonna shoot the kid and I don’t do stairs any more.”
Scully: “Mulder, back in the day I used to do stairs and in three-inch heels.”
Reviewed by Jayne Nelson