Season 11, episode 4: “Home Again”
[Photos courtesy Ed Araquel/FOX]
The illusive fate of William, the child of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is once again at the heart of the latest episode of The X-Files. So, a quick summary who may need a reminder: Mulder and Scully – during the original series – had a child, William. In earlier episodes, we found out that the two had given up the child for adoption and that they were no longer partners – either in the definition of work or in any other way. (Read our prior recaps here.)
We’re thankfully spared Mulder’s ‘the story so far’ narration for this, and we start out with a quick scene of a couple of city officials doing the dirty work of spraying out homeless from the streets of Philadelphia. There’s apparently a safe place for them at a local church, and they’re warned that the homeless will be moved along again. As he walks away, a trash truck rolls around the corner ominously. The main official, Joseph Cutler, goes to his office when the lights go out: he’s attacked, and gets thrown into the trash truck – and we’re ready to start the episode.
At the scene of the attack, our agents are talking to the lead investigator, Aaron Dross. There’s a bit of an ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ vibe, as he snarks about calling them because they handle spooky cases but that he wants to maintain his own case, while Scully throws out that the FBI does have jurisdiction.
The on scene medical examiner talks about how there were no prints, and that our city official had been literally torn apart. Mulder notices some graffiti across the way of a hanging figure, and while talking over some points, Scully gets a call from William Scully … and then William Scully Jr. I admit – I forgot that Scully’s brother is also William (and that the name appears multiple times throughout the series), and I had a little bit of a seizure thinking it was their child. But no, it’s Scully’s brother with some bad news. Her mom (Sheila Larken) has had a heart attack, and is in the hospital. As she leaves the scene, Mulder looks over the security footage and notices that the hanging figure was not there, so thinks there may be a lead there.
We then switch over to the hospital, where Scully is at her mother’s side. She’s in a coma, but she had regained consciousness briefly, the nurse says. She had asked for Charlie. Scully explains that Charlie’s her brother, and that her mother and Charlie were estranged.
Back to Mulder, he’s trying to get access to the other building when he runs into Daryl Landry (Daryl Shuttleworth) and Nancy Huff (Peggy Jo Jacobs) arguing in the alley by the crime scene. Landry had been working with Cutler on the project. They had bought the property that the homeless were occupying, and they were converting them into high rise apartments. Huff, meanwhile, is with the local school board and not happy that the location that the homeless were being reshuffled to was close to her school. While the idea of gentrification is brought up, neither seem to feel that it’s a bad thing – and both sides believe the homeless just need to be ‘somebody else’s problem’. When Mulder sort of points that out, he gets a tip to look for the Band-Aid Nose Man from one of the homeless.
We then are back at the hospital, where Scully has a flashback to a very young – like season 2 young – Scully and Mulder, when she was in the hospital in her coma. Scully opens the envelope with her mother’s jewelry, and finds a coin she doesn’t recognize. As she ponders it, she gets a call from her brother Bill. He apparently asks Scully to tell him if their mom will die before he arrives on scene (nice to see he’s still a douche canoe), and she says that she’ll keep mom on life support until he arrives. He apparently questions this decision, as she then goes on to explain that after she was in her coma, Scully had talked it over with her mom, and the advanced directive was to keep her on life support until everything had been tried.
Mulder, meanwhile, is getting the Band-Aid tested by the lab, only to ind out that there is no inorganic or organic material found on it. Which, you know, is odd.
Scully is checking some things when she finds out from the nurse that there’s been an amended advanced directive, and that apparently Mama Scully now wants no advanced resuscitation.
We flip to two guys who apparently had stolen the graffiti of the man on the wall, with plans to sell it. The cart rolls toward one thief, and then suddenly the image is gone. The other thief comes back and notices the canvas has been turned around. He finds the other guy dead on the floor, and – shock and surprise – the guy from the canvas is now fully formed and has a jolly old time tearing apart our other thief. Who knew 3-D printing technology has advanced that much?
Scully is talking to the doctor about her mom when Mulder shows up. After a short scene where Landry has the homeless bus out again while Huff is showing that she has an injunction, Mulder catches Scully up on the case. She tells Mulder about Mama Scully’s request to speak to Charlie, as well as the coin that she didn’t recognize.
Over to Huff, we have a sequence that’s eerily similar to a scene in the first Final Destination (which Morgan also wrote) where she’s getting ready for the evening while the trash truck advances, and she is attacked and killed – all while “Downtown” is played.
Meanwhile, our agents are waiting for the doctors to disconnect Mama Scully, and Scully sadly comments that they never once met someone who had the power to wish someone back to life. Mulder, in a way that’s romantic mainly because it’s Mulder, says that he had it and used it on her. Charlie then calls Scully, and she puts him on speaker phone to talk to mom. After a few attempts, they’re about to give up – when, wonder of wonders, she flutters her eyes, reaches out to Mulder, says, “My son is named William, too”, and then flatlines.
The doctors come to get Mama Scully’s body, as she’s an organ donor, and Scully breaks down in Mulder’s arms. After a heartfelt misgiving that her mother’s final words were about the child she had with Mulder, she insists that she needs to work and that the two go back to Philadelphia to work on the case.
Back at the lab, we find out that the paint on the graffiti is luckily a rare type of paint, and that there’s only one store in Philadelphia that uses it. So, they stake out the shop, following a potential suspect down to an abandoned building. They’re looking for the man known as the Trashman, and the guy tells them to go downstairs – and then runs away. After a ‘we’re not getting any younger’ moment between our agents, they head down to meet a homeless man. There’s a bunch of mannequins, and our guy admits he is in danger, but that he can’t help our agents.
He then gives a monologue that’s part poetry slam that talks about the magic in the world and garbage, and how he made people (pointing to some of the mannequins), but that he didn’t mean to make the Band-Aid Nose Man. Mulder mentions the idea of a tulpa (basically the Tibetan version of a golem, or a created creature given life).
After a quick flashback to Mulder & Scully giving up William, they decide they need go to the homeless church to find Landry. The camera gets there first, and after walking through the shelter treating all the people like creatures, he walks down the hall. He then runs into our man, and … well, you can guess where this story is going.
For our final scene, we go back to Scully with her mother’s ashes, talking to Mulder. She decides that the reason Mama Scully had asked to see Charlie was to see if he was okay, and how it’s also why she brought up William. She acknowledges that they put up William for adoption to keep him safe, but that she also regrets the decision daily. She then says she’ll continue supporting Mulder in his search, but in a rare acknowledgement of the sexist nature of their dynamic, also says that her mysteries will never be solved.
We definitely finally hit our serious groove with this episode. The ending is a bit rough, but the characters are all starting to gel again – and for the first time in this reboot, Mulder is actually not someone I want to strangle. And Anderson absolutely shines in this episode (not that she’s been doing badly in the other episodes). The plot was actually pretty good, and while not totally original, it was at least an interesting take.
If this was a ‘regular’ season, I’d be ready to forgive how ‘off’ the first two episodes seemed. However, we only have two more episodes to go. While showrunner Chris Carter has always been ‘all about the mysteries’ and never giving the complete story, I was hoping we’d get at least some new pieces that would leave some closure. The truth may be out there finally.
The X-Files airs Mondays at 8/7c on FOX.
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[Also published on SciFi4Me]