TV Review: The X-Files - Season 10 Episode 4 "Home Again"
Episode 4: "Home Again"
Synopsis: Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are sent to investigate the murder of a city official, which, it seems, no human could have committed. Meanwhile, Scully deals with deep feelings about the child she gave up for adoption.
REVIEW: One of the wonderful things about The X-Files is that while it can be creepy and thought provoking, it can also be very funny. We have seen that demonstrated over the first three episodes of this event series, but there is one more type of story that Chris Carter's series has excelled at in the past: really scary ones. Thinking back to episodes like "Home" or "The Host" and you can easily see why those stories rank at the top of some of the most frightening episodes of network television. Tonight's episode tries to recapture some of what made those episodes so chilling and almost succeeds. While you could categorize this as a Monster of the Week episode, "Home Again" also manages to cram in a second plot that furthers Scully's character arc involving her family and the child she and Mulder gave up for adoption.
The opening teaser for this episode sets the bar so high that it is no wonder that the rest of the episode fails to live up to it. This Glen Morgan penned and directed episode opens on the relocation of homeless people out of a neighborhood that is preparing for gentrification. The city officials kicking these people off the streets seem more content with the money coming their way rather than any altruistic reasons. One of the officials heads up to his office at night (in the dark) when on the street below, a garbage truck appears. As the truck drives through the street, a mysterious man follows behind. The man enters the building and follows the city official. As he approaches, the cameras all shut off and the official becomes scared, drawing a gun from the desk drawer. The mysterious man enters and before the official can stop him, the intruder rips both of his arms off aliong with his head. The man takes the arms and tosses them in the back of the garbage truck and climbs in himself as the compactor comes crushing down. Creepy as hell.
But, that is about it for this monster we come to know of as Band-aid Nose Man.If you were expecting the story to make much sense, you will be a bit disappointed. Morgan's story definitely has all of the hallmarks of a classic X-Files tale, but it doesn't really go anywhere. We soon learn that the Band-Aid Nose Man hides in works of street art very reminscent of Banksy's graffiti. He is summoned to defend the homeless and does so with violence and brutality. There is a message there about the treatment of the poorest members of our society, but it is also hidden within a message about the power of art. The creator of the Band-Aid Nose Man did so without realizing his power would bring the sculpture to life. Very much like the Golem central to the fourth season episode "Kaddish", this monster becomes a Frankenstein-esque menace that cannot be stopped. And, Mulder and Scully don't stop him. But more on that in a moment.
No sooner do Mulder and Scully start investigating the city official's violent death, Scully receives a phone call from her brother, William. At first, Scully only sees his first name on the phone and is jarred into thinking of her son who shares the same name. The message from Scully's brother is that their mother had a heart attack and is in the hospital in critical condition. Rushing to her side, Scully learns that her mother, Margaret (Sheila Larken) is being kept alive by mechanical means. A nurse also informs Scully that her mother requested only her younger brother, Charlie. Scully now has to contend with the looming loss of her mother and renewed sadness over giving up the son she and Mulder had. The scenes at the hospital are heartbreaking and very morose compared to the previous episode. Of course, Mulder shows up and almost as if he has no consideration, begins telling Scully about the case. Scully doesn't really want to talk work, making it a very awkward exchange.
Eventually, Scully's younger brothr is reached by phone and they hold the phone to Margaret's ear. She regains consciousness long enough to see Mulder and tells him she also had a son named William. She then passes away. It is a sad moment, especially for fans who recall the importance of Scully's mother from the original series run and the fact she is now the third member of the family to die during the show's run. Scully is emotionally drained, but in one of the least realistic moments I have seen on any TV show, Scully demands to get back to work right then and there and they continue the hunt for the Band-Aid Nose Man which leads them to an underground artist who made the monster. A few more bodies pile up and eventually the monster stops killing once he has destroyed everyone he set out to. The artist heads his own way and Mulder and Scully head theirs.
The issue I have with this episode is so miuch is left unexplained or unresolved that it feels like half an episode. Scully's mother dies and reminds her of her son, which coupled with the death of the homeless people, leaves her with some comfort. Ultimately, Scully now understands that she has to believe that her son is okay and in a better place, even though they were not able to be there with him. She tells Mulder that she knows he will find his answers but she will never get hers. It ends somewhat abruptly on that note as Scully prepares to spread her mother's ashes. The failure of this episode is that the main case seems only to exist to fill the gaps for the main story which is Scully's resurgence of faith. There are a lot of moments to really like in this episode, but it never really comes together to make it work as a whole. I still want to know how the power of the artist's creation also somehow summoned a garbage truck or why this supernatural being even needs the truck. On paper, the monster seems like a good idea, but it never is realized fully enough to make this episode work.
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