And so we're onto episode #4, Glen Morgan's "Home Again"... did you watch, did you drown your feels in wine? This is our recap and review. Hit after the jump for all the good stuff!
The episode starts with a pressure washer beating on a paper sign that reads: “YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE” - it turns out to be a sign letting the homeless population of West Philadelphia know that they will be cleaning the street of them, and they need to vacate. A crew goes down the street at 5:15 a.m., soaking every makeshift tent and their inhabitants. Screams and threats go left and right as a Joseph Cutler (Alessandro Juliani) announces that they had been warned this was happening. The homeless will be transferred to the old Franklin Hospital, and any personal items taken in this “cleaning” session could be retrieved at their offices at the Department of Housing. While the people run for cover, and the man continues to disregard their pleas, another man - Daryl Landry (Daryl Shuttleworth) - just stands on the sidelines, calmly eating soup next to the cops guarding the operation.
Cutler is driven back to the HUD Field Office, where even more homeless loiter outside the building. He heckles them too, they’ll be next and they’ve been warned. On Tuesday, Feb. 9th 2016, they will be evicted. This episode aired on Monday, Feb. 8th - I see your sneaky ways, FOX. As he goes into the building, the homeless are left outside in the windy darkness of the early morning hours. A low rumbling starts, and right away all the men and women run for cover, diving into their tents scared.
A garbage trucks turns the corner and stops in front of the building; everyone hides out now. The mammoth truck hisses and shakes as it starts up again and drives away, leaving behind a tall and dirty figure, a man looking very threatening.
Inside the HUD, the germophobe Cutler is on the phone leaving a message for Landry when the power flickers and he begins to choke with nausea as a foul smell hits him. The call cuts off. He’s peeved by the sudden darkness; a noise alerts him to a presence outside. We see the shadow of a tall figure behind the frosted glass of his office walls. Cutler calls 911 to report the intruder while reaching into his drawer for a gun. The operator asks him about what’s happening on his end, but Cutler is rendered silent in fear. The figure stops in front of his door, and it blows it into hundreds of pieces. Cutler screams as the man enters his office. In the darkness, we can only distinguish the gnarly screams and movements as the intruder attacks him, pulling his body apart.
As the figure exits the building, leaving a trail of flies in the dark, he dumps one of Cutler’s arms into the back of the garbage truck and climbs in. The compactor pushes down as the truck drives away… and cue the titles.
Back to the crime scene, now in the light of day. The cameras flash as the forensic examiners snap away the placement of evidence. Glass, debris and blood everywhere. A young forensic technician is accosted by a pair of FBI agents; from the angle he’s crouching their faces are hidden by their badges as they flash their IDs. Sure enough, it is Special Agents Mulder and Scully and this poor boy is already on the edge, calling the detective in charge.
Detective Gross (Chris Shields) welcomes them into this madness, knowing of their experience with these “spooky” cases. He doesn’t mean to be confrontational, he claims, but Mulder is more than aware that “it wouldn’t be Philadephia without a certain degree of confrontation, right?” - Scully is already cringing and the detective is certainly taking a deep breath. He doesn’t want them to get the wrong idea; he isn’t willing to pass over this murder investigation, but as Scully points out, the FBI has jurisdiction over the murder of a Federal employee.
Mulder approaches the technician. They’re having issues lifting the footprints left behind by the assailant because there aren’t exactly prints to lift. There are footprints, but there aren’t any ridges or texture to match to any identifiable structure. Mulder points out that the person may have been born without footprints, which he knows very well is impossible. Scully asks where the body was found but is shocked when Gross informs them that the body is actually still on the scene: the torso is on one side of the desk, the head in the garbage can, the arms are gone. Not even in the right recycling bin, as Mulder points out humorously. The detective thinks that the murder weapon might have been a sword or a machete, but Scully knows better; the evidence points out that the body was shredded, not cut. While Gross questions, incredulous,and Scully confirms that the feat would be impossible for a single human being to achieve, Mulder focuses on a painting on the side of a building just outside. A hanged man.
Gross informs him that Cutler was hated amongst the homeless community. He was the reason they were getting relocated. Scully’s phone rings, and as she reaches, she sees the name “William” flash on the screen, she’s surprised and shocked, only that’s not her William who’s calling, but her brother Bill Jr. She intends to dismiss the call but he tries again, and she picks up annoyed at him disturbing her work at the crime scene. He’s in Germany, it seems, and she wonders if everything is okay. Her demeanor and voice changes in a second and Mulder catches this. The EMTs called Bill when they found his phone number - their mother just had a heart attack and she’s in an ICU in DC. Mulder reaches out to comfort her, and even when she’s already trying to build up the Scully!Wall™ around her, he urges her out of her daze and sends her off to DC. The worry is thick in both of them. Scully climbs down the stairs, her mind in an inevitable whirlwind, as we witness the tunnel vision she’s experiencing as her emotions come crashing down.
Mulder notices the security cameras in the office and examines them with Gross. Each was knocked out of range as the intruder made his way through the hallways. Even the one that would have been witness to Cutler’s murder. Mulder makes a note that each camera is tall enough to need a basketball player height to manage this feat without a ladder, and that’s when he spots the difference. The image that a particular feed gives of the street and buildings out of Cutler’s office has changed: it doesn’t spot the hanged man graffiti. It establishes a timeline and it may be making a statement of something related to the killing or something he saw. They need to find the artist. When they walk out, Mulder steps on to something slippery; a slimey band-aid has stuck to the sole of his shoe. He retrieves it carefully with a napkin and I’m really doing my best to keep my stomach at bay.
A distraught but poised Scully arrives at Beatus Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Her strong resolve waters down when she spots her mother, intubated and unconscious. She fights it as she approaches Maggie’s bed. Her resilient mother now looks frail and aged under the dim lights of the ICU.
The beeping of the life support machines is the only sound as she comes even closer and grabs Maggie’s hand, reassuring and warm, softly calling out to her. A nurse approaches, and Scully identifies herself. Maggie had recovered consciousness for just moments and had asked for only one person: her son, Charlie Scully. We learn that they’ve been estranged for a while.
Scully is somewhat unsettled that Maggie didn’t ask for her, Bill Jr. or even her grandkids. Still, she turns to the dying woman, lovingly caressing her face, giving her reassuring words, encouraging and telling her that she’s been where she is, referring to her time in a coma following her abduction. She knows that Ahab and Melissa are there, but she urges that she’s in this plane, and so is Bill Jr. and… William. She catches herself at this admittance, almost wondering herself why she’s brought him up and seeming to correct her pleas ensuring her mother that even her estranged son would want her to stay on this side of life. She needs her, she pleads at last.
Meanwhile back in Philadelphia, Mulder arranges to get access to the roof of the building where the graffitied billboard is placed. When he walks down the side alleyway, he finds Landry having a heated argument with the president of the Box County School Board Nancy Huff (Peggy Jo Jacobs) - she doesn’t want him to continue displacing the homeless and she’s getting an injunction if need be, pointing out that the alley is now a crime scene. Landry is having none of this and calls her out on her second-handed accusations that the homeless are to blame for Cutler’s death. Mulder walks over and intervenes, finding humor in this quarrel happening on the streets of the city of brotherly love. It turns out that Landry has been redeveloping the area with Cutler and moving the homeless to the old hospital would put them too close to the school district, too close for comfort. Huff has no qualms about how much she’s repulsed by Landry and he seems to feel the same. He claims that moving this population to Franklin Hospital would put them away from the vices and poor living situation. She masks her concern and empathy for the “downtown people”, claiming that she does her share of charity work every Thanksgiving but they would be too close to Pinsbury High School. And God forbid any of the people would wander around… especially if one could have killed Cutler. Mulder sees through both of their fake concerns, none of them are speaking for the homeless.
A bystander homeless man cuts in; he claims “The Band-Aid Nose Man” is speaking for them. Mulder jumps at it. Who is this Band-Aid Nose Man? The artist? The killer? Where can he find him? But the homeless man give no more information about it. When Mulder looks up at the billboard, the art piece is gone.
Cut to Scully, she’s holding her golden cross like a talisman as she guards Maggie’s sleep and remembers how Mulder guarded hers once. The “One Breath” flashbacks are almost lethal as he wills her to come back to him. Scully finds Maggie’s personal effects on the nightstand: inside is her gold chain, Maggie’s wedding and engagement rings and a quarter that has been welded to be a pendant. Scully doesn’t recognize it. Bill Jr. calls; he’s still in Frankfurt and wants to get an assessment of what’s happening, if he’d make it on time to see his mother alive.
According to Scully, Maggie had put in her living will that she shouldn’t be disconnected and they should do everything in their power to keep her alive. This came as an agreement after Scully’s experience after her abduction.
Scully is exasperated by his questioning, she’s a doctor but also her daughter, and she’s also affected by the fact that another patient nearby flat lines, dies and is carried out without much ceremony around it. You can already see the wheels turning… will Maggie be next?
Back in Philadelphia, Mulder sits on the FBI lab with the technician. They examine the bandaid that he got stuck to his show. To their baffling surprise, the analysis can’t give them any answers, because the machines cannot find any origin to the substances of materials that even make the bandage. It’s there but it isn’t. It doesn’t exist for the machine regardless of them being able to see it.
Scully checks on her mother’s IV treatment, her fidgeting nerves making her call a nurse to question the dosage and meds, but the nurse has other news for her. There was an amendment to Maggie’s living will; she no longer wanted to be kept on life support or resuscitated if something like this were to happen. Scully is crushed.
In Philadelphia, a pair of young men roll up the Band-Aid Man graffiti that they’ve stolen from the billboard. It will be a valuable piece for their contacts, they’re obviously into some illegal art trading, making fun that they’re mooching off the homeless. As one of them sets off to contact their buyers, the other puts the large canvas with the looming figure to one side and proceeds to check his phone messages. He hears an unexpected rattle, and when he turns around the figure has disappeared from the canvas, as if it had never been painted on. He approaches to investigate.
His partner calls out, they’ve got a potential date that night… but the first one doesn’t answer. He notices the canvas right away, puzzled and somewhat spooked. When he peeks behind the cart holding the canvas he finds the first man strangled with a bag on his head. That’s when the Band-Aid Nose Man appears, grabbing the terrified man and dismembering him swiftly. The tower of a man drags both bodies out of the makeshift art storage and leaves the blood stained canvas behind, still sporting the artist’s signature: “Trashman”.
At the hospital, Maggie’s doctor explains to Scully that they have to extubate her. It doesn’t necessarily mean that she would die, but Scully is a doctor, she knows the odds. Not only do they have to uphold the law but also need to respect the woman’s wishes. Scully concentrates on the mysterious quarter pendant when Mulder call her. He’s come to DC and is in the hospital. Her relief is noticeable. I can breathe now.
In Philadelphia, Landry continues with his plans. Busses prepare to move all the homeless to Franklin Hospital, and as he begins to evict them from the street and load them up, Huff appears with the injunction that she’d promised. As she walks away, we can see that another graffiti is replacing the stolen one, only that it’s now on a brick wall.
Mulder and Scully sit in the waiting area inside the ICU. He explains to Scully that the homeless claim that this figure defends them. No one knows the real name of the Trashman, no one has seen him. He suspects that the artist is committing those crimes thinking he’s a hero by eliminating anyone involved in the relocation project. He wants to stay by Scully but he’s also sure that the killer will hit again.
Scully understands, but she’s in her own mind, still reeling that Maggie asked for Charlie. She doesn’t know where he is, he’s been absent for years. Why would she call for him? Why would she change her living will without telling her? And what’s the quarter pendant? It doesn’t hold any special meaning to Scully that she can remember or associated to any dates that would be important to Maggie. Why would she frame it and put it around her neck?
As Mulder tries to think up a response, they hear the doctor start coordinating the procedure to extubate Maggie. Scully stands at attention now, and gets closer to bear witness to this moment. Mulder follows his partner and stands with her, embracing her as she starts to crumble before him. “I don’t care about the big questions right now, Mulder…” she whispers, holding down a sob. “I just want one more chance to ask my mom a few little ones.” And then Scully lets out a gasp. She’s strong… but there’s pain beating hard on those walls.
In Philadelphia, Huff arrives home, driving under the rain while listening to “Downtown” by Petula Clark. You already know this isn’t going to end well. Huff is going about her night routine, eats a snack, checking her messages, the works… carefully discarding the trash into her kitchen’s trash compactor. Fitting, because right outside we can see the familiar trash truck approach her home. She makes herself some coffee; the truck nears her front porch now and her cellphone vibrates on her counter because of the mammoth idling outside. She confuses the vibration with a text message but sure enough, there are none… she must be hallucinating, so she dumps all of her coffee pods. SACRILEGE.
The trash truck drives away, but the Band-Aid Nose man hopped out, and stands menacing as always. Huff continues walking through her home, securing all windows and doors, all the while “Downtown” keeps playing. As she secures the last door, the power goes out. The street is empty now. She’s suddenly nervous in the dark, noticing a greenish substance on one of the steps of the stairs; maggots squirm in the gooey pus. As she lift her eyes, the lighting flashing outside gives way to a mysterious figure standing on her staircase upper landing. The Band-Aid is in, and so is all its’ pestilence. She darts as he approaches, chasing her through the house. She escapes, runs to the door but it’s locked... Sure enough, he’s right outside; he finally gets to her and terror pools in her eyes. We’re spared seeing the gory dismemberment, but her head ends up in her trash compactor with those coffee pods. He takes a souvenir as always as he climbs back into the trash truck under the rain.
“Things will be great when you’re Doooooowntown!” Oh, Glen Morgan. I’ve missed you so.
Scully and Mulder stand guard over Maggie’s sleep again. She’s no longer on life support and Scully wonders if Mulder has ever wished to have the ability to wish someone back to life. Mulder claims that he invented that… when she was in the hospital in a coma… like this. She smiles, he’s a dark wizard - she claims, almost touchingly so. “What else is new?” he shrugs between chuckles. She’s amused by it, but her phone vibrates once again. An unknown number: this time it’s Charlie calling. She fills him in, pleading with him to talk to their mother, to say something that would make her react. To do what she can’t do, for him to bring her back to them. Mulder witnesses his partner’s desperation. Charlie accepts and Scully puts him on speakerphone. Scully gets closer to Maggie and announces what’s about to happen, acknowledging that she knows she can hear them.
Through the phone, a somewhat detached Charlie begins a casual conversation. I guess everyone deals with grief a different way and not everyone can inflict epic pain like Dana Scully. Mulder checks on her vitals but there isn’t a real change. “What do you want to know? What’s the big mystery?” Charlie asks as if Maggie would use these questions to come back to them and it seems despondent, but it is enough for the woman to open her eyes, groggily.
Both Mulder and Scully rush to hover over her, trying to assess just how alert she is. Maggie reaches out to Mulder, slowly grabbing his hand in wonder and Scully smiles in awe. “My son is named is named William, too…!” Maggie states trying to lift her head from her pillow between watery smiles, looking deeply into Mulder’s eyes. Scully and Mulder share looks, a happiness that’s short lived. Maggie leans back on her pillow and her eyes cloud as the monitors register her flat line.
Charlie shouts over the phone. Scully grows desperate, calling out to her to come back to them, but she’s gone. She holds her mother face between her hands…heartbroken. Mulder stands beside them as she kisses and hugs her mom goodbye.
I can’t even try to understand Gillian Anderson’s chops right now.
Later, the same retrieval crew from before comes to take Maggie away, but Scully isn’t ready and irrationally tries to send them away. Mulder stops her; Maggie was an organ donor and they need her body right away. Scully buries her face on Mulder’s chest while holding her mother’s quarter pendant. Begin the ultimate breakdown. Maggie’s last words were about their child, the grandchild that they gave away. Scully wants to know why did she have to say that… and she’ll never know. She throws the orderlies one last look as they take Maggie’s body away… and then in true Scully fashion, she puts up her walls. She asks Mulder to drive them to Philly, right now. Mulder tries to dissuade her, but there’s no talking Dana Scully out of it. She doesn’t even listen. She needs to work right now.
She grabs onto her things and dashes down the hall, leaving an equally heartbroken Mulder behind. He knows she’s not fine, he knows what that unsaid Fine means… The need to comfort her is strong in him but she’s done being “weak”.
Back in Philadelphia, Mulder and Scully are at the lab. The technician managed to isolate the type of spray paint used by the Trashman. Scully does a quick search and finds that the brand is only carried by one store in central Philly. They set off to stake out the store. Mulder is on the inside while she waits in the car, but her mind wanders as she absentmindedly caresses the quarter pendant that she’s now wearing around her neck. In her daydreaming she almost misses when their suspect exits the store with Mulder right behind. He whistles to get her attention and she starts the car, following close behind.
They catch up to the young black man in a seemingly abandoned building, identifying themselves as federal agents. The man manages to open the door and rushes in but they are quick after him as well. He pulls a gun on Scully but she swiftly disarms him, kicking him to the floor and handing the gun to Mulder. Gurl… have you been hanging with Stella Gibson… or is it the other way around? In any case, that was some Black Widow type maneuvering that was pretty awesome. Even Mulder is impressed. They’re looking for the Trashman, and the man reluctantly leads them further into the building, warning them that they’ll have to navigate the maze of hallways without power. He takes them a bit inside the space but he then ditches them. Mulder reacts but not fast enough and doesn’t follow because he “doesn’t do stairs anymore…” Scully berates him because she used to do stairs in 3-inch heels back in the day, but according to him… “back in the day” is now. Cue sexy use of flashlights, the beams cross forming that classic X and I’m pretty excited about this cute exchange.
They go through the darkness, into a wet and cluttered hallway. We hear sounds of flapping bats lurking and then they spot mysterious clay-like figures walking in and out of rooms, blindsiding them as they hit them briefly with the light of their maglites. It’s spooky and really a suspenseful sequence. They get to the end of the hall to a closed door, announcing themselves, asking if anyone is in danger. A voice answers back, he’s in danger but they should go away. Mulder kicks in the door and they enter, guns and flashlights first. They spot a sculpture of the Band-Aid Nose Man, as the hidden man continues to shout, telling them to put their guns down. He claims they don’t work on whoever or whatever is threatening them. He’s tried to shoot “him” before. They finally get to a corner where a tattooed man is hiding behind shopping carts. Mulder asks if he’s the Trashman and he pleads them to turn off the light cause if they can’t see him, he’s not in danger.
The scene continues as the Trashman (Tim Armstrong) waxes poetic about how the homeless have no voice and are treated like trash, including just how people think that by taking out the trash and putting it in the “right” bins, they’ve done enough. But the truth is that the trash has to go somewhere. Plastic degrades and gets in our water and this guy is totally conscious about how our lack of actual care is ruining our lives while we look the other way. If you don’t see a problem, then there isn’t one, right? “People treat people like trash…” this begins to hit home with Scully…
So Mulder questions if the Trashman took action on this, and he admits that he did his part but.. was it by killing Cutler and Huff for treating the homeless that way? But the Trashman claims he’s helped the only way he knows how: through his art, not violence. He puts it all around town so it’s not forgotten. Mulder questions why try to make a statement after Cutler’s death, putting up that graffiti right outside his office, but he claims not to have done that one. He only thought “him” up. He’s behind the deaths. It seems like the beings that they ran into when they walked in are also his creations but they go away eventually, unlike the Band-aid Nose Man. He’s different.
Trashman claims that Tibetan Buddhists believe that you can will consciousness into existence, but Mulder fights him on it saying that there isn’t really a concept of such in Tibetan Buddhism of thought as form. The figure that the Trashman is invocating as his concept is a mistranslation of another entity in this religion that would never harm another being. But the Trashman insists; he claims he meditated on it, he willed this being to life. He imagined what he wanted him to look like, what he wanted him to be. Scully sits on the sidelines, enthralled but troubled at the meaning of these concepts and what obviously has a relationship with her own creation: William.
According to the Trashman, the Band-Aid Nose Man came to him, telling him at the end what he wanted to be. “All we do is hold the pencil, all we do is hold the clay,” Trashman says. There are spirits and souls around us and if you think about them intensely enough, if you wish for them enough, they come to you. This is just a punch to the gut with how much Scully wished for William. How much they wanted him...and then the aftermath of his coming into the world as she remembers the moments surrounding his birth.
The Band-Aid Nose Man is what the Trashman wished for and what actually came to him. So it’s William that Scully wished for and came to her?
Trashman claims that his intention was just to scare people that were after the homeless but his frustration probably translated into violent thoughts that the Band-Aid Nose Man took as his directive. “You’re responsible,” Scully says, out of her daze. Just like she’s responsible for her own creation. He’s as bad as the people he criticizes, because he also tried to shy away from his part in it.
Mulder wonders if what he claims is true, the last person that is involved in the relocation of the homeless is Landry. They have to get to him because he got the injunction lifted and he’s moving the people to Franklin Hospital tonight.
Cut to Landry, he’s shuffling people into busses and off to the old hospital like cattle, while Mulder and Scully are trying to get a hold of him. He walks into the crowded lobby where the homeless are trying to figure out where to go; he’s insensitive, indeed treating them like subhumans. Landry continues down the hall when he notices a putrid smell; unbeknownst to him, the Band-Aid Nose man lurks in the shadows and the people know it. They skitter away and hide in their rooms, the crowded hallways now suddenly clear.
Landry hears the fluttering of flies; the putrid smell continues to make him cough and gag. He shouts down the hall to an off limits area, telling whoever is in it to come back to the rooms. Then he spots the trail of pus and maggots that Huff also spotted. The man is nearby… lurking in the shadows of this creepy hospital. Landry gets to a spot where the trail ends… and when he turns around, the Band-Aid Nose man is looming right behind him.
He runs, terrified, as the man chases him in the dark. He tries to hide in one of the rooms but he can’t find a proper hideout. Mulder and Scully arrive with Trashman, they head directly down the hall following the screams. Landry continues to try to escape, lighting his way with his cellphone. He gets to a bathroom but it’s a dead end for him. Scully and Mulder rush over, his screams get worse as the man corners him in.
By the time our agents get to the bathroom… Landry is in pieces. Scully can’t believe it; it was just seconds between the screams and going into the room. There was no way out but the one they used to come in. The telltale signs are there… a slimey band-aid sits by the body pieces.
Trashman goes back to his studio; he’s packed up to leave and he’s covered his sculpture of the Band-Aid Nose man with a piece of clay and a smiley face. As he exits, a graffiti of a sad looking Band-Aid Nose man looks on as his creator moves on.
Cut to Mulder and Scully… sitting… on a downed tree. Scully has figured out why her mother called only for Charlie; even though he was out of her life she wanted to know before she left that he’d be okay. Charlie was Maggie’s responsibility she brought him into this world… just like Scully made William. That’s why she said that to them; she wanted to make sure that they’d be responsible for their son even if they’re apart.
They made a sacrifice to keep him safe from the unrelenting forces against them; it was for his own good to put him up for adoption but it came with an emotional price. She can’t help but think of William. They will be there to find the answers to all the larger questions and she’d be there to be witness of those… but her own mysteries she may never have an answer.
The sense of guilt is enormous as she wonders if he’s ever needed her if he doubts himself because they let him go if he wonders about her just the same she wonders about him. She needs to believe that they didn’t treat him like trash. Mulder embraces her… and we fade out.
On the emotional arc the actors and Glen Morgan…
Up until now I had debated which episode out of the three that have aired was my favorite. We’ve gotten quite a mix and I certainly have feelings of certain shortcomings but this is not the case this time. With “Home Again” the level has been raised. I can honestly say that this is the strongest episode so far. Stepping away from the comparison there's just so much praise I have for this episode.
First of all it’s surprising to me just how much the team has embraced and made William such a pivotal part of this quest. Back in the day it seemed like the storyline was something to be dismissed and that caused much discomfort amongst many of the followers of the show. We had very little time to address it at the end of season nine and it was just mentioned in passing during The X-Files: I Want to Believe. The pieces were there but they weren’t thoroughly fleshed out.
“Scully the Mother” is an aspect of her life that extends its tendrils to many facets even her relationship with her own mother and it has been a thing of marvel to me ever since William was given away. What would Maggie think? What would Scully think that her mother would think of her decision? Would she be against it?
I had the rare opportunity to talk with Glen Morgan about “Home Again” before writing this review and we tackled the motivation behind writing this episode.
“Writing “Home Again ” why did you decide you wanted to go into that topic of tackling the comeback of Maggie Scully and that relationship between taking ownership of what had happened facing that responsibility?” I ask.
“If we had done ten episodes I would have done a “Monster show” and a “Maggie show” so that was the harder part to put them together. Darin and I lost our mom a few years ago and it was just something I really wanted to talk about. The show is really all about these mysteries and I know -I’m sorry but I hope we find alien life if I go before I don’t need to know-- But there’s things about my Mom that I’ll never know anymore.
I think that affects a lot of people. You start dealing with talking about that and thinking about Scully and I had talked to people and read about people who had been adopted or who had put kids up for adoption. They understand the responsibility and yet there are these thoughts. So that all seemed to start tying in.”
Glen adds too that he just didn’t want to do a Monster show without a real motivation. Homelessness is a real problem in Los Angeles that he took to heart and that plays a very valid point of view into how much responsibility we take for the society in which we live and take a stand for our roles.
The episode was quite taxing for Gillian Anderson as the emotional load was significant; it served as an opportunity for great collaboration between her and Sheila Larken allowing them to hit the heartbreaking notes we witness in “Home Again”. Glen recalls a moment when Gillian managed to achieve a particular emotional cue thanks to Sheila being with her. In one way or another this is a relationship that comes full circle.
One of the most curious interviews from back in the day on XFN was when we talked to Sheila Larken. She didn’t know that William had been given up for adoption when we talked. “One of the things she said was “Of course this show is written by men.” I shared this with Glen and he laughs. “Do you think that there’s a difference that had happened if a girl had been involved in the writers room at some point? Whenever that they hit that spot?” I ask.
“Maybe. I think some of it..I don’t know the math. Some of us had kids and others didn’t.
When you’re a parent you have a definite worldview it shifts completely and it could be that. I don’t know. I really like to think that...I’m a man and I hope that I write okay for Scully. And I hope you know that a woman would write good for Mulder.” He responds honestly.
“What do you think is Mulder’s position besides what we’ve seen in “Founder’s Mutation” from what we saw on “Home Again.” What do you think is really his position over William’s situation?” I ask referring to the character’s evolution on the topic as well.
“Well I don’t want to be the jerk you know… I’m not in favor of the shifting of episodes. Because if you look at “Home Again” she goes “Do you think of him?” and he doesn’t answer. Then the way it was supposed to be Jim [Wong] answers that he does. And so that’s really touching to me. She can deal with it better than he can. All these things that Mulder is not afraid of to face the Syndicate and all this stuff but then he can’t deal with fatherhood the episode flip ruins it for me.”
And I agree. We find a Mulder that’s ready to admit his own grudge in the second episode and having “Home Again” play fourth feels like a regression on that evolution. When it comes to fatherhood Fox Mulder had a shaky relationship with his dad and his actual biological father is one of his worst enemies at times. The fear of fatherhood is understandable. When Mulder thinks of himself as a father is almost theatrical. Not quite as natural as it is with Scully.
“Well [Scully] had good parents.” He elaborates. “And I think that that very often I’m surprised at the people who had good parents become good parents. You think of so many people who had difficult childhoods would go “I’m not going to be that” and a lot of times I’ve found that they do. And I think that’s probably Mulder’s situation like his family was literally taken away.”
“It’s what the last memory too is how it is for him.” I add.
Certainly the whole episode it’s a great showcase for Gillian Anderson’s talents. It’s raw and it doesn’t hide away from the ugliest feelings and fears that Scully may have about the fact that they had to make the decision they did. It hits the right notes it addresses the proper discomfort it works.
My one question would be why make the Scully boys so despondent? Both Bill Jr. and Charlie were rough. Despite the obvious sense of care and protectiveness that Bill once showed during the earlier seasons you could make the argument that his harshness was justified then. This episode paints him under a different light where he's not so loving and patient about his mother. We’d never seen Charlie in the series and personally I almost feel bashful when I admit that I prefer the fanfic version of Charlie Scully… Season four kind of makes us come to the conclusion that he even has kids the one that would be the good child the hidden gem that would be wise beyond his years but I digress. It’s interesting because I always put Maggie on a pedestal… and yet here she was not being the perfect mom she hoped she would be. Even in her death her character gained a few hundred layers.
On the casefile…
I was really delighted by the take on this Monster as Glen Morgan would call it. It took me back to the golden age of The X-Files and it certainly is one of the goriest ones. It’s nice to see that neither Morgan nor Wong held back. It’s a great way to tie in both stories it mixes the callbacks to the first run of the show with current themes that trigger reflection. This is what this show is about… making people think and look at ourselves as a society.
There are many layers to the philosophical questions posed through the casefile; it’s not just about responsibility is about human nature about facing challenges and fears is about going out of our way to achieve true empathy and the motivations behind everyone’s level of avoidance in society these days.
Tim Armstrong is the actor that portrayed Trashman. Many of you may recognize him from Rancid. This was partly a dream come true for Glen Morgan who on a whim reached out to him to play the idealistic and dark artist. Goodman told us how great the experience was on set having been one of his dreams as well he’d never imagined he could be part of the phenomenal train called The X-Files.
On the technical aspects…
This episode had amazing score. Mark Snow has rarely missed the mark so far in each episode and with the addition of “Downtown” the episode feels pretty tight.
Joel Ransom excelled in his collaboration as a cinematographer with Glen Morgan; we’d witnessed some of this style in Morgan’s previous X-Files episodes back in the day and even in his latest work on Intruders for BBC America but I feel that it is on this show that his work actually fits like a glove. The mix between the appropriate pacing and proportion of this episode classic methods and more stylized shots such as the one with Scully climbing down the stairs in despair set some of this storytelling apart.
See you next week for “Babylon” the fifth episode of The X-Files revival.