The X Files: 10.04 Home Again
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Last week's episode might have been a great monster story - with Darin Morgan's extra special comedy twist - but this week's episode was pure classic The X Files; a gruesome tale in the vein of Eugene Victor Tooms. Albeit, it wasn't as good as the classic season one episode Squeeze, but in many ways this was the best episode of the revival yet.
Band-Aid Nose Man is a killer sure to enter the pantheon of memorable monsters; utterly repulsive with his face of maggots and puss - a golem conjured out of the darkest thoughts of the street artist known as Trashman. In retrospect, Trashman would have rolled off the tongue a little better - a knowing nod to classics like the Flukeman - but as a creature stalking and killing the people hurting the homeless of Philadelphia, he utterly works. I think many fans will have forgotten how nasty The X Files could be, so the sight of the Band-Aid Nose Man tearing his first victim's arms off, ripping the head of the second victim (complete with spinal cord) or dismembering his last into a pile of body parts are sure to repulse some fans.
It was completely shocking and complete brutal but it felt like an episode of The X Files, more than any other before it in the revival. A mythological-type creature, a perversion of a Tibetan spiritual belief hunting its victims in the offices and homes of modern America, this was a familiar but welcome return to the grim nature of what we all remember of the 90's.
And like some of the great episodes of the past, it blended a gruesome story of supernatural murder with a personal impact on the two agents. This time, it was Scully, facing the death of her mother. Sheila Larken was a great presence in the show as Scully's mother Margaret, sharing a deep bond with Mulder too, particularly during Scully's abduction storyline in season two. It was lovely and fitting to give her one final send off even if it was heartbreaking to see her at the end of her life. She was Scully's tie to the real world; her dad died in season one, her mother here, bookending her own personal experiences over the show's history. The only disappointment I had was that Larken was largely playing a comatose patient, given how much warmth she brought to the role in the past.
But really, gruesome murders aside, this was Gillian Anderson's episode. In the revival it is abundantly clear that she is the better actor in the two leads and here we saw her deliver an astounding range; from her desperation to save her mother, her frustration when the orderlies came to take her away from organ donation and that final speech to Mulder as she carried her mother's ashes. The guilt over her abandonment of their son William has been surprisingly prominent in the revival, which makes me think he might have a role to play in the finale (and I write that knowing almost nothing about the final two episode). Was it a little heavy handed - her seeing William's name when it wasn't there? I did find it too in your face in a couple of scenes, but largely Anderson sold the performance of a mother consumed by guilt.
But just because there was horror and emotive drama, it didn't mean there wasn't time to have some fun too and Glen Morgan littered his script with some very playful moments. Mulder and Scully being called in by the local detective because of their penchant for spooky cases was a great throwback and we got to see much more of the witty Mulder of old with his jokey observations that made him such a fun character to watch in the early seasons. And talk of them being too old to do this was immediately thrown out by Scully with her "back in my day I did stairs in three inch heels." line. How much fun was it to see them speeding through the unlit corridors, torches flashing like the old days? Some might find it a little ridiculous but the crossing of the path of torchlight into an X shape was fun too.
I suspect last week's Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster might be the most rewatchable episode of the revival but Home Again was the most X-Filesy of the lot yet. Some forced moments aside, it captured the atmosphere, chills, scares, laughs and emotional trauma of all that made The X Files great. And for me, the last two weeks have absolutely justified bringing the show back for more.