In Monday night’s dual storyline episode, Home Again, Mulder and Scully are called to Philadelphia to investigate an unusually grisly homicide. There’s a Monster of the Week whose preferred method of problem-solving is literally tearing bad guys limb-from-limb. He’s a tulpa – a thought form conjured into the corporeal world by a Banksy-esque graffiti artist who wanted to give voice to the homeless. The MOTW reminds me of Lurch from the Addams Family, except his flesh is decaying, he leaves a trail of maggots, and he’s really murdery. He focuses his homicidal tendencies on unsympathetic characters who do things like using fire hoses on homeless people, though, which may be why the writer didn’t bother to have the agents destroy him. In the second narrative, Scully’s mom dies and her final words are about William, the child that Scully and Mulder gave up for adoption in the original series. Pretty much everything else that happens brings Scully’s regretful mind back to William.
Where Does the Episode Fit?
The storylines intertwine in the service of the episode’s main function: showcasing Scully. The revival miniseries is only six episodes long and Chris Carter has been very deliberate in making each week’s offering have a purpose. Like a Greatest Hits album we’ve had a Mulder episode (My Struggle); a Continuing Arc Introduction (Founder’s Mutation) and a stand alone Monster of the Week (Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster). This episode pulls double duty as both a Scully episode and a story arc continuer. I reckon that leaves us one episode to wrap up the story arc and one to act as a sequel set-up.
The episode addresses (a) the way society treats the homeless and (b) the denial and inaction that is contributing to the global environmental crisis. The opening shot is of a sign that says, in all caps: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. That message continues throughout the program in relation to these issues (and, in Scully’s mind, about William’s adoption).
The murder victims:
1) A city official who was overseeing the involuntary removal and relocation of homeless people from their encampment in Philadelphia. This included using fire hoses on them, reminiscent of scenes from the 1960s civil rights movement.
2) A county school board president who was fighting against the relocation because it would place the homeless in an unused hospital building in her district. She didn’t want “those downtown people” near any of her schools.
Additionally, she was environmental apathy incarnate. After parking her gas-guzzler SUV in front of her stately iron-gated house, she ate two individually-packaged yogurts with a disposable plastic spoon and threw the recyclable plastic containers and spoon into a trash compactor. She then used her Keurig to make herself coffee in a disposable cup, walked past a counter with a disposable plastic bottle of water on it and dumped a week’s worth of single-use K-cups into the trash compactor.
3 and 4) A pair of art thieves who stole a giant graffiti-stenciled mural depicting the Lurch-like MOTW, a character the homeless people viewed as protecting them. The moment I knew the thieves were redshirts about to die: one of them says to the other “I never knew you could make so much money off the homeless!”
5) A real estate developer who was working with the city official to get rid of the homeless so he could build a bunch of fancy condos and gentrify the area. After forcibly moving the residents of the homeless encampment to the defunct hospital, he dismissively ignored all the people’s questions (like “where is my dog?”), paternally telling one grown man to “go to his room.”
Nostalgia Fest 2016
Like all the episodes so far, this one included lots of Easter eggs and references for veteran fans to enjoy. Additionally, it included several flashback sequences from the original series. Notably, Mulder’s bedside vigil when Scully was in a coma and a number of bits from baby William’s birth and the short time he was with the agents before being adopted.
Most PTSD-Inducing Factoid
The title of this episode is Home Again. The writer, Glen Morgan, wrote an episode in the original series called Home. Home was hands-down the creepiest, scariest, and most unsettling episode of The X-Files. It was the one with the inbred mutants who kept their armless, legless mom under the bed on a pull cart. [shudder]
Most Unlikely Guest Star
The artist who brought the tulpa into being was played by Tim Armstrong, the lead singer for Rancid. Glen Morgan, who claims to be Rancid’s biggest fan, wrote the part with Armstrong in mind.
Most WTF Moment
Scully called Mulder “Fox.” I know it’s his name but I can only remember one other time she did it and when she did, he told her that even his parents called him Mulder.
Most Heart-Rending Moment
Final scene with Mulder and Scully at the lake. Desperately sad Scully, talking about William’s adoption: “I need to believe that we didn’t treat him like trash.”
We’ve only got 2 episodes left, fellas. I can has The Lone Gunmen?