A review of tonight's The X-Files coming up just as soon as I do stairs in three-inch heels…
“I don't care about the big questions right now, Mulder.” -Scully
The title “Home Again,” and the presence of Glen Morgan as writer and director, fueled speculation that this episode would be a sequel to the grossest X-Files of them all: the Morgan and James Wong-scripted “Home,” about the family of inbred killers. The “Home Again” Monster of the Week is pretty disgusting in its own right, and the episode even features a brutal murder ironically scored to a mid-20th century pop tune (in this case, Petula Clark's “Downtown”). But the hour instead turns out to be a sequel to a few other Morgan/Wong episodes, most notably season 2's “One Breath,” with Mulder at the bedside of a comatose Scully.
On a purely MOTW level, “Home Again” was much more effective than Wong's “Founder's Mutation” from earlier in the revival. The Trash Man's golem had a creepy but simple design, its attacks suspenseful and just on the right side of gory, and the themes of discarding your creation tied in nicely not only to Scully's personal situation but the larger idea of The X-Files itself. The show needed to end by the time it did – almost certainly should have ended a few years earlier, in fact – but I can imagine Morgan, Wong, Chris Carter, and everyone else who worked on the show occasionally thinking about their old friends Mulder and Scully, wondering what they were up to, and even feeling some small amount of guilt at leaving them behind.
But “Home Again” had the power that it did because of the family side of things, as Scully got to be on the other end of a coma situation, had to say goodbye to her mother, deal with the schism within the family she was born into, and once again reckon with the decision she and Mulder made about their son. (With William becoming a big topic of discussion in two of the four episodes so far, I wonder if his fate will somehow come up in the finale.) This was a wonderful showcase for Gillian Anderson – particularly the ache in Scully's voice as she asked Mulder why Margaret's last words were about their child – and the situation also brought out the best of Duchovny. In his later years on the series, his interest level only seemed to rise for the comedy episodes, and I wondered if “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was going to be the only hour of this run where he was fully engaged. But he rose to the occasion here, recognizing the intensity of his long-time co-star's performance and producing the appropriate level of vulnerability to match. Mulder remembers what it was like to sit by Scully's bed, and he cares about her family, too, and the connection between the partners was palpable in a way it hasn't always been in the revival, even factoring in that they're estranged when the story resumes.
Heck, Scully even calls Mulder “Fox” in the final scene, which I only recall happening once in the original series (“Tooms,” also by Morgan and Wong), which shows how deeply affected she is by her mother's death and thoughts of their son.
Of the four episodes so far, “Were-Monster” is probably still my favorite, but that's representative of an occasional X-Files flavor. “Home Again” was more representative of the original series' meat-and-potatoes substance, and was a terrific example of that. The final two episodes were both written by Carter, which has me wary after the premiere, but the fact that the revival stuck with the mythology/MOTW mix of the old show, rather than just trying to tell a serialized story over six hours, means we can enjoy the really good ones and not feel like they're impacted by any ones that don't work.
What did everybody else think?