Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Home Again

No, last night's episode of The X-Files was not a sequel to the fan favorite "Home." (Unpopular side note: I never really cared for that one.) Instead, it was a fresh idea blending a monster-of-the-week installment with a personal drama for Scully.

The Scully plot line was for me the most successful part of the episode. Most episodes of The X-Files don't really give Mulder and Scully much to do but play CSI by way of The Twilight Zone. They react, but they don't necessarily get to emote. Either because this new mini-season is so short, or because the writers knew they might need to tempt back David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson with meatier material, this episode really gave the characters something significant on a personal level.

The thread of William, the son they gave up, seems to be woven as a continuing element of this season, and I like what that's done for the episodes and the characters. This episode showed us that Scully's regrets about that decision are profound, even more than the recent episode let on. The episode also put her through the wringer dealing with her mother's death. It stirred up memories of early X-Files -- not just in the coma flashbacks actually inserted into the episode (how young they looked!), but in the first season "Beyond the Sea," where Scully faced the death of her father. I'm not sure Gillian Anderson ever had as much drama in an X-Files episode as she had here, and she handled it quite well.

The monster of the week, the Trashman, was fun overall, if a little bit inconsistent and scattershot at times. The core idea of a monster wished to life as an avenging force was clever, and the look of the creature itself was cool. I also thought the shocking violence worked, surely right up to the razor edge of what could be allowed on network TV. But I don't know that we needed the little bait and switch about who "made" it. When the monster went after someone trying to help the homeless, I'm not sure Mulder's previous dialogue about her self-serving nature was sufficient justification for me. And I think the creature's apparent teleportation ability actually undermined its scariness a bit.

Also a bit forced for me was the way the script tried to stitch these two disparate elements together. Gillian Anderson sold the hell out of the final "I hope we didn't treat him like trash" monologue, enough to make me buy it overall, but I still think it's a bit of a mental hike from "loss in the family" to "trash monster." Perhaps I've been spoiled by years of Supernatural, which through many peaks and valleys in its long run has always done well in metaphorically mirroring a one-off monster to Sam and Dean's current personal relationship.

But overall, this was a pretty good episode. I give "Home Again" a solid B.

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