Monday, February 8, 2016

The X-Files - S10:E4 "Home Again"

[ S10:E3 "M&S Meet the Were-Monster" <<< Season 10 >>>  S10:E4 "Babylon" ]

Spoiler Warning: This is actually another half-mythology episode. Not full-mythology, but half-mythology. Mostly William-related stuff. There will be some spoilers.

Well, as I suspected, this episode did lean more toward the horror, but aside from that, it was less a straight-up monster-of-the-week than a counterpart to James Wong's episode, Founder's Mutation, in that it was really a half-mythology episode, with the mythology elements once again relating to an absentee William, and the psychological after-effects of his adoption on Mulder and Scully (especially Scully), just further reinforcing my opinion that they should have dropped the whole William thing and pretended it never happened, instead of dragging it up in order to respond to fans' criticism that Mulder and Scully haven't expressed an appropriate quantity of grief for losing the miracle son they made together. (It's like the writers are engaging in penitent self-flagellation for their handling of the William story thread, when they just need to get over it already).

If there's one thing I can say about this new season so far, it's that it's very consistent. Unfortunately, it's not consistently good, just consistently mediocre. I guess that's better than being consistently bad, but it's still less than I had gotten myself excited for. In spite of the title, this episode is less an homage to one of Morgan & Wong's greatest monster-of-the-week episodes ever - Home (a murder scene set to the cheery song "Downtown" comes closest, but actually feels more like the disjointed tone of The Post-Modern Prometheus, when the Great Mutato dances up the stairs to a Cher soundtrack) - and more of a hodgepodge of themes that run the gamut from such questionable episodes as The Jersey Devil, Kaddish, and Arcadia. The monster du jour - dubbed the Trashman, and obviously taking cues from Clive Barker's Candyman - is some kind of disgusting golem willed to life by a graffiti artist, who kinda reminds me of the killer in Surekill, but tromps around like the one in Salvage, ripping people apart limb from limb.

That this mediocre "spooky" case is buttressed by a parallel story line in which Scully administers to her mother following a heart attack (in what shall presumably be Sheila Larken's last appearance on the series - though it's a wonder she'd survived this long) should be its saving grace, except for the fact that that other story thread isn't all that interesting - or as emotionally devastating as it should be. References to another one of Morgan & Wong's greatest episodes - this time of the mythology variety, One Breath - only reinforces how much better that episode was (as well as how much younger the actors were back in 1994).

The subject of William (also the name of Scully's brother, who plays an absentee role via the phone without actually being there - much like Mulder did in the ninth season of the original series) is ham-fisted in, prompting another flashback to Scully's birthing scene in Existence. There is also a final scene on the beach that reminded me of Doggett's moment in Release, and while that was one of the better episodes of the previously final season, it begins to show how much these new episodes are burdened with the weight of the latter part of the original series, instead of bypassing all that baggage in order to resurrect what the show was at its prime (which is what I thought and hoped this revival was going to do).

I also felt that the theme of people treating other people like trash was a little heavy-handed, and the fact that Scully's desire to will something into being was then turned into a central theme re: breathing life into a golem, and bringing William into existence, was a bit overbearing. There were some creepy bits to the episode, but nothing that's going to make it stand out in the annals of time. Only two episodes remain in the season, and both of them were written by Chris Carter. Only the finale has been officially designated a mythology episode, so I'm just hoping next week's episode isn't one of Carter's directorial experiments (à la The Post-Modern Prometheus, or Triangle, neither of which I liked all that much), or one of his notoriously fumbling approaches to comedy. Time will tell.

Is that...Lake Okobogee?

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Where was the victim found?
Detective Dross: Still here. He's there, and uh, his in the trash can here.
Mulder: Not even in the proper recycling bin.

Scully: I don't care about the big questions right now, Mulder. I just want one more chance to ask my mom a few little ones.

Scully: You're a dark wizard, Mulder.
Mulder: What else is new?

Mulder: Federal agents! Open up! If you're in danger, we're here to help.
Voice: I am in danger! Now go away.

Scully: I believe that you will find all of your answers. You will find the answers to the biggest mysteries, and I will be there when you do. But my mysteries, I'll never have answered.

(What, are you fishing for sympathy here, Scully? "My grief is bigger than yours!" Even with the blind adoption, I have a hard time believing that knowing whether William's okay is a more unanswerable mystery than all the crap Mulder's been chasing for most of his life, especially after all of the non-answers, misinformation, and retroactive continuity they've been exposed to).

(And another thing, this exchange smells faintly of sexism. Men want to unlock the secrets of the universe, but women only care about how their kids are doing? It reminds me of a scene from Scrubs: "Most women end up in OB-GYN, Family Practice, or Pediatrics. It's like a rip-tide, sweetheart - pulling and pulling, and you can swim against the current all you want; but when Mr. Stork comes a-calling, you're not gonna be thinking, 'I'm Internal Medicine' - nope. It's gonna be, 'Ohhhh, look at the baby!'")

(By the way, does William even still need protecting, now that the Super Soldiers have been erased from canon and the alien agenda totally scrapped and re-written? (Apparently, when "the date [was] set" for the invasion, it was only penciled in). Or am I asking questions I'm not supposed to be asking?)

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