After helming and writing last week’s hugely entertaining “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-monster,” The X-Files‘ executive producer and longtime axiom Glen Morgan returns once again for “Home Again,” in which we once again dive into the personal histories of our agents. This time, it’s Scully’s mother, once again played by Sheila Larken, who falls into a coma following a heart attack and begins asking about Scully’s estranged brother, Charlie. It’s this tragic turn of events that pulls Scully away from the hunt for a enormous, super-strength Golem-like creature who quite literally pulls apart a handful of citizens, seemingly in defense of the homeless.
It’s not surprising then that “Home Again” is an episode that feels as if its being pulled in two different directions, rather than intertwining the thematic concerns of both storylines in terms of tone and mood. When Morgan focuses on Mulder’s investigation into the creature, nicknamed “Trash Man,” the film has the gloomy, mordent emotional tint of Morgan’s best work in the original run. The use of music in the attack on the affluent mother, specifically, recalls the eerie juxtaposition of Johnny Mathis‘ cheery “Wonderful, Wonderful” with a brutal murder in the classic Kim Manners episode “Home,” from the fourth season. And the revelation that the “Trash Man” was the outcome of an artistic work suggests a sense of both the positives and negatives of creating socially aware art, how something well meaning and righteous can turn into something dark and dangerous.
It’s a message that Morgan, Chris Carter, and the other heads of the X-Files revival might take a second glance at, considering how hammy and simplistic the politics in this miniseries have been on the whole. “Home Again” reiterates this problem, as every character that opposes just leaving the homeless alone is presented as obnoxious, or just plain-old evil, and no real, informed solutions for the plague of homelessness in America are presented in any meaningful way.
More problematic than that, however, is the familiar, bland drama between Scully and her mother, which comes off as nothing more than a calibrated show of nostalgia for the original run, giving Larken a reason to come back and to flippantly introduce Scully’s complicated family life. Larken’s characters appearance and ultimate exit doesn’t offer any intimate revelations about Gillian Anderson‘s beleaguered agent, only slight, disposable allusions to the regrets of a parent from losing contact with (or just losing) a child. If their exchanges have any weight, it will seemingly only become clear in the grand scheme of things, after this miniseries has come to the close, but that doesn’t give the scenes any sort of substance in “Home Again.” Rather, they render an episode as potentially engrossing and effective as Morgan’s last episode little more than an enjoyable mediocrity.
★★★ – Good-ish