Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
“THE X-FILES: Season 10, Episode 4” (TV Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
After putting together an out-and-out contemporary classic with “Scully and Mulder meet the Were-Monster,” one might have imagined that the next installment of THE X-FILES would have a tough time reaching that high bar. Yet to be perfectly honest, one could assume that no one expected “Home Again” to be a busy, unfocused and frankly disappointing chapter of THE X-FILES revival. After all, Glen Morgan’s writing and direction on the series has frequently been stellar, but when THE X-FILES announced its return would be contained to a six-episode event series, the fact that one episode missed the mark so prominently shows that the little time fans have with Scully and Mulder again feels more valuable than it once was.
Even more disappointing is how otherwise excellent the episode could have been if the stories presented were separated, as the “monster-of-the-week” portion had potential to be among THE X-FILES scariest. The villain- an ultra-violent creature with the clunky name “Band-Aid Nose Man”- has the chops to be memorable, especially with his supernatural “guardian angel” element for the homeless and his extremely gory way of dispensing victims. Yet the episode ends up getting bogged down with sentimentality and heavy-handed social commentary (nearly nihilistic in nature) that feels like a desperate attempt to connect the otherwise fun and frightening storyline with the subplot.
The subplot- and, honestly, a story that deserved its own full episode- is that of Scully’s dying mother, and how that affects Scully and her own views as a mother. While emotional and a great showcase for Gillian Anderson, this subplot gets increasingly repetitive until its final moments, which feels like a forced connection to the other episodes of the event series while rocketing Scully back into the main story. To be honest, for a sub-plot that is given that much time and consideration, a full episode with a chance to unite Dana Scully with all of her living siblings on-camera for the first time would have truly given it the emotional gut-punch it deserves rather than serve as an underhanded catalyst for a bigger story about Mulder and Scully’s own child.
In essence, that’s what truly makes “Home Again” feel like a top-to-bottom misfire: the imbalance between personal storytelling and classic X-FILES expectations. While the episode has Mulder’s trademark quips, amoral bad guys and a mysterious monster, Scully being sidelined by a devastating personal loss feels remarkably out of place, especially once it serves its larger purpose in the story of Scully’s “gifted” child. Had this episode been split- or even paced differently, considering the multiple narrative MacGuffins that could have been thrown out regarding “Band-Aid Nose Man”, THE X-FILES may have continued its winning streak with something rightfully terrifying and surprisingly emotional. Instead, it’s truly neither, which is a real bummer as the event series is winding down.
That’s not to say “Home Again” doesn’t have redeeming qualities: the performances are largely spot-on, and technically speaking, the event series hasn’t looked this much like vintage X-FILES for the entire run. Anderson and David Duchovny are excellent, especially the latter who gets to both crack wise and offer a rare emotional beat in his brief appearance in the B-story. Meanwhile, the make-up and gore FX on this episode are spot on, which certainly benefit from the relaxed, post-HANNIBAL network TV standards for dismembered body parts. And while the script might have been a problem, Glen Morgan’s direction is certainly appreciated, especially in terms of building the atmosphere around the creepier sequences as well as the dirtier, more industrial production design of the episode.
Overall, however, “Home Again” is a bust, condensing two potentially great episodes into a sadly sub-par and confusing mystery with a melodramatic subplot running through the shocking murders on display. On one hand, “Home Again” highlights one of the main problems with lesser episodes of THE X-FILES in that there is clearly a supernatural, non-ALIEN angle on display and yet, thanks to arbitrary character skepticism, the case remains unsolved and largely uninteresting. Yet on the other hand, the episode has indeed confirmed that Scully & Mulder’s son, William, will certainly factor into the final episodes of the event series, although just how so will remain unknown until they air.