With Episode 4, we are past the half-way point of season 10 and this makes me sad. The show is rolling along pretty well, and the Monkey hopes that it is renewed for at least one full season. The writers have proven capable, the lead actors are doing a decent job and a lot of the magic of those first five to eight seasons is shining throw periodically in this mini season. Let’s get to the review –
** WARNING ** SPOILERS ** WARNING ** SPOILERS **
This episode was a little uneven for me. The acting continues to improve as does the repartee between Mulder and Scully. Here we see Duchovny with a sparkle in his eye and looking like he’s enjoying playing the part again. On Gillian Anderson’s side, it’s still a bit stilted. And you don’t notice unless you go back and watch some of the original episodes. Her voice is here raspy and she underspeaks, sometimes mumbling her lines. Her acting is definitely emotion-laden, but it often just whispery. And it’s most notable when she’s performing opposite of Duchovny. Still, it’s not a huge problem and doesn’t detract a great deal.
Plot-wise, the episode includes the triple stories of Scully’s mother dying, Fox and Dana (especially Dana) struggling with having given their son up for adoption, and a monstrous human who is killing city planners violently on behalf of homeless people. The theme of “garbage” is reflected all three stories – and it’s aptly described in the monologue by both a homeless person, an artist and the supporting actors. Garbage was once useful “stuff” that is cast aside and put on the curb to be taken away and forgotten. Further, in life we dispose of things like cups and non-perishables that ultimately are out of mind/out of sight, but still end up in a landfill forever. In effect, the garbage does not go away, it’s simply placed where it cannot be seen by us – but can continue to do harm in ways we never envisioned. Sometimes we dispose for convenience; it’s often easier to dispose than repair.
Scully’s mother is dying in the hospital and continues to ask for the one son who abandoned her (or who she abandoned?) and hasn’t seen in many years, Curtis. In essence, her son (or she) treated the other as “garbage”. She clings to life while Scully attempts to locate the sibling. At the same time, Scully continues to break down when she thinks of the son she and Fox put up for adoption (William, jr.), the idea being they cast their son away out of convenience. In the meantime, in nearby Philadelphia, city officials are trying to move the homeless to institutions where they will not be seen, all part of a city neighborhood gentrification project. A monstrous trash “person” appears periodically and literally tears these officials apart by their limbs. The creature was mistakenly created by an artist who goes by the name of “GarbageMan”. He confesses that he gave the creature life using some Tibetan technique that is really not explained (though Fox seems to be familiar with).
The end of the episode is one of the most heart breaking and poignant I can remember on the X Files. David Duchovny does a fantastic job anchoring Gillian’s abject despair. It’s powerful and speaks of how far their characters’ relationships have progressed.
When compared to most of what makes it on TV these days, this episode is superb. It has a cinemagraphic presence that is both horrific and interesting. It is gory. It uses a technique I first saw on Breaking Bad where the point of view is from a camera that looks back on the actor’s face and appears to be mounted about two-feet ahead of the actor, at chin level. This makes the film look like the character is manically running or walking.
What was a “miss” for me was the mumbo-jumbo that was used to describe how the monster came to life. And there isn’t much backstory on why the artist does what he does. There isn’t a lot of character development in terms of the homeless and why there are so many huddled in that spot in the city. Why does the monster use such a violent means of killing people? Did this artist do this in other cities? If the artist knows what’s going on, why doesn’t he try to stop it? What are the other creatures that he has created and that we only catch a glympse of? The episode is so full of story that they in fact had to cut back on supporting details.
Also, while I realize that this is a different era, it’s still a bit jarring to see Dana Scully with her blouse unbuttoned to mid-chest as part of her normal couture. I’m not a prude at all, but that is just not her character. She’s always been conservative, prim and proper. Maybe things have changed over the last 20 years. As previously noted, Gillian Anderson just mumbles her words too much. Her voice is rough, she speaks quietly and those two combined make it difficult to understand her.
On the other hand, Duchovny keeps getting better. In one scene, he seems to break down and laugh when Scully calls him a “dark wizard”, and it made me laugh because it appeared to be Duchovny-the-actor’s genuine amusement at the line. He makes sarcastic comments and is generally a smart-ass, which makes him likable. Scully, unfortunately, ends up being the character who carries a lot of the emotional weight and that can make her less likable.
Keep an eye out for when Fox and Scully cross their flashlight beams while maneuvering in the dark and it looks like the X in the X Files logo!
The show is still good, getting better and I’m so very pleased it’s back. The writing is decent, the acting is very effective and the cinematography is fantastic. Mulder is still skeptical and feels like he’s been fooled by hoaxes his whole life, but he’s turning.
Here again are the Episodes based on my ranking:
- Episode 3 – Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster
- Episode 4 – Home Again
- Episode 2 – Founder’s Mutation
- Episode 1 – My Struggle
It’s exciting to think where the show could go. The Monkey hopes for a renewal!