The X-Files “Home Again” Review (2016 Mini-Series Episode 4)

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On the fourth episode of “The X-Files” revival mini-series- or technically, the second switched around to the fourth slot, if you’re keeping score at home- we got another “monster-of-the-week”-type episode, only with a very different vibe than that of last week’s superlative (and hilarious) one. This came courtesy of Glen Morgan, brother of last week’s episode’s author, Darin, and as fans know, the two are night and day stylistically, and in their overall vibes.

Whereas Darin is known for his more light-hearted fare on the show, Glen, who was also one of the masterminds behind the “Final Destination” series (he wrote and produced the 1st and 3rd respectively, along with frequent co-conspirator James Wong), tends to go darker- way darker. He’s best-known for the notorious, oft-banned “Home” (the one about the cannibal family), and the fan favorites “Squeeze”/“Tooms,” “Ice,” “Beyond the Sea” and “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man.”

Perhaps for the best, despite the title, “Home Again” is not, in fact, a sequel to “Home,” but it was pretty gruesome, all told, albeit not nearly as gross as “Home,” thankfully. (It helps that it didn’t involve incest, for one.) That said, it did feature mass dismemberment, and far-flung body parts, as well as one woman being crushed and tossed into a trash compactor, so it’s not as if it were “The Wonderful World of Disney,” either.

The story revolved around a series of murders involving city officials tasked with relocating the poor so that various buildings could be cleaned, basically upending their lives overnight, practically without warning, leaving many out on the street. The first victim, Cutler (Alessandro Juliani, “The 100”), has his arms ripped clean off, his head torn off and tossed into a wastebasket, and his torso left behind his desk. The problem being, of course, that no man was capable of such a feat.

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Enter Mulder and Scully, brought in as advisers by the local detective on the case, as they have experience with “spooky” cases. Alas, no sooner has Scully arrived than she gets an emergency call from her brother, William, Junior, informing her that her mother, Margaret (Sheila Larkin, reprising the role she originated in the show’s initial run) is in the hospital, having had a heart attack. Scully rushes to her side, leaving Mulder to continue the investigation.

He finds that all the security cameras have intentionally been moved to cover the tracks of whoever did it, and finds a grimy band-aid on the ground, which he takes to have analyzed. He also notices that a piece of graffiti artwork was put up in roughly the same time-frame, and that the artist could have conceivably seen something, having been in the near-vicinity of the crime and sets about trying to track the artist down.

When Scully arrives, her mother is in bad shape, and oddly, has been calling out for Charlie, the heretofore unseen Scully sibling, rather than Dana or William, Jr., or even her grandkids. This knocks Scully for a loop, and she’s not helped by the fact that William Jr. almost certainly won’t be able to get there in time to visit his mother before her likely impending demise, or that he can’t reach Charlie, with whom all have been estranged for some time. (For fans, Scully also drops an “Ahab” reference in regards to her father- a nice bookend to the Queequeg and Daggoo ones from the previous episode.)

Meanwhile, Mulder talks to redeveloper Landry (Daryl Shuttleworth, also of Morgan’s short-lived-but-intriguing “Intruders”) and Board of Education rep Huff (Peggy Jo Jacobs, who cropped up in Morgan’s “Black Christmas” remake), who are both arguing over the proposed relocation of the poor to a vacant hospital, which Huff feels is too close to a local school in her district, which could potentially endanger the kids there. As it turns out, these two aren’t suspects, however, but rather, potential victims.

A nearby homeless man overhears and mentions the “Band-Aid Nose Man,” a sort of recent local presence in the urban legend mold, which grabs Mulder’s attention, given the Band-Aid clue left behind at the scene. But when Mulder gets the results back on the Band-Aid in question, much to his and the analyzer’s shock, there’s nothing on it, either organic or inorganic, despite the sticky substance apparently affixed to the slimy underside of it.

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Back at the hospital, Scully discovers that her mother is wearing a necklace with a quarter embedded within it- but why? A closer look at the date on it doesn’t help matters, as the date holds no significance to her, personally. Making matters worse is the fact that her mother apparently changed her directive about being kept alive via machine, in case she went into a coma, to “do not resuscitate,” much to Scully’s horror, who knew nothing about it.

Between that and her calling out to her most estranged child, nothing is making much sense to her about any of this, least of all her mother’s sudden change of heart, almost as if she knew something were going to happen. Scully finds herself flashing back to Mulder holding court for herself when she was in the hospital, in which we see an alarmingly young-looking David Duchovny.

Meanwhile, two guys steal the graffiti work and attempt to sell it on the black market, but before they can, the nefarious “Band-Aid Nose Man” pays them a visit, suffocating one in a garbage bag, while ripping the other guy apart, including tearing off his head, as blood splatters upon the graffiti in question, showing the painter in question to be credited as “Trashman.”

After Huff serves Landry an injunction, having successfully blocked his relocation, she goes home, and also gets a visit from “BANM,” who crushes her up and tosses her in the garbage compactor. To the tune of Petula Clark’s classic “Downtown,” no less! Yep, it was kind of awesome, and obviously, the other Morgan isn’t without a sense of humor, albeit one as black as…well, his Christmas movie.

Mulder goes back to the hospital after a brief check-in earlier, and is unable to puzzle out the significance of the necklace, either. The doctor prepares to remove the intubation, despite Scully’s protests, but it does allow her to communicate briefly with Charlie, who Scully’s other brother has finally tracked down.

She does react, but not in the way expected, as she looks to Mulder and says, “I have a son named William, too,” a reference to Scully and Mulder’s own son. Sadly, she dies shortly thereafter, which means, for those keeping score at home, Morgan has now killed off both Scully’s father (in “Beyond the Sea”) and her mother. Scully better keep him away from her siblings- much less her son!

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Scully insists on going back to work directly after, needing something to distract her. They manage to track down the Trashman artist to his lair, where we get the iconic appearance of Mulder and Scully’s darkness-cutting flashlights, which form an “X” when first lit, appropriately enough. They see freaky creatures roaming about, somewhat reminiscent of the ones in “The Descent,” then hear a man wailing, who turns out to be the artist in question.

The actor is none other than Tim Armstrong, ska/punk rocker, of Operation Ivy and, appropriately enough, Rancid, fame. He’s says he’s in danger, but no one will help him, and that guns don’t work on “them,” meaning the creatures. Saying that people treat other people like trash, he admits to having accidentally created the creatures himself- as well as the “BANM”- by carving them out of clay, Tulpa-style. (See also the episode “Arcadia.”)

Mulder corrects him to term it a Tulku instead, saying that Tulpa weren’t able to harm anyone. Clearly, this is an exception to that rule, however, as it was brought to life by his sheer force of will, and unfortunately imbued with a violent streak, striking out at anyone he saw as treating people like trash. Cut to: the “BANM” wreaking havoc at the abandoned hospital that Landry finally successfully was able to transfer the poor to.

Mulder, Scully and the Trashman rush there, all too late, as the creature has already ripped Landry into pieces, leaving them scattered on the floor of a bathroom at the hospital, a Band-Aid on top of him. The Trashman goes back to his lair and quickly molds a Smiley Face on the creature, in hopes of quelling his thirst for vengeance, but we never see if it works- or if a Smiley Faced Killer picks up where the “BANM” left off.

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We end with Mulder and Scully by a lake, contemplating what had transpired, with Scully realizing that perhaps her mother was so worried about Charlie because he was the most lost of her children. She also worries that the mention of William, their own son, was because he was either not being properly looked after or was perhaps in danger. She fears what he might think of her for leaving him the way she did, and Mulder comforts her, saying that “we” did it, although fans will recall that Mulder didn’t even know about it until after the fact.

This was another old-school feeling episode, and if not quite as entertaining and satisfying overall as last week’s overall more fun one, it was still pretty engaging, and a nice book-end to Morgan’s previous efforts, notably the aforementioned “Beyond the Sea” and “One Breath,” as well as “Kaddish” and “Arcadia,” among others, i.e. the episodes shown in the flashbacks.

While the juxtaposition of the monster stuff and the death of Scully’s mom was a bit jarring and didn’t completely work overall, Gillian Anderson’s heartfelt turn was so wonderful, and Duchovny’s so affecting in its own way- note how he kept putting the case aside to be there for Scully time and again, something the “old” Mulder probably wouldn’t have done, especially in the early days- that I didn’t really mind. Besides, the gore effects were pretty cool, and the monster itself suitably icky, so I enjoyed it on the whole, even if it was a bit lopsided.

I’d say in the overall scheme of things, “Home Again” was on par with “Founder’s Mutation” but not quite as good as “My Struggle” and “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” Still, the revival is pretty rock solid on the whole, so I can’t say I have any real complaints so far, beyond some of the dialogue being a bit on the nose at times- i.e. actually quoting “I want to believe” and “The truth is out there” and all that conspiracy stuff Mulder and Joel McHale’s character were spouting in the premiere. Not saying it was out of place, by any means, just hitting the nail on the head with the hammer a bit harder than necessary, if you know what I mean.

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What did you think of “Home Again”? Are you digging “The X-Files” revival so far? Are you sad it’s only got two more to go? Do you wish it were longer? How do you think the new episodes compare to the old ones? Do you think they’re better than the stories told in the movies? If you had a choice, would you rather they do more TV episodes or another movie dealing with the overarching mythos? What do you think the significance of the quarter was? Sound off down below, and see you next week for episode five!