Scully: Back in the day, did we ever come across the ability to wish someone back to life?
Mulder: I invented it. When you were in the hospital, like this.
Scully: You’re a dark wizard, Mulder.
Mulder: What else is new?
Coming off of last week’s brilliant “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”, “Home Again” is another offering from a veteran member of The X-Files writing team, Glen Morgan. Although not a sequel to Morgan’s and James Wong’s “Home”, one of the more gruesome and horrifying outings of the original run, this episode still highlights the classic elements of a monster-of-the-week, while also focusing on Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) relationship with her mother, Margaret (Sheila Larken), and the son, William, that she gave up for adoption.
“Home Again” opens on a scene in Philadelphia in which homeless people are being relocated using force and cruelty. Joseph Cutler (Alessandro Juliani) is the federal employee on the scene and the first victim of the “Band-Aid Nose Man” (John DeSantis). Shadowy and imposing, the figure is human-like, but obviously not, calling to mind the Alien Bounty Hunter from the original series. He literally tears Cutler apart in seconds, then disappears, while the only sign of his fleeting presence is found in the street art depicting him, created by an artist known only as Trashman (Tim Armstrong).
Naturally, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully are called in to investigate (“I called the Bureau. They said that you two have experience with these, um, spooky cases”.), but Scully is quickly called away to her mother’s hospital bedside. The setting not only brings up flashbacks of Scully’s time in a coma, but also her mother’s previous near-death. Both times resulted in a miraculous recovery, but this time Margaret passes away, though not before waking up one last time to deliver a cryptic message (“My son is named William, too”).
The episode is an excellent showcase for Anderson, and she plays all the emotional upheaval of her character with real pathos and commitment. Although last week was more focused on Mulder, and played to his comedic strengths, “Home Again” puts Scully squarely in the center, and Anderson delivers beautifully. Scully’s increasing guilt and doubt over her decision to give up William comes up again here in both flashback form, and in her reflection during her time at the hospital. The theme of motherhood and family (which incidentally, was also at the center of “Home”) builds throughout the episode in both expected and unexpected ways.
Certainly Scully, her mother, and William are the obvious illustrations, and also Scully’s estranged brother, Charlie (Andrew Morgado), mentioned for the first time here. But in addition, the Band-Aid Nose Man as the creation of Trashman also speaks to a parental-like relationship, as well as to that of a caretaker, further extended to the Band-Aid Nose Man’s targeting of those responsible for the relocation of the homeless. In essence, he serves as a vigilante intent on taking down those in a position to disenfranchise those already at a disadvantage. It’s a protective instinct taken to the extreme, twisted though it may be, but one that parallels Scully’s own enormous sacrifice to protect her son.
In addition, “Home Again” builds upon “Founder’s Mutation”, nicely as William looms over both episodes, imbuing them with sadness and regret. In many ways, the reopening of the X-Files has also reopened old wounds. Yes, Mulder and Scully are clearly having fun working together on these cases again, but ultimately, their work took a huge toll on their lives, and this episode brings that all to the fore. Where “Mulder and Scully Meet a Were-Monster” was meant to relive all the good times, “Home Again” poignantly reminds them of all they’ve been through and sacrificed. Like Darin Morgan last week, Glen Morgan understands the history of these characters in a fundamental way that informs how he writes them now. Years have past, yet many things remain the same, and having a writer of Morgan’s caliber, who was behind some the series’ most iconic episodes (“Ice”, “Beyond the Sea”, and “Home”, among others), still involved, has only strengthened the series.