In contrast to last week’s embarrassingly sub-par monster (and episode as a whole, for that matter), Home Again gives us an engaging creature to contend with. Simply called “The Trashman” (John DeSantis), the lumbering, maggot-infested figure resembles a living corpse more than your neighborhood garbage collector, but don’t get the wrong idea. He is not a zombie in any way, shape or form: the Trashman is in fact a tulpa, or thoughtform, unintentionally willed into existence by a socially-conscious street artist (Tim Armstrong) disgusted by the cruel way the authorities treat the homeless of Philadelphia but horrified by the brutal way in which his creation tries to solve the problem.
For that matter, viewers are just as liable to be horrified (or at the very least entertained) by the Trashman’s method of sticking it to the man. The decaying giant kicks the door of a callous city official in before literally tearing him apart and rips the head of a graffiti collector off of his body, exposing the unfortunate art connoisseur’s spine, still dripping blood, for all the audience to see. The monster’s most effective scene however, is probably the one where we see the least carnage. As rain pours and Petula Clark’s irrepressibly cheerful “Downtown” plays, the Trashman makes his way into the home of Nancy Huff (Peggy Jo Jacobs), a middle-class lawyer who seeks an injunction against the planned removal of the city’s homeless only because it means they will be moved closer to her well-kept suburban home. Huff is going about her business when she notices a trail of puddles swimming with maggots on the staircase. Looking up, thunder claps and the music crescendos when she sees the towering thoughtform, staring right back at her. An attempt at fleeing on her part ends in failure, and all we see of her grisly demise is the Trashman placing organs into her trashcan before departing in the garbage truck in which he came.
In addition, the otherworldly nature of this week’s monster dovetails nicely with the personal issues of our heroes, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Whilst investigating the case, Scully learns that her mother, Margaret (Sheila Larken) had a heart attack and rushes to the hospital. Thinking that her mother asked for her younger, long-estranged brother William before going into a coma, Scully gets ahold of him and lets her unconscious mother hear his voice. Margaret snaps out of her coma, but instead of reconciling with him, she says that she has a son named William too before dying. Scully is devastated: her mother was asking for William – their son, not hers. This is the second explicit reference to Mulder and Scully’s long-since-given-up son this season, strongly suggesting, as was previously speculated in our review of Founder’s Mutation, that a final reckoning involving the two FBI agents and William is coming up.
After the major narrative and stylistic missteps of last week’s episode, Home Again is a welcome return to the quality and caliber of the program’s better monster of the week episodes. The Trashman does not get too much screen time, but the presence he brings to the scenes he is in (and even scenes he is not in) makes him the strongest monster of Season 10 so far. On top of that, Mulder and Scully are able to explore their own personal tragedies and demons without taking time away from the main storyline. If the two remaining episodes are similar to this one, then The X-Files is well on it’s way to ending on a satisfying note.
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