“I don’t care about the big questions anymore, Mulder.”
I’m of two minds about this episode: I feel like each storyline is compelling on its own, but there are some clear problems that arise when they occupy the same hour. I understand the time constraints with a 6-episode miniseries, but fully committing to the emotional William story or to the monster of the week would serve “Home Again” well. “Founder’s Mutation” pulled off a dual role nicely, but this week’s episode is clunky at times.
For instance, Scully telling Mulder at the end that she hopes they “didn’t treat [William] like trash” is a bit groan-worthy. This is the culmination of 42 minutes of reaching for connections between two different storylines–storylines that often feel like they’re intruding on each other–and it’s not the greatest moment writing wise. However, this is Gillian Anderson being her usual phenomenal self, and she sells every single second of her performance in this one. She also brings out some more depth in Duchovny’s performance, and the final scene between the two of them is definitely beautiful to watch.
Before we get there, we go through a monster of the week storyline about the Bandaid Nose Man, something that rips people apart throughout the episode (and in one perversely compelling case, does so as Petula Clark’s “Downtown” plays). This is a plot that tackles the question of creation, of how something like art can manifest itself in a real-life destructive piece of work. One can view this as a connection of sorts to the Scully-Mulder-William storyline, which tackles the same question through a slightly different lens. Scully and Mulder created William and chose to give him up, and they are left to wonder about what has happened or what might have been. Lingering feelings of guilt and themes about sacrifice and loss are all tied into this dynamic, and as the first piece of paper in the episode states: “You are responsible”.
Photo credit: FOX, The X-Files