While a lot of the early success of The X-Files can be attributed to series creator Chris Carter, I’ve always felt that the real credit for fleshing out Scully as more than just the “skeptic” to Mulder’s believer came from the pen of Glen Morgan and James Wong. Looking back on season one, it’s Morgan and Wong who really take the time to deepen Scully into something more than just the woman sent there to de-bunk Mulder’s work.
No where is that more evident in the first truly great Scully episode “Beyond the Sea.”
Interestingly, that’s one of the ten installments that Carter recommended fans visit again before the mini-series kicked off.
And while some fans may have been hoping that “Home Again” was a sequel to Morgan and Wong’s most infamous hour “Home,” I have to admit I was far more satisfied to see this one be a continuation of the character exploration of Scully that began all the way back in “Beyond the Sea” and served as the lynch-pin for the entire series run (even when it went completely bonkers in seasons eight and nine).
Combining a monster of the week with a personal story for Scully, “Home Again” felt a bit like a season one episode. That’s both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because it had the raw energy of the show’s early days when it was willing to try just about anything with the story, characters and audience. It’s bad because sometimes the monster of the week plot didn’t necessarily work as well it could or would in later seasons (specifically seasons two through five).
Of the four installments we’ve seen, three have centered in some way on the decision Mulder and Scully made to give their son up for adoption. If there was one frustration I had in the later season of the series, it was how little emotional impact this decision seemed to have for these two characters. And yet with these four installments, I feel like the series had made some positive steps to correct that and show us that the decision has had an impact on these two. Two weeks ago, we saw the flashes of what could have been for these two had they not given up William for adoption. Here we see the emotional impact it continues to have on these two — especially Scully, who is haunted by her decision.
Morgan tries to tie the decision to give up William with the monster of the week plot. In this case, it’s about how the homeless in Philadelphia are being overlooked and that they need a type of hero to step into the turf war taking place between a couple of politicians. I’ve got to admit that this part of the plot didn’t quite work as well as I’d hoped it would. One big glaring issue is that, as could happen in some of the original monster of the week installments, Mulder and Scully really don’t have any impact on stopping said monster from carrying out his or her agenda. In this case, the only thing that stops the Band-Aid man is the fact that he’s killed all the people on his list and can now move on — to do what I’m not quite sure.
But I suppose I will take a less than engaging Monster of the Week (though there were some nice edge of your seat moments and a nice use of the song “Downtown” thrown in there) for the character work we got with Scully. If last week was a chance for David Duchovny to be engaged and run with the story, this week was all about Gillian Anderson. And as we saw with the original run, any time you give Anderson something to sink her teeth into, odds are she’s going to knock it out of the park.
Of our two agents, I’d argue that Scully has paid the higher personal price when it comes to her involvement with the X-Files. She’s lost a lot of her family on-screen as well as having to give up her son for adoption. The latest loss comes with the death of her mother. The scenes with Scully sitting with her mother and the well-chosen flashbacks to “One Breath” gave this storyline a lot of resonance. I also really liked that we’ve seen some growth from Mulder. He’s willing to put aside his quest for answers (as he wasn’t really willing to do in “One Breath”) to be there with Scully in the ICU with her mother. The final words of Mrs. Scully to him that her son is named William as well were tragic and I have a feeling may spark these two to try and find out where William is as we head into the final two episodes.
Given that this is a mini-series (at least by Emmy rules) I can easily see Gillian Anderson making the short list for best actress next year.
It also makes me a bit sad to realize that we’ve only got two installments left this season and it seems like we’ve got a lot left to explore before things close down again.