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This was, on all fronts, a really strong episode of The X-Files. If push came to shove, I would say I enjoyed “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” more, but “Home Again” packed an emotional punch that I wasn’t sure the series was still capable of at this point in its life. And a large part of that emotional resonance comes from the wonderful work of Gillian Anderson.
For those of us who have watch Anderson’s career resurgence on The Fall or Hannibal, we know that she has become one of television’s strongest players in recent years. She has taken to dark, stylistic dramas like a duck to water, and is churning out spectacular work. So, it’s hardly surprising that when given the chance to take the story and run with it in “Home Again,” Anderson was more than up for the challenge. It was easy to feel her anguish throughout the episode, coupled with an inner turmoil at Scully’s struggle to understand why her mother needed to know about Charlie, the long lost Scully sibling.
Anderson’s work was impeccable, but credit is also due to Glen Morgan (the other half of the Morgan brother duo- Darin wrote and directed “Were-Monster”), who wrote and directed the episode. Morgan may be best known for the horrifying “Home” (which many people, including me, assumed would have a sequel in “Home Again”- and which I’m sure many of us were thrilled to realize wasn’t actually a sequel, because I know I wouldn’t have been able to sleep after watching that), but he certainly has a way with creating interesting (if suitably creepy) monsters of the week. The Trash Man’s golem was a solid monster, creepy and icky, with just enough menace. And while the social message of the episode may have been a bit heavy-handed, it segued perfectly into the personal crisis of Scully.
One of the most intriguing elements of Scully as a character has always been her deep connection to her family. Yes, we all know the disappearance of Mulder’s sister is what sparked his side of the X-Files story, but for Scully, the presence of her mother, her brother, and the death of her father, were all major touchstones throughout the series. Coupled with her faith, family was a driving force in what pushed Scully to continue chasing after Mulder. So, it was so poignant to see strong and put together Scully completely undone at the possibility of losing her mother.
Unlike with the less successful “Founder’s Mutation,” “Home Again” was able to mine the William question to great effect. When faced with the death of her mother, it makes complete narrative sense for Scully to think about William, and the loss of her own chance at motherhood (considering this is the second episode to focus on Scully’s sense of loss regarding William, we have to get some closure there before the end of the season, right?). Giving Margaret Scully final words to call back to the fact that Dana’s older brother (and, of course, her beloved father) is also named William drove home the point of how important family is for Scully. It’s why she rushed to her mother’s bedside despite being in the middle of a case. It’s why she has never forgotten the son she gave up for his own safety. And it’s why she was willing to return to Mulder’s side and help him search for the answers to the big questions- even if, as she said, she doesn’t want those answers for herself. Dana Scully is many things, but first and foremost, she is a woman who loves her family. And “Home Again” was a great showcase of what makes her such a wonderful character.