Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The X-Files 10x04 “Home Again” (I’m Here) [Contributor: Lizzie]

"Home Again"
Original Airdate: February 8, 2016

Sometimes I write the outline of a review before I watch the actual episode. Shocking, I know, but most of the time, the stuff I have to say to introduce an episode is actually stuff we know before the episode even airs. Like, for example, who wrote and directed the hour (Glen Morgan), what that person is known for (The much-talked about episode “Home”), what the main themes are, and how they relate to our characters.

“Home Again” was no exception. Except that sometimes life (or, in this case, television) throws you a curveball. Sometimes you watch the hour and think, “well, there’s just no way I can start with inane facts. Not this time.” This was one of those episodes.

Facts are fine and well. I might even add them add the end, because, after so many years of being a fan of The X-Files, my brain is just filled with details that I need to share. But, when an episode of TV manages to make you cry, scream, smile and go “aww,” all during the space of one hour, then facts are the last thing you should be focusing on. When an episode of TV manages that, you have to go deeper. You have to focus on something else. TV — good TV — is mean to elicit emotion, after all. And with this episode, The X-Files succeeded. And that’s what I want to focus on.


Let’s start with the case, which is really the least important thing in the episode. Scully gets a call early on in the case that her mother’s had a heart attack. And so, she leaves. Mulder tries to go on alone, but we can clearly see his heart and his mind are with Scully. After a while, he drops all pretenses of caring about the case and goes to see Scully. Or, I should say, he goes to stay with Scully. The case is secondary. This woman is, without a doubt, the most important thing in Mulder’s entire life. He would do anything for her. Anything. Even if she wasn’t asking.

Before this episode, I had issues with the whole break-up scenario. And yet, before “Home Again,” all my issues had to do with Scully. How, I wondered, am I supposed to believe that this woman who’s stood by this man for over twenty years – even when other people wanted her to quit, even when it would have been better for her career and her state of mind to leave him – would one day say: “I can’t watch you destroy yourself. Goodbye”? How? And though my point still remains in some capacity, I now have another, big issue to add to the list of reasons why this break-up makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER.

Even if (and that’s a big if) I could make myself believe that Mulder was so depressed by the lack of answers, by the notion that the thing he’d been investigating for half his life was all a lie, how can I reconcile the man that, we’re meant to assume, let Scully just walk away from him with the man who dropped everything before she even asked? How?

I can’t. It just makes no sense. And that’s the problem.

We’re used to things not making sense. We’re watching The X-Files. But through twenty-three years of story, most of the things that have made zero sense have been on the outside. The monsters, the conspiracy — we didn’t need that to make sense. As long as Mulder and Scully made sense, we were okay.

Except now, they don’t. You always walked a fine line with the “will-they-or-won’t-they thing,” Chris (twenty three years later, I feel like I can address you by your first name, Mr. Carter). It could be argued that, after a while, even THAT didn’t make sense. But at least that was a lie of omission. This is worse. This is taking away something we earned just because you don’t like it. Because you don’t want to write it.

And that — for all the great performances, and the at-times brilliant storytelling — is the reason was this revival is merely good, not great.


This is not a line from this episode, but it’s the line that always comes to mind whenever I think about these two characters. When we first met Mulder, he was a loner, and a man who didn’t care for anything. He was a man with a mission. Throughout the years, we saw him change and evolve. And yet, time and time again, we also saw him put his mission above everything.

Until he didn’t. Until Scully became more important. Until she became everything.

Scully is still Mulder’s everything. Though their relationship has been called dependent by some, Scully has always had a better outlook on life. She has other people she cares about. Maybe not to the extent she cares about Mulder, but you could never say that Mulder was her whole life. Not until now.

Yes, you could argue that she still has her brothers. But the years don’t sound like they’ve mellowed out Bill Scully, or made Charlie Scully care about anything other than himself. These two men have never needed Dana Scully, and they might have loved her, but they’ve done so from afar. The people who made this woman who she is, William and Margaret Scully, are now gone. Her son is gone. Scully has lost everything. She has become, essentially, Mulder’s equal in this regard. For years, she’s been his everything. Now, he’s her everything. And that raises the stakes exponentially.


We saw these words uttered twice in this episode, both times by Mulder: once in a flashback to that one hour of suffering that was “One Breath,” and the second one in the present, letting Scully know that he’d basically abandoned the case to be with her. I don’t have to draw you a flow chart – the parallels are just that obvious. Mulder brought her back then. He’ll do it again now, if need be.

But in a way, the parallels go deeper than that. “I’m here” doesn’t just mean what it literally implies. With these two, you have to read between the lines. “I’m here” means “I’ve got you.” “I’m here” means both “you need to be strong” and “you can let go.” “I’m here” means “I love you and I will respect what you want to do, even if I don’t agree. “I’m here” is, in a way, the “I love you” of two people who are equals – partners in life and in work. It means “you’re not alone. Never will you be alone. Not while I’m alive.”

It also, basically means, “Hey, the case I was so worried about at the beginning of the episode? Yeah, I don’t really care about that. Not while you need me. Even if you don’t say it. Even if you can’t say it. I’m here. I’m always, always here.”


We’ve touched upon it before, but this episode truly explores Scully’s guilt for the first time and in her own words at giving up William. In a way, this has always felt like a decision Mulder and Scully made together, even though it wasn’t. It just seems that way because the two of them are so in sync that Mulder has not only accepted her decision, but interiorized it and made it his. But fact of the matter is, Mulder wasn’t there. He didn’t make the choice. And that makes it better, and worse.

That Scully feels responsible, we knew before. That she second-guesses herself every day, we also knew. But, it wasn’t until this episode, when Scully was confronted with her mother’s desire to make things right with her estranged son before dying, that we understood that this — not just William’s absence, but the lack of certainty. It is eating at Scully slowly but surely. In a way, if the show had focused on this, and not only Mulder’s issues, the break-up could have made more sense. Sometimes things break. Sometimes people who love each other need time apart. But when that happens, it’s usually because both of them are hurting and they can’t explain it.

Scully’s hurting, and she doesn’t have the words to explain it. Or she didn’t, before. She tries, at the end. She gives it a valiant effort. And in saying it out loud — in expressing her fears — she somehow manages to heal a little bit. Not completely, of course. Some hurts, as Tolkien would say, go too deep. But airing out the wound is still a good thing. Especially when you’re sharing with the one person who might possibly understand you, the person who knows that what you need in that precise moment is not empty platitudes or words of reassurance, but the truth. A hug. To not be alone. Not now. Not ever again.

So, at this point, I have to ask: for how long are we going to play the game of pretending that Mulder and Scully are over one another? For how long?


I just want to remark briefly on the passing on Mrs. Scully, a character we’ve known for quite a while. I understand the reasoning, within the storyline, but I have to admit that saying goodbye was harder than I expected it to be. Maybe it’s me. To see someone lose a parent, even a fictional character, will never again be an experience I can watch with detachment. I know how it feels now, so it cuts to the core.

But in this case, I think it’s more than that. With Mrs. Scully, we say goodbye to the innocence, to the good, to the last shreds of normalcy these two characters maintained.

For a moment there, when Margaret Scully closes her eyes, Scully looks at Mulder, almost as if she wants him to tell her this is all a dream. That her mother isn’t really gone. In that moment, Scully is all of us, and in that moment, Gillian Anderson breaks our hearts anew. Later, however, when she clings to Mulder and then demands to get back to work, Scully is no longer the normal grieving daughter. She’s more. She’s a woman who understands one truth, what might perhaps be the one final truth in her life: there is no semblance of normal left for her or for Mulder. There’s only each other, and the ever elusive TRUTH. The one in all caps. The one we’ve spent years searching for.


Margaret’s last words are about William, the grandson she never got to see grow up. That, coupled with the homeless man’s speech near the end of the episode push Scully into confronting the idea that maybe she treated William like trash. She is responsible. It was her decision and hers alone. Reasons don’t matter when it comes to guilt. We know Scully didn’t do it because she thought it was going to be hard. We know she did it because deep down, she believed it was for the best. But that’s rational. Regret is not rational. And Scully deserves the right to finally work through her grief about William.

"You’ll find your answers," Scully tells Mulder. "I’ll be there when you do," she promises. And yet she doesn’t believe she’ll ever find hers. Not when it comes to her son. However, at this point, is there any way to find all the answers without William? Is there any end in sight that doesn’t include him?

No, there isn’t. The answers are out there — the truth is out there, and it’s up to Mulder and Scully to find it, together.

Other things:
  • You’d think after all these years I’d know that eating dinner before an X-Files episode is a bad idea.
  • I might be biased, but I think the show is doing a very good job of not alienating new viewers, yet sneaking in enough Easter eggs to make long-time fans happy. 
  • David Duchovny’s expressions are half the fun of watching these new episodes, I swear. Mulder’s gotten way better at making fun of himself. And when I say way better, I basically mean that he recently learned.
  • Is there an award we can give Gillian Anderson for her performance in this episode? Because she deserves one. 
  • Mulder’s “Scully” means everything, from “I love you” to “I’m here.”
  • The direction in the scene after Scully learns about her mother was perfect, the camera right in her face, the heavy breathing. I felt it. 
  • About Tim Duncan height. Hehe. 
  • Creepy guy on the street is ALWAYS right. 
  • Many years have passed, but Bill Scully remains a horrible human. It’s good to know some things haven’t changed.
  • Mulder’s friends with the lab guy. Am I the only one thinking that’s weird?
  • Scully’s face when she finally sees Mulder in the hospital is all the proof that you need that this relationship is not platonic. It never has been. Not that you needed any proof. Platonic is crazy talk. And we’re not crazy around here. 
  • The scene where that lady dies is one of the best horror sequences I’ve seen in years. And that song is now the creepiest song in existence. 
  • If you didn’t get teary eyed when Mulder says he invented the ability to wish someone back to life when Scully was in the hospital, then you need to go get checked, because I’m pretty sure you don’t have a heart.
  • “You’re a Dark Wizard, Mulder.” “What else is new?” 
  • CHARLIE SCULLY EXISTS! HE EXISTS! Thank you for that nod to long-time fans, CC.
  • William’s gonna come back to bite us, and in a big way. Trust me on this. Chris Carter doesn’t leave these types of loose ends. 
  • Mulder’s long-suffering face after Scully demands to get back to work is a good impression of HER long-suffering expression. 
  • There’s nothing quite like seeing our favorites FBI agents back in the field, together. 
  • I lie; the way Scully took down that guy is the best thing I’ve seen in this show, ever.
  • Or maybe it’s the way Mulder isn’t even surprised. 
  • “I don’t do stairs anymore.” “Mulder, back in the day I used to do stairs and in three inch heels.”
  • Their flashlights doing an X. Oh, just like old times.
  • Fox, she said. And I died. 
The X-Files airs Mondays, at 8/7C, on FOX.


  1. Lizzie is a majestic unicorn who knows what I'm feeling inside! How does she do that?! Psychic?! Genie!? All of the above. Mulder and Scully are beautiful. That is all.

    1. LOTS OF FEELS. ALL the feels. God, these two. 23 years later and they're STILL killing me.