Thursday, February 11, 2016

X-Files: Home Again (TV, 2016)

Spoilers below.

Fourth episode out of six - only two left, now. And yet again, TPTB have put in a mytharc episode, this time in the sense that it's the ongoing saga of Scully's family (as opposed to aliens, hybrids and world domination). Mixed in with this, the -spoilers - death of Scully's mother, is a rather jarringly-different-in-tone monster of the week story.  The pairing required Mulder to juggle being available to Scully in her grief within minutes of cracking wise about corruption and self-interest in local government. Duchovny's acting is up to it, but I'm not sure he should have *had* to do it.

There was at least one quotable line. As her mother lay dying, Mulder admittd to Scully that he'd tried to develop a technique for wishing people back from the dead when she was in her own coma. Scully replied, "Mulder, you're a dark wizard."

The story itself seemed to have grown out of the fighting phrase 'takin' out the trash'.  The homeless of Philadelphia are being harassed alternately by a developer and by a do-gooder who claims she's on their side but is actually fighting to prevent them being relocated only because she doesn't want them living anywhere near her. Mulder quickly deduces they're both in it for themselves, and so does a super-strong monster called the Band Aid Nose Man, who literally takes them both apart. His modus operandi includes arriving in the back of a garbage truck, and often, dragging bits of them out and throwing them into the back and jumping in after them as he leaves.

M&S are called in to investigate, and Mulder notices a piece of Banksy-style graffiti art on a wall nearby. So does a pair of low-lifes, who steal the piece of drywall it's painted on. It's signed by The Trashman, and they reckon they can sell it off for thousands. The monster kills them for also being self-serving and making money off the homeless. The local police analyse the paint on the signature, leading Mulder to the only store that sells that brand of paint. He tails a buyer to some warehouse where the kid runs away, but it's okay because the Trashman is there as well. (If all they had to do was test the paint, why do we even have the art thieves subplot? It just crowded out an already brimful episode.)

Anyway, Mulder finds the artist, who not only makes graffiti art, but also creates a sort of golem, which he describes as a tulpa (until Mulder gives him the dictionary definition of a tulpa, which is apparently different). The animated thing/whatever has picked up the artist's hatred for those who exploit the helpless and is out there killing them; the original artist knows of no way to destroy it. (And for his troubles gets a lecture from Scully about taking responsibility.)

The outsider-art aspect of the show is well done, and the artist's halting explanation of his work is a great set-piece.  (He's played by Rancid's Tim Armstrong, who seems to embody the character. Maybe he's a good actor or maybe that was great typecasting.) Scully gets in a short action sequence that marks her out as a badass and, when Mulder whines about having to "do" stairs, she quips she used to "do" stairs in three inch heels. Scully's anguish at her mother's death and continuing remorse over losing her adopted-out son William is also wrenchingly-well done. Mulder gets to be sarky, knowledgeable about mythological creatures and a strong support for Scully, so it's all round a good episode.

Don't know who drove the garbage truck, though. Or how M&S could possibly write up the case report without being called delusional.

And there's one big error - Gillian Anderson fluffs one of the most important lines. After her mother has heard from her estranged younger brother and died in relative peace, she should say, according to the subtitles and to common sense, "She wanted to know before she left that he'd be okay." What she actually says is "She wanted to know before he left that he'd be okay." It's odd that either the director didn't notice (which would be bad) or that he didn't have the money to reshoot or work around it (which is arguably worse).

You can watch the X-Files here. 


Janel said...

I just wandered by and read this, and now I'm saying hi!

Lyle Hopwood said...

Hi back, Janel! Have you been watching any good TV yourself?


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