With only six episodes in the new tenth season of the X-Files, it looked like the small band of writers wanted to include one each of the more common story types of the series. The previos episode made an amusing detour into comedy, but Home Again does a complete 180 degree turn deep into drama mixed with horror – a combination that sometimes worked on previous episodes, but was not so successful this time. The somewhat frustrating second half of the new X-Files series is partly a reason why I’m so hopelessy behind with the reviews and even though all episodes have now aired everywhere, I’m still write about them because my impressions seem to deviate from the overall consensus. Is this the point where the X-Files go off the rails or is it just a one-time blunder? We’ll see…
Home Again was the only episode of the new season written by X-Files veteran Glen Morgan, who usually worked in tandem with James Wong – but now the writers have split up and contributed one episode each. Unfortunately, that seems to have affected the writing quality quite noticeably – Founder’s Mutation was still okay, but Home Again turned out to be a surprisingly disjointed mess of a common Monster-of-the-Week story paired with a subplot about Scully’s mother suffering a heart attack. It allowed Gillian Anderson to strongly show her emotional side and some admittedly very impressive acting, but this whole part of the episode ultimately disappointed because it was completely disconnected from the main plot. It simply leaves the impression of lazy writing and especially with only so few episodes in this season it feels like a missed chance not to connect the personal fates of the protagonists with the main plot.
The actual story about a mysterious murderer who literally rips his victims apart in a manner which would have made a Hammer horror movie proud seems to be there mainly for the shock value. This season is really strong on the bloody violence, which really feels gratuitous here and the underlying social criticism of the forced relocation of homeless people seems like a cheap excuse for it. The X in the story is also barely there, an even for the series unusually fuzzy idea of summoning a protector for the helpless by thoughts alone – classic episodes usually gave at least a satisfying explanation at the end even if it was supernatural, but in this episode the whole idea seems like a rehashed concept that was done one time too many.
What makes this episode even weaker is that the writers hardly gave David Duchovny anything to do in except to show up and sleepwalk through his part in the story – his character just doesn’t seem to be all there especially where it should have counted. The only moments where this episode really works are the few scenes in which Mulder and Scully switch to sleuthing mode to find the killer, which includes some well-written banter between the two – but those moments are much too rare in a story that seems too drawn out even for its short runtime.
The episode is saved a little bit by the strong supporting cast including Daryl Shuttleworth, Alessandro Juliani and Chris Shields as the officials involved in the homless relocations and musician Tim Armstrong as the mysterious Trashman who summons up the strange Band-Aid Man, played by John DeSantis with a lot of help from makeup and special effects. Sheila Larken also returned as Dana Scully’s mother, but only in a thoroughly unthankful appearance in a vegetative state chained to her hospital bed – you almost feel as sorry for the actress as for her character.
The absence of Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan seems to have taken its toll – better writing could have drastically improved this story, but with such a weak script it just feels like a gap-filler from a full 22-episode season. While Home Again has a few bright moments, overall it remains a disappointing, disjointed mess that makes the three previous episodes of this mini-season much better in comparison.