THE X-FILES: The Trash Man Cometh in “Home Again”
By Pauline Perenack
Last week’s episode of The X-Files thoroughly divided fans as to their enjoyment of the episode. Many loved the episode from beginning to end, whereas others found it to have started strong, only to lose its way and become cheesier than they wanted.
This week however, there can be no doubt the series is back with all its dramatic flair. Viewers were given everything one expects in an episode, including the Monster of the Week, an unexplained mystery, heartbreak, and MSR (or Mulder/Scully Romance for the uninitiated).
Also, if you’ve been a fan of the X-Files since the beginning, you might be interested to learn that show creator and EP Chris Carter has been dropping Easter eggs within each episode which involve callbacks to original series. How many have you found? Did you see the giant X created by Mulder and Scully’s flashlight beams tonight?
In addition to these hidden surprises, tonight’s episode held that steady dose of Monster of the Week while simultaneously pushing along the William (Mulder and Scully’s son, who was given up for adoption) storyline, so let’s recap what happened.
I Want to Believe. I Need to Believe.
Tonight’s episode, “Home Again,” takes place in Philadelphia and we begin with a group of city workers using a fire hose on a group of homeless people. Joseph Cutler, played by Alessandro Juliani (or, Sinclair for fans of The 100) informs them it’s all part of the previously announced relocation plan. He leaves the location to go to his HUD Field Office, and informs another group of homeless people that they’re next. As he enters the building, everything on the street begins to rumble. We see a garbage truck drive up to the building, stop, and depart, leaving behind a very scary looking man.
Inside, Cutler starts retching from a putrid smell, and ends up calling 911 as a shadow lurks behind his door. Suddenly, the door bursts open, and Cutler’s arms are torn from his body. The scary looking man takes Cutler’s arms with him, and climbs in the back of the garbage truck as it drives away.
Later, Mulder and Scully enter the crime scene and meet Detective Gross, who explains they were called because they have “experience with these spooky cases.” Scully starts to examine the body, but is distracted by her cell phone ringing, which displays William on the Caller ID. As she looks again, the ID changes to William Scully Jr., her brother. She answers, and learns her mother has suffered a heart attack. Visibly distraught, Mulder tells her to go, and continues the investigation alone, noticing as he does so that the security cameras have been moved. While reviewing the footage, he realizes all of the cameras have been knocked out of position, but notices the billboard across the street doesn’t have the same graffiti on it that it has now, and decides to find the artist to see if the he saw anything. As he leaves, he steps on a Band-Aid, which he peels off and saves for evidence.
Outside the building, Mulder runs into Daryl Landry and Nancy Huff, who are arguing about the relocation project. Mulder listens to their arguments, and tells them neither are speaking for the homeless, and asks who is. A man standing off to the side says the Band-Aid Nose Man speaks for the homeless, but runs off before telling Mulder who the Band-Aid Nose Man is. As the man runs off, Mulder notices that the boards holding the graffiti have been removed.
Realizing that the Band-Aid he found must be some sort of evidence, Mulder has it tested, and the forensic tech determines that there is no organic or inorganic material on the Band-Aid. He can’t decipher what he’s seeing. In other words, it doesn’t exist.
Meanwhile, we see the two men who have stolen the graffiti, and they are discussing selling it. As the artwork is moved, one of the men notices it has disappeared, leaving a blank board. When his partner returns from the other room, he finds his friend headless on the floor, and is also quickly relieved of his head by the same man who killed Cutler. As the man drags the two bodies away, the camera focuses in on the boards, which are now simply signed with, “Trash Man.”
These scenes are interspersed with Scully in the hospital with her mother. She learns her mother had regained consciousness briefly and had been asking for Charlie. Scully is confused, since her mother and her youngest brother, Charlie, have been estranged for years. As she sits with her mother, she flashes back to when she was in the hospital in a coma, and it was Mulder sitting beside her bed holding her hand. Noticing an envelope by her mother’s bed, Scully opens it to find her mother’s personal effects, which include a few rings, and a necklace with a quarter. Her brother Bill calls again, and she tells him to get there as soon as possible, but their mother would be kept alive, since it was her wish to have everything done to keep her alive. Later however, as Scully checks her mother’s vitals, she’s told she changed her will to not have any drastic measures taken to save her life.
Mulder soon joins her and attempts to distract her by talking about the case, and how he believes the artwork somehow protects the homeless. He thinks it’s somehow killing those who harm them. Scully can’t be distracted however, and tells Mulder she can’t understand why her mother was asking for Charlie. She breaks down, and says she no longer cares about the big questions in life. Instead, she just wants to ask her mother the little ones. At this point, all of the MSR fans on Twitter exploded with happiness as Mulder held Scully, supporting her.
In the meantime, we learn Mulder was right, and that the Trash Man was out for his next kill. He finds Huff at her house, and adds her head to her trash compacter before leaving the same way he arrived – in his garbage truck.
Having chosen to stay with Scully, Mulder sits with her by her mother’s bed. As Scully mentions she can’t believe that, with everything they’ve discovered over the years, they hadn’t discovered the ability to wish someone back to life, Mulder mentions he did. He invented it when Scully was in the hospital. Again, Twitter exploded, and was only interrupted by Charlie calling. Scully puts him on speaker phone and asks him to do what she couldn’t do – bring their mother back to them. He starts speaking, and suddenly her eyes open. Scully is ecstatic, and watches as her mother reaches over to Mulder, takes his hand, and tells him that her son’s name is also William. After speaking, she closes her eyes, and passes away.
Distraught, Scully clutches Mulder as she cries, asking him why her mother’s last words were about the child they shared – her grandchild. Too emotional to deal with the situation, she asks Mulder to drive her back to Philadelphia, because she needs to work.
After tracing the paint from the Trash Man’s signature to a single paint store, Mulder and Scully find the graffiti artist. The artist tells Mulder and Scully he created the Band-Aid Nose Man from clay, and willed consciousness into him, resulting in the Trash Man. The artist believed spirits and souls float around us, and if you want them badly enough, they would come to you, and become alive with a life of their own. As he’s talking, Scully flashes back to William’s birth, and her decision to give him up for adoption. She tells the artist that he is responsible for what the Trash Man has been doing, and he’s just as bad as the people he hated.
Realizing that only one more of the city officials involved in the relocation project was left, Mulder and Scully race to find Landry. At the relocation area, Landry walks through the halls as a putrid smell hits him. He runs, but the Trash Man is soon behind him, and chases Landry to a room and kills him. Mulder and Scully find Landry soon after, and Scully can’t figure out how the Trash Man escaped. We, as the audience however, see that the artist has replaced the clay Band-Aid Nose Man’s face with a happy face.
As the episode comes to a close, Mulder and Scully sit on a log near the water, with Scully’s mother’s ashes at her feet. Scully tells Mulder she knows her mother was asking for Charlie because she felt responsible for him, and wanted to make sure he would be ok. And that’s why she mentioned William, because she wanted the two to be responsible and make sure William was ok. Scully tells Mulder she fully believes he will find the answers to all of his mysteries, and she will be there with him when he does, but she will never discover the answer to her mystery – what William thinks of her. Her final words echo those often uttered by Mulder, when she tells him, “I want to believe. I need to believe.”