11/03/2016

The X Files Home Again



Season 10 Episode 4 Home Again
Reviewed by Chris Arnsby
SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW!
 Mulder and Scully have a child. It's becoming clear that I think this is considerably less of a big deal than the production team. I can understand why the idea appeals to them. It's irresistible to writers and gives depth to characters and creates new angles to explore in their relationships. It's great for the actors, because it gives them a chance to show that they really can act. It's great for directors because it means they're working with enthusiastic actors who want to do more than go through the motions. And yet it's dull for me.
"It was the janitor, not an alien! You made me shoot the janitor" "Ooops"
I don't think the baby William story is going anywhere. Which means that plot threads from two episodes, split around Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster -the only really successful episode of the run so far-, are going to go to waste. I'm potentially being unfair, the series still has two episodes to prove me wrong, but I don't think we're looking at any sort of meaningful resolution. The X Files has never been a series which does meaningful resolutions. Even if it did this time, what sort of resolution can there be? Either Scully finally meets baby William or she doesn't. I can't see her meeting him, or getting her kid back, which means that the only direction left for her character is to keep pining for her lost child. Fine, that's realistic but it's death for a character in a television show because it's boring. "Hello Scully," "I miss William." "We've got a case," "I wonder where William is?" "Look an alien," "I'll never see William again."
I can't help wondering if the baby William stuff was part of the deal to get Gillian Anderson back. Using the carrot of some serious dramatic material to persuade her to come back to the series. I should stress at this point that Gillian Anderson does a brilliant job with the material. She's all over it. The problem is just that it's considerably less interesting to watch than it is to act. It's not helped by the decision to make this a week in which further tragedy is heaped on the Scully family; Dana's lost her father, sister, baby, and now her mother dies as well. Oh, and apparently she's estranged from her brother Charlie, is this a bad time for me to say that I didn't even remember she had a brother called Charles?
Not helping the episode are some bizarre cinematography choices. The first appearance of Mulder and Scully is a low angled shot of the pair holding their FBI badges to camera and obscuring their faces. It's a little too cute. It would have sat well in last week's episode but here it jars. It also raises a moment of false hope that this might be a lighter episode to match last week. When Scully learns that her mother is in hospital and leaves there's also an out of place use of a body rig to get a big close up of her face. The intent of the shot, and the disjointed editing, is to suggest her shock at the news but instead it takes the viewer out of the moment because the resulting shot is so far out of style with the rest of the episode. Oh, and there's a monster. It kills some people. Mulder and Scully fail to stop it killing some people. And then when it's killed all the people it's come to kill it goes away. Mulder and Scully never meet the monster.
If this review is overly negative that's born out of frustration. With only six episodes to play with the X Files keeps returning to themes and stories from it's final years; you know, the rubbish ones. I'm reminded of the last few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the writers seemed obsessed with hoovering up every last remaining plot thread that they cared about; at the expense of the viewer. So as the show limped towards it's finale we had a Wesley Crusher episode, and then a Worf's son episode, and then one where a Ferengi from the first season came back...

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