Wow. Just wow. After last week’s goofy and classic monster of the week adventure, this episode delivers a terrifying and ultimately unexplained monster of the week paired with a hard-hitting emotional drama. I am astounded by how intense and amazing this episode is. It’s been hours since I watched it and I’m still in shock.
Once again, the content of this episode was perfectly chosen. Each beat of this mini-series has to deliver the iconic feel of The X-Files, further the development of the existing story, and appeal to old and new fans alike. Episode four of six reminds viewers that Mulder and Scully are partners in every sense of the word and share a deep connection. They’ve been through everything together and they rely on each other. Mulder’s two simple words “I’m here” carry all the weight of their love and relationship and that moment will forever be one of the best in the entire series.
When I first saw the title for this episode, I immediately hoped for a continuation of season four’s Home. My hopes turned to expectations when I saw that Glen Morgan was one of the writers of this episode. Ultimately, my hopes were not rewarded, but after consideration, I am not disappointed. First of all, this episode is amazing. I would not have it any other way. Second of all, I don’t think Home needs a continuation. That episode works because of what it did and when it did it. It was unique. Continuing the story would feel like a cheap tactic to capitalize on past success
The choice of monster this week was fantastic. It wasn’t fully explained. It was just a freaky, terrifying thing. Like many classic cases, Mulder and Scully had no chance at stopping or understanding it. They could only react. I may be making a stretch of logic, but this monster also served as the physical representation of the many mental and emotional issues dealt with in this episode.
The monster was the reaction to the self-serving motivation of dealing with the homeless. It was the response to those who have no concern for garbage, whether in the form of physical trash or people (this was beautifully displayed by the rich woman using a plastic spoon and coffee pods). It was also the fear that possessed Scully.
The major themes of this episode are all related. The impact of Scully’s loss and the desire of her mother to reach out to Charlie brought out all of Scully’s worry for her own son. Her desire to protect her child is mirrored in the desire of the Trashman to protect the homeless. Mulder’s ongoing search for truth has once again revealed something he cannot understand but directly impacts his personal life.
Beyond all these complex and intense emotional levels, this episode is just beautiful to watch. The scenes with the trash monster are all dark, tight, and terrifying. The first scene of Mulder and Scully is funny but it defines their entire career. The shots of Scully leaving to visit her mother made all her fear and emotion extremely real. And that perfect shot of the crossing flashlight beams? Be still, my 90s heart.
This episode is outstanding on so many levels. But consider Mulder’s line “back in the day is now.” This sums up the entire mini-series. Viewers are thrilled at this chance to experience the nostalgia of seeing the X-Files on screen again. Even though the story details are new, nothing has changed. Mulder and Scully are still facing the same challenges and enemies. The unexplained is still occurring. We as the audience are traveling the same emotional journey with these characters. This is not a relaunch or reboot, it’s a continuation. The quest has not ended. It will never end, even after the final two episodes resolve.