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Spooky, Mysterious, and Symbolic: X-Files 2016, episodes 4 & 5

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Warning: Spoilers
Spooky & Mysterious

images-12After its brief departure into silliness and bad storytelling in episode 3, when Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) met the Were-Monster, The X-Files returned to form for episodes 4 — “Home Again” — and 5 — “Babylon.” There was the show’s signature humor in each episode, but handled in a much more sophisticated and subtle way than with the antics of the Were-Monster-Lizard episode. Also, the shows were spooky and mysterious, leading viewers to question many things moral and philosophical as our two fave agents investigated their latest cases.

Home Again

images-11In episode 4, Scully had personal issues to handle as well as professional ones. Her mother had a severe heart-attack and was in a coma. Though Scully went immediately to be with her, her mother kept asking for “Charlie,” who was apparently the youngest sibling of the three — Bill, Dana, and Charlie — and the one who’d had no contact with the rest of the family for years.

images-21Despite working a spooky case, Mulder showed up at the hospital, giving Scully as much moral support as he could. Though he was unable to answer her questions about why her mother wanted Charlie, and not Dana or Bill, or why her mother was wearing a quarter around her neck, with a date whose significance Scully could not guess, Mulder was still there for his partner and the mother of his child.

The theme of mothers and children has been constant through this season, and episode 4 expanded it to a moral and philosophical level by including a case involving a city’s homeless, and the “Trashman” who was killing wealthy people who wanted to get rid of the homeless.

images-26Despite many of the victims’ previous protestations to the contrary, they really wanted to get rid of the homeless: some for financial gain, some just for supposedly moral reasons (“to protect the schoolchildren from the homeless”). But the Trashman didn’t care about his victims’ reasons for wanting to dispose of the human “trash.” He just tore them apart and put them in the trash truck.

the-x-files-season-10-episode-4-review-scullyEventually Scully and Mulder found their way to an artist’s “studio,”

images-23where a homeless man admitted to “creating” the sculpture of the “Band-Aid Man,”

images-24who, with the artist’s energy, thoughts, and will, had become alive — to protect the homeless.

images-18Graffiti appeared depicting the Trashman after each crime, but even though Mulder saw it from the crime scene window, it was gone by the time he got outside.

images-25It also disappeared from the piece of wall that two collectors wanted to sell for profit.

Unknown-4Trashman killed them, too.

He and his artist-creator were trying to protect the homeless, who were like the moral children of those who were more financially comfortable.

Scully and Mulder’s investigation was philosophically wrapped around the moral responsibility of biological parents and children, woven in the story of Scully’s dying mother and her “quest” for Charlie.

images-22Just before Scully’s mother died, she regained consciousness, looked at Mulder, and called him “William” — the name of her husband, son, and grandson — saying that she had a grandson by that name. Scully was devastated, not only by her mother’s death, but by what she saw as a condemnation of her giving away her own son Will.

images-16As Mulder held her, Scully asked why her mother would have said something like that. He didn’t know the answer.

images-19Later, having disposed of her mother’s ashes, Scully told Mulder that she thought her mother had mentioned her grandson because Scully and Mulder had a moral responsibility to find out what had happened to him. Despite the fact that they had given him up “to protect him,” she now felt they had to make sure that he was safe.

images-29It was spooky and sad. Its moral and philosophical overtones were excellently blended into the investigation which drove the main storyline.

And the love and connection between Scully and Mulder is obviously still there.

images-30As Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again,” but you still have a responsibility to those who are your “children.”

Babylon

images-14The storyline of “Babylon” could have been taken right from contemporary headlines over the past ten years: suicide bombers of the Muslim faith kill in the name of Allah.

Only one of them doesn’t die. He’s in a hospital in a coma, with most of his head blown apart.

images-10Though no one even knows his name, they want to question him in an attempt to find other sleeper cells of lone wolf terrorists. And even as the FBI is looking, a man is making bombs and instructing his fellows on exactly when to detonate them.

images-31The show has some humorous moments, especially the agents Miller and Einstein, mirrors of Mulder and Scully, respectively.

images-28Miller, Mulder, and Scully wanted to question the comatose bomber, but Einstein (above, 2nd from R) thought the idea was crazy. With a little wrangling, Scully got hooked up with Miller, explaining that her own experience in a coma let her know that the comatose can hear and can sometimes communicate.

Meanwhile, Mulder got with Einstein and got into a philosophical discussion with her on whether thought and words can form energy, create action, change behavior. She disagreed with his main points, but agreed to go with him to question the comatose bomber. She also agreed to provide Mulder with “magic mushrooms” so that he could “expand his consciousness” in order to communicate in an extraordinary way with the comatose man.

images-8And then the humor kicked in. Mulder, supposedly tripping on ‘shrooms, take a magical mystery tour of Texas, where the bombing had occurred, complete with line-dancing to “Achy-Breaky Heart,”

6081ea21d2a48cec40ace41183db8a6bff14ac79the three Lone Gunmen, who now look like this,

x-files-02instead of like this,

Unknown-6and a mysterious boat ride, possibly led by Charon, the Ferryman for the Dead in Greek mythology, repeatedly calling out “Row” while, in the back of the boat, in an attitude similar to Michelangelo’s Pietà, the comatose bomber was being held by his mother (as he would later be held by her in the hospital).

images-32As Mulder approached the pair “in the boat,” the bomber whispered something.

Later, at the hospital, after the bomber had died, without speaking, Mulder related the words he’d “whispered” in the dream-trip. They were Arabic for Babylon Hotel/Motel, which is where they found the other group preparing for an attack.

images-1It ended with Scully and Mulder walking across the field at his home, holding hands, discussing such philosophical things as Why is the Old Testament God so angry and vengeful? and Is that angry God the same as the angry God of the Koran who orders that infidels be killed? And since Agent Miller, who is fluent in Arabic, first thought Mulder was repeating “Babel,” as in the “Tower of…” Scully and Mulder also discussed that, ending the show with a poignant exploration of humans’ inability to communicate with each other on any meaningful level.

images-3Next week is the finale to this 6-episode mini-series (season 10, they’re calling it) of The X-Files, and this household is going to be devastated. Except for the blip that was episode 3, this show has been stunning, intriguing, captivating, while at the same time being humorous, and exploring some of the most philosophical and moral questions man faces.

Without answering them.

Catch up on Fox if you’ve missed any of the episodes.

Enjoy Mulder’s “Country Madness” while on his ‘shroom trip, if you weren’t watching last night: he imitates Travolta’s character from Pulp Fiction’s dancing contest.

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Filed under Actors, Philosophy, Xfiles 2016