Times Mulder and Scully Should Have Made Out This Week: “Home Again”

Feels sad, feels organic, thank you.

Times Mulder and Scully should have made out in “Home Again”:

  • When I look at this I like to imagine Michael Caine in Miss Congeniality standing just off camera whispering, “Be the badge.”

Also I am Michael Caine in this scenario

  • If you didn’t spend the entire lead-up to the revival gathering scraps of spoilers in your dirty little paws (RESPECT), you may have missed the fact that the episode order was switched; “Home Again” was written to air second, as the first episode to welcome our agents back to the Bureau. I’m saving my thoughts on the overall shakeup for next week’s “Babylon” post because LOL burn it down, but for now, I’ll say this: I’m glad “Were-Monster” didn’t air after “Home Again.” But I do get a little sad for the chills we could have gotten when I see how excited this episode was to shower us all in Mulder and Scully, FBI. 
  • Here. The promos wanted you to have this.

Mulder: DON’T SCARE HER OFF

He does as he’s told

  • If we let this episode live in a pocket universe for a second, where this is their first case back and Mulder does say, “We used to,” I love that he’s desperately trying to seem chill until finally he can’t take it anymore and just has to yell to the whole world that the evidence is “IMPOSSIBLE BY THE WAY!”

She loves his disruptive ass

  • I get the feeling this isn’t the first time Mulder has stared pensively out a window while telling a room full of people who Did Not Ask all about how medieval prisoners were drawn and quartered.
  • Here’s a sad breakup consequence for you: When Scully gets the news that Maggie suffered a heart attack, she and Mulder instinctively, immediately shut out the rest of the room. And then he pulls back.

  • This is the kind of subtle fallout from their split that works; it doesn’t undercut the care between them, just how they express it. And their fumbling attempts to leave each other the right amount of space only wind up proving how much Mulder and Scully are connected and how unchanging their dynamic ultimately is. They’re like magnets; it’s taking more energy to keep them apart than it would for them to come together. Mulder hesitates here to put his hand on Scully’s face even though he did exactly that, with an almost painful lack of hesitation, 22 years ago when she lost her dad. They spent so many years as “just friends” who liked holding each other’s faces that they opened up the door for estrangement to encompass pretty much all forms of affection this side of living together. But it’s telling that they aren’t sure where to draw the line now; the lines all blurred when Mulder and Scully got together because everything they did was always more romantic than they were willing to admit.
  • Portrait of the Blogger as a Sad Viewer:

Maggie sweetie I’m so sorry you had to die in this repurposed hallway

  • What I haven’t told you yet is that this blog post is actually a five-hour TED Talk on the meaning of the word “here” in The X-Files episode “Home Again” (2016, dir. Glen Morgan). Don’t get up; I’ve locked the doors.
  • Scully says she’s been where Maggie is. Ahab is thereScully is here. Bill and William and Charlie are here, too. She starts by drawing the biggest circle: Here is just living. Being alive is its own kind of community, in that we act on and are acted upon by people we know, people we’ve never met, people we’ve forgotten. This is the circle Scully draws around William: She leans on her belief that he’s out there somewhere, and in that sense he keeps her going even if he doesn’t have conscious memories of her. The X-Files doesn’t believe it’s possible to live in isolation. Even when Scully asks her mom to stay alive, it’s not because she’s afraid of what it means to die; she calls it “going home.” It’s just because she needs her mother.
  • WAS THIS AUTHORIZED?

The X-Files has conditioned me to expect a WHOLE LOT, including but not limited to ill-fitted blazers, every part of the country looking like Canada, a mythology that’s just a cartoon plane crash sound effect, and learning to view it as a sex scene when two characters’ knuckles touch, but it did not prepare me for flashbacks!!

  • Look at that boy.
  • Scully and Mulder are so full of contradictions they wind up in the same place. Scully does what she can for the people around her and falls back on her belief in a broader community. Mulder does what he can for the broader community and falls back on his belief in the people around him. They both believe being here has a ripple effect, but Mulder (especially young Mulder, still looking for his peg leg) isn’t always comfortable with the kind of “being here” that involves being still. He shows up and offers himself like he’s apologizing for having nothing better. But his presence is enough—it was for Scully then (“I had the strength of your beliefs”), and it is now.
  • Like right now.


  • I love that we hear “I’m here” before we see him. The first way Mulder’s presence is measured is by its effect on Scully.

SHE LOVES HIM

  • Back in the day is now.

I’ve been staring at this for so long time isn’t a universal invariant anymore

  • The past keeps coming back in this episode—in flashback, in parallels Mulder and Scully draw, and in parallels that just happen because of who they are. If people leave impressions on each other, then memories have active power even now. There’s something unfair about that, especially when it comes to death: We can remember people we can’t bring back. But Mulder and Scully are still here, and they’re bringing the past into the present (they used to sit like this on benches; they used to have experience with spooky cases). That’s their kind of dark wizardry. Very rarely, dead things come back to life.
  • Mulder updates Scully on the case like it’s a bedtime story. His only goal in bringing it up is to distract her, and, maybe, to give her an out if she doesn’t want him here. “I would stay,” he says, “but I suspect the subject will kill again.” And then he stays and the subject kills again. It’s almost hilarious, but mostly it’s just nice for him. I love that he’s old enough now not to feel responsible for that; Mulder knows where he’s needed most, and it’s with Scully. He learned his lesson about sitting in hospitals.

I don’t have analysis I just think this is good touching

  • When the chips are down and the people Scully loves are in danger, she is always open to extreme possibilities. This is the woman who ran through the woods for Jeremiah; she needs the hope of the unexplained, too, even if she doesn’t admit it quite as easily. “Back in the day, didn’t we ever come across the ability to just wish someone back to life?”
  • “I invented it.”

Who told him about his lips

  • I’ve been defaulting to “One Breath,” but technically “when you were in the hospital” refers to probably 30 percent of their partnership.
  • It’s not news, but I like how easily Mulder admits how badly he needed Scully to wake up. Even when they’ve hit a bump in the road, they aren’t pretending that they wouldn’t literally die without each other.
  • I hate to say it, but the breakup makes this one particular scene better. They left everything else between them at the door, and it makes this conversation feel safer and quieter, like it’s happening in a bubble. It means more, somehow, than the fact that Mulder and Scully are still willing to risk their lives for one another that they can sit with each other when one of them is in pain.

KEEP PRAISING HIM NO ONE LOVED HIM ENOUGH AS A CHILD

  • This is such an easy Mulder/Scully blend of love and teasing, gallows humor and exposed heart. He’s telling her how much he needs her to be here (alive); she’s telling him how much she needs him to be here (with her). There’s something about Mulder that Scully will never be able to explain, and she leans on that. The unexplained gives her hope.

[pointing, excitedly] He’s taking the compliment!

  • You can feel the history behind this conversation. Mulder knows now, from what they’ve been through together, that his presence mattered and matters. And for a show that spends so much time walking in circles to maintain the status quo—like, Scully saw one incredible thing, but she thinks this new incredible thing is obviously swamp gas—it feels like the biggest relief to see these people learning from and facing the past. They never do this. They just don’t talk like this.

thanks I love it

  • Look how ready Mulder is to fight the man who would cut off contact with Dana and Margaret Scully. Fighting through the phone: It’s the new X-File.

  • It’s not enough that Scully and Mulder are estranged; she and her little brother have to be on the outs, too? I don’t know about this. Glen Morgan said he went this route because he was “surprised at the number of families that have at least one family member who’s estranged that no one talks to,” and sure, that’s true. And if Scully and Mulder can hit a rough patch, anyone can. But the idea that any relative of Scully or of her mother would not want to be a part of that family just sounds fake to me. Who wants to live like that?
  • I mean, at least we’re talking about Charlie for the first time in over two decades. And if we’re going to go this route, as much as I need an explanation logically, I’m glad we don’t get one. It’s like Maggie’s necklace: Families have things they don’t talk about. Sons they gave away, for instance……
  • Also Bill is still the worst (and absolutely the type of person who’d try to use his sister for free medical advice about their dying mom) so maybe it was Bill. Maybe this is all Bill’s fault. You ever think of that, Bill?
  • Charlie asks the wrong questions: He wants to know the “big mystery” when Scully is more worried about the little ones.
  • Scully sees that her mom is awake first through Mulder’s reaction and this is the point in writing this post when I took a break and went to bed because how dare they.

“Only what I see in your face…”

  • Maggie is a maternal figure to Mulder, too. She’s a better mom to him than his mom ever was, and I’m glad this episode finds ways to honor that without overshadowing the fact that this is Scully’s story.

Oh yikes he’s so happy


  • That pause after “My son” is brutal. But even if she were calling Mulder her son, she wouldn’t be wrong. 

  • Scully looks to Mulder every time something changes with Maggie. It’s like nothing she’s feeling is real until she shares it with him and he reflects it back to her. All of this episode’s ideas about the way we’re shaped by other people are gathered up and magnified in Mulder and Scully. They’re constantly bouncing off each other.
  • No. No no no no no no.

MAGGIE

  • They’re still balancing each other out: Scully needs to be irrational right now, so Mulder is the steady one.

Why does the touching always happen under these circumstances

  • When did he move from “Mrs. Scully” to “Margaret”? This family had so much time together that we didn’t see!
  • I can’t stop thinking about Gillian Anderson, trying to tap into these emotions, saying, “Go get Sheila,” and looking at her, the TV mom she’s known over 20 years, to feel what Scully is feeling. Since that article my life has never known peace.

She fits

  • Throw a dash of the “Memento Mori” hospital hallway hug into today’s list of parallels.
  • He squeezes his eyes closed when she says “our child.” Mulder doesn’t want to make Scully’s grief about him, but he’s feeling it.

  • Cozy

STAY THERE

  • OR DON’T

Like Mulder earlier, she reaches for his face without thinking and then pulls back

  • I’d call this the Philadelphia redemption tour if Mulder didn’t just burn all of their athletic institutions.
  • In “Never Again,” Scully spent her time in Philadelphia chafing against this job and Mulder’s sway on her life. Now she needs both. It’s impossible to separate the job from the partnership: She depends on the work she and Mulder do as a way of escaping from and channeling her pain, and that’s because of the work but also because of him. Mulder, let’s go be Mulder-and-Scully. Glen said he wished this scene could have more time to breathe, but for me the whiplash is part of its power; Scully doesn’t even give herself enough time to tell Mulder she’s fine, because with him, she’s not pretending that she is. She’s only telling him that she’s about to pretend for everyone else.

“I get it Scully, I do. But not right now.”

  • This is like looking behind the curtain at all of the times they kept working when any good employer would send them through months of counseling first. And since we’re on the subject, that’s also one of the reasons I think “Never Again” is more valuable to the story in the order it aired, after “Leonard Betts.” I love the original intention behind “Never Again,” but there has to be a wild, angry, disorienting beat between Scully’s life-changing news and the way she pulls herself together to face it. Scully’s composure is sadder and more impressive when it’s laced over how scared we know she is. Here, we get that in 30 seconds.
  • She walks off before Mulder agrees to anything. She knows he’ll follow (just like he knew she’d still investigate that case in Philadelphia. They don’t leave each other hanging).

Anyway those are her tears on his shirt

  • Mulder, who’s literally just along for the ride at this point:

  • I would pay her to do this to me.

Thanks hon

  • “Mulder, back in the day I used to do stairs and in three-inch heels.” MULDER, I AM YOUR SUPERIOR.

uhhh well I guess we know how they entertain themselves in that house in the middle of nowhere with the very-likely-faulty electricity……..

  • Literally they’re gonna have sex in this trash-art hideout.
  • [X-Files theme 10-hour version]

  • Remember when this was the only two seconds of season 10 footage we had and it was genuinely more exciting than any of my lived experiences?

  • “But if you don’t see a problem, there’s no problem, right? People treat people like trash.” I know this is about society’s lazy and hypocritical worship of personal comfort at the expense of people in need and definitely not, like, the romance to which I have myopically dedicated this blog series. But I do think there’s a nice counterpoint in Mulder and Scully always showing up and being here as witnesses (seeing the problem) when the other is in pain or in trouble.
  • I am obsessed with Mulder picking a fight with his exact previous definition of a tulpa.

  • “And if you think real hard, or you want them so bad, they come to you.”

[thinks real hard about alternate reality where this is the first series finale and all of the revivals are just Mulder and Scully and William taking trips to IKEA]

  • I don’t think I’ve learned anything trustworthy about tulpas from this show, but I do think killer art is a cooler X-File than killer garbage. It’s also timely: Artists have to take responsibility for the ideas they put out there and the way they can be interpreted (“an idea is dangerous, even a small one”). This whole episode is about a thought creation doing its creator’s unconscious bidding but taking it too far, and it refuses to let the creator off the hook.
  • “Were-Monster” wound up telling a story about concrete truths, beliefs we can chase and find and touch, even if we have to run off on our own to meet them. “Home Again” is more theoretical: Maybe we’re never on our own. Ideas and memories have as much power as actual monsters, and we’re never without them. We’re always responsible for each other, and to each other. (I was not expecting this post to go full Brothers Karamazov.)
  • Today in classic X-Files non-resolutions: Just give your clay man a smile.

  • This is like putting a Band-Aid over the problem (but not literally; he actually took the Band-Aid off). We can’t be expected to believe this will solve everything, can we? The Band-Aid Nose Man is still on the wall watching as the Trashman leaves. In a story about hypocrisy, he’s become what he hates: someone covering up his problems so he can pretend they don’t exist.
  • Log is the new rock.

They look like they’re about to carve their initials into the tree

  • Scully says her mom needed to know before she died that Charlie would be okay; she had unfinished business. Business rarely finishes on this show (a clay smile on the face of a monstrous creation is usually the closest we come), but if anyone deserves closure, it’s Maggie. But in reaching out to fix what she believed to be broken, Maggie left other things unsaid. Scully, in the room with her mother, didn’t get a goodbye. There’s no way for us to wrap everything up.
  • That’s the X-Files tension: that compulsion to keep tying up loose ends even when there will always be more. The good guys in this story are the ones who just can’t help but try to solve the mysteries in front of them. It’s the same reason Maggie directed “My son is named William too” at Mulder: According to Glen, Maggie knew she and Scully were squared away. Mulder was the one who “needed a little ‘Is your life in order?’ kind of question.”
  • So it’s interesting that Scully basically rewrites everything involving William into a “we.” Twice in this episode, she says Maggie’s last words were directed at the pair of them: “She wanted to make sure that we’d be responsible, to know that William’s okay, even though we can’t see him.” And right after Maggie dies, Scully describes William as the son “we gave away.” But we’re reminded in flashback that when she reunited with Mulder in jail, she said, “I gave him up.” Over time, Scully has shifted the responsibility of that decision so Mulder can share it, and it feels like a deliberate choice they made to accept the whole point of this episode: They’re always responsible to and for each other. He put his trust in Scully when he went on the run; she put her trust in that trust when she gave William up.
  • “I know that as parents we made a difficult sacrifice to keep him safe, that it was for his own good to put him up for adoption. But I can’t help but think of him, Fox.” Fox. They’re all grown up.
  • He’s just letting her talk. Mulder’s silence was obviously meant to lead into the “Founder’s Mutation” fantasies, pushed (in the original order) as late in the season as possible to mimic the way Mulder has shoved his own grief to the back of his mind. And as much as I understand why they’ve decided to share the decision to give William away, the fact that Mulder still won’t let himself mourn with her means it isn’t an even split.
  • Here come Scully’s wedding vows!
  • “I believe that you will find all of your answers.”

  • She has so much faith in him. And in them.

  • He didn’t expect that.

She’s like, ‘Of COURSE I will’

  • I know there’s been hand wringing over Scully turning William into her mystery, but even Mulder’s silence proves how much he’s trying not to see William as an open wound. William isn’t Samantha—he wasn’t taken; he was given away, so Mulder can’t make William his mystery without undermining Scully. (Mulder doesn’t just wonder about his mysteries; Mulder chases them down.) I do think the writing this season sometimes bends over backward to draw parallels between William and Mulder’s quest, and in doing so, it treats William like he belongs to Scully more than to Mulder. But I don’t think that’s how Scully means it. She just means they both know this is her “case” to close or open.

  • “I won’t know if he thinks of me too or if he’s ever been afraid and wished that I was there. Does he doubt himself because we left him? What questions does he have of me? The same that I have of this coin?”
  • How does Gillian Anderson make this line work?

“I need to believe…”

  • “…that we didn’t treat him like trash.” You didn’t, Scully! Trash is the responsibility people want to forget, and you’ve never forgotten him.
  • Ugh, this hesitation.

  • That is also a live shot of me at the end of “Home Again.”
  • When it started to look like this show was going to bring Maggie back to kill her, I was exhausted—not everyone in Mulder and Scully’s lives has to die. But everyone in life does die, and this episode is so weighty and Glen Morgan’s connection to the material is so affecting that it works, turning a move that could have felt like a haphazard stab at Big Drama into an intensely personal story. The X-Files, like Mulder, seems like it’s after answers to the big questions (the biggest mysteries), but there’s no way to approach them without also asking small, daily questions about where we stand with each other and how we move forward. Sometimes we’re helpless to do anything but sit with each other, but sometimes that’s enough.
  • Thanks for everything, Maggie. I’ll always remember that time you got between your daughter’s gun and her partner. That was boss.

See you all soon for “Babylon”! Suffer with me.

4 comments

  1. I know you are a fancy writer now with EW credits in your resume forever, but I do appreciate so much when you turn your time and talents to the recaps for this TV show that inexplicably moves me so much. Thank you for the recap. You are one of the best pop culture analysts I’ve ever read.

  2. I didn’t know you were writing for EW now. Good for you! Thank you for making the time for this. You really are the best.

  3. Thank you so, so much for this. I wasn’t going to rewatch Season 10 before Season 11, but after reading your article I decided to rewatch this episode and it moved me to tears. My grandmother passed away this summer and watching Scully deal with the death of Maggie was like looking into a mirror. Thank you so much for your eloquent analysis. ❤

  4. I’m so excited you caught up with S10! I found your blog when I was rewatching the full series again earlier this year. Your perspective about the show has made me really reevaluate each episode. The UST I remembered has taken a new spin because of you!!
    You’ve also helped me skim over some eps I remembered as not really loving while watching live all those years ago.
    Thanks for being so awesome! Can’t wait for S11 in a few weeks.

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