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Moment of Goodness

Mulder and Scully Reunite for a Goodbye in The X-Files “Home Again” 

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.
Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

[Warning: spoilers for the episode.]

Moms have always been a significant presence on the The X-Files. Back in the OG days on, we got to know both Mulder’s mom, Teena, and Scully’s mom, Margaret. Teena died in 2000, and tonight, we said goodbye to Margaret (Sheila Larken), who was an important marker of both Scully and Mulder’s journey, in a heartfelt episode that paid homage to the fans who were along then.

Back in season two’s “One Breath,” Scully disappeared (to accommodate Gillian Anderson’s maternity leave). When she returned, suddenly, and inexplicably in a coma, Mulder rushed to the hospital to find Margaret, and Scully’s sister, Melissa, keeping vigil. Margaret (along with Mulder’s mom) was one of the few to get away with calling him Fox and Scully gently chastised her for it, reminding her he was “Mulder.” Margaret was Scully’s constant when she lost her dad and her sister. And, we can assume, William

When Scully gets the call that her mother has had a massive heart attack and is in the ICU in DC, she races from Philadelphia to the hospital, and Mulder stays behind to work the case. What she finds when she arrives opens up a series of mysteries that leads her back down memory lane with her own hospitalization and her decision to surrender William. She tells her mom that she’s been where she is now, that she knows Ahab and Melissa are there, but she and her brothers and her son are here. “Don’t go home yet. I need you.”

She finds out her mom changed her living will and asked to not ne resuscitated, she wore a pendant from a quarter with a year Scully doesn’t recognize as important, and her last words before falling into a coma were to ask for Charlie, the younger, estranged brother I had to go back and look up. Bill calls and is difficult, wondering if he has time to get home before she dies and Scully says she won’t answer that, as she watches the attendants remove the body of someone else on the ward.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.
Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Mulder arrives to be with Scully as they extubate her mom, and he talks shop for a little bit until she starts talking about her questions about her mom’s decisions, and request, and the pendant. As she and Mulder watch them take all the sustaining measures away from her mom, she says quietly, “I don’t care about the big questions right now, Mulder. I just want one more chance to ask my mom a few little ones.”

After her mom is removed from the machines, she’s breathing on her own. Mulder and Scully sit on either side of the bed and she asks him if they ever encountered a way to wish people back to life, and he says he invented it, when she was in her coma. She softly pronounces hm a dark wizard and he laughs.

Then Charlie calls, and she puts him on speaker so her mom can hear. Charlie talks and then Margaret flutters awake. She looks at Mulder as he leans in and takes her hand. He asks her if she knows who she is. She scans him and says simply that she has a son named William, too, and then she’s gone. Scully is wrought that her mother’s last words were about their son, who’s lost to all of them.

After they take the body away, she demands to go back to work immediately and then she bolts. Mixed in there we get a couple of wink nudges as they break out the flashlights and cross their beams into an X as they head down a pitch black hallway.

When they confront the artist who brought the MOTW into being (which also recalled “Kaddish“), Scully is slammed with memories of William’s birth and surrender. She condemns the artist for bringing his creation into being, telling him that makes him responsible for it.

Photo Credit: Fox Broadcasting Co.
Photo Credit: Fox Broadcasting Co.

At the end of the hour, she and Mulder sit on the edge of a beach (one of my favorite things to do in Vancouver, sitting at the edge of the continent). She says she understands now why her mom asked for Charlie–she made him; he was her responsibility, and that’s why she mentioned William, too. She wanted to make sure they would be responsible for him, even if they couldn’t see him.

She weeps about their sacrifice. She calls Mulder, “Fox.” She says she’ll be there with him when he gets the answers to all of his mysteries but she’ll never have the answers to her own. It weighs on her whether William wanted and wondered about them and doubted himself because they gave him up. She fears that he felt like the lost souls that their MOTW case was avenging. “I want to believe, I need to believe, that we didn’t treat him like trash.” Mulder puts his arm around her and they sit looking out at the sea.

I loved the small, quiet moments throughout the episode, especially juxtaposed against the raging MOTW violence. I love that Mulder hears the change in her voice when Bill calls in the middle of their case, and knows something is terribly wrong before she stands up to give him the news. And his immediate response is to touch her and tell her to go. That they hug in the hospital, without any hesitation or suggestion that they can’t be that for each other anymore. They just are.

Their past was imprinted all over the episode. We were there 22 years ago, and now, these two characters are still family as much as ever. Whatever it was that drove them apart as spouses/romantic partners, that doesn’t supersede that each is still the other’s half, with or without the romantic entanglements. They’re beholden to one other. And now that Scully is truly on her own, with Bill in Germany and Charlie in the wind, Mulder is her only family.

Gillian and David make what they do look impossibly easy, but make no mistake, they are excellent at their craft, and picking up these characters all these years later and somehow imbuing them with so much sadness and joy and history, as if their first story ended yesterday, is a gift.

I so want six more, for as many years as everybody’s game to give us. Tonight’s episode was written and directed by Glen Morgan, who, along with James Wong (who takes next week’s episode), gave us “One Breath” and “Beyond the Sea,” the first season episode where Scully said goodbye to her dad. It seems fitting he took the reins on its bookend, and that the final scene was at the edge of the ocean.

The X-Files airs at 8/7c Monday on FOX.

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