I would say I don't have much to mention, but we all know how that will end. :P
Learning from my previous mistake here, and going back to bullet points...
- First of all, the main thing I've noticed this season is how much more gruesome/violent the various deaths are. Interestingly, whilst watching season 3 with Denise recently, during the pre-episode interviews with Chris Carter he mentioned a particular scene (I think it was part of the "Anasazi" / "Blessing Way" / "Paperclip" trilogy) where soldiers come barging into a lab to shoot a load of scientists. At the time of filming it they were not allowed to show gunshot wounds on primetime television so had to shoot the scene very carefully, with blanks and stuntmen and clever camera work.
By comparison, in tonight's episode we had people literally being torn apart by the "Trashman", including a particularly horrible bit where you could see half of the man's spine still attached to his severed head. I get the impression the creative team are really loving how far we've come in terms of what can be shown on primetime, in the wake of stuff like The Strain and American Horror Story, which have really pushed the TV horror genre.
- The Trashman himself was an interesting concept, though TBH I didn't really follow much of why he had come alive because I was ironically more interested in Scully's flashbacks. I wonder if that was the point, actually - maybe we're not even supposed to pay attention to it at all. Nonetheless, I quite liked the idea that the Trashman's method of disposing of people had come about because of his creator's one uber-violent thought; it shows that on some level we are all capable of horrific concepts even if we would never follow through with them. The Trashman just didn't know any better.
- Incidentally, I think I would be more terrified of a gigantic smiley face coming to rip me apart than a dude made of garbage... Not quite sure how changing his face will help matters, really. :P
- This episode was odd, actually. On paper it contains all the elements I love: a bit of angst, some Mulder-and-Scully flashbacks, and some blatant H/C. (Look, I can wax lyrical about this 'ship in as many syllables as you like, but at the end of the day I am a girl of simple tastes. :P) That being the case, it didn't affect me as profoundly as it should have done, which I'm not sure is a reflection of my own knackeredness and detachment, or if it's a (more concerning) reflection on the writing itself.
- That being said, there are things I need to say. In truth, the ending of the episode left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled, which TBH is the case with this show in general, because what's on-screen has never exactly been obvious. ;) I think a lot of it has to do with Maggie Scully's family secret never being properly revealed. Scully worked out why she had asked for Charlie in her final moments, at least, but we never really found out about the necklace. (Unless we did and I just wasn't paying attention.)
- On the point of Charlie... I was actually ridiculously happy that they remembered he existed! Scully first mentioned him in season 1 ("Roland", if memory serves), yet we have never seen him on-screen even when Bill Jr. became a semi-regular character. I also liked that the explanation for that was that he was estranged from his family, because that does make some sense when you consider the Scully family dynamic: one naval patriach (Bill Sr.) replaced by another, somewhat less tolerant one (Bill Jr.), an accepting and open-hearted matriach (Maggie), a tomboy daddy's girl (Dana) and her flighty older sister (Melissa). We literally know nothing about Charlie, the youngest, but I can only imagine that in the wake of Bill Sr's death his personality must have clashed with that of his older brother. I am wondering if in fact he may be very similar to Mulder, personality-wise, given the tension between Bill Jr. and Mulder (though admittedly there were other issues there, the biggest of which was of course that Bill thought Mulder was responsible for his sister's cancer; yeah, Bill, pretty sure Mulder is beating himself up about that enough already!) and indeed Maggie mistaking Mulder for her son in her final moments.
I got the impression that the estrangement was not with Scully herself and that she just went along with it to keep the peace, or that Charlie estranged himself from everyone regardless of who the initial gripe was with. There was a sense of grim acceptance about her explanation. We also saw how her grief translated into an utter lack of patience with her abrupt older brother, whose perception of the universe is in black and white: that because Scully is a doctor she can adequately provide him with a prognosis for their dying mother.
- The William stuff feels clunky, somehow. I can't really explain why, but I think a lot of it is because of the gap between the show ending (IWTB notwithstanding) and whatever has happened off-screen before the point where we rejoin the characters in Season 10. (I admittedly had forgotten about Scully's heartfelt confession to Mulder about it in "The Truth", having said that.) It is of course understandable that at the devastating point of losing her own mother, Scully would inevitably start to think about the son she left behind, and indeed that once separated from Mulder (no matter how temporarily) she would start to re-evaluate her choices in that regard. That they both would, in fact. But it still makes no sense to me that after 15 years, or however long it's been, they still haven't talked about it in any great detail. Like, how can you even expect to share a life with someone without discussing this massive elephant in the room?
Like, I get it. Chris Carter hates to reveal anything, and half the joy of this show and this pairing is in the secrecy... but sometimes, just sometimes, he needs to remember that there are human beings involved, who have so many shared experiences and traumas that to NOT discuss their son seems utterly unbelievable.
- Actually, something else I have noticed is that because this season is so short, the episodes are trying to deal with the Mulder/Scully stuff and whatever X-File they're investigating, at the same time, whereas before there would obviously have been more room to, say, dedicate an entire episode to either the Trashman or to spend more time focusing on Maggie. It works for the Mythology-type episodes, but it feels tacked on for a Monster of the Week episode, and like you're watching two different stories which have been mushed together.
- I'm conscious that this sounds like I didn't enjoy the episode. Believe me, I really did, it just has issues. :)
- Favourite moments were (of course) the Mulder/Scully parts. Mulder's jibe about inventing the technique of wishing someone alive was sweet (I loved the flashback to season 2; how young they look!) and Scully's response that he was a "dark wizard". This sort of relates back to her reminder in the previous episode of being "immortal" - maybe we have Mulder to thank for that. ;)
Absolutely LOVED that bit where Mulder called her up at the hospital and just said "I'm here", no other words needed.
And gah, that part where he was holding her and shielding her from the scene as they took away the body, as though he was trying to absorb her pain through osmosis; and Scully just willingly letting him do it and giving up the fight after her outburst of denial. It was almost a relief, because there was that moment earlier in the episode after she had the first call from Bill Jr., where Mulder clearly wanted to offer more comfort but was constrained by their "professional" personae at the crime scene and the knowledge that she would likely not accept it. Remember, this is a 'ship where a hug was basically the best thing you could hope for; plus, I am always happy for reminders about their ridiculous height difference, and indeed reminders that Scully is not as fragile as her stature would have you believe. (Even though she probably should be, sometimes.)
And PLEASE do not get me started on that moment when the emotional shutters came down and she was all, "I need to work, NOW!" because OH MY GOD SCULLY. This says so much about her character, that she can't even give herself time to think about grieving because there's a job to do. Just... amazing, okay? Amazing and unhealthy and bloody awful and so brutally self-destructive, and maybe I should rethink this whole "role model" thing... ;)
Also the fact that Mulder just... let her go back to work, knowing that to argue was pointless and would only make things worse, but that he would need to be there for the inevitable fall-out later. It's one of those moments where we see the selfless, supportive Mulder rather than the egotistical, self-centred Mulder; I love those moments.
- That final scene was also amazing, but not as powerful as the one at the hospital. Having said that, I let out a breath I hadn't realised I was holding once the credits started rolling, so maybe it affected me more than I thought. ;)
- There are only two episodes left now, and I am led to believe that the finale is also unfulfilling (because Chris Carter is an evil genius with a concerning love of cliffhangers, I suspect), but I am still really excited to see where the Mulder/Scully dynamic will go after this. I really do think it will break me into a thousand little pieces.
I think it says it all, actually, that most of the episode's actual plot regarding the movement of homeless people as though they were cattle, and indeed the weird graffiti/monster stuff, has barely made an impression alongside the main character dynamic. I really think they could have benefitted from more episodes; maybe a ten-episode stint rather than just six. Ten episodes is not uncommon these days for a full season.
I did a few more words on my angstfic last night following this episode, so hopefully I can get the written draft down on paper soon before tidying it up when typing it. It's cooperating a bit more now than it was originally; the first draft was more snarky than angsty, and I think I've found the balance now.
Anyway, that'll do for this one.