Phantom Sway

X Files Episode 4: Homeless Hulk Attacks Philly

You’re not crazy, fellow X-Phile. Glen Morgan was definitely taking a trip down Season Two memory lane.

Image credit: FOX

One imagines that Glen Morgan purposefully chose the City of Brotherly Love to showcase his grizzly homeless revenge fantasy. The story would have been poignant enough without the heart wrenching demise of…



…Scully’s mom, whom we grew to know and love over many episodes of the original series. This script demanded so much of Gillian Anderson, you’d have thought Frank Spotnitz or Vince Gilligan wrote it. She was pitch perfect in her grief and self reflection that it would be a sin if she is not nominated for an Emmy. But to the recap…

We open on firefighters hosing homeless people out of the street (which we very much hope never happens) while a HUD official yells that they knew this was coming. He retreats to his office, only to be torn apart limb from limb by a thing I immediately dubbed the Homeless Hulk. You will not like him when he’s angry.

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate, as the victim is a federal employee. While crouching over the rent carcass, Scully receives a phone call from paramedics. Her mother has had a heart attack.

Mulder notes that an artwork on the side of the building was not present on the security cameras in the crime scene until after the murder.

Scully goes to DC to see her mother while Mulder works the case. Two city officials are arguing over whose problem the homeless become while gentrification takes place. Mulder asks who speaks for the homeless, when one of the homeless tells Mulder the band aid man does. This strikes Mulder as important; he found a band aid on his shoe at the crime scene.

Scully finds out at her mother’s bedside that she only asked after Charlie, her estranged youngest son, for the few moments she was conscious. Scully calls their other brother, Bill Junior, and discusses Mom’s known directive with him.

Meanwhile, two art thieves congratulate themselves on obtaining a piece done by a homeless man. They are soon dispatched by the Homeless Hulk, who seems to have emerged from the painting. The signature on the painting  is The Trash Man.

The Trash Man’s next target is one of the other city officials. Mulder goes to DC to be with Scully, informing her that the pattern indicates that the last city official will be the next target. Scully is not quite following, as she has been informed that her mom changed her directive and will be extubated. She had found a quarter mounted as a necklace in her mother’s personal effects, and wishes she could ask her about its significance.

Scully manages to get Charlie on the phone and puts him on speaker for Mom. She regains consciousness long enough to grab Mulder’s hand and speak to him of his and Scully’s son, then dies. Scully cries briefly, rails against the organ retrieval team for a moment, then demands to return to work.

They speak to the lab about the type of paint used for the artwork that seems to follow these murders around. Scully locates a point of sale immediately on her phone, and M&S stake it out. They follow a young man to a dark building. Inside they discover that he was buying it for an artist, who goes on a long rant about how the homeless are treated like trash. He discloses that his own sculpture is a Tibeten thought form that enacts vengeance for the homeless. It makes Scully think about how she gave her son up for adoption, and she tells the artist that this is his responsiblity. They realize they need to warn the final city official, as the homeless are being relocated that day.

They arrive at the location too late to save the official. When the artist goes back to his “studio”, the sculpture now has a smiley face for a head. His work is done.

The episode closes with Scully and Mulder at the shore with her mother’s ashes. She wonders about her son, wonders if he wonders about her, and worries that she treated him like trash by giving him away.

This was at least a five tissue episode. I hope that they resolve the William question before wrapping up the miniseries; investing in Kleenex stock might not be a bad idea.

This episode hits at a weird time. The homeless empire that has sprung up less than a mile from my home is being dismantled. Every day, more shopping carts move out down the street. I haven’t seen the homeless vet I talk to sometimes for days. I don’t know where they’re going. I talked to another homeless guy in another part of town today; he was in tears. I’ve been told other homeless camps in the city are being chased out. Where are they going? According to the LA Times, right back. I will probably see my guy again soon. I hope he got his SSI.

Memorable quotes:

“We can eliminate any 76ers, cos those guys can’t find the rim.” -Mulder, estimating the height of the perp

“I don’t want the answers to the big questions, Mulder. I just want the chance to ask my mom a few more little ones.” -Scully

“You’re a dark wizard, Mulder.” -Scully

“I want to believe, I need to believe that we didn’t treat him like trash.” -Scully, re: William

Stuff only X-Philes care about:

1. This was a little reminiscent of several previous episodes, like a casserole made of leftovers from “Kaddish” and “Arcadia” with a little of “Humbug’s” Hepcat Helm. I half expected the artist to be him.

2. The final scene book ends “Beyond the Sea”, where Scully (and the rest of her family) brought her father’s ashes to the shore.

3. Several heart rending flashbacks occur in this episode, but the reference Scully makes to her coma experiences (“One Breath”) while talking to her unconscious mother are ALL THE FEELZ.

4. So yes, you’re not crazy, fellow X-Phile. Glen Morgan was definitely taking a trip down Season Two memory lane.

Kellie Jane Adan

KJ Adan is a writer in Los Angeles. She likes cats and tea length party dresses and Jesus and hugs and coffee and music. Turn offs include sensible mid priced sedans, monkeys, and Tom Cruise.

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