The X-Files Goes Home Again, Finds Its Stride

By  · Published on February 9th, 2016

Welcome to Last Night on TV, our daily column that looks back at what happened on television the night before. If we’re going to stay up all night and watch TV, we might as well talk about it the next morning.

Last night on TV, Alisha goes “Home Again” with The X-Files and Neil witnesses the very best episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

The X-Files

I’m not sure any X-Files episode this season will match the poignant brilliance that was last week’s “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” but “Home Again” was a solid follow-up.

Another Monster of the Week episode, this one found Mulder and Scully heading to Philadelphia to investigate the murder of a politician who had been gruesomely dismembered from inside his office by a tall, malevolent figure. As it turns out, it was street art that had come to life through Tibetan Buddhism (remember, X-Files logic) and set out to avenge the homeless of the city through a murderous spree. But Scully was called away when she got the news that her mother had suffered a heart attack and didn’t have much time left.

Here, the episode gained a real emotional resonance and sadness. Longtime X-Files fans were glad to see Sheila Larkin reprise her role of Scully’s mother, and the scenes between them were heartwrenching. But the death of her mother also stirred up deeply-rooted feelings of guilt within Scully about giving away their son, William, who seems to be the theme that’s tying this whole – miniseries? season? – together, worrying that they threw him away “like trash.” And through it all, Mulder was at her side.

It’s when the episode tried to tie the two storylines together with a contrived speech by Scully about parental responsibility in relation to the street artist letting his creation run amok that the story fell apart. A somewhat disjointed episode would have been fine had both stories been told well, which, for the most part, they were. The creature feature was a little underbaked and the scenes regarding William were a bit melodramatic, but it all worked. Forcing them together into some sort of parallel of one another, however, felt clunky and contrived.

Still, if the next two episodes stay the course, the end of the X-Files revival should be a satisfying one.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

If you watched this week’s episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, you got all the best of what this show is about. When it’s hitting its highest notes, the show works on a number of levels. It begins with strokes of comedy – including a very yakety sax chase to delete a text message – then spirals down into a pit of self-loathing. And Rachel Bloom sells the hell out of it.

“That Text Was Not Meant for Josh!” begins by setting up A and B stories thusly: Rebecca sends a very embarrassing text message to Josh and Paula is trying to put her marriage back together. The answer to both is chaos, of course. The B story allows us a visit from Father Brah (Rene Gube), who injects energy into the show every time he shows up.

The Rebecca storyline delivers not one, but two absolutely magical musical numbers. The first being a hair metal band doing a Greek chorus routine about “Textmergencies,” something with which many of us can relate. As per usual, the songs illuminate the internal monologue running inside Rebecca’s crazy mind. This time, it’s amplified by some killer performances, especially that of Jeff Hiller, who absolutely goes all-in and is rewarded with both the episode’s most righteous singing performance and the episode’s closing joke.

If the hair metal Greek chorus were the only musical number in this episode, it would be strong. But then Rachel Bloom comes in and knocks it out of the park with a ballad of self-loathing that is easily the best musical number since the “Sexy Gettin’ Ready Song.” Combine this song with Bloom’s best one-liner of the season (because of course Rebecca watches and has no shame in admitting her love of porn with plots) and we’ve got the makings of a powerhouse episode.

“That Text Was Not Meant for Josh!” is a litmus test episode. If you watch this one on its own, even out of context, and you don’t find this show infinitely charming, then maybe it’s not for you. I won’t judge. I’ll just be sitting over here, secretly hoping that you change your mind.

What did you watch last night?

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