This week’s cold open starts with a heartless bureaucrat evicting homeless people from the site of a new development…with water hoses. Heavy handed from the jump.
The bureaucrat, Lt. Gaeta, helpfully reminds the transients that “You knew this would happen,” and when we see a trash truck drop off a massive creepy guy (MCG), we’ve got our first glimpse of our monster of the week. When Gaeta chokes on the trash truck MCG’s horrific smell, we know he’s toast. His 911 call doesn’t do him any favors, as MCG tears his arms off before casually hopping in the compactor of the trash truck, which drives off and whisks him away. Who is driving the truck?
An investigator who comes dangerously close to name-dropping “spooky mulder” shows the dynamic duo a puzzling case of a curious footprint. “It looks like this person was born without footprints. Which is impossible, “ Mulder says, saving Scully the trouble of explaining.
When Scully gets “the call” about her mom, Mulder doesn’t hestiate. “You go,” he says, muldering. As she tears down a stairwell to rush to her mother’s bedside, we get a the selfie chest cam POV for maximum anxiety. She’s not handling this well.
Back on the job, Mulder takes a moment to shit-talk the 76ers as he points out the far flung security cameras that were knocked out of position. Not sure why he would want to pick a fight with Philly; it’s typically inadvisable. When Mulder notices he’s carrying a squishy shoe, we get a close-up of a gross band aid deposited on the sole. It is visually unpleasant.
When he arrives back at crime scene #1, Mulder meets the two bickering vultures: the president of the Bucks County school board, who makes sure we know that she hands out turkeys on Thanksgiving, Nino Brown-style, and the Just For Men® real estate bro who just wants to build his damn condos. He also meets a helpful dreaded homeless dude, who gives us MCG’s “real” name: Band Aid Nose Man. When Mulder gets his band aid tested, the FBI nerd tells him it has no organic or inorganic matter. “It’s not alive, it’s not dead.”
At her mom’s bedside, Scully has an early X-files flashback to being in a coma, with Mulder at her bedside, which is kind of a weird thing for her to be remembering, considering she was, uhh, in a coma. She watches a patient near her mom flatline, and orderlies move the body like a sack of meat. The doctor drops the DNR bomb on Scully; her mom changed it a year ago and didn’t tell her. Good thing White Knight Mulder is just beyond the portal to the ICU, waiting respectfully to be invited in.
Crime scene #2 unfolds with some capitalist art world leeches who have cut out the billboard that the famous street artist “Trash Man,” tagged up outside crime scene #1. “We should go to Sotheby’s on this. “ says leech #1. “Never knew you could make so much money off the homeless,” sneers leech #2. he he! Won’t be seeing him long. When Band Aid Nose Man shows up, he suffocates leech #2 with a plastic bag, and tears leech #1 apart by hand again, this time going for a “head from arm” style torture murder. Variety is important.
Crime scene #3 is soundtracked by Petula Clark’s “Downtown.” That’s nice. As the trash truck rolls up to drop off Band Aid Nose Man at the suburban school lady’s baller crib, the front windows are annoyingly blacked out and obscured by bright headlights. This time, for flair, he respects the lady’s sanitation habits, putting some unidentified portion of her torso in her own trash compactor. When Band Aid Nose Man jumps inside the big compactor, it’s painful to watch.
We’ve not yet touched on it, but Scully has looked very vulnerable, and unquestionably tarted up. Unbuttoned blouses were not young Scully’s steez. In this episode, her plunging neckline at her mother’s bedside literally forms the shape of a heart. When Scully gets her estranged brother on the phone, Mom wakes out of the persistent vegetative state, takes Mulder’s hand, looks him in the eye and says “ My son’s name is William, too.” Yeah, we know. She promptly dies.
“MULDER I NEED TO WORK, RIGHT NOW!” Scully is not taking this well, and Mulder watches her storm off with a face full of pity.
After the least convincing tail ever, they follow a backpacker kid (with a pistol), telling him “we’re looking for the Trash Man.” Right. When Mulder lets the kid escape, Scully scolds him. “Mulder, back in the day I used to do stairs, AND in three inch heels.” His retort almost makes no sense, until you realize they’re doing that thing where they do the old x-files thing again. “Back in the day. Scully, back in the day, is now” ::raise flashlights:: .They cross beams as they head down into the abyss, and it’s so fucking hokey I cant stand it. That clay figure walking down the hallway was creepy as HEELLL though.
When they find the tattoo-headed artist, the Trash Man, he gets his customary “people treat people like trash” righteous speech. “I was just trying to give those people a voice, the only way I know how,” he says. “Through art.” Except his art is making clay torture-murder monsters.
In the middle of this dude’s monologue, Scully has baby William flashbacks, and is soon admonishing the Trash Man for his responsibility, but she’s really talking about herself.
One last crime scene. Real estate bro’s got his injunction lifted, and finally ship his pest problem off to Bucks County. His announcement of “I paid a lot of good money for this” is cartoonish, but par for the course. When his dark, empty hallway scene comes, its hard to be sad to see him go, even if he is the kind of dummy to smell a rank maggot smell and walk towards it. Maybe he should be applauded, investigating the new residents’ quarters to ensure sanitary conditions? Riiiiight. For real estate bro’s murder scene we see Band Aid Nose Man go for full-on quartering—yet another creative upgrade from crime scene #2. I would almost have preferred it close out the episode; Scully’s “I want to believe, I need to believe, that we didn’t treat him like trash” plea was a total downer.