It's another William episode, only two weeks after James Wong's one. They're strong episodes and both very different, but on first viewing I thought twice was enough and was hoping this didn't become a habit.
Watching Season 11, though, made me think better of Season 10. I now think this is excellent.
Mind you, there's plenty of other stuff here too. There's Scully's dying mother, the homeless and a murderous colossus who reminded me of Clive Barker's Candyman. It opens with homeless people getting sprayed with fire hoses and harangued. "You people were told this was coming. This is the first phase in a relocation project that will see you transferred to the old Franklin Hospital in Bucks County! Any personal items collected tonight by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development can be retrieved... at our field office at 1804 South Walnut Street."
A few minutes later, this gentleman's severed arms are in the garbage. Mulder and Scully arrive to investigate, but then Scully gets some news and has to bow out.
The episode works well on all levels, including horror. If you remember The X-Files principally for being scary, this is what you'll have been waiting for. The Trashman's imposing and could have carried a feature film. He's a monster. His murders in well-shot scary scenes are enough to grab your attention.
At the same time, though, there's also a hospital bedside for Scully. I'll always be up for an Anderson acting showcase, although admittedly there's one moment here where I wasn't sure about her. (I'd need to rewatch that.) Ultimately, the conversation comes back to William, who was after all also Scully's mother's grandson.
The thematic links between these two strands are clear... but, to me, they also felt tenuous. "You are responsible. If you made the problem, if it was your idea... then you're responsible." "She gave birth to him. She made him. He's her responsibility." I see the resonance, but the situations are so different that the comparison still felt forced. To me, anyway. On the one hand, a supernatural killing machine who's murdering city officials. On the other, a mother who'd had to give up her son for adoption. "Treating people like trash" is a stronger link, but perjorative. It would only resonate with someone who already felt guilt, although in fairness Scully does.
In one sense, this is the strongest Season 10 watching experience. It's not the season's best episode, but it's the scariest while also providing half of the season's deepest emotional content. It has a first-class monster. I suppose one might argue that the Trashman content doesn't really go anywhere plot-wise, so doesn't provide a cool idea, twist or resolution that might lodge it more firmly in your memory... but I don't mind. Unexplained mysteries are part of The X-Files too. It's good.