X-Files writer Glen Morgan on Monday night's death
Warning: This story contains spoilers from Monday’s episode of The X-Files.
Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) has lost another family member.
“Home Again,” the fourth installment in The X-Files’ six-episode event series, saw Scully and Mulder (David Duchovny) saying goodbye to Scully’s mother, Maggie (Sheila Larkin), who succumbed to a heart attack. EW talked to writer-director Glen Morgan about why this was Maggie’s time, the message she needed to send to Mulder, and which trilogy of episodes “Home Again” completes.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: From a character perspective, what did you want this episode to do for Mulder and Scully?
GLEN MORGAN: Jim Wong and I had written this old episode “Home,” and everyone remembers it as being weird and grisly, but a portion of that episode was about Scully thinking about being a mother. And then the last episode we ever did there was called “Never Again,” and it was very much Scully thinking about being a woman … They changed the [airing] order. We had it that she just did that because she had an existential pushback against Mulder, but then the way it played out [with “Never Again” airing after Scully’s discovery that she had cancer], she was just kind of doing it because life is short or whatever. But in any case, “Never Again,” I think, was about: What is Scully’s life as a woman going to be? And now she’s got a kid, but she’s not a mother. Her mother is passing away. It’s the third in a trilogy of exploring Scully as mother.
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So did you always know that Maggie would be the one at the center of the story, and that she wouldn’t survive?
My brother Darin [Morgan, also a writer-director on the show] and I — our mom passed away in 2009, and I wanted to write about that. The phone call and the necklace that Scully has — the prop department did an exact replication of my mom’s. I have that quarter, and I have no idea why she had it. My dad says he does, but I’m like, “I don’t want to know.” Because he’s probably wrong anyway. [Laughs] I just felt that it’s all: Is there alien life? Is there life here? And all these big mysteries, but the reality is mostly these little mysteries in our lives that actually are the most important to us. So many people that we love pass away, and they take a lot of answers with them, and I just felt that that was worth exploring on a show like this.
Maggie gets one line, but it’s a big one. Why did you have her direct, “My son is named William, too,” at Mulder?
I thought it was a little bit of a challenge to Mulder. I think that Maggie was very squared away with Dana. I think that they were close; they knew a lot about each other, and there wasn’t any hostility remaining. I think that she would know that Scully would figure things out, and Mulder was the one that kind of needed a little “Is your life in order?” kind of question.
What was the thought process behind bringing Charlie into the action for the first time? Did the writers already have the idea that he was estranged from the family?
I came up with it for the episode … I’m surprised at the number of families that have at least one family member who’s estranged that no one talks to, and everyone thinks, “Thank God they didn’t show up at Thanksgiving.” So I thought that it would be interesting for the Scully family to have that as well, and also for Dana to be heartbroken, you know: Why would she ask for the one guy who rejected us?
One scene in particular that stood out to me was Scully telling Mulder, “I need to work right now,” and then just spinning on a dime. I loved Gillian Anderson’s performance there. Could you take me behind that moment?
I wish we had another 10 minutes of airtime. I would have liked a few more minutes to kind of let that air out. If we’d had even 10 episodes, and if I had been able to do two episodes out of 10, I would have done the Band-Aid Nose Man and Scully. But we only had six episodes, and we had a lot to accomplish, so you try to do it gracefully in one episode. I wish I had a little bit more time to explore that heartache we go through at the immediate loss of someone, but I felt that the audience would understand that she’s having an emotion and needs to work in order to get away from what just happened to her.
We got a lot of flashbacks to past episodes, especially “One Breath,” but also a lot of William scenes. How did you decide to incorporate those?
I had to do my homework, because Jim [Wong] and I left at the end of the fourth year. So I went and did my homework as to the William story and things that they had done in the last two years, and watching it, I wrote down, “This part from this episode. This part from this episode.”
And Scully calls Mulder “Fox” for the first time since “Tooms.”
That’s a very definite thing. You save that — calling him Fox — for when she really means it. I didn’t know it had been that long.
I know you said at EW Fest that you never really stopped thinking of X-Files stories. Why do you think the show stuck with you like that?
You keep going back to The X-Files because as a writer as an artist, it’s the one experience where you’re really very free to do what you want to do. … And the world is never not going to have somebody trying to control you, so The X-Files will always be a place to tell that story.
Any last thoughts on the episode?
I would go on and on about how extraordinary Gillian is. … And David knew that this was really a showcase for Gillian. He backs her up, and he knows that Darin’s episode is going to feature him, and she backs him up. The two of them are great.