Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The X-Files 10x02 "Founder’s Mutation" (Never JUST Anything) [Contributor: Lizzie]

"Founder’s Mutation"
Original Airdate: January 25, 2016

On October 11th, 1996, the James Wong/Glen Morgan The X-Files episode titled “Home,” was the first of the show to get a viewer discretion warning for graphic content. And boy, was it warranted. To this day I’ve re-watched almost all The X-Files episode at a minimum five times, with “Home” being one of the few exceptions to that. Fact is, the episode just gives me the creeps. Every time I watch it, I get nightmares.

Last night, as I sat down to watch the second part of the two-night premiere event of the show’s revival, I, in keeping with my tried-and-tested X-Files watching method, turned off all the lights and curled up on the couch. That was until I remembered that this was also a James Wong written/directed episode. And then I turned on a light.

I might not have learned all of my lessons, but some have clearly sunk in.

(Not that the light was needed. This was not that kind of creepy. It was a more subtle one.)
The X-Files revival premiered with a mythology episode, as was to be expected. Those were always hit or miss, especially during the last few years. Monsters-of-the-week however? That’s how the show first gained a cult following. And, good news is, twenty-three years later, they can still do them.

... Even if this isn’t exactly our typical monster-of-the-week.

So join me as we recap a much better, cohesive hour of The X-Files revival than the first. Hopefully the ratings will be good enough that the writers will get another shot at crafting these types of episodes. After all, it has been thirteen years since The X-Files went off the air, and still no show has quite figured out how to take its place in the realm of entertainment.


The so-called “monster-of-the-week” this time is a boy called Kyle, who’s less a monster and more a kid with powers he doesn’t understand who’s desperate to find his sister. It all traces back to his father (not that Kyle knows this), a sort of mad scientist who’s doing research on kids with genetic mutations. And I when I say “research,” what I mean is that he’s clearly experimenting.
Dr. Augustus Goldman might think he’s doing God’s work, but he’s obviously a few fries short of a Happy Meal, if you know what I mean. He put his experiments over his family, and though this episode falls short of clearly stating it, the fact that the Department of Defense is all over Mulder and Scully’s investigation makes it seem like Mulder’s guess that this is bigger than just trying to cure kids with genetic abnormalities is probably spot-on.

Kyle, however, and the whole Dr. Goldman thing is not what that makes this episode interesting. That’s what makes it creepy. But the genetic experimentation/kids thing basically serves as a backdrop for Mulder and Scully to finally — FINALY — have a long overdue conversation about William, the son they had to give up for adoption in order to protect him. This brings us to...


The X-Files is good at many, many things — scaring us, surprising us, confusing us with the mythology. And yet, though the show has had its moments, it can’t really be said that they’ve truly gone for heartbreak. Sure, Scully has cancer, but we didn’t really think she was going to die. And yes, we lost characters here and there, but when you make a show about just two people... well, the only way to truly break your audience’s heart is to do something that affects those two people.

Enter: William.

The whole William arc was something I loved and, at the same time, something I hated. The show played it up as much as they could that we’re never quite sure how William is conceived (Scully tried in vitro, but that supposedly didn’t work, and we’re led to believe she and Mulder sleep together in a timeframe that fits with the conception), and Mulder, Scully, and the rest of the characters never gave any indication that William was anything other than Mulder’s son. So, William was theirs, yes. Saying that they both gave him up is a stretch, since David Duchovny was absent for a lot of the last two seasons. But the fact is that William was adopted, and we’ve never seen and barely even heard about him again.

And that’s why this episode killed me. We’ve always viewed William’s loss through Scully’s eyes. She’s the one that was desperate to have a child. She’s the one that suffered through knowing that her ova were used to create hybrid children. She mourned Emily, who was hers, and wasn’t. She loved William so much that she gave him up. And Mulder was always just… there. He offered his “assistance” when Scully wanted to get pregnant, but even that was presented as something he was doing for her, not for a possible future child. We assumed he felt the same as Scully, but we never really saw it.

Not until this episode.

That the first dream/hallucination is Scully’s was to be expected — as I said, this whole storyline has played out from Scully’s point-of-view. It was the fact that the episode closes with Mulder’s own version of the possible future they could have had with William that’s both heartbreaking and enlightening. We never see anyone but him and William in his dream, just like we only see Scully with William in hers, proving that this desire, this love, is just about William and not about each other. Sure, Mulder and Scully are in love. No one is denying that. But their love and longing for William is not just about having a family, it’s not about the abstract. It’s about this kid that they both wanted, and they both had to let go of.

*cue tears*


When the new episodes were announced, and later, when Chris Carter said that Mulder and Scully would be broken up at the beginning of the revival, I was skeptical. I didn’t think they could find a reason for a break-up that would ring true with me. And, though I’m still having some trouble with the reasoning, I can’t fault the execution of this so-called break-up. Yes, Mulder’s bitter, but he clearly still cares. Yes, Scully is fed up, but her feelings are still the same. And though before, Mulder might have been resigned, what we’ve seen from him in these past two episodes is something that’s so wholly Mulder that it makes me want to give him a big ol’ hug.

He still has hope. He hasn’t given up — not on the conspiracy, not on his life, and certainly not on Scully. He’s subtly playing for keeps. And I only say subtly because there are no flowers or “I love you’s.” Because in The X-Files land, phrases like “You’re never JUST anything to me” are the equivalent to hiring a skywriting team.

And Mulder’s not the only one. Scully will take longer — she always has — but if the reasoning they gave for the break-up is true (that she just couldn’t bear to see him self-destruct), well, then we’re meant to assume that Mulder’s newfound positivity will be a step in the right direction. It might not be the magic cure, but when two people love each other as much as these two clearly do, there’s no need for one.

I want to end with this, because this, to me, was the number one reason why I wasn’t sure they would get back together: Chris Carter wrote the script for the first episode of the revival. Chris Carter also recently stated that Mulder and Scully had a “platonic” relationship for nine years. The general consensus in The X-Files fandom regarding this man, who created these two characters that we love so much, is that he’s never really understood them. And yet, Chris Carter wrote, in the scene where Scully is walking away from Mulder’s house: Mulder watches as the love of his life walks away.

Let me repeat that: LOVE. OF. HIS. LIFE.

No, I’m not kidding. Go read the phrase again. And again. Because you know what this means? It means Chris Carter is finally all-in with us shippers. He’s seen what’s been clear as day to us from day one. (In fact, he recently also stated that Mulder fell in love with Scully that first day, and vice versa.)

So, if Chris Carter is in — if we’re all in — what’s to stop the passionate Mulder/Scully scene we’ve been waiting for these past twenty-three years? I really think the answer is nothing. Or at least I hope so. I really, really do.

Other things:
  • I’m a little confused about the mythology (okay, a lot). I thought everything was a lie! Clearly the hybrids weren’t, just the reason why they were created? Some explanations would be good.
  • Is every episode going to start with a Mulder voice-over? I mean, I love Mulder, but I wouldn’t abuse that storytelling device. I only loved the voiceovers because they were used sparingly.
  • How are Mulder and Scully not having sex on the regular? It looks like they really, really want to.
  • Oh, and Mulder DOES gaze at Scully.
  • We already knew that Scully was a bad-ass, but it’s still kind of awesome to see her saving the day (and Mulder). It’s also awesome to see that these two, despite all the relationship issues, can still be just partners, and communicate effectively.
  • Mulder is now a kleptomaniac who likes to steal things from murder scenes. He’s clearly learned the playing by the rules gets you nowhere lesson.
  • I still need answers about how Mulder is getting around when he’s not with Scully. And what a wonderful departure it is to see HER driving. Her little feet can reach the pedals, ah Mulder?
  • It’s 2016. How come Scully STILL doesn’t have a desk? She’s there FULL-TIME.
  • If Scully has alien DNA, does that mean William does too?
  • Just four more episodes to go. I’m already having withdrawal symptoms.
The X-Files returns with the next episode in this revival next Monday at 8/7C on FOX.

1 comment:

  1. Scully is Mulder's BAE! LOVE OF HIS LIFE! Also didn't believe they would give us a glimpse of William, especially a scene with Mulder longing for a child in his life. Ughhhhh, shoot me in the feelz will you?! As always, reading my mind Lizzie!