X-Files S10 E02 Review: Founder’s Mutation
This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
In genetics, a Founder Mutation is a mutation that occurs in the DNA of one or more individuals who then becomes the source, ie. founders, of a population that passes this mutation on generation after generation. This is the basis of the second episode of Season 10, an episode that, in my opinion, brings us back to the the core of what X-Files used to be: somewhat procedural, Scully and Mulder hovering around dead bodies and coming up with outrageous explanations for their deaths, and then the monsters arrive: except the monsters are children with genetic mutations, imprisoned by a mad scientist (Dr. Goldman) to continue his quest to create super-humans.
What I would consider a great departure from the old seasons is how particularly gruesome this episode was. From the way Dr. Sanjay infused the letter opener to his ear, to the bloody autopsy scene with Scully, finishing the episode up with an eye-ball popping incident with Dr. Goldman, this episode felt a lot like watching The Walking Dead in terms of gore and visuals. There was also a major jump from Episode 1 to Episode 2 in terms of narrative cohesion, and by that I mean there was virtually no explanation as to how Mulder and Scully started working for the FBI again, after the exhaustive treatment they have received from the agency in the past. The gist we get from Episode 1 is that it’s been over a decade since they worked for the FBI, with Scully spending her time as a doctor for Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital (which proves to be a convenient plot-driver in Episode 2) and Mulder had spent his time in, what essentially is, hermitage. However, this decision paved the way for an episode that threw you into the nitty-gritty of the world, complete with mutant hybrids, the search for the missing sister, and an awkward sexual encounter in the men’s washroom with Gupta.
Despite the sameness that we feel from this episode, due largely to the fact that James Wong, a veteran writer for the X-Files series, wrote this episode, we are still treated to some current references just in case we forget it’s Season 10, such as, jokes about Obamacare, Edward Snowden and Scully saying that she came from a generation of “pre-googlers”.
Although highly busy in terms of plot points, the central focus of this episode, I believe, is Mulder and Scully’s grief over the loss of their son, William. Each imagines a world where they raised him, instead of giving him up for adoption, and both fantasies end with their deepest fears. Scully’s dream sequence involved Gillian Anderson in a mother role, walking William to get to school, waiting for him to get home, only to find, in her horror, her son slowly change into an alien, a fear she harbours due to her discovery that she has alien DNA. Contrast that to Mulder, who spends time with William watching movies, notably 2001 Space Odyssey, having an interesting conversation with his son about the significance of the monolith to the human race. (For those don’t know, the monolith, both in the book and the film, signifies the presence of aliens in the human world. The book and the film focuses primarily on the premise that aliens were essential to the evolution of human beings, a theme that resounds prominently within this episode). Mulder’s dream sequence, however, ends with William’s abduction, a scene reminiscent of Mulder’s sister’s abduction and a nod to long-term fans of the series.
To highlight this theme, during the scene where Scully talks to Dr. Goldman’s wife, she says, “A mother never forgets”. Similarly, the last thing we see in this episode, is Mulder, hunched over the same photo of William, sharing the grief with Scully, in silence.
Written by: Ellise Ramos