TV Review: The X-Files - Season 10 Episode 2 "Founder's Mutation"
Episode 2: "Founder's Mutation"
Synopsis: When a scientist suddenly commits suicide, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate what unseen force may have driven him to it. What they uncover is a laboratory where extreme genetic experimentation has been going on for decades, breeding subjects who possess unexpected and dangerous powers – and who harbor deep resentments.
REVIEW: To say I was disappointed by the first episode of The X-Files tenth season would be an understatement. Sure, I enjoyed seeing my favorite characters doing what they always do, but they were not at their best. I have always forgiven The X-Files for weak episodes because the show always managed to bounce back week to week. Well, with this limited series premiering two episodes in two days, I can honestly say that the show gets right back on track with a stellar episode that blends a monster of the week tale with elements of the series mythology. While there are some holes in the plot of this outing that left me confused, it is definitely an hour worthy of the better offerings from the original tenure of the show.
Picking up an indiscriminate time after the premiere, Mulder and Scully are back at the FBI. Pay no mind to the fact that Mulder was a fugitive after the series finale and that was seemingly forgiven in the 2008 film, but now that the true believer has a reinvigorated belief in the paranormal means he needs a badge and some case files. The episode opens with a scientist with a bloodshot eye hearing high pitched noises at a secured laboratory. He begins copying some data from a server but the noise is just too much for him to stand and he shoves a letter opener into his ear and through his brain, killing him. It serves as a pretty gory sequence, a trademark of many X-Files cold opens. Mulder and Scully naturally investigate and it feels like we are finally back to where the series left off over a decade ago.
The trademarks are all here: medical babble, crime scene investigation, Mulder breaking the rules to try and solve the case, and odd twists. It feels great seeing David Duchovny and GIllian Anderson back at it like they never left. There are a few forced moments including blatant advertising for Ford cars but that is the nature of modern television. Mulder also meets with a friend of the victim who misunderstands Mulder saying he is "safe" for wanting a blowjob in the back of the bar. The nature of our culture has changed a lot since The X-Files went off the air and while it feels a bit tone-deaf, the episode quickly gets back on track. I will admit that the mystery of the high pitched noises, which Mulder begins to experience as well, were pretty quickly solved if you keep an eye out in the background action over the first half of the episode.
But, I am not going to complain as this episode is well structured with some excellent back and forth between Mulder and Scully. Even Skinner gets some quality lines in this hour to help propel the story. At it's core, the agents investigate a doctor who has been experimenting on children with genetic defects. This not only leads Mulder and Scully to question whether the children are the result of alien-human hybridization, a staple of the series mythology, but also delves into William, the baby the two former lovers gave up for adoption. Both Mulder and Scully get a unique flashback/dream sequence of what it would have been like had they not given their child up to protect him. This leads to some moving moments from both actors and delves deeper into where their personal story arc will go over this short season.
The concluding act of the episode involves Mulder and Scully realizing that the doctor they are investigating had experimented on his own children. The deaths that take place over the investigation were not intentionally perpetrated but a side effect of the powers of the doctor's two children. When these two are united, their power is displayed in an intense sequence that also involves one of the more gory effects the series has used. Ultimately, this story doesn't get a conclusion but I get the very strong suspicion that this is not a standalone story and will have repercussions later this season. If I knew better, I would say that this run is going to be more interconnected than prior seasons simply due to the reduced number of episodes, but I could be wrong.
On it's own, this episode is lacking in some closure that would have made it even better. But, seeing as how The X-Files operates from a serialized approach, I am reserving final judgement until I see the full season. But, after experiencing this hour, I am glad to say that The X-Files is back and just as good as it ever was. Great pacing, great mystery, great acting, and above all great originality make this one of the highlights of not just this season but the entire X-Files canon. I just hope that we aren't left hanging and what is built here comes back over the next four episodes.
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