Here’s a concept even more out-there than the fringe science at the center of The X-Files‘ latest episode: We’re a third of the way through the revival… and it just started yesterday!
Sadly, the six episodes of Season 10 will be done before the leprechauns slide down their rainbows this St. Patrick’s Day (which, incidentally, would make a great casefile for Season 11. Chris Carter, DM me). But rather than focus on how our post-revival lives will be sadder than C.G.B. Spender without his Morleys, let’s instead train our attention on what we do get in this Monday’s hour: a This-Is-Not-OK casefile that melds so well visually and tonally with previous seasons, the only way to tell it’s not vintage X-Files is to note Scully’s lack of linebacker-style shoulder pads (with bonus reference to Mulder and Scully’s son, William, and some touching/terrible daydreams about how life as the Sculder spawn might’ve played out)!
Let’s review what takes place in “Founder’s Mutation.”
AN EARFUL | We open on a bloody eyeball — already not good — getting retina-scanned at some schmancy tech company. The eyeball belongs to Dr. Sanjay, who works for a man named Augustus Goldman, who makes his employees refer to him as “The Founder” and who’s an elusive and shadowy character. In a meeting, Sanjay suffers extreme auditory distress — forget fingernails and think Wolverine’s claws on a chalkboard — through which only one message permeates: “Do it, go now, data is the key.”
Soon, he’s locked himself in the server room, where he’s downloading files onto a portable drive. But the noise in his head becomes so unbearable, he scrawls something on his palm and then jabs a letter opener through his ear, up into his brain. As his co-workers watch in horror from the other side of a glass wall, Sanjay dies.
BACK IN THE GROOVE | Mulder and Scully are on the scene soon after, with Scully already debunking the whole thing as nothing more than a psychotic break. But when a strong-armed goon (Hi, Battlestar Galactica’s Chief Tyrol!) shows up and tells Mulder he can’t take the drive because it is property of the Department of Defense. So Mulder surreptitiously takes Sanjay’s cell phone, instead, and schedules a meeting with one of the doc’s contacts named Gupta. Scully informs her partner that Gupta means “secret,” and when he’s impressed, she says, “I’m old school, Mulder. Pre-Google.” Speaking of which, remember when she Googled that life-altering surgery and then went ahead and performed on that cute kid in the second movie? Good times.
Mulder meets Gupta at a bar, and as soon as they go somewhere private to talk, the guy is going for Mulder’s belt. Fox awkwardly informs him that he’s there for information, not sex, and Gupta angrily goes off. “I finally let go of all that self-loathing and that judgment, and I’m free,” he says, rather sanctimonious for someone who a moment ago was on his knees and ready to help Mulder’s Apollo 11 blast off — possibly for money? Anyway, Gupta tells Mulder that Sanjay was worried that his “kids” were dying… and when Mulder and Scully investigate Sanjay’s secret Dupont Circle apartment (flashlights!), they find tons of photos of children with terrible genetic mutations.
That’s also where David Duchovny gets to revisit his favorite MulderTorture pose: holding his temples, doing an open-mouthed wince while something terrible happens inside Fox’s skull. (See also: “The Sixth Extinction,” “Demons,””Biogenesis,” etc.) This time, it’s because he’s hearing the same piercing sound that Sanjay heard right before he shishkebabbed his brain. The moment also gives Scully an opening to touch the man she so clearly cannot stay away from, so I’ll allow it. Oh, and the phrase Mulder hears among the din? “Find her.”
DO IT FOR THE KIDS | The next day in Skinner’s office (anyone else get all schmoopy about seeing the agents back in there? Just me? OK), a henchman in the corner makes it very clear that all of the files they found at Sanjay’s are property of the DOD and therefore are off limits. (Don’t worry; Mulder made some copies.) Back in their office, Scully reviews surveillance tape from Sanjay’s workplace and asks Mulder what he’s hiding, to which I bet she’s mentally adding, “… aside from MY DESK. SERIOUSLY, AFTER EVERYTHING I’VE BEEN THROUGH, I STILL DON’T HAVE A DESK?!”
He confesses about the sounds, and the pain, and the desire to make it stop, and her voice gets all soft as she says she’s worried that they’re onto something dangerous. “When has that ever stopped us before?” he jokes, because Mulder never passes up an opportunity for entirely inappropriate humor.
Turns out, Dr. Goldman is “a true champion of the unborn” who funds a clinic for “damaged” young moms at the hospital where Scully works. The redhead pulls some strings; while the partners are waiting to hear about a meeting, they meet a spooked woman who talks about signing her baby away but then scurries when the head nun returns with good news: Goldman will see them.
SECOND THOUGHTS | Outside the hospital, Mulder theorizes that Goldman’s clinic is just another phase of The Project: using the women as incubators in eugenics testing. “Is this what you believe happened to me 15 years ago, when I got pregnant? When I had my baby?” Scully asks, nearly as distressed at the idea as I am that she calls William “my” baby and not “our” baby. “Was I just an incubator?” Mulder looks at her that way that he looks at her sometimes — you know what I mean — and says, “You’re never ‘just’ anything to me, Scully.” You guys!
When Scully asks him whether he thinks about William, Mulder says he’s pretty much put thoughts of the boy behind him… which irks me in the extreme until later in the hour, which we’ll deal with in a minute. Scully, clearly upset, worries that William wound up like those kids in Sanjay’s photos; a daydream of hers later shows us both her hopes (that William had a normal childhood) and fears (that he morphed into a mutant).
WHO’S THAT BOY? | A visit to Goldman’s clinic reveals that The Founder is a defensive doc whose patients are parentless and kept in sterile observation rooms. Further research on Mulder’s part shows that Goldman’s wife was committed following the death of their unborn second child; but when Scully and Mulder visit, she maintains that both of their children had special capabilities thanks to Goldman messing with their embryos. And that second child, who’d gone missing back in the day? He’s the kid causing all the aural pain.
Mulder and Scully track him down — he’s a janitor who was on the biotech company’s campus the day of Sanjay’s death, as well as near Sanjay’s apartment when Mulder first went all ouchy — and he eventually winds up at Goldman’s lab, where he reunites with Molly: His biological sister and Goldman’s daughter who can break things with her mind.
Both kids liberate Molly from the lab and take off, leaving us with a classic X-Files no-resolution ending. Love it! Then, all that’s left to do is watch Mulder’s daydream about William: Despite all that noise about not thinking about the boy — who’s 15 now — Fox actually harbors secret fatherly fantasies about them shooting off toy rockets in a field and watching classic sci-fi. That forehead kiss: I DIE.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!