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Stephanie Watches The X-Files: “Founder’s Mutation”

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The second episode in the miniseries was soooooo good. It had all the elements of an old school X-File with the mysterious cold open, Mulder/Scully in SUITS doing their investigation, flashlights, typical Skinner scolding, and a more or less open-ended ending. With some shots to the heart mixed in for good measure. Let’s dig in!

In the cold open, a poor guy named Sanjay is looking worse for wear as he heads into work. He’s been hearing a piercing sound in his mind that is gradually driving him crazy. It comes out in full force while he’s in a meeting and wigs out in front of his colleagues. Hiding in the server room and attempting to hack into something, the noise becomes too much for him to bear anymore. He manages to scribble a message on his hand “Founder’s Mutation” (hey, that’s the name of the episode!) before driving a letter opener through his skull to stop the noise, ultimately killing himself. (Pretty gory for a 8/7 c timeslot. Nice.)

In come reunited investigation team Mulder and Scully to open a new X-Files! Trouble is, the comapny Sanjay worked for is run by the Department of Defense, so trying to get any information out of Chief from Battlestar Galactica or anyone else in the office is nearly impossible. But Mulder’s managed to swipe Sanjay’s cell phone so they can continue their investigation.

Sidenote: I always wondered how smartphones would affect the X-Files. Because so many instances in old episodes could have been so easily solved if Mulder or Scully had just taken a picture with their phone. I wonder how that might come into play now.

You know me, Scully. I’m old school.”
“I’m old school, Mulder. Pre-Google.”

Mulder interrogates and almost accidentally gets serviced by Sanjay’s secret boyfriend, whose knowledge of Sanjay’s double life leads them to his real apartment. Inside, they find files and images of children with drastic genetic mutations. And suddenly Mulder is affected by the same noise that tortured Sanjay. All he hears, aside from the piercing noise, is what sounds like “Find her.” Unfortunately, the DoD once again limit their investigation and confiscate all the files that could lead them to the founder of Sanjay’s company, Dr. Goldman.

“I assume you made copies,” says Skinner. Oh, he knows. His agents are good. And I like how we’re just thrown right back into regular X-Files business with AD Skinner, as though we’ve never left. I’m not crying, you’re crying!

skinnerweredone

The most Skinner thing a Skinner could say.

Also, yay! They seem to have their basement office back! Except Scully still doesn’t have a desk, after all this time. But I spy the “I Want to Believe” poster in the background. In the privacy of their office, Mulder confesses what he heard when the sound affected him in Sanjay’s apartment.

This is dangerous.”
“When has that ever stopped us before?”

The clues lead them to a wing of the hospital full of pregnant women, who are all supposedly being funded by Dr. Goldman. One of the women is super freaked out, not wanting them to take her baby. She’s changed her mind, even though they claim something is wrong with it. Mulder gives her his card in case she wants to contact him in the future and the two head over to Dr. Goldman’s facility.

On the way, Scully wonders to Mulder if the women are similar to her: just an incubator for genetic testing. Perhaps this is not just another “monster-of-the-week” and ties directly into the overarching government conspiracy. They are quite fond of using women and children for experimentation, aren’t they? Despite her worries, Mulder says the most precious thing:

You’re never ‘just anything’ to me, Scully.”

Swoon. Anyhoo, Goldman is charming as he takes them past genetically mutated child after child. But the two are not convinced and some more research on the dude shows that he committed his supposedly criminally insane wife for murdering her unborn son. She tells the agents that her husband keeps her there, but she never murdered her son. She knew that Goldman had experimented on her daughter’s embryo, especially after an accident in the pool showed her that her daughter could breathe under water. Whaaaaaa! So, in an attempt to protect her unborn son, who likely had some sort of abilities as well, from further experimentation, she runs away. She doesn’t make it far and crashes her car. While lying there, convinced she would die, she very gruesomely cuts open her own stomach to let the baby out. Echhhhhhhhh. But she’s convinced he survived.

Another look at the surveillance footage from the time of Sanjay’s death shows that a janitor in the building seemed to be suffering at the same time. Or perhaps sending Sanjay a message? So, they track him down and figure out he’s Goldman’s son. Now the kid just wants nothing but to find his long-lost sister. Goldman tries to trick him by showing him a different person, but the kid knows and rushes to his real sister, Molly. He uses his crazy piecing noise to not only break the glass and free his sister, but target their evil father. Mulder and Scully try to stop them, but Molly can also move things with her mind, so she forces them back with her powers. Blood comes spewing out of all of Goldman’s orifices and we’re all pretty happy to see him go. (Reminded me a lot of the Hands of Blue dudes from Firefly.) The kids escape and that’s that.

We’re left wondering what will become of the two kids, as we are left wondering in countless other X-Files episodes, which has always been one of my favorite aspects of the show. Not everything necessitates a final resolution.

I blacked out after Goldman’s eyes popped out of his sockets. Believe me, you can’t unsee that.”

Mulder & Scully’s Dreams

Losing your children is a big theme in this episode. Although it’s been 15 years for Mulder and Scully, the loss of their child William is still fresh. For those that need a refresher: there was a very large possibility that William was one of – if not the -first successful alien/human hybrids. Because of this, he was a target for murder by the government and even by those wanting to take the government down. So, for this protection, Scully gave him up for adoption to an anonymous family in the country.

While the daydreams might be inconsequential to the average viewer (or even silly because they are so out of the norm of the pair’s usual X-Files lives), I think they were important to show us what that loss means to these characters, or even what protecting him themselves could have cost them.

Scully dreams about very average mom things: bringing William to school, picking him up when it’s over, and then looking after him after he breaks his arm in an accident. But it quickly turns dark as a terrified boy shows his mom that his alien DNA is slowly taking over him, his face turning into an alien’s. This is Scully’s worst fear, especially now that she has confirmed from the last episode she has alien DNA. She’s afraid that if she had kept William, she would have lost him the same way she lost her biological daughter Emily, who was thought to be a failed alien/human hybrid experiment. Her body was even stolen from Scully before/during the funeral, likely by the government to protect their secret.

Mulder dreams of shooting off toy rockets with William and watching one of his favorite movies (2001: A Space Odyssey — this was also playing in the hospital wing with the pregnant women) while teaching him about aliens and life. His dark turn is the fear that the same fate that befell his sister Samantha when he was just a boy would happen to his son: that he would be taken by aliens/the government and forced to live out his existence being experimented on.

Ouch.

Two very different fears, but they mean so much about each character’s journey through nine seasons and why they continue to fight for the truth.

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