Season 10, episode 2: “Founder’s Mutation”
[Photos courtesy Ed Araquel/FOX]
When we last left our dauntless heroes, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) had decided that the overall conspiracy from the tv series wasn’t actually aliens, but the government pretending to be aliens. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), trying to live a life without Mulder, is dragged back into the conspiracy thanks to the knowledge that she has alien DNA from that abduction so long ago. The X-Files are open, and the truth is out there … we hope.
But that’s okay if you missed last episode, because the series is operating under the belief that it’s still 2002 and that we need an unnecessarily long ‘what you’ve missed so far’, narrated as usual by Mulder. This CliffsNotes lecture also brings up the reminder that Mulder and Scully had a baby, William, and they had put him up for adoption.
And then we segue into the episode of the week.
We’re introduced to Dr. Sanjay (Christopher Logan), a doctor working in a secure research facility. When talking to his friend, he hears a high pitched whine with some vocal mutterings behind it. His friend doesn’t hear anything, and so he’s off to a meeting. The others at the meeting talk about ‘the founder’, and that there’s some problems with the data and trials, and drops the news that this founder is Augustus Goldman.
Sanjay is having problems with paying attention to the meeting, as the whine comes back and is interspersed with some camera work straight out of Clockwork Orange. He looks outside, and there’s a bunch of birds – one would say a murder of crows. He shouts at the whine and exits, and goes down to the lab, where he locks himself in as he was downloading data. The whine is getting worse, and he writes something on his hands, and then kills himself – pretty graphically – with a letter opener.
After the now-familiar opening titles, we’re back at the research facility with Mulder and Scully looking over the body. However, the Department of Defense (DOD) is in the house, and not allowing the pair access to the data Sanjay was accessing. We finally meet Dr. Goldman (Doug Savant), and while Scully questions him, Mulder does his Muldery thing and steals Sanjay’s cell phone, making sure it’s unlocked with Sanjay’s fingerprint.
As they exit, they bump into a janitor while they talk about how they’re both old school in their methods, with Scully — talking about Goldman — mentioning she’s ‘pre-Google’ (I guess that explains her hideous internet research skills from last episode). Mulder sees that Sanjay has a friend, Gupta, and sets up a time to meet him.
He meets Gupta at a bar, with Mulder giving some lines about wanting to meet somewhere more private. Gupta follows him to a storage closet, and — in a scene reminiscent of a bad situation comedy — drops to his knees, offering Mulder a hummer. Mulder stops him, and Gupta — acknowledging how difficult it is for an Indian man to be out of the closet — tells him “the truth is in here.”
After a quick scene of Scully at the FBI morgue taking out the letter opener in a display of awesome special effects, Mulder has finally convinced Gupta of the real business at hand. Sanjay had said something about his kids were sick, but he was single. Gupta mentions that Sanjay actually had two lives, and had two apartments. Mulder gets a call from Scully, and she tells him that the writing on Sanjay’s hand said, “Founder’s Mutation”. She points out that Sanjay’s last words were, “Can’t anyone hear that?”, which may explain the letter opener in the ear.
Mulder and Scully then go over to Sanjay’s ‘real’ apartment — and while going over this, almost run into a guy who looks remarkably like the cleaner they had bumped into earlier. But apparently, Mulder and Scully don’t recognize him. As they search Sanjay’s apartment, they see photos of children, all with grotesque deformities. Mulder opens a drawer, and suddenly hears the whine, mixed in with a voice stating to, “Find her.”
We cut to the office of the real hero of the episode, Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi). There’s another man in the room, stating that the medical files on Sanjay are classified and under the DOD’s watch. When Mulder casually mentions he looked at them anyway, Skinner gives him the best, “Are you f’in’ kidding me?” look ever. The investigation is closed, and the mysterious DOD man mentions that the two will be dealt with harshly if they go any further in it. Mulder makes a joke about Snowden to remind the audience that we’re not actually still in 2002, and the man leaves. The minute he does, Skinner flat out states, “I assume you made copies.” (Go, Skinman!) The three then have a talk about what’s all been discovered, that there’s been obvious genetic modification on humans. Skinner lets the two know that due to bureaucracy, it will probably be a couple of days before the files will be completely closed.
Next: down to the X-Files office, where Scully is now looking through the surveillance video from Sanjay’s workplace. They discuss the potential that the noise may have been infrasound, stuff that could be heard by other animals (like the birds) and not humans. But the big question is how to get to Dr. Goldman. Scully says she may have a way.
Over to the hospital where Scully works, turns out that Goldman’s one of it’s biggest donors. They ask if there’s a way they can get a message, with Mulder interrupts to demand that the message include the title drop “Founder’s Mutation”. While waiting to hear back, they’re pulled into the common room by Agnes, a pregnant young woman who is changing her mind about giving up her baby, “even if it’s sick”. Mulder gives her his card, figuring there’s more to this than is stated, and then we hear that Goldman is happy to meet them.
As the two exit the room, the real reason behind researching this case becomes apparent: Mulder tells Scully that he believes this may be just another phase of the project. Scully, realization dawning, wonders if her pregnancy with William was intended for that, and was she just another incubator?
After a short daydream-sequence of Scully imagining what life would be like had they not given up William for adoption, ending in a nightmare of him being one of these genetically mutated children, we go to the Goldman Foundation, where Dr. Goldman insists he’s just trying to save the children. We see a smattering of the mutated children, with yet again excellent special effects. But Scully notes that the children are in sealed rooms, and asks if they have alien DNA. Goldman basically asks her when she turned into Mulder.
As is typical in an X-File, the two find out that Agnes had been killed in hit and run, and that the baby is gone. Mulder gives another rambling diatribe reminding the audience of the Syndicate and their goal of alien/human hybrids. This new species may very well start with the Founder’s Mutation. But they may have a way in: Dr. Goldman’s wife was convicted of killing her baby, but the baby was never found.
So, of course, our pair end up visiting a tetchy Mrs. Goldman. She states that it’s her husband keeping her there, and that there’s always been something odd about her daughter. This includes the ability to breathe under water. Mrs. Goldman is convinced her husband did something, and as she was pregnant with a boy, she needed to escape. Unfortunately, an animal makes her crash her car. When she hears the now-familiar whine, she stabs herself in the stomach and ‘lets him out’. Mulder, of course, has to bring this back to him and the fact that he’s hearing the sound as well. After a quick perusal of the surveillance video again, we find out that it’s the janitor we kept seeing that may be causing it.
We cut to a farmhouse, where Kyle, the janitor lives. A woman — presumably his mother — won’t let Mulder and Scully see him, and insists they leave. There’s a gathering of crows, and then Mulder is incapacitated by the sound in his head. Scully realizes this means Kyle is nearby and somehow causing it, and runs off to find him. They get him, and throw him in the car. The woman insists that Kyle doesn’t know what he’s doing. Driving away, Mulder questions Kyle. He’s just trying to find his sister. He’s the other child of the Goldmans.
They bring Kyle to Dr. Goldman, and for some reason Scully allows Goldman to take a blood sample. Goldman asks if Kyle wants to meet Molly, his sister. Goldman brings the three to a young woman, but Kyle recognizes that this isn’t his sister — and runs off. He meets the real Molly, and the two psychically break all the glass and gouge out Goldman’s eyes. Scully is thrown to the ground, Mulder is in mental anguish, and the two escape.
Our final scene is Skinner dealing with the DOD guy, and informing our agents that the place is now considered top secret, and that there is no trace of Kyle or Molly. But that’s okay, because Mulder stole the vial of Kyle’s blood. We end with Mulder’s daydream-sequence of what it would be like if William is in his life, ending in the nightmare of William being alien-napped, in the same exact way Mulder’s sister had been so long ago.
As with the first episode, I was a little disappointed overall. It still feels like the show is stuck in 2002, completely unaware of how television storytelling has changed in the past 13 years. The plot feels rushed, but more like they’re trying to fit way too much into too little of time. For a show that only has six episodes, to have what would’ve been considered a stand-alone when the series was broadcast seems a little superfluous. When almost every television show is now doing season-long story arcs, it would make more sense to have these six episodes follow one overall plot with each episode one chapter, interconnected. Instead, we’re getting the same show we had in 2002, where if you missed the occasional episode, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
While it feels good to have the old gang back, my tolerance for Mulder is rapidly shrinking. I find myself hoping he’d just go away, leaving us with the excellent Skinner and giving more for Scully to do other than be Mulder’s foil. With two episodes down and four to go, my faith is wavering. The truth may be out there, but so far I’m not seeing it.
The X-Files airs Mondays at 8/7c on FOX.
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[Also published on SciFi4Me]