The X Files: 10.02 Founder's Mutation
While the first episode of The X Files revival had a lot to prove - re-establishing the premise after 13 years, progressing the on-going mythology and giving Mulder a Scully a reason to return to the X Files - it was episode two that had to demonstrate that the there was enough life in the show to warrant the revival. A return to the 'case of the week' storytelling that made the show so successful, Founder's Mutation was The X Files for the modern age.
At first I wasn't quite sure. There was an intriguing mystery in the death of the scientist but it was a little slow paced in the first half. As Mulder and Scully's first X File it needed a strong hook and I wondered at first why this was it. The link between Augustus Goldman's foundation and the Department of Defence - shown last week to be at the heart of the human conspiracy to use alien technology against humanity - became the motive for Mulder's investigation but it wasn't altogether clear at first.
Fortunately it carried through with the continuing great chemistry between David Duchovny's Mulder and Gillian Anderson's Scully as were taken through a whistle-stop tour of references to the modern age. Scully referred to herself as 'pre-Google' while Mulder was up to date on all his privacy laws and cultural references. Skinner, I'm not sure works so effectively though; while we can clearly see the progression and history of the two agents, their boss still seems stuck in the 90's, answering to others (the Department of Defence liaison) and being the gruff no-nonsense man we all remember. At least there was the nice moment of him being glad to have them back but I think the show needs to do something with him and I'm not sure six episodes is enough.
While not a classic, the episode got into real X Files territory when the two agents latched on Doctor Goldman's research into children with growth defects. Human experimentation using alien DNA reared its head making into another surprising, if much more natural, conspiracy story and the second half of Founcer's Mutation delivered some great shocks and surprises for the audience. The visit to the children's ward was quite uncomfortable to watch and the flashback to Goldman's wife giving birth to her human / alien baby, cutting open her stomach for it to crawl out was particularly disturbing - as was her daughter breathing readily under water after she fell into the pool.
And the link to human / alien children also yielded a surprise return to one of The X Files's less-successful stories; Mulder and Scully's son William who she gave up for adoption in order to protect him. Scully leaving her child never sat right with me, not after what she had gone through but I liked that this episode revisited this story in a sensitive, natural manner. Anderson was brilliant in her portrayal of a mother living with the daily guilt of giving up her child and the [dreams?] of her and Mulder living a life with William were bittersweet and not twee at all.
The final showdown in the facility saw Goldman's grown up son Kyle - with his ability to get into people's heads with high frequency - track down his sister Molly. The episode was in full on X-Men territory as he used his abilities to cause his father's brain to explode, while she flung Mulder and Scully aside like dolls. Just like the old days, the siblings escaped to fight another day but given the hell they had both been through, this was completely warranted.
Founder's Mutation started off a littler slow but developed into a strong, tense mythology story. Revisiting Scully's guilt over abandoning William, coupled with a story of alien DNA experimentation on human children made for an emotive and sometimes disturbing tale. This was the first 'case of the week' story for Mulder and Scully in over a decade - did it warrant the show's revival? Judging by this episode, absolutely and next week we have Darin Morgan back with the wonderful-sounding Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster. I cannot wait!