The X-Files 10.02: “Founder’s Mutation”

SCULLY: It could be dangerous.

MULDER: *scoffs* When has that ever stopped us before?

Ever get a ringing in your ears?

Has it ever been bad enough that you contemplated using something sharp and pointy to make it stop?

Dr. Sanjay’s (Christopher Logan) work for the mysterious “Founder,” Augustus Goldman (Doug Savant), comes to an abrupt, terminal end when he does just that.

On the list of images you can't unsee, a man shoving a letter opener into his head is high on the list. The only word that really suffices is:

Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are on the scene in no time. Predictably, Mulder doesn't see this as a straightforward suicide and begins to dig into the doctor's private life, while Scully dons her usual smock and gets busy autopsying.

Boy, is it ever nice to see our heroes back at work. There's something reassuring in watching Mulder track down a shadowy man in a bar and seeing Scully up to her elbows in blood. 

The suicidal scientist's demise appears to be linked to his work for Goldman, who claims to be researching genetics in an effort to cure children afflicted with terrible disorders.

Sure, buddy. That's what they all say. We know better by now—surely you're experimenting on hapless kiddies with alien DNA in order to create a super soldier or something.

The investigation leads the agents to Goldman's wife, Jackie (Rebecca Wisocky), who has been committed to the hospital for over a decade for insanity—and for allegedly killing her unborn son.

But the woman's story—of her husband using their own children as guinea pigs, of her daughter having inhuman abilities, and of her son somehow communicating with her telepathically and urging her to “let him out”—strikes a chord with Scully.

Naturally—given her own tumultuous past and complicated motherhood. Seeing Scully imagine what could have been with William is downright heartbreaking. Poor Dana—she wanted to be a mother so badly and had to suffer not only the death of her daughter, Emily, but also the experience of giving William up and never knowing.

Which, in a way, is worse—because now her mind can concoct any number of terrible scenarios. It's especially telling how her nightmare has William transforming into an alien hybrid—after her personal horrors with experimentation, her biggest fear would be for her son to undergo the same.

(Meanwhile, Mulder's worst nightmare isn't a surprise: William being abducted just as his sister Samantha was. When will any of us ever know peace? Never, probably, because Chris Carter is most likely a goblin who thrives off our anguish.)

And as for Mulder's happier dreams of William: sharing one of his favorite movies (of course Mulder's a 2001: A Space Odyssey fan), setting off rockets in the backyard, reciting speeches about science and exploration while the boy wears a NASA hat…

A knife! 

Straight. To. The. Heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mulder would have been such a wacky, great dad in his own strange way. Encouraging the kid to always question, investigate, and look to the stars. William would have been top of his class in science and psychology, with Mulder and Sculls there to help him with his homework and research projects.

But enough wallowing in the might-have-beens if this had been a happier show and the writers were kinder folks: back to the main plot.

Jackie Goldman's story proves to be true as our heroes locate the supposedly dead son, Kyle (Jonathan Whitesell), who just happens to work as a janitor at his birth father's facilities.

Poor Kyle isn't in full control of his powers; the death of the scientist was an unintended side effect of his telepathy. All he wants is to find his sister, Molly (Megan Peta Hill), who his father has kept hidden away for years.

Perhaps for a good reason: the touching sibling reunion ends with Goldman weeping blood from way too many orifices. Though I doubt many will shed a tear for the bastard, given his track record.

“I blacked out after Goldman's eyes popped out of their sockets,” Mulder says with a barely disguised amusement. “Believe me, you can't unsee that.”

There's a lot in this episode that can't be unseen. Sanjay's suicide, poor Jackie Goldman cutting open her pregnant belly with a butcher knife—hat's off to the effects departments for their stellar work, continuing a long tradition of gross-out X-Files moments.

Speaking of long traditions, I really enjoyed Mulder and Scully's dynamic in this episode—her worrying about him, springing promptly into action to save him as he writhes on the ground in pain; him gazing at her and telling her she's “never just anything to him.” That's the codependent dynamic I know and love so well.

The whole episode fires on all cylinders, really, especially when compared to Sunday's premiere. The tone feels right. The beats are familiar, but not too familiar. There's just enough weirdness and grossness to keep us riveted.

  • Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is snarky.
  • The basement office is back up and running.
  • Mulder is once again breaking federal laws left and right.

The balance in the Force has been restored.

Plus, I'm always a sucker for stories with mutants/superpowered kids, as my lifelong love affair with The X-Men proves. I was downright giddy when Kyle found Molly and the pair unleashed holy hell on their craptastic father.

Until proven otherwise by the show, I'm just gonna assume the pair have run off to hitchhike across America as righteous vigilantes.

And next week we get a monster! A real and proper spiky monster! In the woods! Dare I hope Scully will wear a great jacket and Mulder will trip into a hole whilst screaming, “SCULLAAAAY!”?

I do indeed. 

See also: The X-Files 10.01: “My Struggle”

 


Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. Come find the angie bee at Tumblr.

Comments

  1. J. Baric

    “… because Chris Carter is most likely a goblin who thrives off our anguish.”

    Ha! This line is perfect.

  2. Saundra K Peck

    The two night premier was everything I hoped for…. The return to the past, the resumption of the comfort and witty banter, the investigation resulting in gory grossness and best of all the acknowledgment of what William would have meant to Dana and Fox. Let the search for the Truth resume Scully and Mulder, I am in it with you! Hopefully for more than the six eps scheduled!!!

  3. John Mattson

    So, I’m wondering, did the nun in the hospital look at all familiar to you?

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