Television Review – The X-Files, Founder’s Mutation (season 10, episode 2)
Despite being ahead thanks to US iTunes, as a loyal X-Files fan based in the UK, I thought I’d save my reviews until the episodes air here. Tonight saw episode two arrive on Channel 5 and in my view it’s an improvement on the season opener, seeing Mulder and Scully back out in the field investigating a brand new strange case.
Founder’s Mutation is a standalone-style paranormal mystery of the week, which always proved so popular in the earlier seasons. The mysterious apparent suicide of a scientist brings Mulder and Scully to the crime scene, freshly suited and booted for a new stint as the FBI’s most unwanted. What unfolds is a case involving a strange piercing noise that seems to affect anyone at any moment and mutations on young children, possibly the result of genetic manipulation by scientists, the latter bringing to the surface our favourite duos’ own feelings about the child they gave away, one who may or may not not have had unique abilities.
The episode works well in tackling both a standalone case and the overarching backstory of Mulder and Scully, in this case focusing on William. James Wong (who together with Glen Morgan was behind so many classic X-Files) manages to fit both threads together in a way that doesn’t feel forced and is able to move the overall Mulder and Scully relationship forwards without compromising the mood and tone of the case they are investigating. This is no easy task and in my view works very well here, especially when compared to episode four, which attempts to do something similar (more on that in a fortnight).
For avid long-term fans of the show, Founder’s Mutation has some great Easter egg moments – we have the actress who played Scully’s therapist Karen Kosseff in seasons two and four (Irresistible, The Calusari & Elegy if you were wondering) playing a nun, the return of the glorious torches, a mysterious government suit sitting in the background in Skinner’s office and a witty wink to the show’s most well known catchphrase. We also get an insight in to how each of our lead characters feel abut the loss of their son and what their deepest fears are about what could have happened to him, each clearly influenced by their own experiences. Despite this sad tone however, there are also touching moments of what could have been, as we see the parents they wished they had been if things been different.
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have so easily slipped back in to these characters and the partnership between Mulder and Scully is as if they had never left the basement. There is the witty banter, the intellectual back and forth and the deep bond, which always burns off the screen. You really cannot imagine them apart, personally or professionally. Yet they have also grown as people and bring to the screen a credible version of who these characters are 15 years later. One of the things I’m most happy about when watching this revival is that their individual characters, as well as their partnership, feel very true to the Mulder and Scully we knew and loved in the 90’s. Things have changed and yet things have stayed the same too. It was always going to be a tough balance to strike, but it’s one I believe the writers and actors have succeeded in getting right.
Adding to the mood of there series as usual is Mark Snow’s eerie and atmospheric score, so distinct to The X-Files that is feels as if it’s an additional character. This story enables him to deliver some creepy pieces, as well as some more emotional beats when touching on the William arc.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It’s not a classic, but it delivers an interesting case, some creepy moments and pushes Mulder and Scully’s relationship forward during this new phase of their lives. Hopefully it will highlight to newcomers to the show that it was always about more than just aliens and that there are always going to more files in the basement office that need investigating.
I can’t say it any better than Skinner himself says in this episode: “Welcome back you two.” Well said Skinner, well said.
The X-Files series 10 continues next Monday on Channel 5 with Mulder and Scully Meet the Were Monster. Make sure you tune in, as in my view it’s the best of the series so far. Series 1-9 are available to stream on Amazon Prime and all the usual stockists.