Without bashing on the first episode of this revival series (you can check out my full review of that one), “Founder’s Mutation” elicited a sigh of relief. This was the X-Files we were hoping for when this project was announced. We finally have Mulder and Scully in the field pointing their impossibly bright flashlights into the unknown. Longtime veteran James Wong took the reins of the stagecoach for this outing. Long-time fans recognize Wong as the co-writer for over a dozen episodes during the course of the first four seasons of the original show along with his writing partner Howard Gordon (who will be writing and directing an episode of his own later on in this series). The team of Gordon and Wong were responsible for many of the show’s most enduringly classic hours, including “Squeeze” (and its followup “Tooms”), “E.B.E.” which would unleash the Lone Gunmen on a newly-formed yet rapidly-growing internet fan base. They even brought Scully back from the brink of post-abduction death in the hauntingly gorgeous “One Breath.” In short, James Wong really knows his way around the X-Files office, and it shows in this finely-crafted hour. Skinner sends his newly-reappointed agents to investigate a gruesome suicide at a bioengineering frim. One of the firm’s scientists has pushed a letter opener through his ear canal in an attempt to squelch a piercing, high-pitched sound only he (and the earthworms) could hear. Unfortunately for Mulder and Scully, the firm has been conducting work for the Department of Defense. It would seem that those guys were never taught to share properly, especially with a couple of intrusive FBI agents. In pursuit of the case, Mulder begins to suffer from the same high-pitched sounds. Underneath the deafening blanket of sound, Mulder hears a message composed of the two words “find her.” As they carefully navigate the case and attempt to circumnavigate the government forces attempting to slam doors (both the literal and figurative kind) in their faces, their path leads to a facility full of children stricken with genetic anomalies. The doctor in charge is rather stereotypically evasive about his work in the face of Scully’s questioning, but the evidence in front of them would seem to suggest genetic tampering of the sort they’ve encountered coming out of Syndicate-run labs. The trail eventually leads to a worker for a private contracting janitorial firm, who is an escaped alien modified teen (the long-lost son of the doctor conducting the experimentation, no less) searching for his imprisoned sister. Their reunion is very Tony and Tia, but alas, a bunch of buzzkill DoD agents swoop in to take jurisdiction before Mulder can steal a Winnebago and head for Witch Mountain with the young siblings. It’s pretty abrupt, but Skinner comes along with his very sexy beard and talks until it seems like it’s just the way things are supposed to be. With this episode, we can all let out our collective held breath and acknowledge that The X-Files are back. The agents are back out in the field, Scully is back in the lab doing her very sciency things, and Mulder narrowly avoids getting a blowie from a beltway rent boy (hey, that was Lester from Chuck!). One of the things which worked beautifully about this episode was the sly way in which it wriggled its way into being a mythology episode. It’s that sort of breathless try-to-keep-up storytelling that makes for the best X-Files. What seems at first like a weird little standalone monster-of-the-week story slowly and deftly evolves into an integral installment of the alien DNA mythology which was (re?)introduced in the previous episode. In addition, it becomes a meditation on the emotional toll of decisions made fifteen years earlier in the original series. To be honest, my only genuine cause for grousing would be a handful of weak spots in the dialogue. In particular, Mulder’s usually acerbic wit was nearly absent. I mean, a seemingly catatonic interviewee chucks an apple at a cat on the other end of the room, and the best Mulder can rejoin is “you don’t like cats?”? Even something like “More of a dog person, I take it?” would have been closer to the mark. And the Edward Snowden wisecrack in Skinner’s office falls as flat as whatever planet B.o.B. is from. I can’t help but think that the Wong’s teleplay could have benefited greatly from a single pass by Carter or Gordon to punch up a couple of one-liners. It really didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the episode, but it was obvious enough that I found it jarring. One could find at least a couple of Easter eggs tucked away in this episode. The most obvious one was the appearance of actor Christine Willes. This time around, she confers with Scully in Our Lady of Sorrows as Sister Mary, one of the hospital administrators. But we might remember her from her sporadically recurring role as Scully’s FBI-appointed counselor Agent Karen Kosseff. Also, while not specifically an Easter egg, it seems clear that the Kyle Gilligan, the tele-whatever teenager and the object of this episode’s investigation, was named for the lamentably absent Vince Gilligan whose scheduling made a contribution to this miniseries impossible. Next time for sure, OK, Vince? But no, you still can’t do that Tilt-a-Whirl episode. I found this episode to be intriguing and puzzling all the way to the resolution, rushed though that conclusion may have been. Even so, in the end the real thrust of this story was the psychological state of the two principal characters. Based on the first two episodes of this miniseries, it would seem that the wider arc will very likely be grappling with the issue of Mulder and Scully’s long-lost child William. He was mentioned once or twice in “My Struggle,” but this one really brings it to the fore. Even all these years later, both Mulder and Scully are wrestling with his or her own respective feelings of guilt. Scully’s guilt is rooted in her decision to give up William. Mulder feels guilty as well, but his guilt is more in line with that of an absentee father. Sure, at the time, Mulder was on the run from forces well out of his control. It even seemed at the time that his disappearance would likely serve to protect Scully and the baby from those forces turned against him. But then, there were forces aligned against Scully and William as well. Certainly, Mulder loses sleep wondering if he might have been able to keep the family together if he had stayed (or taken them on the road with him). It seems to me to be increasingly likely that the rift which has grown between them is rooted in each’s inability to comprehend the other’s complicated remorse over the loss of their child. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response John E. Meredith January 31, 2016 This ep was definitely more like what we all loved. It felt like I had just randomly caught an original episode that I’d somehow missed. My only grouse, a small one, is that everyone seemed to have returned to business as usual . . . but, with only six hours gracing us, I guess there’s not much time for adjustments. Anyone hear anything about a further life beyond this event? I know the ratings have been good, so there’s hope. Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.