Martin Carr reviews the second episode of The X-Files season 10…
With The X-Files officially reopened ‘Founder’s Mutation’ hits the ground running. An overly eager genetics researcher pierces his own cranial cavity with a letter opener. Accompanied by a high-pitched screech which invades his brain and spreads whispered messages until his eventual collapse. With high level connections to the U.S. Defence Department and no conventional explanations, it takes no more than five minutes before Mulder and Scully are called in.
This you see feels like the old school X-Files. An element of intrigue, more than a hint of X-Men back slash Avengers character plotlines and solid crime investigation. More here than in the opener Duchovny and Anderson bring that chemistry back. Subtle hints of their old relationship play carefully into this clever continuation. Moments which I can only attribute to dream sequences for both blur the line between realities. Which plug narrative gaps without feeling like filler or worse still a rehash.
With a reclusive founder embodied by Augustus Goldman, we have the first of what I hope are many ambiguous villains. People pushed by a compulsion to do good and safe lives, only for their moral compass to somehow dissolve. Like a modern-day Victor Frankenstein using surrogate mothers against their will. Injecting abnormalities into undeveloped embryos then stealing the babies to further his investigations. More than anything ‘Founder’s Mutation’ is in the best tradition of what The X-Files achieved at its height. Managing to raise moral questions using issues of alien abduction as a smoke screen.
So what ‘Founder’s Mutation’ ultimately does then, is use the curiosity and past history of Mulder and Scully to remind us humanity is flawed. Playing on the issues inherent between them, this episode unfolds questioning reasons of abandonment. What those repercussions lead to, whilst simultaneously exposing an emotional void between them. Moving away from the established format of a perceived alien threat and creating a character piece. Broadening the canvas, exploiting fan base knowledge and drawing people in. While Mitch Pileggi’s special agent Skinner adds another element of shared history, taking things in a different direction.
So what episode two proves is that Mulder and Scully are still relevant. They may be older but thankfully appear no less wise when it comes to getting in over their heads. Duchovny and Anderson bring an old school curiosity to the table. Proving beyond a doubt that there was a place for this X-Files update. A reminder for many that the truth is still out there and worth looking for. Bring on episode three.