image (1)

Founder’s Mutation: Season 10 Episode 2
Written by James Wong, Directed by James Wong
First aired January 25, 2016


This episode had everything I love about The X-Files. I could go on forever, but I want to save some of the good stuff for putting the episode in context with the rest of the season. Broadly speaking, I think this is the episode that proves The X-Files is not only timely in a “the government are bad guys” sense, but that this show can still be an envelope-pushing, genre-smashing roller coaster ride that you never want to end.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so! I’ve read numbers suggesting that more than twenty million people agree with me. Look, I’d be perfectly happy if it was just me and the tumblr crowd geeking out. But this is great news.

  • That cold open was squirmy and physically uncomfortable from start to finish. Poor Dr. Sanjay. Full credit to Christopher Logan, for making me feel how much pain Sanjay was in.
  • Also the camera angles in this episode are to die for. So pretty!
  • Mulder and Scully are discussing a corpse, Scully is going straight for the “logical” explanation, Mulder is raising his eyebrows at her, and just…I think I’m in love (again).
  • Also Scully: how does one shove an ENTIRE blade into one’s brain without help? Never mind, I really don’t want to know.
  • I forgot how fucking extra this show is. A lot of the old episodes look tame compared to what’s on television now, but in the day it had a reputation, and they’re earning it back.

  • There’s a nice return to the old friction between departments/agencies when the Department of Defense guy comes barging in, and Mulder unabashedly rolls his eyes. But unlike the old days, Scully reminds the guy that they’re FBI, so they have security clearance. It doesn’t work, but at least she said it.
  • There are a number of shifts in relationships that show how much the characters have developed as people. One of them occurs here, in which Scully distracts the DOD bully so that Mulder can swipe some evidence. If you listen closely, you can hear Young Scully howling in the distance.
  • I love how they lean into each other as they’re walking away from the scene. Scully is trying to shield Mulder from view with her body, as if passersby will know somehow that Mulder is looking at someone else’s phone. It’s also subconscious: they lean toward each other.
  • Mulder’s tone and the look on his face when he says to Scully, “How did you know that?” as Scully spews off translations of words from a language she doesn’t speak—so adorable.
  • So: Mulder and Gupta
    • I’m not the one to definitively say whether it was disrespectful or not. I haven’t read others say it wasn’t, so until then I’m trusting with my own judgment that it was okay.
    • On second viewing I realize I was just as naïve as Mulder (and I was, utterly—I did not see that coming at ALL). That whole conversation is so obvious! “No names,” “Is that guy bothering you?” “I…don’t know you well enough” from Gupta and “I’m safe, you can trust me” from Mulder. LOL, of course Gupta thought he wanted to hook up.
    • The X-Files has historically shied away from sexuality so completely that I was seriously pretty shocked that they went for that shot, because the implication was fairly explicit. I would have liked to be in the room when somebody told Carter that a dude was going to try to give Mulder a blowjob.
    • I do love Mulder’s reaction, and what’s more, the show’s reaction. It’s made clear to the audience that Gupta didn’t do anything wrong. Yes, Mulder does a bit of pearl-clutching, but he doesn’t shout, “I’m straight and you’re a horrible person!” Instead he lets Gupta rant at him and doesn’t judge. I was so afraid they’d make Gupta look bad or have Mulder get angry or something.
    • I also like that the next scene is the two of them, sitting side by side and having a drink. Yeah, Mulder needs to get information about Sanjay, but he’s doing it in a very compassionate way.
    • But I dunno about Scully saying “It’s 2016! No one has to be in the closet now!” Because people still do—life is complicated and still dangerous for lgbt folks. That line was not such a great idea.
  • I’m that Mulder hearing the screeching sound in Sanjay’s apartment was vaguely connected to a larger alien conspiracy idea, but not another alien artifact.
  • Why didn’t they bring up the artifact thing from the past though? Just gonna skate by that one like Gibson Praise’s similarity to Sveta in “My Struggle?”
  • The scene with Skinner shows more evolution—back in the day he really would have been shutting them down, but here he’s just looking pretty for the right people and then dropping the mask immediately thereafter.
  • Also an evolution that Mulder just answers her question about what happened to him.
  • I cannot stress enough how much I love that Mulder and Scully are FINALLY allowed to just express their emotions instead of walking around them. It makes the show so much more honest. Scully says to Mulder, “[Sanjay] could be you” and “this is dangerous,” because she cares about him and doesn’t want him to get hurt. Mulder is finally allowed to express how much her concern means to him, and to reassure her instead of ignoring her or talking over her. THIS NEW X-FILES. I LIKE IT.
  • Christine Willes plays Creepy Sister Mary, and she played Scully’s therapist back in the day—like, really fucking well. So it makes me sad to see her in this weird “I’m Catholic and judgy” role. What I do like is Sister Mary and Scully walking in the foreground of the shot, matching crosses glinting in the light, while Mulder walks behind just trying to keep up with the subtext of their conversation.
  • Seriously, like the whole thing is so fucking creepy. Sister Mary says Goldman is “a true champion of the unborn,” refers to the babies as “an innocent child in need,” and then talks about the mothers like they’re trash! On a second watch I find it to be deeply and uncomfortably satirical (in a good way): look at these people who say they want to “champion the unborn,” and look at what the fuck they’re really up to, and what they’re willing to do to vulnerable women.
  • Scully ducks under Mulder’s arm to get in the doorway instead of fussing with standard doorway practices my poor soul why do you do this to me I am a good person etc etc.
  • Anderson has always been exceptionally good at portraying Scully’s maternal hopes and fears. So it’s no surprise to me that when Agnes says that her baby is sick, Scully’s face reflects every ounce of maternal pain possible, and then some.
  • Then of course Creepy Sister Mary comes back in and spouts more conservative misogynist bullshit hogwash malarkey. (And she hates men too! Bonus points!)
  • On a lighter note, it’s subtle but I love how Mulder and Scully both sneak looks at each other when Sister Mary sniffs that “desire is the devil’s pitchfork.”
  • Their talk about William is poignant and horrible. Their poor faces.
  • When Scully says that she hates herself for not keeping him, Mulder doesn’t jump in and tell her she’s wrong to feel that way, he just gently lists all the reasons why she did the right thing. And Scully’s suggestion that William could be out there, suffering, is just too much to bear.
  • Scully’s William
    • “I love you. That’s all you have to remember.” If Scully could say one thing to William, that would be it. I wasn’t deeply affected by Scully’s dreams of William, because I already know Scully mourns William’s loss. But that got me.
    • I’m not sure about the broken arm thing; it feels superfluous.
    • I know they had their reasons for not showing Mulder in Scully’s sequence or Scully in Mulder’s (for each to examine their own loss blah blah) but it’s very clear that they’re in the same house.
  • At Goldman’s Lair, who’s the girl in the background? Is she seriously there in the scene just to pout because no one is paying attention to her and her boobs? She never speaks! No one ever even looks at her. It’s not like The X-Files to have random eye candy, and that’s one thing that doesn’t need to change.
  • Lots of the stuff that’s going on with the kids (apart from being exaggerated) are real life disorders. Joselyn can help you out with all of that (under #FoundersMutation and #XFRewatchFoundersMutation and #XFScienceSundays). She’s amazing.
  • Jesus, Scully, way to show all your cards by blatantly accusing the guy of fucking around with alien DNA. That’s some first season Mulder shit.
  • Also does Mulder say anything in this whole scene? Like, at all?
  • Looks like Molly’s got some telekinesis going on even in this scene
  • If they’re willing to kill Agnes that openly just for chatting with Mulder and Scully and/or leaving the hospital, we’re dealing with Syndicate level chicanery here.
  • Please take note of the size of the apple on Jackie’s lunch tray. Because that apple nailed poor Gillian Anderson (accidently! and to Rebecca Wisocky’s horror) right in the boob. You can find footage of Anderson giggling madly in outtakes—in fact I think she tweeted it.
  • So Jackie is hella interesting because I just babbled for a few thousand words on “Deep Throat” recently and I spent a lot of time on Mrs. Budahas. Jackie reminds me of her, but she’s sharper, obviously, and her heightened agency actually results in more dire consequences for her.
  • Seriously, with the dead deer and the entrails. Like it’s obvious that it’s not a real deer, but for fuck’s sake. It bugs me how much The X-Files hates animals.
  • Mulder looks at Scully when Jackie says about her son, “I think about him every day.”
  • Gee I wonder how Kyle’s mother feels about Mulder and Scully asking to talk to him.
  • More awesome camera stuff in this scene. Having Kyle’s mother up on the porch and Mulder and Scully on the lawn makes for some really fun…tilted camera stuff? Listen, I just watch the shit, I don’t know how it’s made.
  • Scully still and always gives no fucks who she has to scream at or turn her gun on when Mulder’s in danger. Ah, love.
  • And she lingers in her resentment, too—contrast the sympathy she showed toward Agnes and Jackie with how she treats Kyle’s mom after Mulder’s episode. She doesn’t even look at her when she pulls the car away, despite the mother’s frantic screaming and sobbing. Doesn’t even glance at her.
  • Kyle is so interesting! I really don’t know what to make of him. He’s volatile and violent, but there seems to be an innocence and vulnerability to him too at times. He really does just want to find his sister, and when he’s confronted he turns into a frightened, squirmy teenager who can’t maintain eye contact and whose voice cracks. But he’s also perfectly willing to hurt people and murder his father.
  • Goldman is equally extraordinary, but I know exactly how I feel about him. He’s gross. He’s got his long lost son in front of him, whom he hasn’t seen in seventeen years. And his face shows absolutely no expression whatsoever. Not only that, he doesn’t even show a flash or recognition when Kyle mentions Molly. Nothing. Like seriously, what makes this guy tick? What are his justifications?
  • Molly really doesn’t look well cared for.
  • Okay they’re BRUTAL. Like, “We’ve just met! I know, let’s murder our father!! Fun!”
  • So the guest stars in this episode are amazing.
  • OMG OMG Mulder actually got evidence! I bet he’s gonna mark it on his calendar with little stars.
  • Mulder’s William
    • 2001 Space Odyssey: literally ONLY Mulder would bond with his child by watching this film.
    • True story: when I was about William’s age I went on a trip with my Dad to DC, and near the end of a day of trying to learn everything he excitedly pointed out to me, we stood in front of Washington’s Monument, which I tried to pronounce properly but called “Washington’s Myuh-myuh-mit.” So William calling the monolith the “momo-myth” was pretty sweet to me.
    • I love that Mulder gives William multiple possibilities for what the monolith could mean, and tells him that he’s free to make up his own mind. It’s so in keeping with Mulder’s character, and such a beautiful contrast to the way Mulder’s own parents treated him.
    • The way William leans on Mulder and the way Mulder kisses his forehead is just beautiful. We don’t often get to see fathers being openly affectionate with their children, especially sons. But for me even that is outweighed by the simple fact that it’s Mulder, getting to enjoy a moment of affection. That it’s all a fantasy is terrible.
    • During the rocket scene, William joyfully and hopefully says, “I’m gonna go there!” It’s like Mulder believes that William could have the opposite of all the terrifying and traumatizing space-related experience that Mulder has. To Mulder, William represents a hope to make everything right. A hope that they lost by giving him up, even if it was the right thing to do.
    • The end is…I don’t even really want to talk about it. To those of us with traumatic pasts, the worst thing we can imagine happening is it happening again, to someone we love, and not being able to stop it. As I said in my pilot post, if the aliens thing gets in the way of understanding the impact, substitute physical abuse. Mulder’s not worried it’ll happen to him, he’s worried that, he’ll be paralyzed again when someone he loves is taken from him, even as they call his name for help.
    • The worst thing is that Mulder is just left standing there as the light goes dark.
    • I find by the end of the episode that I’m not just sorry for Scully and for Mulder. I’m sorry for William too. Scully and Mulder would have been such wonderful parents.
    • I sobbed at the end of this episode. I even kinda knew it was coming from various promo materials, but that didn’t help at all.

One thought on “The X-Files: Founder’s Mutation

  1. Reblogged this on Robin C. Farrell and commented:
    I, too, enjoyed “Founder’s Mutation,” quite a bit more than “My Struggle.” HL Shepler explores the why and how, which I largely agree with (save for the perspective of a long-time fan; I’m still new to it all, but loving it).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *