The X-Files, “Founder’s Mutation”, January 25, 2016

Like all episodes of The X-Files, I wanted to like this one. I didn’t hate it—but “Founder’s Mutation” is a mess.

Spoilers ahead.

It’s such a mess that I’m not going to try and recap it; I don’t know that I could actually make enough sense of it to summarize the episode. We’ve got a doctor dying by order of infrasound from an unknown source, babies again, DNA again, and, perhaps strangest of all, Mulder and Scully suddenly resuming regular X-Files investigations like the past decade never happened.

X-Files Founder's MutationWhen Skinner told them that he needed them, I thought he was just talking about the alien case. Why did he desperately need them to start investigating unrelated strangeness? What was the urgency?

The reason in the minds of writers James Wong and Chris Carter seems clear: get the old FBI agent chemistry working again, and get Scully and Mulder thinking about their lost son William, given up for adoption as an infant because of Big Danger. I don’t remember specifically what that danger was—alien abduction maybe?—so I suppose I should go and rewatch I Want to Believe. Or maybe the episode could’ve reminded us, which it neglected to do. Oh, well.

I’m not worried about the future of this six-episode mini-series; no doubt they will come up with on-point shows that will redeem this one, advance the larger story arc, be less muddled. This particular episode did not make sense, at least to this viewer; it was obviously intended to ask more questions than it answers. Where did the Wonder Twins, the boy with the infrasound superpowers and his long-lost sister who apparently has similar mutations, end up going? Oh, no, they’re on the loose! I suppose we’re going to have to seem them again at some point.

Why was the Mad Doctor, Goldman, even experimenting on these kids to begin with? What was the point? Mad science? Evil government plot? Cash?

X-Files Founder's Mutation Scene

Angry Adoptive Mother Shouts at Mulder
Because, Well, Mulder

If you were surprised by the number of gross-out scenes in this episode—the doctor’s gory suicide, the pregnant mother cutting herself open—you should know it’s because we were on James Wong’s turf. Wong is a veteran X-Files writer and producer, and he (with one-time partner Glen Morgan) has written previous episodes with similar horrifically explicit scenes. That includes “Home”, the fourth season episode that so disturbed viewers that, last I was aware, it is not allowed in syndication. (It’s about secret southern in-breeding, if you must know. It’s more explicit than gory, but it’s the kind of story that sticks with you in an unpleasant way.)

I can imagine Chris Carter, frustrated, accosting me: what is it you want?

I have an answer. I want the series to get back on point. I realize that it’s difficult and inadvisable to have every episode be part of the larger story arc, but can’t they at least be related? Six shows is a small number to be including throw-away episodes like this one.

Still happy to have the band back together, though.