Destination: Washington D.C. and D.C. adjacent.
Scully: "This is dangerous."
Mulder: "When has that ever stopped us before."
'Founder's Mutation' is our first good ole monster of the week standalone of the mini. Or is it? Somebody cue Mark Snow!
The X-Files coming back has had a much bigger impact on me than I could have predicted. I have lots and lots of feelings that are not at all easy to process. Thus, I'm trying to approach this review like an EMT whose own relative needs to be put back together after being strewn across a hundred feet of highway, and rely on my training.
But really, how does a hardcore fan of this series begin again at this stage? James Wong, writer and director of 'Founder's Mutation', is certainly not a bad way. An episode with glimmers of 'Shadows', 'Eve', 'Humbug' and 'Hungry' that has a cameo by the actress that once played Scully's therapist (Christine Willes), and this strange transition back into the world of Mulder and Scully is eased. Wong is characteristically and wonderfully still insane, crafting images from the page to the screen that will reside in our brains next to those from 'Tooms' and 'Squeeze', 'Die Hand Die Verletzt' and the piece de resistance, 'Home'. I'm still not used to seeing Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in these roles again, both seem somewhat restrained or trepidatious. That's not a criticism, just an observation. I can't imagine what it would be like for an actor to go back to these characters. Everyone involved really has so much baggage, as it were. (Although, it absolutely bears mentioning that Mitch Pileggi seems at complete ease in Skinner's shoes. Kudos! He's an anchor once again.)
|Be still my beating heart|
The single greatest thing (read: the one with the most moxie) this episode did was bring back the idea of William. For those of us that agonized over the introduction of this child into this show's universe and his subsequent exeunt stage left with nary a reference to what could only be a mammoth development in Mulder and Scully's emotional life, I am ecstatic by his re-introduction here. I mean just the acknowledgment of him -- we are making real progress here, people! To me, the weight of 'Founder's Mutation' was in the respective daydreams of Scully and Mulder. (I was particularly struck by Scully's parental fantasies drifting not just to the first day of school but something like a skateboarding accident. That came off as real sophistication for the sheer unexpected nature of it.) I give the creative team a shit-ton of credit for their effort to pull this off, and in a very X-Files way. Yet, ultimately, the realization that both Mulder and Scully are broken, perhaps beyond repair, is almost more than an unconditional fan of theirs can handle.
There are many delight-filled flourishes here, too. A few drop-deadpan comments by Mulder that literally made me laugh very loudly, the care and concern that Mulder and Scully continue to have for one another, their unspoken understanding, acceptance and frustration that they are not exactly in the swing of things again, are all incredibly special to witness. One quick note about Scully, she is so much more on board than she ever has been, god love her because that makes total sense for the character! At long last! A note about both of them (and by them, I mean both the actors and the characters), age has served them well. Though there is a restraint, as I mentioned earlier, they are, by and large, more comfortable in their own skin than ever and in the way only wisdom and maturity can orchestrate. What about the short work they made of the DoD guy in Skinner's office?! They literally did not give a shite. Ha!
There were some weird holes in the story as well, but I found most of the scenes to be effective and interesting and engaging for one reason or another. I really liked the scenes that reflected Mulder and Scully's issues, both overt and secreted. I.E. the visit to see Dr. Goldman's wife in the mental institution. Her retelling of the story of Molly underwater was fantastic! But even in its uneven, fucked up logic was a very distinctive X-Files feel. Bless. The structure of the stories on this show are unlike any other, for better or worse.
As challenged as I am to sort through what I am feeling about all of this (and, truly, I am aiming to be more and more articulate throughout the rest of this run), I am also powerfully aware that this show fills holes in me that I didn't even know I had. And I am extremely excited, come what may, for the rest of the revival.
How's everyone else faring?
-- This show is so pretty. That shot of the drill in the keyhole foreshadowing suicide by letter opener was inspired.
-- Doug Savant.
-- The bar, then men's room, then bar scene with Mulder and Gupta was so good. I don't know what else to say about it except that.
-- The wireless keyboard.
-- A1 Janitorial. Who doesn't love a little Breaking Bad love?
-- Adored Mulder stealing the blood.
-- Much has been speculated about the order of 'Founder's Mutation', in a world where the TV viewer now knows too much for their own good. This episode was supposed to be later in the mini but got moved to the 2 spot. To me, it was a choice to give the season more cohesiveness because, as I mentioned before, this isn't exactly a standalone by The X-Files own standards. It's in that hybrid category like 'Red Museum' or 'Fearful Symmetry'. There are themes in it that were present in 'My Struggle' and perhaps seeing that these episodes were aired over two consecutive nights, maybe in hindsight, they won't feel so jarring as the later episodes would have.
-- Well, look who we have here:
-- Kill me now pt. 1:
-- Pt. 2:
-- Pt. 3:
-- And, finally, pt. 4:
Scully: "I think we need time to prove this theory." (Has Scully ever been more of a team player, I ask you!)
Mulder: "You don't like cats?"
Mulder: "I blacked out after Goldman's eyes popped out of their sockets. Believe me, you can't unsee that."
Final Analysis: At times fun, creepy, clever and indelible but really stands out for the courage to bring back the very tricky storyline of William.
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