After a not-so-astounding premiere, the classic X-Files aesthetic finally returns in this follow-up episode.
The initial return of The X-Files wasn’t what everyone expected. It lacked something. The foundations were there, but the episode didn’t feel properly put together. It was missing a certain spark that the original seasons had before it back in the 1990s.
But fear not, the second episode of the revival – named ‘Founder’s Mutation’ – gives us what we expected in the premiere episode. This has a nostalgic 90s X-Files aesthetic that merges seamlessly with the 21st century. With the classic cold open alone, this episode hits the nail on the head within the first three minutes.
Monsters-of-the-Week are back (kind of). Torches are back. Morgues are back. Mulder and Scully are back. It’s so refreshing to see everything we’ve come to love from this series appear in small increments; just enough to leave us satisfied and feel as though we’ve got our show back.
‘Founder’s Mutation’ isn’t your typical ‘Monster-of-the-Week’ format as it first appears. This episode wasn’t even supposed to air as the second of the series. Before the revival began to air, the team behind the show moved some of the episodes around to fit the emotional and mythological arc between Mulder and Scully more appropriately. Initially the fourth episode (‘Home Again’) was supposed to air in this week’s spot. The casual viewer probably won’t notice the difference, but having seen ‘Home Again’ already, swapping the two episodes around has done the continuing storyline wonders in terms of emotional impact, especially for Scully’s development over the six episodes.
This is the first time we see Mulder and Scully back in the FBI, actually investigating a case, rather than being buried underneath mountains of conspiracy theories and mythology (as in last week’s episode). Just like with every X-Files episode, you’ve got to pay attention to the title. ‘Founder’s Mutation’ is built upon continuing mythology – as the episode revolves around a scientist named Augustus Goldman, who is conducting genetic experiments on children, all of which is funded by the American government. In genetics, the founder mutation is a phenomenon that appears in the DNA of one or more individuals who are founders of a distinct population. The mutation can initiate changes that occur in genetics, which can then be passed down to succeeding generations.
As with the lore, we’re also given a lovely welcome back to the show’s infamous and gruesome violence. How could it be X-Files without someone stabbing a letter opener in their ear canal, or a pregnant woman cutting open her womb to ‘let’ her baby out?
The episode does tread heavily around the unanswered question of Mulder and Scully’s son, William. William is a major plot point in the series’ eighth and ninth seasons, as we stick with him through his conception, to his birth, right through to Scully ultimately having to give him up in order to protect him. It’s clear in this episode that William is set to become a major player in the revival, with Mulder stating that they just need to pull the thread to see what unravels in regards to his whereabouts. Both Mulder and Scully can be seen to feel extremely guilty for missing out on his life – he would be fifteen now – as both have fantasies of what raising him would have entailed, ultimately ending in nightmares for the both of them. Scully’s vision dealswith her son turning into an alien-human hybrid, whilst Mulder’s culminates with his son being abducted, much like his sister Samantha.
And with that, my alien friends, our show is truly back. Here’s to next week, where we shall meet a were-monster in the form of a mutant lizard. Oh X-Files, how I have missed thee.
The X-Files airs on Mondays at 9pm on Channel 5.