X-Files (2016) season 10, episode 2
WRITER: JAMES WONG
DIRECTOR: JAMES WONG
AIR DATE: January 25 2016
"Founder’s Mutation" is the second episode of The X-Files season ten, written and directed by James Wong, who was one of the regular writer - directors of the series through its initial run. His work includes the classic episodes "Home" and "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man", and this episode continues with the theme of the mythology arc, while bringing into the equation Mulder and Scully’s feelings about the son they gave up for adoption in order to protect him.
A bio-firm called Nugenics Technologies plays big into the episode, with the suicide of a researcher under bizarre circumstances one morning. Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) are called in to investigate, having had been restored to agent status with the X-Files unit reopening. There is an odd clue on the body, a phrase written on his palm - founder’s mutation. The path leads the agents to Nugenics’ founder, Augustus Goldman (Doug Savant), medical programs, and a facility filled with children with unusual conditions - one of them showing peculiar abilities.
The episode plays into the mythology of the series in subtle ways, with the Department of Defense playing an obstructionist role for the agents in protecting Nugenics, which has connections to the company. Mulder has his own theories about what the research at Nugenics really has as its origins, and of course that plays into the alien-Conspiracy angle that’s been one of the cornerstones of The X-Files world from the beginning.
Skinner, Sculley, and Mulder
This series has, in terms of filming action, horror, or the supernatural, tended to always emphasize physical shooting, moody lighting, and prosthetic makeup over CGI (last week’s flying saucer crash being an exception). That plays itself out in terms of the climax of the episode, which involves paranormal abilities, and which involves a combination of physical special effects, creative camera work, and the standard lighting effects the series has often made use of. The result feels more grounded and authentic than the standard special effects George Lucas would use for a movie.
The strongest element of the episode, however, is based in the characterization of the protagonists. And that shows itself in daydreams both Scully and Mulder have of their son, of conversations with William long after they gave him up. They’re somewhat ordinary conversations, parents with their child sort of conversations at various points of his life - Mulder explaining 2001: A Space Odyssey is particularly fitting. It’s a reminder of the sadness and melancholy that both characters have been living with for years. There is grief in both of them - and it gives the actors a lot to work with.