THE X-FILES Review: Mutations and Experiments in “Founder’s Mutation”
By Pauline Perenack
With just 24 hours to digest and process the return of The X-Files to our television screens, we were back in our seats again last night with our favorite paranormal investigators having had just enough time to ponder about what’s going on in our society and if it’s all part of a greater conspiracy.
Sunday’s episode focused on bringing our main heroes, Mulder, Scully, and Skinner back into the X-Files, and teased the return of our favorite villain, the Cigarette Smoking Man. “Founder’s Mutation” drops Mulder and Scully right into the middle of a classic x-files case. With Skinner backing them up along the way, they investigate a laboratory which focuses on genetic experimentation, and is run by guest star, Doug Savant.
Last night brought out all the expected cringing and creepiness that goes with The X-Files, so let’s recap what happened.
Bad Things Happen when Birds Gather
“Founder’s Mutation” starts out with a blood-shot eye being scanned through a security area, and it’s a sure bet this character won’t be long for the episode. After being scanned in, Dr. Sonny Sanjay stumbles to a meeting, but can’t concentrate as the ringing in his ears becomes unbearable. We hear about someone named The Founder, but after seeing a flock of crows land outside, Sanjay runs from the room in obvious pain. He ends up locking himself in a server room, and is copying files from a computer to a hard drive, as others from his company try to get in the locked room. The ringing in Sanjay’s ears becomes overwhelming, and after writing something on his hand, Sanjay fatally shoves a letter opener in his ear to stop the pain.
Mulder and Scully are assigned to the case, and Scully points out that it seems to be a classic suicide, but Mulder disagrees. When the two are prevented from learning too much more by an agent from the DOD, including information on Augustus Goldman, who Mulder believes is involved, Mulder steals Sanjay’s phone in the hope there are some clues on it. As the two walk away, Mulder discovers Sanjay had talked to someone named Gupta every night. He sets up a meeting, during which he learns Gupta was Sanjay’s boyfriend, and Sanjay had been leading somewhat of a double life, including two separate apartments – one which has yet to be searched.
Scully meanwhile, is conducting an autopsy on Sanjay to see if she can find anything out of the ordinary, and finds the message he wrote on his hand before he died — ‘Founder’s Mutation’. Convinced that Sanjay might have left other clues, Mulder and Scully search his second apartment. Within, they find a wall filled with pictures of children with deformities, and soon after, Mulder is stricken with the same debilitating ringing in his ears as Sanjay, as the police catch the two in Sanjay’s apartment.
In Skinner’s office, an agent from the DOD takes the files that Mulder had found in Sanjay’s apartment, saying they were classified. Skinner believes correctly that Mulder was able to copy some of the files before they were taken, and Mulder tells him they were all about genetic experiments involving children, which he believes to be failed experiments. Skinner reluctantly allows the two to continue investigating the theory.
Walking into his newly put together office, Mulder finds Scully looking through security footage from the day Sanjay died. She asks Mulder what happened to him in Sanjay’s apartment, and he admits he heard the same sounds as the deceased scientist. Worried that Mulder will meet the same fate as Sanjay, Scully has an idea about how to get in touch with Goldman.
At Our Lady of Sorrows hospital, Mulder and Scully walk with Sister Mary, played by the brilliant Christine Willes, and convince her to contact Goldman for them. Mulder tells her to mention they want to discuss Founder’s Mutation. As the two are leaving, they see a pregnant young woman named Agnes trying to escape. She tells them she’s there because her unborn child is sick – similar to the other pregnant women in the ward. She seems afraid of Sister Mary, so Mulder slips her his card.
Intrigued by Mulder’s message, Goldman agrees to meet, and shows Mulder and Scully around his laboratory which is filled with children with deformities. Scully questions why the children are locked alone in rooms, and asks Goldman if the DOD was funding the experiments because they included alien DNA. Goldman refuses to answer, and they are interrupted by a girl struggling with an orderly, as objects around her move on their own. As Mulder and Scully leave, they are troubled by what they saw, but are interrupted by a phone call that Agnes has been hit by a car.
On scene, Mulder and Scully discover Agnes’ baby was cut out of her and not found. Later, as they discuss the possibilities, Mulder points out that Goldman’s wife was also found at the scene of an accident, and was convicted of murdering her unborn child – but the baby was never found. Jackie was declared insane, and was still currently being held, so Mulder and Scully go to visit her. Jackie tells the two about discovering that her daughter, Molly, could breathe under water, and realized her husband had experimented on her. Fearful for her unborn son, she ran, but was in a car accident. She was afflicted by the same sound Sanjay and Mulder heard, and said it was her unborn child talking to her, telling her to let him go. In a gruesome scene, we see her cut open her stomach, so the child could escape. Once she woke up, she was told she killed her baby and has been locked up since.
Scully believes Jackie is telling the truth, and Mulder starts to put everything together. He looks again at the security footage from the day of Sanjay’s death, and sees a janitor working on the floor right above Sanjay. He determines the janitor was Kyle Gilligan, and he and Scully go to talk to him.
At the Gilligan’s house, Kyle’s mother refuses to allow the two to talk to Kyle, and around them, crows start to gather. As they do, Mulder is afflicted with the loud ringing in his ears, and falls to the ground in pain, prompting Scully to run and find Kyle. Kyle admits he didn’t mean to kill Sanjay, who was helping him to find his sister, but no one could find her. Scully knows where his sister is, and they take Kyle to Goldman.
At Goldman’s lab, Kyle tells Goldman he wants to find his sister, Molly. Realizing that Kyle is his son, Goldman takes Kyle to see a young girl whom he introduces as Molly. As he stands face to face with the girl, Kyle knows she is not Molly, and runs to find her. When he does, he can hear her thoughts, and together, the two are able to break the glass separating them. Goldman goes to stop the two, but Kyle cripples Goldman with the loud ringing sound, and Molly pushed both Scully and Mulder down the length of the corridor with the power of her mind.
After the event, outside the building, Skinner tells Mulder and Scully that Molly and Kyle are gone. Mulder however shows Scully he had stolen a vial of Kyle’s blood, so they would be able to continue researching the case, and the possibility that Goldman was experimenting with alien DNA.
The theme of pregnancy and experimentation also brought up thoughts of Mulder and Scully’s shared child, William, and throughout the episode, we see “what if” scenes from both Scully and Mulder’s point of view. In both, the what if scenario starts out happy – Scully bringing William to his first day of school, and Mulder launching model rockets with him – but then ends on a terrifying note – Scully walking in on William turning into an alien, and Mulder walking in to finding him being abducted in a similar manner to Samantha’s (Mulder’s sister) abduction. After each what if scene, Scully and Mulder are left sitting alone, looking at a picture of William as a baby, each lost in their own thoughts.