Maybe the second episode of the X-Files reboot wasn’t as good as a vintage season three or four episode of the original X-Files, but it was at least as good as a season six episode. Mulder and Scully themselves looked fresher and younger, like they’d had a good night’s sleep instead of rolling out of bed full of beer bottles and Doritos bags and showing up on set half an hour late. The writing was more restrained, the storyline made sense, and there were no wild pronouncements, nor was there an unhinged Mulder yelling taglines from the series every other minute. “I WANT TO BELIEVE.”
Compared to the first episode written by Chris Carter, last night’s second episode of the X-Files reintroduction was almost like an episode from a different series. A series from the 1990s that was called X-Files. It felt like home, and no, not “Home” with the Peacock Family, but like being back in our parent’s homes watching an X-Files episode recorded on a VCR.
Written and directed by James Wong (who actually did co-write “Home”), “Founder’s Mutation” took three steps back from the opening episode and kept the focus limited to one element of the vast overall conspiracy: The genetic mutation of children, who appear to have been spliced with alien DNA.
That particular storyline not only has an interesting entry point (the suicide of a DOD scientist), but it’s also triggering for Scully and Mulder, who have visions of what it might have been like to raise their own son, William.
It’s not the best episode of X-Files, but it does exactly what an X-Files episode should do: It offers a compelling mystery that can be explained either by science or the paranormal or both; it gives Skinner a reason to cover for his agents; it services the overall story arc; it reveals a few creepy images (a baby crawling out of a mommy’s sliced tummy!) and it provides some insight into the minds of Mulder and Scully. A witty or clever line here and there doesn’t hurt, either. “Founder’s Mutation” managed to give us all of that, and fry a guy’s brain from the inside, as well as comically throw Mulder down a hall.
It’s hard to ask for more than that from the X-Files, and even it if wasn’t an A+ episode, it practically felt like one following the disastrous reboot pilot. Unfortunately, whatever momentum the series gained in last night’s episode and likely will in the next two will be followed with the final two episodes of the reboot run, which will be written by Carter again.