The X-Files is back. It has the retro intro and everything. Well, kind of. It’s missing a few parts, added a few others and that seems to be the way the premiere episodes of the X-Files feel to many reviewers. Lots of early reviews were excited for the series return, but lamented the fact that it was too much like the old series, or somehow didn’t capture enough of it. The first couple episodes certainly had a few hiccups, but nothing that took away from one of the best TV shows of all time returning to TV with 2 brand new episodes on consecutive nights. These episodes are weird. The world is weird. The world needs the X-Files.
This article is a general recap of last week’s premiere episodes and it contains spoilers; if you have not seen the return of the X-Files and intend to, go read another Oogie article.
In the episode “My Struggle,” the audience is reintroduced to Agents Mulder and Scully. After a rundown of the most important events involving UFO’s in the 20th century, we find Mulder as paranoid as he has ever been, stroking the duct tape that blocks his laptop camera, ensuring that he remains as far off the grid as possible. Dude clearly votes Reclusive Party. In fact, few people (including the FBI) know how to actually contact Mulder—except, of course, Dana Scully.
Former agent Scully is still deeply involved in forensic pathology, but no longer working in the paranormal field. What is absolutely clear is that Scully and Mulder have moved on from the X-Files…for now. Scully sets up a meeting with Tad O’Malley, a character who is an analog for social media conspiracists like Alex Jones. Mulder and O’Malley have a taut exchange. He scoffs to O’Malley, “Conspiracy sells; it buys bulletproof limousines.”
While O’Malley has benefited financially from the ground work laid by people like Mulder, he has also established the contacts that Mulder missed out on while he was hiding away. O’Malley introduces the agents to Sveta, a young woman who makes claims bolder than simply being abducted by aliens. Sveta swears that she has been abducted by government agents, who have infused her with alien DNA in order for her to gestate alien/human hybrids to serve the grand conspiracy of recolonizing the Earth with superior beings. Did I mention the world needs the X-Files?
Mulder begins to unravel the new case, relate it to the old cases and Scully is there to walk him back from the edge—the whole time reluctantly following Mulder to test his insane hypotheses. The classic character dynamic between Scully and Mulder is back in full force and both actors fall back into the roles rather nicely. In case there was any question, just as Scully is about to reveal the truth that Sveta and Scully BOTH have alien DNA, Sveta gets SNUFFED by the aliens/government/syndicate/the X-Files is back. The ultimate reveal for the viewer in this episode is that the Cigarette Smoking Man is still alive and taking a keen interest in the return of the X-Files.
“My Struggle” was an episode that heavily relied on X-Files lore. “Founders Mutation” continued the themes regarding alien DNA and genetic manipulation but picked up the fan favorite “monster of the week” mantra when Mulder and Scully team up to investigate a disturbing suicide. In the opening scene we are introduced to Dr. Sanjay, who is plagued by a sporadic high pitched squealing. Nothing he does seems to prevent or cure it and no one around him seems to hear these sounds at all. During a meeting, he has a breakdown from the incessant high pitched frequencies, starts to hear voices that encourage him to collect some kind of data and bolts out of the room. When we next see Dr. Sanjay he is bathing in the neon lights of some kind of server room, eyes fixed to the monitor and seemingly twitching from data intake. When his coworkers try to enter the locked room, Dr. Sanjay drives a letter opener through his ear….
Mulder and Scully return to their normal dynamic in a full way in the second episode; it’s not about reunions, it’s about investigation. Mulder is “old school” and finds ways to just slightly bend or avoid the rules in order to get more information on the case; Scully, skeptical of Mulder’s methods, is there to constantly suggest caution. Especially as Mulder begins to develop the same symptoms of the suicide victim during the investigating, hearing the high pitched squeal and a directive from a voice inside his head: “Find her.” They find pictures of children with various kinds of growths, tumors and genetic birth defects in the home of Dr. Sanjay. Scully discovers the phrase “Founder’s Mutation,” written by Dr. Sanjay right before his suicide on his own palm, signifying the instance when a species encounters a real mutation and new branch on the evolutionary tree. It was time for Mulder and Sully to inquire about these children and how they fit into the questions of genetic mutation/manipulation that have been key to the early episodes of the reboot.
Mulder and Skully meet with Skinner to show him the pictures, where they are immediately brushed off; the pictures are confiscated and classified beyond the clearance of the agents. When attempting to make contact with Dr. Augustus Goldman, the man responsible for the genetic experiments on the children in the pictures at Dr. Sanjay’s house, they discover that Goldman funds a hospital wing for “troubled mothers.” Mulder believes it to be a way to cull children for genetic experiments. Both of them realize the implications this has for their child William and both agents have dreams about him, imagining the ways they would potentially parent alien offspring.
Mulder and Scully eventually get a tour of the facility containing the children with the genetic anomalies. Goldman reassures the agents that he is working with therapies available nowhere else in the world to discover the root of their genetic abnormalities; Scully basically accuses Dr. Goldman of taking funding from the Department of Defense to study alien DNA. They very quickly find out that the experiments have resulted in some interesting outcomes when they observe a girl who appears to have telekinetic powers.
After some traditional X-Files sleuthing they meet with the ex-wife of Goldman, who revealed that he was also experimenting on his own children. She found her daughter breathing water at the bottom of a pool and attempted to escape with the baby boy she had in her belly. The pieces begin to come together for Mulder and Scully; the voice compelling Mulder to “Find her,” is the child of Dr. Goldman searching for his water breathing sister. They find the boy, correlating the video tapes from Sanjay’s suicide with the boys employment as a janitor and he is taken into custody.
Mulder and Scully decide to take him to Goldman, his father, because he knows where his sister is. They could not anticipate that the siblings would reunite to melt the eyeballs of Goldman like the arc of the covenant. The second episode is the better of the two and exists as a nice self-contained sci-fi episode. It also speaks to the larger story arcs that the show is dealing with in the reboot. These were two decent episodes, not as good as X-Files at its peak but not as bad as the mess that it was at the end of the last run. What these episodes do is bring back two beloved characters who introduce mysterious and paranormal events into the world every week. It’s a good start.
You can watch both of these episodes on FOX. X-Files returns tomorrow with another new episode at 8PM. The truth is out there and we all want to believe.