TV Review: The X-Files Season 10, Episode 2 “Founders Mutation” (USA, 2016)

After the somewhat bumpy first episode “My Struggle” we land right back in the thick of it with Mulder and Scully now officially back on board with the FBI and investigating strange cases. One of the reasons why the show sustained itself for so long was its ability to jump between having “monster of the week” and “mythology” type episodes. The “mythology” eps were the ones that tied the overall season arc (or multiple seasons) together, whilst the “monster of the week” were the self-contained individual episodes littered between. Interestingly “Founders Mutation” goes for a little of both with an out-of-nowhere right hook to the feels.

*** Beware: Spoilers ahead ***

The episode begins with a “previously on” and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) in voiceover giving us a trip down to the Department of Backstory regarding baby William followed by a cold opening sequence. Dr Sanjay is a worker at a genetics lab, and looks like he could do with a few valium and a long sleep. After hearing some ridiculous high pitch noises that drive him mad, he shoves a letter opener into his ear canal and kills himself. Cue Mulder and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) being brought in to investigate the death, and clearly not all is as it seems when they start to find out about genetically altered babies, kids with genetic deformities, and a scientist/doctor who might be playing a bit of Dr Frankenstein all as part of a government conspiracy being run by the Department of Defense.

From the outset this episode feels far more like an actual X-Files episode than the previous “My Struggle”. Maybe it’s because of the cold open? Maybe it’s because Scully gets to do some autopsy-ing? Maybe it’s because Mulder comes up with some wild theory very early on and turns out to be kinda right? Or maybe it’s because they actually get to do some detective work to try to solve the case? I definitely think it’s a little of all of these things, and the procedural format has always worked well for The X-Files. Hell The X-Files was one of the first shows to really master that format and it spawned a generation of Law & Order, CSI et al shows in its wake. From a story perspective it seems like this is about a group of genetically deformed kids and that maybe they’re being experimented on by the Government, but in actual fact that’s a bit of a red herring. I enjoyed the fact that this wasn’t so linear and that it took our intrepid agents a little sleuthing to solve the mystery. I also liked that the ending was left open, we are left to surmise in our own minds what really may have been going on and where the kids end up.

Writer James Wong took the reins on this one and he’s known as the one who masters some of the Scully-centric episodes. Now albeit this isn’t a Scully-centric episode, it does have quite a few emotional beats surrounding her.These come into play during dream sequences both Scully and Mulder have relating to William and what they imagine him to be like as a young teenager and raising him as their son. The William story-arc originated in Seasons 8 and 9 of the the show, centering around Scully becoming pregnant, and giving birth to William, a child who possibly, most likely, had alien DNA and telekinesis but then having to give him up for adoption whilst still a baby to keep his identity a secret and keep him safe.

Interestingly the dream/nightmare sequences both Scully and Mulder see, they see themselves with Williiam without the other around but also picture their darkest fear of what would happen to him, make of that what you will. Regardless of where you stand on the shipping side of things, the emotion from the two of them, particularly whilst alone dwelling on these thoughts is a suckerpunch to the feels. Add to that Mark Snow’s musical scoring and I’m pretty sure if you didn’t well up a little you’ve got no soul.

There are some other great little moments too that really hark back to the days of old. Like Scully giving Mulder a taste of sarcasm when she blatantly points out the cause of death by letter opener shoved into brain. Or when AD Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) complains about how the FBI has become inefficient and tied up with beureaucratic paperwork and their report may take days to process so he casually shoves their report in his drawer, clearly buying them time to dig deeper. Or Mulder ending up in a cupboard with a guy who offers to give him a blow job. And there’s nothing quite like “Bad things happen when the birds gather” to send chills down your spine.

All in all this episode definitely felt more like what The X-Files was in its prime. A great mix of creepy suspense, a little gore and horror, genetically mutated kids who look a bit like monsters, government conspiracy, Scully and Mulder getting their detective on and trying to put all the pieces together as well as added emotional gravitas. I guess the only fault lies in the fact that we never really get to find out the truth of what was going on and are left with a mysterious open ending.


Watch “Founders Mutuation” on Tenplay via the Channel Ten website. The next episode will screen on Channel Ten this Sunday at 8.30pm.


This content has recently been ported from its original home on The Iris and may have formatting errors – images may not be showing up, or duplicated, and galleries may not be working. We are slowly fixing these issue. If you spot any major malfunctions making it impossible to read the content, however, please let us know at editor AT

Carina Nilma

Office lackey day-job. Journalist for The AU Review night-job. Emotionally invested fangirl.