Founder’s Mutation

Founder’s Mutation: 10X02

Touching and sad, in experiencing the stress of Mulder and Scully’s loss we find a great strength of the X-Files: how these two troubled people relate to each other and cope with the bitterness of existence. This episode deals with an elephant in the room, yes there are many. This tang is one of the greatest reasons to watch any television program, but it has long been exquisitely curated in the X-Files. This episode proves, if the previous did not, that this show has lost none of its potency with time.

Performance of the night goes to David Duchovny for one tiny expression at the very end of the episode. It jumped out at me as a bar-raising moment for him.

Rating: 8/10 for a baseline, could gain or lose points in the analysis.

Here endeth the spoiler-free overview. Below there be dragons.

Scene 1: good old fashioned gross

Right from the opening image, we know we’re watching the X-Files because we’re cringing and wondering if we should look away.

Sanjay shows up at work on the worst Monday in the history of Mondays.

I love the visceral feeling of this scene. The writers invite us into the scene by letting us experience the earsplitting, tooth-grinding tinnitus problem Sanjay suffers. Worst hangover ever?

Scene 2: That meeting.

We’ve all been to that meeting and had to sit across from that guy. Humdinger indeed.

Fully engaged… crows. CREEPY!!

Poor Sanjay!

Scene 3: Data is the key.

Oh no…

Not the letter opener. EWWWWWW!

And Sanjay ends his existence along with the terrible case of monster tinnitus. But only after doing something that looks like stealing data in a locked room with his coworkers begging him to let them in.

Another one bites the dust.

Scene 4: We are finished.

Mostly exposition in which we learn that this server hut keeps DOD secrets, the Founder is a really weird guy and Mulder steals evidence.

Unabashedly. Love that.

While the X-Files has procedural elements, as it always has, it’s writers have routinely reached far beyond that formula for some really great story telling. We shall see if they can meet the previous bar. A pit fall of most procedurals is that the audience has seen so many of them that they can figure out in which scene they meet the bad guy, which ruins everything.

The X-Files has in the past disobeyed the rules frequently enough, by using elements of continuous flow narratives and long standing story arcs, to avoid the doomsday banana peel writers of procedurals so often slip on: the reset button which allows a television program to have its episodes be seen in pretty much any order and still make sense because they are all self-contained. In short, nothing ever happens to the characters which would disrupt their lives significantly.

Not a problem the X-Files suffers from overmuch.

Scene 5: I’m old school. Pre-Google.

Delightful little glue scene: walk and talk, and cuddle.

How they managed to walk like that, touching each other and not tripping, I do not know, but I enjoyed it.

Mulder illegally searches the phone he illegally stole and Scully reminds us that knowledge used to come from study and memory, not Google.

Gupta: secret.

This scene works because of its humor. Again they are leaning on the long standing chemistry between our two agents to float an otherwise tiny piece of story.

Scene 6: Is that guy bothering you? Not yet.


Hilarious! Mulder unwittingly requests a blow-job in a brilliant misdirect.

I was totally clueless until Gupta grabbed Mulder’s fly and I busted up laughing.

Here I think I see a little of Hank Moody‘s nonchalance in a more mature Mulder. I can only see Fox Mulder of the 1990’s being a bit more uptight about such a miscommunication.

I really do think that Duchovny’s time spent with Moody has influenced his new take on Mulder. We’ll look for more evidence.

Scene 7: The long awaited autopsy scene.

Scully, it’s been too long since we last bonded over a corpse.

Seriously though, tough Scully’s slicing and dicing with humor and style provided me with some of my first inspirations toward my present line of work. She was an early role model.

By the way, her personal protective equipment, PPE, is insufficient…

Scene 8: Far better than an interrogation room.

Mulder shares a drink with Gupta and questions him about Sanjay.

This is a beautifully written interrogation because it doesn’t seem like one at all. In fact, if we didn’t know better, we might think that Mulder and Gupta know each other much better than they actually do. Mulder bonds with the guy over beer and commiserates over the loss of his friend all the while getting him to tell him crucial information. Two lives.

We’ve seen a million and one interrogations and lots of different techniques in other procedurals, and in the X-Files, and I am impressed with the freshness of this one.

Scene 9: Mulder, you’ve gotta see this.

Can anyone hear that?

Mulder and Scully discuss the findings of Sanjay’s autopsy. What’s nice about this scene is that it demonstrate’s Scully’s character development and maturation. Mulder suggest that the auditory nerve can be stimulated without sound and effect only Sanjay -pure science fiction as far as I know- but Scully doesn’t blow him off or call him crazy.

There is a beautiful shot of Sanjay’s X-ray with Mulder and Scully framing his scull. Nice photography here.

She listens to his theories and waits for more evidence to emerge before jumping to conclusions. This is a big step for her.

Scene 10: Scully is driving.

Mulder did most of the driving back in the day. We haven’t seen him drive in the present day at all.

Appreciate the commentary on the senselessness of homophobia.

And Scully nearly runs down someone who jumps out in front of her and then runs off. Very little rattles this woman, most people, with a close call like that would be cursing or at the very least need a moment because almost hitting a person is a big deal!

Glue scene, thematic exposition. I believe the only purpose of this scene story wise was for Scully to nearly hit that kid.

Scene 11: Creature feature.

I appreciate that the X-Files long ago figured out how to film two people together with vastly divergent heights. Yes, Gillian Anderson wears heels, but even so, Duchovny is tall so getting them both in frame requires some ingenuity.

Mulder and Scully investigate Sanjay’s life until the cops show up and Mulder gets a tinnitus attack. He gets a message, just like Sanjay did. Find her. Help me find her.

Scully keeps the cops at bay.

Scene 12: Classic!

I am certain I am not the only fan to remember many scenes like this one in which Mulder, Scully and Skinner tiptoe through the tulips. Especially when trying to lie by telling the truth.

The jab about Edward Snowden is lovely!!

Except now… Skinner’s more obviously on their side.

Mulder thinks the government is experimenting on children. Yucky.

Skinner informs them that bureaucracy will ensure that it will take serval days for him to file their report through the proper channels.


Scene 13: Why isn’t Scully’s name on the door???

And where is her desk???


Scully interrogates Mulder about what happened in Sanjay’s apartment. She demands to know what Mulder is hiding. She knows him well enough by now to know he’s got theories he’s holding back.

He, however, now trusts her enough to care what she thinks: a lovely departure from the righteous and suspicious Mulder in the beginning of their partnership.

She shows him.

She’s worried Mulder might end up with an envelope opener to the brain. But she’s got guts. And she knows how to get to Goldman, the Founder.

This scene is charming because we get to lean on the richness of the past and all those long years of establishing trust to make this beautiful shorthand between them possible. We know what they are feeling and this dance isn’t new to them or us. We can sense the fatigue in them though. They are both frightened of the future, but they are no longer frightened of what lies between them.

Scene 14: Eve?

I can’t place the woman Scully interrogates about Goldman. Sister Mary is so familiar, but I do not know where I have seen her before. Do you?

Mulder’s quips never get old: Obamacare. Hee, hee.

This episode is demonstrating a nice balance that has settled in between Mulder and Scully. They share more equally their feelings, they exchange taking the lead and they are living a deep respect for the intellect of the other that took years to happen. Watching them sink back into this familiar pair of shoes with such comfort is wonderful to watch.

It is actually quite rare to have a relationship with another person that is so comfortable, so familiar, that both parties participate in all aspects without reservation or holding back. This is a beautiful illustration of such a relationship. This dynamic takes a huge amount of trust to even begin to develop, let alone survive.

Seeing a relationship like this on television is even more rare because after all, a functional relationship is a boring one outwardly, or so they claim, but this is proof that that is not at all the case.

I realize I just said Mulder and Scully have a functional relationship. Ok, so they aren’t currently a couple, but functional goes beyond what they may or may not be doing in the bedroom.

Most TV couples are just struggling to get together. That falling in love phase is captivating and therefore seems to get the most fictional bandwidth and any couple that is together seems to require some kind of threat to pull them apart in order to generate interest in the relationship again.

Here is proof that that isn’t necessary. The will they/won’t they dance we’ve all grown accustomed to is irrelevant here and still the dynamics between these partners is interesting. No artificial strife is necessary because the tensions provided by the outside world are enough.

I’ll say that again for good measure: the external tensions, the world surrounding their relationship, makes their outwardly boring interactions fascinating. Mulder and Scully are reacting to the world as a unit and what goes on between them is still interesting to watch because of the strength of their characters. We know these deep and complex characters very well so we can read into their body language.

These basic scenes where they confront the world have all the romance anyone could want without any mushy stuff. The writers are willing to give us some emotional substance beyond the basics with these two. Getting a look at a mature relationship on TV is rare. And when we do see an old couple on TV it is more often depicted in farce than function. The X-Files is giving us a look inside what happens to a deep and mature love bond between two people. This is very special.

What does trust really look like?

How many people in their real lives ever succeed in trusting another person on the level that Mulder and Scully trust each other and treat one another as true partners? This working dynamic of equality is seldom seen anywhere.

While this is conjecture on my part, I suspect that many people see at most one or two relationships of this nature in their lifetimes. I suspect also that there are those who think such a relationship is purely the work of fiction.

It is not.

Scully succeeds in getting a meeting with Goldman. Mulder and Scully receive and SOS call from a patient and Sister Mary says something quite offensive to Mulder.

Men and their lies. Desire is the Devil’s pitch fork. Duchovny is in the running for performance of the night for his reaction shot to this verbal jab.

Planet of the Apes is playing in the background. Yikes!!! Talk about a thematic photobomb. How crafty!

Scene 15: Pull the thread

You’re never just anything to me, Scully.

This scene is so naked, so raw.

These two aren’t big splashy emotional people and this scene packs a punch. This style of drama reminds me very much of a  British style. Again, understatement. I love this tool. I think this is good for the audience because we are not distracted by tears, screaming, foot stomping, hair pulling or other typical overblown Hollywoodesque melodrama. The understatement clearly conveys the emotion but gives the audience room to emote for themselves rather than being subsumed by bombastic hyperbole.

Props to Anderson for delivery, an elegant scene. At the heart of the matter lies William.

Scully confronts Mulder about his theory and questions whether William is such an experiment.

My only objection to this scene is Mulder’s statement of having had to put William behind him. That too me sounds cold and unlikely to be true for Mulder.

Scene 16: Scully’s daydream

Psychologically astute telling of a daydream. Scully begins by giving herself moments she missed in William’s life that were wonderful. But the sequence grows darker and darker as she catastrophizes. Catastrophizing is a frequent byproduct of anxiety and thoughts are pulled toward problem solving and fears as if gravity were involved. An evolutionary imperative? Problem solvers survive better after all.

In any case, this daydream impresses me in all kinds of ways. Scully has confidence that she would have been a good parent and she imagines that for herself. First in the easy ways by showing herself loving her child and expressing it as she wishes she could. But she also has confidence that she could handle some of the tougher aspects of parenthood, like medical mishaps. That makes sense that she would imagine a situation she could handle based on her skill set. But then, catastrophe strikes and Scully finds herself face to face with her worst fears and in a situation way out of her depth to handle as a parent.

I find it interesting that Scully imagines herself alone with William rather than parenting together with Mulder. That is telling.

Note: the hallway looks just like the hallway in Mulder’s old apartment building. Also, the hyper saturation worked just well enough to tell us we were not in reality in the very beginning before we see William.

Scene 17: The Rational One

He didn’t answer my question.

The elusive Founder gives a show and tell walk and talk.

Apparently he has been keeping kids like zoo animals. Not cool.

Scene 18: Hit and Run

The patient we met earlier got hit by a car and “the baby’s gone.”

Scene 19: Surgically removed.

Agnes died of car, status of the fetus remains unknown.

Every new species begins with a founder’s mutation. Evolution!

Ah ha… back to the hybridization of humans with aliens.

Oh, and Goldman’s wife? Thrown in the nut house for infanticide, body never found.

Scene 20: The nut house

Mrs. Goldman doesn’t like cats. And isn’t nuts.

Augustus Goldman experimented on his own kids. What a schmuck.

A mother never forgets. What a painful scene for these two parents. We get to see that Mulder is as deeply affected by William’s loss as Scully though he deflects his pain into compassion for his partner. What a lovely glance he gives her.

Scene 21: Putting it together

Scully believes Mrs. Goldman and Mulder thinks maybe he’s had an encounter with her baby, who isn’t a baby anymore.

I notice that Mulder has resumed his previous habit of guiding Scully when they walk. I wonder if he even realizes he did that. Mulder, not Duchovny. From the previous episode and the last movie, I gather that Scully left Mulder and that Mulder wants her back. That begs the question of if Scully realized what he was doing. She didn’t react to it but my guess is that this is habituation for her. This is normal for an interaction between these two and so she doesn’t perceive it as out of bounds or intrusive.

Scene 22: It’s always the janitor.

Mulder proves his theory.

Scene 23: Where is he?

Mulder gets a little aggressive in his interrogation techniques and Kyle objects.

What I love about this is that Scully runs off to solve the problem herself gun raised. Often in TV-land women don’t get to go solve the problem alone, be the hero, save the -what’s the masculine of damsel?- in distress.

Scene 24: Whatever you’re doing, stop right there.

Scully and a gun is always nice.

Scene 25: Mulder tosses the kid in the back.

Way to push Mulder’s buttons. I just want to find my sister…

Yes, Molly from the hospital. And Scully knows who knows.

Gotta love Scully in charge and on a mission.

Scene 25: I’m going to let you meet Molly.

Goldman examines Kyle. It’s unclear to me at this point if Mulder and Scully told him, or if he already knows, that Kyle is his son.

Scene 26: You’re not my sister

Nice action scene in which Kyle murders his father, shares telepathy with his sister and tosses Mulder and Scully around like rag dolls.

Scene 27: the cavalry

They’re gone. We no longer have jurisdiction.

And Mulder stole evidence!!

Scene 28: 2001 A Space Odyssey

Mulder has his own daydream about William. It is for this scene that Duchovny gets performance of the night. That look he gives William as they discuss the monolith is tender and he sold the heck out of this montage.

This daydream shares the same true to life and true to character elements as Scully’s. And, like hers, Mulder doesn’t dream about parenting with her, but about parenting alone. His catastrophe is predictably having William wrenched from him in an abduction.

Note, the hallway with the dark wood door, like the hallway in his old apartment building, is the same as in Scully’s daydream. This could have been done for convenience and expense, why build two sets if it isn’t necessary, or it could be purposeful illustrating that while neither parent figured in the other’s daydream in person, they are present out of frame.

With this closing we know that the coldness I perceived earlier when Mulder said he had had put William behind him was more likely a defense mechanism. Mulder clearly still feels as deeply about William as Scully does.


Rating of 8/10 stands: this episode does follow the unfortunately visible procedural framework, which lost it two points. I guess I really am not a fan of procedurals… I kept trying to find any other reason for those two points worth of not-quite-perfect for this episode or to decide it deserved a better score, but ultimately being able to see the formula, the skeletal framework which underlies a piece of writing is a huge distraction and the reason procedurals fail to get top grades, or even my attention most of the time.

It isn’t that all procedurals are terrible television, clearly I don’t feel that way or I wouldn’t have loved the X-Files during its first run and just as much now. I also watch Castle and enjoy that very much. The trouble is that using the procedural framework is a lazy way out of innovative storytelling which I find personally obnoxious. Even worse, over the past three decades or so I have been fed so many procedurals that I can most of the time spot the moment when we are introduced to the bad guy/person of interest which ruins the mystery. Who-dun-it is such a tired old theme anyway. There are so many ways to tell a story so there is no excuse to use recycled, rehashed structure.

That said, character development didn’t halt for the sake of the case they were working on. A touching episode with lots to love. The polish and care that went into this episode shows from writing, to performance, to photography. Procedural or not, Founder’s Mutation remains a top notch piece of television.

Particularly to be appreciated about this episode is the blatant political stance on homosexuality. The X-Files just depicted being gay as normal. It’s about time. Brilliantly, Mulder demonstrates that he isn’t at all threatened by his close encounter with Gupta and then proceeds to have a beer with him in a gay bar. Mulder isn’t worried at all about someone seeing him sharing a drink with another man in a gay bar. He’s not uncomfortable. Gupta’s just a guy to him, a guy who lost his friend/significant other. This is such a marker of societal progress that I hesitated to point it out because it should be normal, all TV should be this relaxed on the subject. This should not be note worthy at all. But, I decided to pay this compliment to the X-Files because its history stretches back to a time when these scenes would have been unimaginable on public television.  I am proud of the X-Files for choosing the side of love and human dignity. Way to be on the right side of history.

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My Struggle

My Struggle 10×01

Spoiler-free overview:

Elation. That’s what I felt when I first stumbled across an article hinting that there might be more X-Files. I loved this show when it was on the air during its first run (and I do feel giddy saying first run because… now there’s more than one!!!). The X-Files was my first real fan-girl experience. My pre-teen self had never imagined a television show could mean so much, or be THAT COOL. Not like all the other little shows, the X-Files captured my imagination and dazzled my senses. That was 1996, yes I was late to the party but I caught up quickly.

After the second movie, it seemed a light had gone from this world because I was convinced there would never be any more X-Files. I had a hard time saying goodbye to Mulder and Scully, just the same as how finishing a series of novels can sometimes necessitate a mini-funeral. So yesterday, after an impatient wait since I pre-ordered my season pass on iTunes, I sat down and pressed play like a kid racing out of bed on Christmas morning.

And it was Christmas!! The tree was brightly lit and look at all those presents! (Yes I follow David Duchovny on Twitter…) Unlike my childhood Christmases though, I don’t mind sharing my new toy with 20 million other fans. In fact, I can’t wait to!

All the elements I expected to find were present and accounted for: mystery, tension between Mulder and Scully, humor, crazy theories, politics, nail-biting and always the little bit of ick. The X-Files was always rather self-aware and this trend has continued wonderfully. Familiar faces, familiar scenery- that good old thrill is back in town!

Performance of the night goes to: Gillian Anderson. See below the spoiler line for details.

Rating: 8/10. See below, but these two points are for a couple of minor things I noticed in an otherwise stellar pilot. Which it seems like this is. It’s a pilot and a welcome home all in one. It is exceedingly clear to me that a lot of love went into the writing and performance. Everyone’s affection for this work is shining through the screen and onto the viewers.

Here endeth the spoiler-free overview. Below there be dragons! Look here for what to expect from an episode review.

Scene 1: Mulder’s monologue

I have always been a fan of narration when it is well done. Mr. Duchovny does not disappoint. As reminders go, I can’t think of a better way to go about it. These photos, their badges, the fire. All of these are elements familiar to long time fans, but will also allow new fans to catch up with references in a very few seconds. When asked the question, how do you sum up ten years worth of drama and mystery, they gave us a perfect answer. Perspective.

In one neat and very simple shot, they gave us our reminder and our frame for the present: Mulder’s mental status. One minute to sum up ten years, I dare you to do better.

Scene 2: Are we being lied to?

With the history of their work on the X-Files neatly reviewed, Mulder moves on to describe the history of UFO sitings through a montage.

This gets us right back into that beautiful space of doubting the credibility of the protagonist as we always have for Mulder. He sounds like a crazy pants, but then again, he’s awfully smart and knows how to present evidence. What he’s saying can’t possibly be true, can it?

And we’ve played right into the hands of our writers. How much of what we just saw that looks like historical footage has anything to do with reality and how much of it was utterly made of for this television show? Before you write me off as a conspiracy nut, I’ll come right out and say it: I do not believe. But how to verify that? The writers have set us up to doubt what we hear and see in the news media, which is wonderful! And frightening at the same time.

So no, I don’t think we’ve been visited by aliens. Maybe there are alien life forms in the ‘Verse out there, but I listen to folks like Neil deGrasse Tyson for my news on that front, not Fox Mulder.

Even so, the whole point of this show is doubt. So please, shake my confidence in what I know, make me think about it and make me skeptical of what I read on the Internet.

Scene 3: Title Card

The musical theme we have been waiting for.

Seriously, why mess with perfection? I am SO glad they chose to leave this alone and not try to outthink themselves on this. These opening credits are elegantly simple and effective. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Scene 4: Two shakes

Enter flashback to New Mexico crash site. I love that this scene utilizes very little dialogue and just lets us feel the gravity of the doctor’s emotions: anxiety and trepidation.

Scene 5: Walter Skinner, Assistant Director, FBI

Scully’s day job: doctoring. She wasn’t expecting this phone call.

Scene 6: The aliens won’t let it happen.

My life has become a punch line.

So Scully is no longer living with Mulder, but is still willing to pass along the message from Skinner. I suppose this change in their status from that of the two of them waving at us from a rowboat may disappoint some of the shipper fans out there, but not me. I have always enjoyed their tumultuous dynamics and trust the writers to do this complicated relationship justice.

I do love how Mulder has duct taped his webcam… and how the tape is peeling up, probably from him rubbing it out of paranoia.

Why would I watch this jackass Scully?

Here’s where we get political. Nicely done.

I love that Fox has actually allowed the X-Files to flagrantly make fun of them. This is earned kudos toward a network I have less than tender feelings for. I also love that we are able to see Obama, for real, in the world of a TV show. These kinds of details lend a reality that comes close to creepy. That moment of cognitive dissonance: I thought I was suspending my disbelief because this is fiction. Oh wait, that bit right there, that’s not fiction, um… how am I going to separate fact from fiction when I don’t actually know the truth???

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I bought the ticket for this ride.

Yes I know this is fiction, that’s never been in question for a moment, but getting yanked back into reality in an unexpected moment does all kinds of fun things to my suspension of disbelief mechanism. It’s a thought experiment and an elegant one!

Scene 7: Uber?!

Ahhhh…. This scene is beautifully played by both of them. And lusciously written. I have so missed their little verbal dances. These understated interchanges are as deep emotionally as a full on sex scene in other programs, more so I would say for the sheer quantity of baggage the writers have to draw upon.

This is when dialogue distillation really works and the minimal style is so very shiny.

Gillian Anderson understands that eye magic secret more often seen with British actors. She knows that a scene gets sold with the eyes. Her naked appraisal of Mulder here gets her performance of the night.

She’s shot men for less provocation.

Scully, you shot me in the ass! Remind me, she did do that, did she not?

See, I thought we learned this one already, never get in the car, it always goes badly. Sorry. It just seems that no piece of fiction ever ends well by getting in the car with someone you don’t trust.

Scene 8: You’ll have to excuse him…

Scully isn’t thrilled to be called by her first name uninvited…

Mulder isn’t pleased about that either.

The X-Files are closed… we’ve moved on.

Poor Mulder. And how awkward! Scully however, has been around him long enough to shrug him off though. See what I mean about having faith in the writers? They’re still in love, it’s obvious. We’re going to get every inch of that fabulous tension served just how we like it: tense.

Mr. O’Malley proves his stripes to Mulder. The most evil conspiracy the world has ever known.

In yet another example of brilliant minimalist understatement, Scully blandly states: That’s quite an assertion.

Scene 9: Aliens couldn’t find this place…

And again with beautiful understatement: I am familiar with the syndrome…

Oh yes, Scully is familiar.

While this scene is exposition, we get by on tension and rich back story we are already familiar with if we are long time fans. I suppose new fans, getting this introduction for the first time, would wonder what Scully is squirming about.

It is weird to hear Mulder call Scully Dana. Hmm. I suspect he is making fun of O’Malley, but it could be his grasping at intimacy also. I’m not sure here.

Scene 10: For god’s sake, what have you done?

Flashback in which we see what we have come to expect from heartless G-men: shoot first examine the body later.

Scene 11: Maybe you do

Scully and Sveta get to know one another. The new audience isn’t privy to what we know for sure happened in the past which leaves them dependent on Scully’s interaction with Sveta to guess how much of what Sveta says is accurate.

For a returning fan, we likely believe Sveta much earlier.

It is nice to see Scully discomfited by Sveta’s frank analysis of her relations with Mulder and the existence of William. As an expository technique, getting that bit of history told to us by someone other than Mulder or Scully is a pretty powerful tool and well used.

Scene 12: A very rich man

Glue scene: a tiny scene that gives some vital piece of info; a snippet of often exposition that gets us from one scene to the next. Most glue scenes depend on snark, visual impressions or fast emotion for their forward momentum and this is no different.

No major plot movement happens in this scene. It’s just Mulder about to take a chopper ride with Mr. Rich and Curious. Whenever I see a scene like this, I always wonder just how necessary it is.

Of note, Mulder is not impressed by other people’s paranoia.

Scene 13: Faraday Cage

Mulder, and the audience, get a tour of the lab of awesome. An ARV.

I think we’re meant to doubt here, as Mulder touches the craft and it powers up, if it isn’t responding to his own warped DNA. We see a few minutes later that somebody has a controller,  but it is more telling that no one bats an eyelash at it powering up at his touch. Deliberate mislead though, effective.

We get to share Mulder’s fanboy moment and it is delightful.

Scene 14: Where he got element 115.

Mini-flashback so we know somebody studied the body.

Scene 15: Blood spatter!

If you look closely at Scene 6, the stain on her neck and scrubs is visible. Likely from having shot these scenes out of order back to back. Of note, no one wanders around with blood on themselves or their scrubs. Cleaning the goo off is a very high priority for healthcare workers. Blood dries, flakes and gets itchy in a short order on the skin. Nobody delays getting it off them a moment longer than they absolutely have to. Most especially if it is someone else’s.

Privacy laws broken here, Scully would lose her job for letting that dude snoop patient info.

O’Malley pries into Scully’s life, intrusively. This is exposition wrapped up in O’Malley’s-a-creep and it works.

I have never felt more alive.

I, like O’Malley, think Scully is lying here about it being unrelated to her previous work. It’s the bit about the syndrome being most commonly found among the Navaho.

It is nice to hear Scully not shy away from the truth about her former relationship with Mulder. Denial here would have been a mistake as it would be inconsistent with the evolution of Scully’s character. She has matured into the understanding someone can only embarrass her with the truth if she were to let them. Scully doesn’t feel shame or the need to hide this particular aspect of her past. In other words, privacy holds no value if she has no reason to hide, cannot be hurt by what she shares. That said, it seems a little un-Scully-like to just open up to a stranger, deflection would seem the more likely choice. Especially to one who splashes detritus all over the Internet. But maybe she’s just exhausted and doesn’t give a pig’s fart anymore what anyone else thinks and she just wants the dirt digger off her case.

I’m not sure about the look Scully gives O’Malley here. She can’t really be encouraging this creep, can she?

Scene 16: Hitchhiking

You always wondered if they weren’t lying to you too.

Mulder shows up on Sveta’s doorstep to question her about a behavior he saw during their previous interview. I appreciate this attention to detail. Mulder was well known for noticing details and being astute about human behavior. Nice consistency.

Sveta confirms what we suspected from Scully’s experience, this is a job done by humans.

Scene 17: Not the first date he’s opportunely interrupted.

Classic. Mulder calls Scully to vent some paranoid and crazy sounding ravings which may or may not be credible. He’s so susceptible to believing whatever comes along… but he’s right just often enough to leave room for doubt.

Can we pull over a second, I’ve gotta get out.

That little line of dialogue does a huge amount of work. Scully has had more than enough of this from him.

I love that she steps away from O’Malley’s intrusiveness, again. What I just can’t see is why she’d get in the car with him in the first place. He’s clearly got good reason to find her attractive, but what could Scully possibly see in that guy? Maybe a hook-up? Nah.

And still, she just can’t escape the sucking black hole that is Mulder. And maybe that’s why. Right there. There just has to be something out there for her other than Mulder, or so she wishes.

Poor Scully, she might have wanted a different life, tried to have one, but Mulder and their work have a gravitational pull away from which there is no escape velocity.

Scene 18: I’ve always looked out for you.

Thematic exposition…

The bromance between Mulder and Skinner has always been a charming one and it nicely rounds out this glue scene. We’ve now had our call to action.

And Mulder gives Skinner his number…

This scene is quite serious on first watch, but the second time through, it’s kind of hilarious.

Scene 19: Publicity stunt?

Or another intrusion?

Note: anyone who hollers for a nurse by the word, “nurse,” is considered a grade-A jerk. Scully would know her name and use it. And this nurse would resent being summoned and sent like a lackey.

The fact that Scully is waiting for a call, hoping for that call, from Mulder tells us quite a bit. Perhaps Scully wanted that publicity splash for her cause, distasteful as O’Malley is. We already know she still deeply cares for Mulder, regardless of time and circumstance.

Scene 20: Let me take that bullet.

Mulder’s informant was the doctor we saw in the flashbacks. Here we get another classic scene where Mulder meets with someone in the dead of night fishing for answers but fails to get them. Lots of exposition here, necessary as a reminder to existing fans and as an entrance for new ones.

Scene 21: You’re on fire.

I love this scene. Scully gives Mulder what-for to try to fish him out one last time. But she realizes there’s nothing she can do.

And she calls Tad O’Malley a charming ass. Phew! I was a little worried there for a moment. Scully is much to smart to be taken in by a load of crap like him.

This is such a beautiful scene. Mulder is clearly mentally ill, has been for as long as we’ve known him. Scully knows it, loves him anyway and wants to help. The problem with Mulder is that sometimes he’s right, which makes him that much more vulnerable to the next big whopper somebody feeds him. Being right doesn’t erase his mental illness. It feeds it.

He can’t step back, he chases his gut feelings. They say intuition is actually the brain recognizing a pattern beneath conscious awareness. Mulder is very good at this and so leans on this skill. But he does so too heavily and has bought large packs of lies over and over again because of it. He’s a capable investigator, but his desperation to find the truth, to believe and be sure on an emotional level has given his enemies what they need to lead him around on a merry chase.

He even knows this, he just told Skinner this.

But here he is, right back at square one.

So, is he right this time?

Or right enough to be taken in, yet again?

You know what you’re doing.

For her part, Scully is remarkable for her resiliency. Scully was perhaps my first, favorite and most important female role model because she’s damned tough. She’s been through hell and unlike Mulder, though perhaps this is because it started when she was already an adult, her mental health is more or less intact. I will admit though that this is debatable and I hope to see more evidence of her struggle as we progress. Still Scully is one tough cookie psychologically and I believe quite admirable for her ability to accept really hard things and let them roll off her instead of getting bogged down in the mire like Mulder.

Scene 22: The creep parked me in.

Mulder, what are you up to?

Sucked right back in again. Poor Scully!!

H-Bombs drew them here? Ok…

And now the punch line:

All of the hell going on in our world has been caused by the shadow government in possession of alien technology bent on world domination.

I think this is poking fun at every crackpot conspiracy nut out there, of course, but is, on a parallel track, provides a dire warning as to the precarious state of the world. We need to get our act together sooner than later, even if it isn’t aliens and shadow governments causing the world’s woes, something must change.

Scully elegantly and succinctly states her case.

Oh, and your test results came back negative. Wham, coffin nail in that theory.

Mulder doesn’t have a rebuttal, but he doesn’t believe it.

Neither does Sveta.

Scene 23: They got to her.

Montage/series of mini-scenes.

Sveta is gone.

The MIBs blow up the ARV.

Scully finishes surgery, but her surgical attire is improper because her hair is exposed. And she’d never leave someone else’s blood or body fluid stuck to her person in that manner.

O’Malley’s site goes dark.

Scully receives the second test results.

Scene 24: Somebody misspelled “wash me.”

Cue scary dark parking garage. At least it’s Mulder that sneaks up on her.

Venus Syndrome. Someone has to stop these sons of bitches. I do love hearing Scully curse.

This scene is poignant and capitalizes on a beautiful intimacy that can only be achieved between two people who know each other very well. And we the audience know them very well too.

Mulder comes to see Scully, it’s unclear if he wrote the wash-me message on her car or not, even though she walked out on him a scene ago, having debunked him. So she thought.

Still, that kind of a blow might have shattered, or at least enraged, a less tightly fused couple. But Mulder and Scully stand and speak directly without seeking to vent their frustrations at each other. How many pairs of people can truly do this? I haven’t seen many, it requires a deep trust indeed to be able to do this. Those two are an institution that cannot be divided by time or distance or anger or fear, even when they try it themselves.

When pondering the definition of true love, these two, and moments like this come to mind because I think of true love as the point in a relationship when one sees the other not as an other, but as an extension of the self with all the rights thereto.

It doesn’t matter what happens, these two function as one.

And this scene ends perfectly, Skinner.

Scene 26: Not again!!!

Sveta gets it. Too late, Scully.


Scene 27: How is this dude still alive??

They have reopened the X-Files.

What a wonderful surprise. Of all the creeps I loved to hate, this one was my favorite.


Rating: 8/10 stands. One of the two points lost was for Scully getting in the car and having drinks with that O’Malley bozo. The other is for the offensive treatment of the nurse in this episode. Teaching the public that that is how nurses are treated is repugnant.

I, for one, am very excited! This is a very solid first episode, a new pilot. A new beginning. This does feel like coming home to a house I once lived in but never thought I’d see again after moving away. I know where everything is, but a house is just a shell, anything could happen here.

Performance-wise I think we are in for a treat. Hollywood has this bad habit of casting young, really young… People get better at things through time and practice and since these two were both wonderful twenty years ago, I expect them to be amazing now. Besides which, the stories of the young are told all the time, I can’t wait to hear what Mulder and Scully have to say to us later. We’ve already been privy to some beautifully mature emotional scenes between them and the delicious complications provided to us by their past history I suspect will provide a richness seldom available in television. This is SUCH an opportunity!

This reboot leaks potential like the X-xon Valdez.

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I also write reviews and other articles for Once Upon A Time and Mozart in the Jungle. In addition, I’m studying Once fans. If you’re already a Once fan, read about the project here. You can also check out my Once related Gratitude Project.