The X-Files Settles In But Doesn’t Settle: “My Struggle” and “Founder’s Mutation”
I’ve been saying for close to a year that Mulder and Scully are my people and that I was ready last March for these six episodes to air. After last night’s exposition-heavy episode painted the picture that Mulder and Scully have been apart but not necessarily estranged, tonight’s follow-up had them already back at work and back in synch. I loved it.
“My Struggle” posited that the alien conspiracy Mulder has long held to be the truth, back to his sister’s abduction, was something considerably more sinister and frightening, and manmade courtesy of the US government. When he meets Sveta and she tells Scully and him that she was repeatedly kidnapped, impregnated, and her children harvested, it’s a familiar tale until she throws out the idea that she also has alien DNA. Mulder asks Scully to test it, and the first tests show that to not be true, but something in Sveta’s story nags at Scully enough that she sequences her entire genome, and there she finds the proof. She tests herself, too, and finds the same thing.
Before Scully discovers that, Mulder is drawn further into Sveta’sÂ story, and she tells him the whole truth. He also sees samples of hybrid tech in action with a rebuilt glider ship. He bringsÂ Sveta back to his house, where they’re to meet with Tad. Scully shows up, irate that Mulder dropped hints of aÂ new conspiracy on her and then never called her back. She warns him that he’s treading in dangerous territory–emotionally, as we learn he was diagnosed with depression, and on a larger scale if the government really is involved. Mulder is talking her down when Sveta appears in the doorway and asks if everything’s OK.
Scully looks immediately nauseous and she quietly tells Mulder that he knows he’s doing–the unsaid thing there isÂ that Mulder seesÂ another Samantha, perhaps one he can save,Â andÂ Scully can’t do this again. When she goes out to the car and closes herself inside, Gillian Anderson does that magical thing of saying so much about Scully’s fear and disappointment with the slightest adjustment of her features. Duchovny does the same as Mulder realizes he’s let her down again, and that sheÂ has a point.
It’s all seemingly for naught when Sveta is silenced–stalked on a dark highway as she drives home and her car detonated by the shadow stealth tech. Before Mulder and Scully know that’s what’s happened, Mulder has paid a visit to Skinner about re-opening the X-Files, and as soon as Scully admits what she found about herself, their decision is made.
In tonight’s episode,Â we get a mix of what might be ifÂ Sveta’s story were true, interspersed with Mulder and Scully separately imagining what a life with their son, William, might have been like. Curiously, neither of them appears in theÂ other’s fantasy. But they both eventually lose him after a series ofÂ idyllic moments that they never had. Scully asks Mulder if she thinks William could have been one of those hybrid experiments, that she was just an incubator, and he tells her he doesn’t know, but that she’s never “just” anything to him.
The core case begins with a suicide at a genetics lab and dials back to a mad scientist sort (Doug Savant) who splicedÂ alien DNAÂ into his own unborn children.Â His wife realized what he’d doneÂ when she found their toddler daughter, Molly,Â happily sitting on the bottom of the pool, delighted that she could breathe. Already pregnant, and pretty far along, with a son, she makes her escape but has to leave her daughter behind. Her unborn son speaks to her through a piercing pitch that only she can hear and after she’s injured in a car accident. she cuts open her own stomach to free him, and then is locked up for his murder when his body is neverÂ found.
Fast forward to the suicide, andÂ a researcher who was driven to it by that same shrill tone, which also later fells Mulder.Â He and Scully piece together (after Scully aligns all the video feeds to the same time stamp–go, Scully!) that a janitor, Kyle,Â is the cause, and the now-grown, presumed-deadÂ son. They go fetch him and then bring him to the hospital to meet dear old dad. He asks to see his sister and dad tries to fake a meeting with another patient but Kyle knows. He finds Molly and they speak to each other telepathically and then wonder twin themselves out of there, after Kyle has killed their father. Mulder and Scully are knocked on their ass, but Mulder snags a blood sample, so maybe they’ll get their answers.
Also in there we get their first debrief with Skinner, and it’s a terrific scene of everybody falling back into familiar cadences. There’s a persnickety DoD rep (Ryan Robbins) in the room for the first part, and then when he leaves, Skinner’s as conspiratorial as ever, asking Mulder if he made copies of what they needed before the DoD marked its territory (yes, he did).
I love that we skipped right past the setting up shop and got right back toÂ Mulder and ScullyÂ in the field, working side by side again. There’s a hard-won familiarity and history between these characters, and I adored that they could pick up where they left off as colleagues. Before everything else, they were investigative partners. They bantered, they pushed each other, they listened to eachÂ other. I couldn’t help but laugh when they got out of the car at theÂ Kyle’s house and Scully walked up first. Now that we know how ridiculous Fox was about its demands on Gillian Anderson, I love that those things have been course corrected.
It’s an extraordinary skill and art to be able to capture the passing of so much time with all the history, heartache, and humor thatÂ carries and make it seem like no time at all. I’m enthralled with how easilyÂ writer/director James Wong, Anderson, Duchovny, and PileggiÂ picked all of theÂ rhythms back up. Regardless of how gory this episode was (and it was right up there with some ofÂ the classic episodes) I was still the teeniest, tiniest bit snifflyÂ about how at easeÂ they were, and how effortless the episodeÂ was. You could drop itÂ into the rotation of any of the earlier seasons from Vancouver, and it would fit.Â Side note: I was sure Christine Wiles had done of those earlier episodes, but nope.
The mix of humor, loss, and horror were all intact. We had Mulder unwittingly setting up a meet with the suicide victim’s paramour and stammering out of a proposed broom closet quickieÂ followed byÂ painful daydreams about a life Mulder and Scully missed out on (with their son and each other), and extremelyÂ graphic bloody close-ups. There was something for everyone!
I have missed them. I am so grateful they’re back. These are two characters I will always want to watch. I happily welcome them againÂ into my living room.
The X-Files airs Mondays at 8/7c on FOX. If you missed either episode, you can catch them On Demand at FOX.com.
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