Picking up where the previous episode left off, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are doing what they do best: investigating the unknown and exposing the unsavoury. Hot on the trail of a mind-blowing conspiracy that goes who knows how high, the newly-reunited FBI agents are looking into a bizarre suicide case at the Nugenics Technology company when they uncover a truly disturbing scheme. As it turns out, Nugenics has been experimenting on children with severe genetic conditions in order to develop mutants with special abilities for the Defense Department, with the company keeping the poor souls behind lock and key.
This treatment, of course, is a necessary evil due to the special nature of the children’s conditions, or so says Augustus Goldman (Doug Savant), Nugenics research head and the titular “Founder” of the episode. Tall and cold, the Mengele-esque Goldman radiates contempt for anyone who would come between him and his experiments, condescendingly stating to Scully, “Dr. Scully, I was told you were the rational one” when she questions him about the children. His fate is gruesome, but perhaps not as much as his unspeakable “research”. For a mythology episode, it is easily as horrifying as any monster of the week episode, even if the only monster to be seen is all too human.
The episode’s story about lost children and government-sponsored experimentation ties very well into Sunday’s show. While viewers were left knowing that the government was committing unconscionable acts against it’s own citizens on Sunday night, they only got to see the shocking results of these acts the following night, showing them that what Mulder and Scully are up against is much bigger and much worse than anyone previously thought. It is a very potent foil to Mulder’s humanistic sensibility and Scully’s sense of responsibility and a very good set-up for the rest of the season. With Mulder making explicit reference to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden during a grilling by Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and a Smoking Man-like Defense Department functionary, the episode portrays Scully and him as government agents who are forced to betray the institution they work for because they cannot stand by as it brutalizes the people it is supposed to protect.
In addition, earlier X-Files mythology is also connected to over the course of the program. The unfortunate children blighted since birth and subjected to captivity can’t help but make our heroes think of their own child William, an alien-human hybrid given up for adoption in infancy lest their enemies swoop down and do, as we now know, to him what they did to countless others. Mulder and Scully know it was the right thing to do, but they can’t help but wonder what might have been, and the episode ends with Mulder sitting alone in contemplation, imagining himself helping William launch toy rockets into the air and talking about the possibility of alien life with him. Like Mulder and Scully, one can’t help but wonder will we get a chance to see young William again and if so, in what state will their now 15 year-old son be. After retreading that old ground in last night’s episode, one can only hope that The X-Files tackles that particular mystery in upcoming installments.
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