Sunday, January 31, 2016

X-Files: Founder's Mutation 'Shipper Survey

Damn the man. I had to work Monday night at the library, so I missed the first half of the episode. Thankfully, wiser heads like Mary Jamieson (hollah) informed me there's a streaming service on Fox's website for the first two episodes so I perused what I missed via that.

In the meantime, here's a Glen Morgan penned episode with good old Monster of the Week mayhem, but with the added dash of being tied into the Mytharc! Whoa!

X-Files Senseless 'Shipper Survey: Founder's Mutation

1) The episode opens on a bloodshot eye getting retinal scanned for security clearance. The eye belongs to a Dr. Sanjay, who's entering a Nugenics office complex and coping with the hassles of any normal workday: annoying co-workers, lack of coffee, that persistent high-pitched ringing that forces you to down an entire bottle of Bayer, etc. It leads to the other hassle: long boring boardroom meeting where others are bickering over the commands from their overlord "Founder" Augustus Goldman. Nobody else seems to notice Sanjay's headaches are getting worse or that there's a Murder of Crows gathering on the rolling hills of Vancouver outside their window. When Sanjay finally flips out in the meeting and flees the room, you:

A) Suggest he go find a respectable doctor like Scully to get that tinnitus taken care of!
B) Like the subtle touch of using the collective noun for crows. Murder indeed...
C) Wonder if that one guy typing away on his tablet during the meeting was distracting himself with some erotic Dana/Fox fanfiction!

2) Sanjay's gone and locked himself in a computer server room, fixated on downloading as much data as he can. As his worried co-workers pound at the window, and as the security guards start cracking the door lock to break in to stop him, the noise in Sanjay's head drives him over the edge. He grabs a marker, writes a mysterious note on his hand, and then grabs a letter opener. As he graphically shoves it into his ear... as far as he can... you:

A) Shout at the screen "Dammit that's NOT how you treat tinnitus!"
B) Wonder aloud "Who has a letter opener in a computer server room?! Wouldn't a Phillips head screwdriver be a more sensible weapon to have on hand?"
C) Flinch in horror at this poor man's death. There's nothing fun or 'Shippy about... about... hey, won't Dana and Fox show up at this guy's autopsy and flirt shamelessly over the corpse? Good move, Sanjay, thanks for taking one for the team!

3) Mulder and Scully do indeed show up at the crime scene. Mulder examines the body and the room, and asks "What do you think Scully?" Scully hovers over him and answers "Looks like suicide Mulder. Note the letter opener sticking out of the ear." You answer:

A) "No Sh-t, you Punk!"
B) "Check the pockets for money, I'll grab the expensive watch."
C) "Yay! They're flirting already!"

4) Mulder points out how Sanjay put himself in the most secure room in the building with isolated servers, with the terminal he was working from the only way to access the data. As Mulder grabs the external drive Sanjay was using, a beefy security guard shows up to confiscate the drive, claiming "national security". It turns out Nugenics has a Defense contract, hence the FBI investigating Sanjay's death. Mulder notes they need to determine what Sanjay was trying to download, so he asks to interview the company's owner Augustus Goldman. When the security guard refuses that request by noting he can't verify the whereabouts of "The Founder", you realize:

A) This isn't a genetics lab, it's a CULT! Listen to that, talking about a person as a mythic, otherworldly being of perfection! Trout slap him, St. Scully, and pass the Scullyrita, fellow OBSSE members! ...what?
B) Anyone insisting on being called "The Founder" is bound to have sociopathic tendencies like a massive ego and pretensions of godhood. So we've got a good idea who the real Monster of the Week is going to be.
C) We've gone five minutes without a handhold between Dana and Fox! Dammit, we need a fix soon...

5) While Scully distracts the guard over the security cameras and the need to view any documentation, Mulder quietly checks Sanjay's pockets for more clues, finds a cell phone, and swipes the dead man's thumb to unlock the biosecurity on it. He then walks out of the room before the security guard realizes he lifted that phone. You scream:

A) "You better not use Sanjay's phone to sext people, you Punk!"
B) "Dammit, Mulder, what about the wallet! You should have grabbed the wallet!"
C) "Good God. I just realized: before smartphones, we never really sexted people. Wow. If we had that technology back in 1993, this show could have been so much kinkier!"

6) As Mulder and Scully leave the building, they argue over the legality of Mulder's swiping Sanjay's phone. During that conversation, they nearly bump into a janitor for absolutely no real reason at all. You know this means:

A) That janitor knows something!
B) That janitor knows something!
C) That janitor gave Fox the excuse to brush against Dana's shoulder! Sigh...

7) Mulder follows a lead over "Gupta" to a bar in Washington DC called "The Corner Pocket". He meets Gupta in a booth, noticing there's a couple of possible Men in Black watching nearby, and asks about meeting somewhere "more private" and that he's "safe". You watch all this and exclaim:

A) "Man, Mulder REALLY doesn't know how to pick up guys in bars!"
B) "There's something bothering me about this place. Gasp, I know! This lesbian bar has no fire exit! Enjoy your death-trap, ladies!"
C) "Why do they keep bringing Slash into this show? Not that there's anything wrong with it!"

8) While Mulder sets back hetero-alternative cultural co-existence back another decade, Scully's actually at work finding evidence via autopsy. Especially that note Sanjay wrote in his palm: "Founder's Mutation." You know this clue means:

A) Sanjay wanted the investigators to focus on Augustus Goldman. Who cares if the Punk think that phrase pertains to something else!
B) Sanjay knew what the title of this episode was going to be from the script he read.
C) Sanjay knew it would give Dana and Fox a reason to flirt! Again, thanks for taking one for the team, bro!

9) Finding out from Gupta that Sanjay led two lives and was worried about "his children dying", Mulder and Scully go driving through the alleyways of Vancouver to find his real abode. Along the way, Scully nearly drives over a tired-looking janitor who's running around like a social misfit. You realize:

B) This episode's not going to be all that subtle with the clues, is it?
C) That's a car built for family driving. So... we're missing William, aren't we?

10) They reach Sanjay's real apartment and begin searching for clues. Scully finds one with a wall covered with photos of children suffering from physical deformities. Flashing red and blue lights from outside reveal the agents accidentally tripped an alarm, so they hurry to find more evidence before they can be interrupted. Suddenly, Mulder is hit with the high-pitch noise and bends over in pain. As Scully deals with handling the cops, Mulder endures the pain and starts hearing voices, repeating two messages: "Help me" and "Find her." You realize:

A) This is what the Punk gets for failing to acquire a warrant and the keys to the place!
B) It's Luke! Trying to reach out to his daughter Rey using the Force! ...what, you haven't seen Star Wars Episode VII yet? ARE YOU MAD! GO SEE IT NOW! This will wait until you get back.
C) Dana could have just as easily comforted Fox with a hug and hold up her FBI badge at the same time! What a missed opportunity! (cries)

11) It's Assistant Director Walter Skinner's office! He's reviewing the case so far, and Mulder refers to documents found in Sanjay's apartment. But it turns out those documents were seized as "Property of the Department of Defense" by a very angry-looking bearded bureaucrat giving the agents the stink-eye. But once that DoD jerk leaves the office with the documents, Skinner exhales and asks "I assume you made copies before they seized those papers?" You:

A) see B)
B) see C)
C) see D)
D) Shout "Goddamn YES, Skinner! You know how it goes down, boss!"

12) Skinner lets Mulder and Scully know that given the bureaucratic nature of everything Post-9/11, the paperwork on closing their report will take days, giving the agents at least 48 hours to honestly complete their investigation into the likely genetic experimentation on children by our own Defense Dept. Once that's out of the way, the two go back to the X-Files basement... where we find that the only nameplate on the door says "Fox Mulder". You:

A) Scream an unholy scream and curse Chris Carter to the Nine Circles of Hell. The OBSSE got a nameplate for St. Scully, you SONOFABITCH, IT'S HER OFFICE TOO! AIM THE TROUT FOR CARTER'S SMUG FACE IN FIVE... FOUR... THREE... TWO...
B) Seriously wonder why Scully doesn't have a goddamn nameplate.
C) Seriously wonder why they can't put Dana and Fox's name on the same nameplate. After all, we're hoping they do that for the wedding invites!

13) Mulder and Scully share evidence as they examine the security cameras. Scully also takes the time to ask Mulder about what happened to him. Mulder describes the pain and that he heard the words "Find her." He notices the janitor in one security camera (NOT SUBTLE) and also notices the Murder of Crows (SUBTLE), pointing out that the sound he heard could also be affecting animals. Scully gets worried, noting that Sanjay heard that sound, and it drove him to suicide. "This is dangerous," she warns. "When has that ever stopped us?" Mulder snarks back. You answer:

A) "Whenever it got to the point where people died, you Punk!"
B) "Whenever the episode ended and you never followed up on loose threads, that's when!"
C) "She cares, Fox! Dammit, kiss her!"

14) Scully knows a way to reach Goldman. It turns out he's a prominent financial donor to Scully's hospital the Lady of Our Sorrows, and Scully attempts to get one of the administrators to arrange a meeting. The administrator (if she looks familiar, she played Scully's counselor during Seasons Two and Three) isn't thrilled that Goldman is under FBI investigation, but is able to relay a message to him that the FBI wants to talk. Mulder also suggests that the administrator asks him about "Founder's Mutation". As the administrator flinches at that phrase, you recognize:

A) The phrase might not have anything to do with Goldman himself, but something about genetics itself... SO WHY DOESN'T SCULLY KNOW ABOUT IT?
B) It's the title of David Bowie's next album, right? (beat) Oh... right... (cries)
C) That Fox knows well enough to stay out of Dana's way when they're in her place of power.

15) During their wait, Mulder and Scully are approached by a nervous young woman, pregnant and terrified that there's something wrong with her baby. Agnes alternates between begging for help to get out of the ward and believing the agents won't believe or help her. When the administrator shows up in the hallway, Agnes runs but not before Mulder can slip a card to her. As the administrator returns with a phone number to reach Goldman, Agnes watches from a distance while Escape From the Planet of the Apes plays on a TV behind her. You note:

A) see B)
B) see C)
C) Another Planet of the Apes reference, about future ape babies? Oh, yeah. Just HITTING US OVER THE HEAD WITH THE SUBTLETY here, people.

16) Mulder makes the connection between Goldman's philanthropy towards that hospital as his access to that pregnancy ward, and jumps to the conclusion that Goldman might be experimenting on those women. Scully's none too thrilled about that theory, because it brings up the fact that 15 years ago, SHE had a baby with the implications that baby was genetically messed with as well. "Was that all I was, an incubator?" Scully asks. Mulder replies, "You were never... just anything... to me, Scully." You:

A) Silently toast the Blessed Skeptic with a Scullyrita
B) "I got something in my eye."
C) Bawl your wet 'Shipper eyes out

17) The scene segues to a school, where a younger-looking Scully is walking her son William up to his first day there. They joke about the rules of surviving school, and then the scene shifts again in a nice effect of the closing doors re-opening to an older William racing off to some afternoon thing. And then the scene shifts to a darker tone, and Scully is worrying over a wounded William dealing with a broken forearm. And then it shifts to an even darker scene, at home with a teenaged William crying for his Mom. As Scully enters his room and finds William freaking out over his mutating into an alien hybrid, you:

A) Understand this is Scully's ongoing nightmare of the life that may befall her only son...
B) Realize that somebody's gotta make a call to Charles Xavier's School for an opening... why not? X-Files, X-Men, it's a natural crossover to make!
c) KEEP CRYING YOUR DAMN EYES OUT. Poor Dana... Nooooooooo...

18) Commercial break ends, and we're finally meeting Dr. Augustus Goldman. He's being asked about "Founder's Mutation" and remains evasive about it. Goldman tries to explain his work as "saving children," and escorts the agents to a hallway lined with young children suffering from unsettling deformities. He offers to let Scully speak to them, and Scully does with a poor child called Adam suffering a cycloptic condition. The conversation doesn't reveal much, but Scully notes the rooms are locked and the children are isolated and she questions why since they suffer from genetic disorders and aren't contagious. Goldman answers that they are using experimental procedures and need to control the environmental factors. "Like using alien DNA?" Scully retorts. Goldman flinches and replies "Dr. Scully, I was told you were the rational one." You reply:

A) "She is the rational one. She's also the one armed with a fully loaded fresh trout useful in slapping total Punks!"
B) "We're talking about the hybrid merging of Mytharc stories to Monster of the Week stories. And now, here, we have proof with this episode's Monster of the Week, Augustus Goldman!"
C) We're with the ones who answered A), Doc. NOBODY TALKS TO DANA LIKE THAT! (Insert Trout Slap Here)

NOTE: Meanwhile, a healthy-looking teenage girl named Molly is having a freak-out down the hallway for no sane reason other than to show off telekinetic abilities and set up a plot point. Not subtle, guys.

19) Something happened to Agnes. The agents are called to a crime scene where her body was found with Mulder's card on her. She died in a suspicious hit-and-run by the looks of things. And her baby's gone. Your response is:

A) "Damn them. It never gets any easier when people die on this show. For once, can't everyone live, just once?"
B) "Somebody at that pregnancy ward has to answer for this..."
C) "Given the theme of this episode, we really shouldn't have a snarky response to this."

20) Scully does the autopsy and confirms Agnes was killed by a car, and that her baby was surgically removed. She accepts the likelihood that the fetus was tied into Goldman's work but there's no proof now. Mulder brings up the "Founder's Mutation" phrase and reveals what it means: the idea that a "perfect" mutation - the Founder - would create the genetic keystone to the next stage in evolution. He notes how the Syndicate (Mytharc!) started such projects back in the 1970s but they never worked... but it doesn't mean they stopped trying. Mulder also pulls up more information about Goldman: 17 years prior his wife was placed in custody and charged with going insane and killing her own child while in the womb... and that baby's body was never found as well. With all this exposition going on, you know:

A) That we're certain this is going to lead up to Scully calling Charles Xavier's school and see if there's a William enrolled after all!
B) That we're certain this is going to tie into the final episode of the Battlestar Galactica reboot!
C) That we're certain this is going to end up with the writer survey cramming all the questions into a round number of 25! ...What, we've seen it before!

21) They find an unresponsive Mrs. Goldman sitting at a lunch table at the Conveniently Placed Criminally Insane Ward on the outskirts of Vancouver. Questions go unanswered until a cat comes in and she chucks an apple at it. Hey! MY CATS DO NOT APPROVE OF THAT, LADY! Ahem. No longer able to stay quiet, Mrs. Goldman starts explaining what happened: she discovered her 2-year-old daughter Molly had fallen into the pool... and had been under there for 10 minutes... and she was breathing just fine. You realize:

A) If Dr. Goldman had put a child protection fence around that swimming pool like he was supposed to, none of this would have slipped out...!
B) That was no ordinary cat! That was Oscar the Death Cat! AND HE'S COME FOR YOUR SOUL!
C) That we're not really in a 'Shipper-friendly setting at the moment, so we'll have to wait for the next question.

22) Realizing her husband had experimented on Molly... experimented on her unborn son... she freaks, slashes his arm, and flees the house as he ominously drips blood from the wound. Unfortunately, her freak-out doesn't lead to better driving, and she's crawling from the wreckage she started getting Scanned by her unborn son. Prompted by the pain, she performs her own radical version of a C-Section, exposing the womb and... and... OH MY GOD IS THAT A MOVING HAND?


23) Mulder realizes that the baby survived, and that he'd have grown up by now as a 16-year-old. He also notices the janitor at the Criminally Insane ward is the same janitorial contract service at Nugenics. Going back to the security cameras, he points out the young male janitor from Scene 7 is on the floor above Sanjay, and reacts in pain to Sanjay's death. They get his name from the vendor as Kyle Gilligan (SHOUTOUT) and drive off to his address. They're confronted by his defensive mother, who warns that they're to leave her boy alone, even though Mulder figures out she was there the night of the crash and saved that baby. When the crows suddenly appear on a nearby hill and the mother freaks out seeing them, you know:

B) Why they're called a Murder.
C) This is another chance for Dana to comfort Fox during another Psychic Sonic attack. (she runs off to put a gun to Kyle's head to make him stop instead) Oh, or she can do that... Yay.

24) They interrogate Kyle on the drive back to DC through the tall mountains of British Columbia uh Maryland. Kyle admits he would never try to hurt anyone with what he can do, and Mulder realizes he can't control it. "I just want to find my sister," he says. Scully says "Molly" and he asks if she knows where Molly is. Scully answers that she knows who does. Next scene, Kyle is being examined by Augustus Goldman, who is treating the teen boy as though he was another patient, another experiment. There is something unsettling about the emotional disconnect that Goldman is showing towards his own son, and it makes you:

A) Shudder in disgust.
B) Note who the real monster of the week is after all.
C) Wistful that Dana always pictures herself being a better mother to her own son William, and hope that Fox does too!

25) As per arrangement, Goldman escorts Kyle to a room where that teenage girl we saw earlier called Molly is sitting alone. There's an awkward familial moment between brother and s... "No," Kyle says, frowning. He can tell that's not his sister. (Ooo, nice twist) Enraged, he slams his father out of the way and races down the hallway, turning a corner to find another girl, this time locked behind a glass doorway. The way they stare at each other, they can tell as they both raise a hand at the glass separating them. I never knew I had a brother, Molly projects telepathically, and you realize:

A) Of course the girl is going to have better control of her mutant powers!
B) Isn't this a plot point from the Lensman series?
C) Isn't this a plot point from the Star Wars movies? Dammit Leia you kissed your brother! Eewwww...

26) Realizing that this survey isn't going to fit inside 25 questions that they don't have much time, they place both palms on the glass and focus. The sound intensifies and as Mulder and Scully round the corner, every glass window in the hallway shatters. As the siblings link hands for the first time in their lives, their father runs in, trying to stop them. "Just let me go, daddy!" Molly screams, but Kyle has another response as he boosts his Psychic Sonic attack on dear old dad. With Scully standing there, gun drawn, you think:

A) At least with Scully we know she won't drop the gun like the Punk does!
B) This is not going to end well either way. Someone needs to pull a fire alarm and cause a distraction first!
C) Kyle and Molly holding hands? That's NOT the 'Ship we were promised guys!

27) Molly uses her mutant powers to knock Scully's gun out of her hand and tosses her against the wall.

A) ...dammit...
B) Oh crap, Scully, this IS how Carrie got even at the prom...!
C) YAY! Fox went to check on Dana to see if she was okay!

28) Molly sends Mulder sprawling down the hallway atop a floor covered with broken glass. That can't be hygienic. Before Mulder passes out, he sees Augustus Goldman receiving the karmic punishment he deserves. Your response is:

A) "As long as the kids don't mess with Scully any further, we got no quarrel with ya. Move along... move along..."
B) "He tampered in God's domain."
C) "We don't like all this gore and blood in a potentially 'Shippy episode. When are we gonna get the episodes that involves investigating beaches on long summer evenings with a bottle of the finest wines of Vancouver?"

29) The Department of Defense has taken over the lab and the bearded guy orders Skinner back behind the red tape (SUBTLE). Skinner notes that the investigation is officially over, even as Scully asks if there's any trace of Kyle or Molly. "There's never any trace," Scully sighs. Except Mulder slips out of his pocket the vial of blood Goldman took from Kyle. "There's a trace," Mulder whispers as they walk away, and you reply:

A) "Let Scully take it! She's the one who can test it!"
B) "Save it for the season finale!"
C) "Now we can get the scene of them going to the nearest motel and... and... uh, why are we getting an edit cut to 2001?"

30) It's Mulder watching 2001 (why not Planet of the Apes? We had that reference earlier) with his young son William. We watch Mulder imagine what it would have been like being a father to his son, growing up playing with model rockets and William saying "I'm going up there some day"... only for that vision to shift to Mulder watching in horror as aliens show up to abduct a teenage William from his bedroom much like what he saw with his own sister Samantha. As the episode ends with Mulder pining over a picture of baby William, you realize:

A) That dammit, for all the punk things the Punk does to the Blessed One, sometimes we got to sympathize with his plight as a grieving father as well...
B) That for a Monster of the Week/Mytharc mashup, this went surprisingly well.
C) That dammit, Dana and Fox shouldn't separate themselves over the loss of their son like this. Why are they in separate grief over this? IT'S NOT RIGHT IT'S NOT... oh, no, sniff, this isn't fair (openly cries)

If you more often than not answered:

A) You're a member of the OBSSE who thinks that someday William will return with a backlog of Mother's Day cards.
B) You're an X-Phile who likes the Mytharc stories to have this kind of clarity and emotional punch.
C) You're a 'Shipper who knows that if they can just find William then Dana and Fox can repair this 'Ship and SAVE OUR HEARTS. Sigh.

Next up: A Darin Morgan episode. I will post shortly about why this is a big f-cking deal.

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