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The X-Files pressed pause on the premiere’s rapid escalation of mythology-related narrative during Monday night’s episode. The second outing of Fox’s brief revival of the cult series, one of four stand-alone mysteries, found Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) back in the daily grind of solving small, slightly supernatural crimes.
Some mild spoilers ahead for anyone who’s yet to see the Jan. 24 episode, “Founder’s Mutation.”
This iteration’s first monster-of-the-week episode, which did not technically include any monster, was originally intended as No. 5. But when Fox had the entire series in the can, it was decided that “Founder’s Mutation” would kick off the stand-alones. “It has thematic connections to Chris’ first episode, so they put it in second position,” writer and director James Wong — or, Jim, as he’s better known — told The Hollywood Reporter in December. “I’m really happy with it.”
“Founder’s Mutation” did revisit one very serial X-Files through line, however. Both Mulder and Scully had elaborate fantasy sequences of what their lives would have been like if they hadn’t given up their son. William, suggested to have alien DNA, was last seen in a 2002 episode.
“When I started thinking about The X-Files again, I really wanted to deal with Mulder and Scully’s son,” said Wong, one of the original staff writers and producers during The X-Files‘ first two seasons. “To me, that really resonated emotionally. I’m a father, and I wanted to connect them to the idea of what it means to raise a kid.”
The catalyst for the fantasies of parenthood lost are inspired by the alien-esque teenagers revealed to be behind the episode’s central mystery: piercing sounds that drive one scientist to suicide and quickly start affecting Mulder. “Chris told me The X-Files had never done anything with sound as the topic of an episode, so those two things really melded into this story.”
One of three X-Files writers of yore that creator Chris Carter asked back for the six-episode revival, Wong was considered instrumental in the series’ launch. He and former writing partner Glen Morgan, who also returned for an episode of the miniseries, are credited with developing the monster-of-the- week that fell into place quickly after the pilot.
Given that history, Wong has several war stories from his tenure on the show — including one from when he and Morgan briefly returned in the fourth season and tried to kill off a major recurring character.
“The only thing I remember being a conflict was with ‘Musings of a Smoking Man,’ when Glen and I wanted to kill off Frohike [Tom Braidwood], one of the Lone Gunmen,” Wong recalled, of the episode that ended with the Cigarette Smoking Man [William B. Davis] opting not to put a bullet in the conspiracy theorist’s head. “Chris for sure and I think the network were adamantly against it. I was directing the episode, so I went ahead and shot an insert of a blood-splattered wall where Frohike was standing.”
The character went on to survive another five seasons and star in a short-lived spinoff before ultimately meeting his demise, along with his two compatriots, a few episodes before the original series finale. Wong says he never even heard back about his more ominous director’s cut. “I thought we’d show the network how much of an effect it would have that he died,” said Wong, laughing. “But I do remember that piece of set furniture mysteriously disappeared.”
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