The X-Files: Season 1, Episode 23

Roland (6 May 1994)
"The X Files" Roland (original title)

TV Episode  |  TV-MA  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,743 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 3 critic

When scientists at an aeronautics lab die under mysterious circumstances, the agents suspect a mentally challenged janitor may be the culprit.



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Title: Roland (06 May 1994)

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Episode credited cast:
Mrs. Stodie
Kerry Sandomirsky ...
Garry Davey ...
Dr. Keats
Dr. Frank Nollette
Matthew Walker ...
Dr. Ronald Surnow
David Hurtubise ...
Barrington (as Dave Hurtubise)
Lisa Dole (as Sue Mathew)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Todd Cornborough ...
Young Roland Grable
Tyler Cornborough ...
Young Arthur Grable


Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate the murder of a jet propulsion scientist who was trapped in a wind chamber and sucked through a jet engine when the unit was activated. It isn't the first death among the scientists there, with Arthur Grable having died in an accident several months before. As they gather evidence in the case the main suspect becomes the janitor, Roland, who is autistic but with a great knowledge for complex numbers. When Mulder finds a connection between Roland and the first dead scientist, it opens up any number of possibilities. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

6 May 1994 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Zeljko Ivanek was the first actor to read for the part of Roland. Chris Carter was blown away and decided almost immediately to cast him. See more »


Turbine engines will sustain heavy damage if an animal is sucked into them. An object as large as a full grown man would cause catastrophic damage and require serious repair before it was operational again. It does not seem that enough time had passed for that to happen in this episode. See more »


Mulder: You know, I had a dream last night. I dreamt I was swimming in this, uh, pool. And I could see my father underwater. But when I dove down, the water stung my eyes. And there was another man at the pool, watching me. He upset me. He was asking me questions I didn't want to answer. And I had to leave. I couldn't find my father.
See more »


References Beakman's World (1992) See more »


Roland Theme
Written by Mark Snow
Performed by Mark Snow
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting concept, but falls flat on its face
5 February 2006 | by See all my reviews

Firstly, as an aspiring mechanical engineer with a strong interest in aerospace engineering, this episode was for a long while my favorite. In fact it still has some sentimental value for me; since I saw it when it first aired back in 1993 (I was a huge early X-files fan). But the gaffes are too profound to ignore.

There's the logical side to it: Dr. Grable's motive for revenge is nonsensical. Consider: How could the researchers be "stealing" the late Dr. Grable's work, when, at the beginning of the episode, they almost destroyed the engine while testing it! If they had access to Grable's equations, they should have solved all the problems instantly. In fact, it was only after Grable wrote the equations on the board that, to use Dr. Nolette's words: "Mach 15 was within our reach." Not to mention the fact that Grable kept his equations in a passworded file! Doesn't make much sense. What's more, aren't scientists SUPPOSED to continue the work of their colleagues in the event of a death? It's not like the team had anything to do with Grable's demise.

Then there's the technical issues: You cannot, under any circumstances, get a jet engine up to Mach 15 in a wind tunnel! You can't even get one up to Mach 7, AFAIK.

Oh well, nonsense aside this episode shouldn't appeal to many: laymen will dislike it because it's too technical, while technically inclined viewers will dislike it for its many errors. The episode seems like it was written by a first-year engineering student. But it has its moments; and the love story between Tracy and Roland is cute.

By the way, very high praise to Zeljko Ivanek (Roland/Arthur) for his excellent acting. For years after I first saw this episode, and before I became familiar with his other works, I believed Ivanek really was mentally challenged. Ditto for Kerry Sandomirsky (Tracy). Both are truly skilled. If for nothing else, watch it to see great actors inject incredible life into a bad script. 5/10

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