CTP Episode of the Day - 06.01.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Roland (1x22)
Original Air Date: May 6, 1994
Written By: Chris Ruppenthal
Directed By: David Nutter

The death of a scientist working on jet propulsion technology leads Mulder and Scully to Roland, an autistic man who works as a janitor at the lab. The remaining scientists are being killed one by one, while their work is being completed without them.

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(Thanks to chrisnu for today's episode pics.)

"Does this pitch somehow end with a way for me to lower my long distance charges?"

Some "Roland" Tidbits & Musings:

-- Mulder tells Scully the case they are investigating is about a project that everyone says doesn't exist: the Icarus project, "the next generation in jet engine design, capable of doubling current supersonic speeds using half the fuel -- in theory anyway." In Greek mythology, Icarus was the son of the artisan and builder Daedalus, who built the Minotaur's Labyrinth and a number of intricate devices for King Minos of Crete. Daedalus fell out of favor with the king, and he and Icarus were imprisoned in a tower. To escape, Daedalus made two pairs of wings out of feathers and wax with which he planned to fly to freedom. Daedalus warned his son not to fly too low or the sea spray would wet the feathers, nor too high, or the sun would melt the wax. However, caught up in the ecstasy of flight, Icarus climbed too high, and, as warned, the wings melted and he fell into the sea and drowned. The story of Icarus has become a cautionary tale against hubris and overreaching one's limits. There is also an asteroid, 1566 Icarus, discovered in 1949; it is also the title of a scientific journal of solar system studies and the name of a number of literary and film characters.

-- The episode contains one truly inspired and twisted visual gag, with the scattered markings on the floor indicating where the scientist's head had shattered after being forced into the liquid nitrogen. "Any shock and horror was eliminated," Chris Carter said, "by the laugh you got when you saw those little pieces on the floor." The actual moment is also dealt with offscreen by just the sound of the head breaking. Capping it off is Mulder's dry observation, "I don't think they'll be performing this experiment on Beakman's World.

-- Beakman's World was a kids science show which ran on CBS from 1992 - 1997 where the scientist (Beakman) answered questions about science and nature topics.

-- Mulder tells Roland about a dream he (Mulder) had, wherein he dove down into a pool searching for his father. In the original script, Mulder was searching for his sister.

-- This is one of those rare episodes where Mulder actually asks Scully about her personal life (perhaps to see if she has one). But just what kind of wedding did Scully attend anyway? "You mean the part where the groom passed out or the dog bit the drummer?" I hope she *did* catch the bouquet.

-- Mulder asks another personal question, and thus, in this episode, Scully confirms that she has two brothers, one older and one younger.

-- Actor Zelijko Ivanek (pronounced Zel-ko Eve-on-ek) was the first actor to read for the producers as Roland Fuller -- who was seen as being pivotal in making the episode come across right dramatically -- and blew the producers away, so much so that they knew immediately had had landed the part. Born in Ljublijana, Yoguslavia, Ivanek's credits included the movies Mass Appeal and Agnes of God.

-- Actress Micole Mercurio played Mrs. Stodie, the caretaker at the halfway house where Roland lived. A year later, she would play Midge Callaghan in the Sandra Bullock comedy While You Were Sleeping, with her husband played by Clyde Bruckman himself, Peter Boyle.

-- Kerry Sandomirsky, who played Roland's mentally challenged friend Tracy, returned to play Joanne in Season 3's "2SHY."

-- Garry Davey has appeared on the XF four times, as Hunter in "Eve"; as Dr. Keats in this episode; as the Captain in "End Game"; and as Bob Spitz in "Syzygy." And three other actors have appeared twice: Matthew Walker as Dr. Surnow in this episode, and as Dr. Arlinsky in "Gethsemene"; David Hurtubise as Larry Barrington in this episode and as the Pathologist in "Leonard Betts"; and Sue Mathew who played Lisa Dole in this episode and Agent Caleca in "Apocrypha."

-- Dr. Nollette's line, "If I've seen further than other men, it's because I have stood on the shoulders of giants," is a famous quote from Sir Isaac Newton that he wrote in a letter to Robert Hooke in 1676.

-- One of those wacky phrases that has appeared in numerous XF episodes over the years appears in this one: "Treat yourself." Sort of like "I think you know." I have never heard "treat yourself" in any other context except X-Files, but maybe I've missed something. Maybe it's a Canadian thing.

-- If you appreciate this episode for nothing else, you should appreciate it for Mark Snow's score. It's terrific.

Please share your first impressions, favorite (or cringe-worthy!) moments, classic lines, favorite fanfic, nagging questions, repeated viewing observations, etc., as today we celebrate "Roland"!

Polly