1×22: Roland

by Taryn74

Here it is, my very first X-Files recap.  And, as long as I put this one off, probably my last as well.  Heh.   Moving on.

Wow, the still shot of Roland behind the episode menu is way creepy.  I hadn’t noticed that before.  Just sayin’ is all.

We open with someone shuffling around in a very quiet building with a lot of pipes on the ceiling.  The legend tells us we are at the Mahan Propulsion Laboratory, Washington Institute of Technology, Colson, Washington.  That’s a mouthful.  Wonder if they shorten it to MPLWIT?  Sounds like “mipple wit,” which makes me laugh.  I’m totally going to shorten it.

So this guy keeps shuffling down the hall, and the camera pans up to reveal that it’s Roland, who is dust mopping the floor.  Roland is the janitor at MPLWIT.  I hope he tells people he works at “mipple wit.”  Roland goes over to a door and uses his keycard and punches in a code.  Nothing happens.  Meanwhile, a bearded man walks up behind him.  We hear every footstep.  Man, this place is way too quiet.  I’m going to send Roland a boombox so he can listen to some music while he works.

Roland punches in the code again while the bearded man (otherwise known as Dr. Keats, which is shorter) huffs impatiently behind him.  Roland’s a little slow, and Dr. Keats is more than a little low on patience.  When the door still doesn’t open, Dr. Keats snatches the card out of Roland’s hand and snits “You put your number in and then your card!”  Geeze, dude, back off.  Roland gives him the number, and Dr. Keats correctly opens the door then turns to glare at Roland and smartasses, “See how easy it is?”  Wow.  I pause the DVD and go call Advocacy on Roland’s behalf.

Back to the show.  Now we see a large fan spinning and hear a couple of men spouting a bunch of physics mumbo-jumbo that I can’t even follow and I’m sure not gonna try to recap word for word.  Oh, I guess the large fan is actually a jet engine, and is part of a wind tunnel, which they are using to work on their aeronautics project.  Got it.  Physicist #1, Dr. Surnow, shuts off the wind tunnel while he and Physicist #2, Dr. Nollette, continue to argue about the project.  And argue.  And argue some more.  Dr. Nollette thinks they can break Mach 15 if they just keep going.  Dr. Surnow thinks the engine will destroy itself.  Recapper thinks they should just stop acting like a couple of third graders.  Dr. Keats comes in behind them and asks what happened.  The two men continue to argue and Dr. Surnow actually whines “I’m just protecting the baby!”  Good Lord.  Do rocket scientists really do things like refer to their projects as ‘the baby’?  I hope not.

Blah blah blah, argumentcakes.  Finally Dr. Keats and Dr. Nollette leave the room.  We see now that Roland is in the room dust mopping.  Roland tells Dr. Keats goodbye, and to go scratch.  I might have added that last part.  Dr. Surnow goes to the whiteboard to do some more computing.  Dr. S enters the wind tunnel and starts punching on a keyboard in the wall.  Roland turns and looks at him and then shuffles over to the computer.  We hear keys being punched and the door to the wind tunnel slowly shuts.  Dr. S looks up in alarm and runs over to the window and pleads with Roland to open the door.  Roland is too busy at the computer to pay attention, and I don’t think he’s playing Tetris, ya’ll.

The panels in the wind tunnel open and Dr. S really begins to panic.  He keeps yelling for Roland to open the door.  I’ve got to say, even knowing he’s likely about to die, he’s still nicer to Roland than Dr. Keats was earlier.  Too bad he has to be the first one to bite it.

As Dr. S attempts in vain to keep from being sucked into the jet engine, Roland calmly gets up and goes over to the whiteboard to correct some of the equation.  He finishes up and walks past the window just in time for us to see Dr. S fly by in midair toward the engine, and then we get to hear a really nasty sound effect.  Nice.  That shot would probably have been more effective if it didn’t look so goofy.  It reminds me of the cow being yanked up in the “tornado” in Rain King.  Goofy like that.  Roland grabs the dust mop and continues cleaning without any reaction at all to what happened in the next room.

Credits.  Heh, my daughter still can’t hear the XF theme song without getting creeped out.  I was watching XF one night after the kids went to bed, and she was half asleep and heard the theme song and thought aliens were invading the house.  I play the credits sometimes really loud after she’s gone to bed just to freak her out.  I’m mean like that.

Ahhh, our Dynamic Duo is walking down the hall at MPLWIT.  Why does Scully own so many taupe clothes in Season 1?  I know we talk about her Season 7 black wardrobe a lot, but at least black looks good on her.  Taupe, not so much.  Moving on.  Mulder’s asking Scully about a wedding she attended.  Mulder:  “Did you catch the bouquet?”  Scully:  “Maaaaybe.”  How do I always forget how flirtatious these two were in the beginning?  Season 1 is worth it for that alone.

Mulder and Scully are discussing the aeronautics project and blah blah blah I get too bored with this part to try to keep up with it.  We learn that Dr. Surnow is the second scientist to die in the past six months working on this project.  The first was Arthur Grable, which we don’t actually find out yet, but is important later and I don’t feel like bringing it up then.  Scully chimes in with the million dollar question – “Okay, but how is this an X-File?”  She used to ask that a lot, didn’t she?  I guess after a while she just gave up since everything turned into an X-File anyway.  Mulder is like King Midas that way.

Mulder and Scully meet with  Dr. Keats, and Mulder verifies that Dr. Keats was the one who found Dr. Surnow (or, “what was left of him”) that morning.  They then join Dr. Nollette, and ask some questions about the project and…good golly this stuff is boring.  I’ve got to completely skip the project chitchat or I’ll never get through this.

While Scully is planting thoughts of industrial espionage in the two scientists’ heads, Mulder is in the other room studying the whiteboard.  Mulder points out that the handwriting on the bottom line of the equation doesn’t match the handwriting on any of the rest of it.  Mulder looks at the police report and asks about one Roland Fuller, who was the only other person in the building last night.  Dr. Keats dismisses the thought that Roland was the one working on the equation.  “Let’s just say that Roland isn’t exactly a rocket scientist.”  Oh, snap.  You’re a funny one, Dr. Keats.  Or, not.  I’ve still got Advocacy on hold.

Heritage Halfway House, which is Roland’s place of residence.  Roland is applying star stickers to a giant poster that says “Tracy” in multicolored letters.  On the table under the poster we see papers with numbers scribbled on them.  Yes, that’s important.  Roland hands the poster to his friend Tracy, who is also sitting at the table working on a craft.  She grins and blushes slightly as she reads her name and Roland points out the stars he added.  It’s sweet.

The housemother enters the room, followed by Mulder and Scully, and gently tells Roland that there are some people here who would like to speak with him.  The housemother asks Tracy if she would like to come into the TV room, and they leave Mulder and Scully alone with Roland.

Mulder and Scully sit down on either side of Roland and begin asking him questions about what happened at work the night before.  Roland didn’t see anything or hear anything unusual.  Scully comments on the star stickers he is now busy applying to the pages of numbers we saw on the table earlier.  Roland:  “One hundred and forty-seven.”  Scully’s all, “Huh?”  Roland points at her shirt and she looks down and realizes it’s covered with stars.  Mulder correctly guesses that Roland likes numbers too.

Roland suddenly has a series of disturbing images flash through his mind of a man’s frozen face surrounded by clouds of steam.  He jumps out of his chair and knocks the jar of stickers off the table, then runs over in a panic and begins gathering them up.  He is clearly upset.  Scully gets down on the floor and tries to help him gather the stickers up.  As the housemother comes into the room to see if everything is okay, Mulder takes one of the papers of numbers off the table and slides it into his pocket.  Roland is still picking up stars, counting each one as he picks them up.  He is very agitated.  The housemother is not pleased with our favorite duo for upsetting Roland so.

FBI Regional Headquarters, Seattle, Washington.  A handwriting expert is going over the equation from the whiteboard with Mulder and Scully.  She confirms that the handwriting on the last line of the equation doesn’t match the other three handwriting styles found on the whiteboard.  Mulder pulls out the paper he swiped from Roland’s house and asks her to compare it as well.  Scully immediately jumps in with her favorite “you’re not suggesting….” bit and they banter back and forth about autism and savants and whatnot.  The handwriting analysist interrupts to confirm that the handwriting from the equation does not match Roland’s handwriting either.  Mulder looks thoughtful.  The camera doesn’t pan to Scully but I bet she’s gloating.  Just a little.  She does, after all, love proving him wrong, now doesn’t she?

We flash to a sleeping Roland, who begins having a nightmare about the frozen guy.  He struggles in his sleep and finally gets out of bed with a look of determination on his face.  We’re now back at MPLWIT, Building 214.  Dr. Keats is there working, alone.  Or is he? Dun dun dun dunnnn.  He’s got earphones on and the music’s way too loud.  I bet he’d steal Roland’s boombox if I sent him one.  Cause he’s a jerk like that.  Dr. Keats sits down at his computer and begins typing.

Behind him, we see the red light on the door’s security panel turn green.  HA!  Ol’ Roland knows how to correctly use the keycard now, doesn’t he?  Serves you right.  Jerk.  Dr. Keats reaches for his giant ceramic mug of coffee, which is suddenly not there anymore.  He looks around in surprise, just as Roland knocks him over the head with it.  Ouch.  Roland then cocks his head as if he’s listening to instructions, and begins dragging Dr. Keats across the floor.  Roland’s wearing some big-ass blue gloves.  He drags the good doctor over to a vat of liquid nitrogen and opens the lid.

Roland shoves the doctor’s head into the nitrogen and holds it there as Dr. Keats comes to, struggles and yelps.  After a few seconds, there is no more struggling, and Roland looks sad.  I don’t.  He pulls the doctor back out and we see that this is what Roland was seeing in the flashes of images earlier – a man’s frozen face surrounded by clouds of steam.

Roland tosses the doctor to the floor and we hear a shattering sound.    Roland turns to walk out of the room and…oh, ewww.  He steps right across a piece of the doctor’s shattered head.  Dude, that’s nasty.  I hope none of that stuck to his shoe.  Roland’s housemother looks like the type who vacuums a lot.  She probably wouldn’t appreciate the mess.  Plus I’m sure it’s kind of hard to explain why you have a guy’s brain on the bottom of your shoe.  I don’t have any experience with that though.  The camera stays focused on the bits of head in the floor as we hear someone begin typing on the computer keyboard.

The scene moves to the following day, as Mulder and Scully and a forensic team examine the room.  Scully is spouting off about liquid nitrogen and an experiment with frozen fish.  Mulder goes over to the computer and realizes that someone using the file name “ARTHUR” worked on the computer for five hours the night before, after Keats’ death.  Scully attempts to access the file and is, of course, denied.  I would certainly hope they password protect their work, Danes.  Mulder tells her to try “15626.”  Scully gives him A Look but types it in.  It is, naturally, the correct password.  Scully thinks it’s hot when Mulder’s so smart.  What?  You know she does.  Mulder flips through the file and absentmindedly shows Scully the paper he took from Roland’s home with the numbers 15626 scribbled over and over.

We flash to Roland sleeping in his bed, in the middle of another nightmare.  We hear a woman’s voice saying “Wave goodbye” over and over as one young boy stands solemnly in front of a house watching another young boy, who is crying, being put into a car and driven away.  The housemother comes in and wakes Roland, and asks him why he slept in his clothes last night.  Roland doesn’t have an answer.  The housemother moves aside to allow Mulder and Scully into the room.  Roland waves the housemother over and tells her “I’m not supposed to talk to them.”

I am tired of typing ‘the housemother’ but I haven’t heard her name mentioned yet.  Looking at the transcript, it appears that her name is Mrs. Stodie.  That’s not much better but it will have to do.

Mrs. Stodie sits down beside Roland and encourages him to not be shy and speak to the nice people.  Mulder moves to Roland’s closet and picks him out a “stylin’” shirt, as Mrs. Stodie and Scully leave the room.  Mulder’s taste in shirts is not any better than his taste in ties.  Roland shakes his head and asks Mulder for “the green one.”  I laugh.  Even Roland has better taste than Mulder.  Ah, Mulder.  We love you anyway, you big colorblind goof.  Speaking of colorblind, he totally shouldn’t have been able to tell which shirt was the green one.  Huh.  Moving on.

Mulder asks Roland a few questions about his job at MPLWIT and finds out that Arthur Grable spoke to Mrs. Stodie and got Roland hired on as the janitor.  Mulder asks Roland when was the last time he spoke to Dr. Grable – a week ago?  The day before?  Sneaky, Mulder.  Roland says that Dr. Grable died, and cryptically adds that when people die, they aren’t supposed to come back.  That can’t possibly mean anything to this case, can it?

Meanwhile, Scully is speaking with Mrs. Stodie downstairs.  Scully asks about Arthur Grable.  Tracy is in the same room, sweeping the floor, eavesdropping.  Scully asks Mrs. Stodie for Roland’s personal files, which Mrs. Stodie explains are confidential.  Scully counters that she has the legal grounds to obtain them but the less time spent in court, the more quickly they can help Roland.  Mrs. Stodie looks thoughtful as she considers this.  I like Mrs. Stodie, she seems nice and actually cares about the residents she’s in charge of.

Scully and Mulder are now in a library doing research, Mulder is explaining what he has found out about Roland being hired by Dr. Grable and theorizes that Dr. Grable is not actually dead, but rather faked his own death and is murdering his colleagues, using Roland as a scapegoat.  Scully doesn’t really comment on that, which makes me laugh, and instead begins reading Dr. Grable’s obituary.  Mulder picks up on the fact that Arthur and Roland were both born in Seattle.  They toss info back and forth at each other until they finally figure out that Arthur and Roland share a birthdate, but Arthur is listed as an only child while Roland’s history before entering the Heritage Halfway House at age three has been sealed.  Are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?  I thought so.

Back to the Heritage House.  Roland and Tracy are sitting at a table coloring.  Tracy looks disturbed and keeps sneaking glances at Roland.  Roland is drawing an airplane and asks Tracy if she wishes she could fly.  Tracy says that she can, in her dreams.  “People can do anything in a dream, you know.”  She shyly admits that one time she had a dream that they were married, and lived in a house.  Aww.  Tracy asks Roland if he has dreams.  Roland is getting more and more agitated.  Tracy kneels down next to him and says “You can tell me, Roland.  Roland…who is Arthur?”

Roland suddenly has a vision of himself throwing Tracy onto the floor and choking her.  He screams “Noooooo!” and pushes her out of the way and runs out of the room.  Tracy begins crying and yelling after him “I’m sorry, Roland, I’m sorry!”  Tracy is really sweet and sad and my heart breaks a little.  Roland runs upstairs and locks himself into the bathroom.  Tracy follows and bangs on the door.  Roland once again has a vision of himself choking Tracy and yells at her to go away, he doesn’t want to hurt her.  Tracy cries.  Roland cries.  Recapper cries.

Mulder and Scully are with Dr. Nollette in his office.  Mulder is looking at a black and white photo of a bunch of hippie students sitting inside an office with a VW Bug behind them.   Dr. N blah blah blahs about taking apart his professor’s car and putting it back together in his office, which turns out to have been Arthur’s idea.  Arthur, it seems, was not only brilliant, he was a great practical joker as well.  Seems to me Arthur is also a murdering, vengeful sonofa, but Nollette doesn’t mention that.  Mulder:  “Could he be making it seem like a man with a 70 IQ is gaining access to and, uh, operating his old computer files?”  *crickets* Finally Dr. N ‘duhs’ that in order to do that, Arthur Grable would have to still be alive.  Mulder points out that the police report on Arthur’s death was incomplete.  Dr. N insists that Arthur is indeed dead.  Scully wants to know how he can be so certain.

Mulder and Scully are now at the Avalon Foundation, Washington Institute of Technology.  AFWIT.  Love it.  Sounds like “halfwit,” which is almost as good as “mipple wit.”  Some guy is showing them a large stainless steel tank which is labeled ‘18’ and reads -320*F on a temperature gauge.  The guy explains to them that because of the massive damage to Arthur’s body, they were only able to preserve the head.  Hey, I’ve seen this movie!   Scully snarks that their client might find it inconvenient to be thawed out in the future only to find that they have no body.  I’m telling ya.  I’d be pissed.  Naturally the guy believes that once science figures out how to revive their clients, they’ll also know how to clone new bodies for them.

As he rambles on and loses my interest, Mulder notices that the temperature reading on Arthur’s container is fluctuating between -319*F and -320*F.  He asks if that is normal.  The guy explains that no, it isn’t, but they’ve been having problems with that particular container and are checking into it.  Mulder wants to know if it’s possible Dr. Grable’s brain activity is causing the fluctuations.  The guy stops just shy of laughing in Mulder’s face at the question.  Dude, you’re the one that spends your whole days surrounded by heads in tanks.  I’m just sayin’.  Scully asks if they can see Dr. Grable’s records.  She points out to Mulder that Dr. Grable had put down only one organ tissue recipient – Roland Fuller.  Neither of them is surprised to realize that Arthur and Roland are likely related.  They take the photo of Arthur from the file and have it altered, the result looks exactly like Roland.  Since we figured out these two were twins like, twenty years ago, nobody is surprised.

Heritage House.  Mulder is asking Roland about his dreams.  Roland is curled up on the couch and doesn’t answer.  Mulder:  “You know, I had a dream last night. I dreamt I was, uh, swimming in this pool. And I could see my father underwater, but when I dove down, the water stung my eyes. Then 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.”  Huh.  I wonder if Mulder was telling the truth about that dream, because…that’s sad.  And that’s pretty much spot on about his relationship with his father and CSM.  Interesting.  Anyway.

Roland still doesn’t want to talk about his own dreams, because they make him feel like a bad person.  He admits that in his dreams, he hit Tracy.  Tracy sadly looks up from where she is playing a game of checkers with another resident.  Mulder sees a remote controlled toy on the shelf and asks Roland if he knows how to operate it.  Roland makes the toy scoot across the floor a few times as Mulder explains that the dreams are making Roland do things, just like the remote control is making the toy ship move.  Roland nails Mulder with the question “But who…who runs the controls?”

Mulder pulls out the photo of Arthur Grable and asks Roland if he’s seen this man recently.  He’s being sneaky again.  Roland begins to have a series of flashbacks, beginning from the time he was taken away to Heritage House, to the murders and the image of himself choking Tracy.  He begins throwing himself around in the chair and screaming.  Mulder tries in vain to calm him down as Tracy and the other resident watch, frightened.  Roland runs up the stairs and Tracy follows him as Scully and Mrs. Stodie come into the room to see what the commotion’s about.  I’m really surprised Mrs. Stodie hasn’t tried to forbid them from speaking to Roland at all, he always ends up in a state.  Roland locks himself into the bathroom again, then breaks the window and leaves the building.

MPLWIT.  Mulder hangs up a telephone and informs Scully that Dr. Nollette is already gone, and says they should arrange for a security guard to find him.  Scully reasons that they’re not going to get anybody to do anything based on Mulder’s theory about how and why Roland is committing these murders.  At least he’s not blaming things on “the whammy.”  Yet.  Mulder continues on about psychic connection being strongest between family members and especially twins.  Scully:  “Okay, maybe. But in this case, one sibling has closer ties to a frozen fudgesicle than he does to his own brother.”  Heee.  Mulder, undaunted, points out that Dr. Grable is not actually dead, he’s in a state of consciousness that no human has ever returned from, and goes on some more about his psychic connection theory.  Scully finally agrees that they need to speak to Dr. Nollette again and find out why Dr. Grable might want his colleagues dead.  They walk down the hall and we realize that Dr. Nollette has been listening to their conversation via security camera.  He looks thoughtful.

AFWIT.  Dr. Nollette is dressed to do some funky poaching and talks out loud to Arthur as he covers a keycard with a foil gum wrapper and scans it through the security keypad.  Wow.  The security in this place is seriously underwhelming.  Dr. Nollette smiles slightly as the door slides open.  He enters the room with the tanks o’ heads and uses a pen to punch in some stuff on Dr. Grable’s tank control pad.  The tempearature begins steadily rising as Dr. Nollette leaves the room.

Meanwhile, Roland is back at MPLWIT, writing equations furiously in a notebook.  He has a flash of the tank’s temperature gauge and looks around in confusion, and maybe a little discomfort, before going back to writing.

Scully is in an office somewhere pulling a sheet off a fax machine.  We find out for the ninetieth time that Arthur and Roland are twins, and she and Mulder have a conversation about twins that basically consists of info we learned in fifth grade so I’m not going to recap it.  They get a call from AFWIT and find out that someone tampered with Arthur’s tank and now Arthur’s getting all het up.

MPLWIT.  Roland is working on the computer outside the wind tunnel.  Roland doesn’t look so good.  He’s got sweat pouring off his face and appears to be in physical pain.  He keeps typing and the scene flashes several times between the temperature gauge on Dr. Grable’s tank and Roland typing.  Finally, Dr. Nollette enters the room.  He and Roland/Arthur argue back and forth about the project until Dr. Nollette pulls a gun on Roland, and Roland has a vision of Dr. Nollette in the wind tunnel.  Dr. N sits down at the computer and forgets to keep his eye on Roland as he studies the equation and realizes it’s complete.  Roland grabs a keyboard and whacks him over the head, knocking him out.

Outside, Mulder and Scully screech up to the door and flash their badges to gain entrance.  Meanwhile, Roland has pulled Dr. Nollette into the wind tunnel room and is starting the system up.  Mulder and Scully burst into the room and attempt to get Roland to shut the system down.  Mulder is yelling at him as Arthur, but Scully pleads with him as Roland to not let Dr. Nollette die.  Finally Roland sits down and punches in the number to stop the machine, just in time for Dr. Nollette to fly across the room and…land safely in the floor.  Everyone, except me who no longer cares that much, breathes a sigh of relief and Scully pats Roland on the back encouragingly.

Back at the Heritage House, Scully and Mulder explain to Mrs. Stodie that Roland will be held in psychiatric custody for evaluation.  Mrs. Stodie is understandably upset about Roland’s recent behavior, and wants to know if he’s going to be charged with a crime.  They reassure her that even though the D.A. hasn’t made a decision about that yet, they have recommended that Roland be returned to her care as soon as possible.  Mulder starts to share his theory with Mrs. Stodie about Arthur’s brain controlling Roland’s actions, but Scully steps in before he can finish his thought.  I wonder how Mrs. Stodie would react?  Given her job, I doubt she’d even bat an eye.  I’m sure she’s heard worse.  Heh.

Roland is upstairs, packing.  Tracy hesitantly enters his room and asks him where he is going, then when he doesn’t answer, pleads with him not to go.  Roland tells her he has to go.  Tracy, hurt, says “Okay, bye” and turns to leave.  Roland calls her back and hands her the jar of star stickers, which he keeps in his top drawer.  Tracy smiles, touched, and tells Roland she loves him as he passes by on the way out the door.  Roland:  “Me too.”  *sniff*  Roland gives a slight wave of goodbye to Mulder and Scully as he passes them in the hall, then stops in front of a mirror to brush his hair.  He pauses for a moment to stare at his reflection and let the music turn ominous, which doesn’t really make any sense since Arthur is now truly dead and isn’t going to be controlling him anymore, but whatever.  Roland turns away and leaves.

The end.  All in all, a decent ep.  The physics stuff bored me, and I found the doctors pretty ridiculous most of the time, but superb acting on the part of Zeljko Ivanek, who played Roland.  Wow, he’s been in a lot of stuff.  Oh and the gal who played Tracy?  Also played Ellen’s neighbor and friend, Joann, in the Season 3 ep 2Shy.  I never would have caught that one.  I love imdb.

I hope you all have enjoyed the recap!  I had fun writing it.  I may have to see what other S1 – S4 eps haven’t been claimed yet and try another one.  Or, use it as an excuse to buy the rest of the series so I’ll have more to choose from.  I like that idea.  Heh.