Re-Opening The X-Files: Born Again, Roland


Mulder: Why is it still so hard for you to believe, even when all the evidence suggests extraordinary phenomena?
Scully: Because sometimes …
Mulder: What?
Scully: … looking for extreme possibilities makes you blind to the probable explanation right in front of you.

As we enter the final stretch of episodes for season one, what strikes me most about these two installments is their commonalities.  Both deal with someone or something coming back from beyond the grave to seek revenge on the people who allegedly wronged that person and led to the end of their life.

Born Again

Or you could call is Chekov’s aquarium.

The episodes goes out of its way to have a shot that focus on the aquarium and Mulder’s interest in it.  This virtually assures us that the aquarium will play an important role in the stories resolution.

And it does.

Turns out a corrupt cop was killed at the exact same moment that the little girl in this episode was conceived.  He was able to leap over into her body and from time to time he can control her and use psychic powers.  From time to time he uses these to hunt down and hurt his three partners who betrayed him, including a Detective Fiore who just happened to have married his widow.

Now, I couldn’t help but think there was going to be something more made of the fact that Fiore and the wife were married now and this played into the revenge factor.   The script never really explores this avenue — probably because we have time better spent watching Mulder and Scully use some kind of new technology to pull an image off the videotape that appeared when the attempted to use regression therapy on the little girl.

There seem to be multiple installments in season one that involve someone coming back from beyond the grave to exact revenge and retribution on those who wronged them.  All that is missing here is an old friend, colleague or flame of one of our two heroes.


This one is a bit more interesting if only for the performance of Zeljko Ivanek as the title character.

Roland is a janitor as a research facility where scientist are trying to break the Mach 15 barrier.   Roland is also mentally challenged but seems to display the ability to understand the work being done here from time to time.

Turns out Roland had a twin brother who was killed and who worked at the facility.  The twin is able to use his link to Roland to take control of his body and enact his revenge.  Oh and write the solution to the problem the scientists are grappling with on a white board as well.

I saw this one repeated during the initial run of the show and thought it was a decent idea with an interesting set piece demise in the teaser (and boy is the teaser loooong!).  The teaser finds a scientist stuck in the room with an airplane motor and getting sucked inside to his doom.   It’s a long set-up for the pay-off (call it Chekov’s engine if you will) but it works fairly well.

The rest of the episode is largely similar to what we got in “Born Again” but with Ivanek delivering a performance that elevates the story.   Again, it’s a shame didn’t get Emmy love in its first year because Ivanek should have got a nomination for his work here.

The big drawback about these two installments is that Mulder and Scully really have no impact on how things play out.  Mulder is there to shoot our wacky theories and Scully is there to debunk them.  But as for them affecting how things play out, they don’t really do it.  They might as well be guest stars on their own show.

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Filed under Re-Opening the X-Files, review, The X-Files, TV review

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