The X-Files

Season 7 Episode 6

The Goldberg Variation

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 12, 1999 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
274 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Mulder and Scully are caught in a real-life Rube Goldberg device as they investigate a man cursed with extremely good luck since he survived a plane crash back in 1989. The man, Henry Weems, insists that he is never unlucky but he finds out that he cannot pass on his good luck to others without severe consequences to their part.moreless

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  • The Goldberg Variation

    The Goldberg Variation was another perfect episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was well written, intriguing and featured guest cast member Willie Garson as Henry Weems. It was awesome watching him win in poker with the criminals who then threw him off the roof! There were some touching moments as Henry tried to get money to help a sick boy he cared about. I liked how the story played out and it was fun watching Mulder and Scully debate and work together investigating the case. The ending was perfect! I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • The luckiest man in the world needs some help.

    Season 7 keeps its good episode streak alive with this episode that focuses on a man who seems to have a limitless amount of luck at his disposable but still manages to get himself in trouble. Mulder and Scully look into the report that a man was thrown off of a roof and somehow walked away from it without any visible injury. The man, Henry Williams, was getting lucky at poker with a known gangster and was thrown off the roof as a result. But due to a number of circumstances being arranged in the perfect order, he survives.

    I think what makes the episode so enjoyable is that we don't really understand what Henry is up to until about midway through the episode. At first, Henry just seems like this weird lonely recluse who builds strange Rube Goldberg contraptions and does nothing else with his life. But as Mulder and Scully begin to investigate a little bit more, they learn more and more about him, including that he's trying to get 100 grand to give to a neighbor who needs surgery right away.

    I thought for the most part, the episode did well. It seems like a pretty huge coincidence that Henry would be involved with the mobster at the beginning (I mean, if the guy has such good luck, why in the world would he go to a known criminal for that? It seemed like a way to conveniently create danger, because otherwise, the episode wouldn't be as effective). However, if one ignores that plot point, the rest of it works out well. Mulder and Scully really seem to have their relationship downpat, and they have great banter... and the Rube Goldberg inventions in real life were fun to watch as well.moreless
  • A nice, funny, sweet episode.

    This episode is particularly witty, Scully is unusually smartass and she is very restrained when Mulder gets a facefull of water.

    Henry's luck is fascinating, a series of events with an outcome which is in Henry's favour. You would imagine this would be a good thing but Henry quickly learned that a balance has to be maintained – for him to have good luck, someone else must have bad luck. An unscrupulous person would have taken advantage, not caring of the consequences but Henry deliberately isolates himself so that those around him don't suffer.

    Best quote: "Technically falling 300 ft and surviving isn't a crime."

    This is a very lovely, lighthearted episode, I liked it.moreless
  • Mulder and Scully track down a man who has immensly good luck!!

    The guy Henry Weems is a man who seems to be incapable of losing. But as good things happen to him, bad things tend to happen to the people around him. He thinks its a balance thing. He is friends with a young boy who is dying. Through seemingly impossibly lucky events he manages to survive attacks from several poker playing criminals and kill one of them who happens to be the same blood type as the boy who needs a doner soon if he wants to live basically. The best part of this episode - When Richies mother comes up to Mulder and asks him to help her with plumbing...he breaks it more, gets soaked and falls thorugh the floor!moreless
  • This was a great episode where the agents investigate a guy who seemingly has luck follow him wherever he goes!!

    This episode features a guy who has the incredible ability to be lucky, and who tries to use his good fortune to help out his neighbours son who has liver trouble. The episode starts with Weems playing in a high stake poker game, and he is the newby never having played before. The Mafia guy he is up against is none to happy at losing all his money to this guy and not being given a chance to win it back. So his goons take him to the roof and throw him off. Only for good fortune to step in and allow him to fall through an access door to a cellar and land on a padded surface. Although the fall was 30 floors and would kill or injure most, Weems walks away.

    There are lots of other good/funny parts to this episode but the best is when he plays the lottery (and wins) but has to wait for the prize money to come through. This doesn't suit as he needs it for hospital treatment for the kid. So he throws the ticket away.

    The guy behind him in the queue picks it up and thinks he's a winner. - Oops i forgot to mention, bad luck befalls anyone who interacts with Weems. Excellent!!moreless
Willie Garson

Willie Garson

Henry Weems

Guest Star

Alyson Reed

Alyson Reed

Maggie Lupone

Guest Star

Ramy Zada

Ramy Zada

Joe Cutrona

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Goof: Maurice (the convenience store proprietor) twice claims Henry's discarded lottery ticket, the first time when he says that anything in the trash "belongs to the store" and again when Mulder reports that Maurice told him that the punk's dying wish was for Maurice to keep it. In any case, Illinois law prohibits employees of lottery vendors from profiting off tickets sold where they work.

      Furthermore, there should have been no need for Henry to discard the ticket. Scratch-off games, whatever the winnings, in both Illinois (when the episode takes place) and Wisconsin (where the lottery ticket was from) always pay in lump sums, not installments. (In Illinois' multi-state lottery that features multi-million dollar payoffs, winners have the option of collecting in installments or a lump sum).

    • Error in Geography: Although the entire episode took place in Chicago, the lottery tickets sold at the convenience store were from the Wisconsin lottery.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Scully: For such a fortunate man, a lot of unfortunate things happen in Henry Weem's wake.

    • Scully: You okay, Mulder?
      Mulder: Yeah, it's all right. My ass broke the fall.

    • Mulder: C'mon, Scully. You're gonna dump this case just as it's getting interesting?
      Scully: Interesting, Mulder, was when we were looking for Wile E. Coyote.

    • Scully: So basically, what we're looking for is Wile E. Coyote...

    • Mulder: This man fell for 30 floors, plus the distance down the shaft because these doors just happened to be open. Straight through, nothing but net.
      Scully: Ouch.
      Mulder: I'm guessing that's what he said... after he got up, climbed out of here, scampered out into the night.

  • NOTES (2)

    • If Henry Weems looks familiar it is because Willie Garson also played "Roach" in the season 3 episode "The Walk."

    • This episode was too short, so they had to add a scene after the fact- the one where Mulder and Scully are in the car discussing the case. However, Gillian Anderson had already cut her hair significantly shorter for the next episode, so she had to wear a wig for the scene.


    • Scully: Interesting, Mulder, was when we were looking for Wile E. Coyote.
      Referencing the animated Warner Brothers character who is typically seen hunting his nemesis, the Road Runner. The coyote never speaks, and hunts the Road Runner primarily by ordering implausibly complex equipment from the Acme Corporation. Inevitably, the seemingly indestructible Coyote ends up squashed, burnt, or at the bottom of a canyon after falling.

    • Title: The Goldberg Variations

      "The Goldberg Variations" were special compositions of the work of J.S. Bach in the 1700's by a brilliant harpsichordist named Goldberg. Rueben (Rube) Lucius Goldberg (1888-1970) was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author. A trained engineer and accomplished artist, Goldberg's "inventions" were known for making simple tasks amazingly complex by utilizing dozens of arms, wheels, gears, handles, live animals, etc to accomplish something as simple as squeezing orange juice or closing a window. The name Rube Goldberg has become associated with any convoluted solution to perform a simple task. The board game 'Mousetrap' utilizes a Goldberg device as it's main feature.