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"The Goldberg Variation" is the sixth episode of the seventh season of The X-Files. Originally airing on the Fox network on December 12, 1999, the episode was written by Jeffrey Bell and was directed by Thomas J. Wright.

The Goldberg Variation is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc. It is also the last episode of The X-Files aired before the new millennium.


Mulder and Scully encounter a man who is cursed by extraordinarily good luck.



Mulder finds Henry Weems by accident.

A man wins $100,000 playing poker against a mobster named Joe Cutrona. Cutrona attempts to kill him by throwing him off the 29th story of a building. After he lands, he stands right back up and walks away, completely uninjured. Two agents in a car stationed outside witness the event so Mulder and Scully take the case, with Mulder believing the man has the ability to cure himself, but Scully thinks he may just be very lucky. The man is Henry Weems, a handyman at an apartment building. Mulder finds him by getting water sprayed at him and falling through the floorboard. Mulder then dries his hair with a towel. Mulder agrees with Scully after meeting Weems, stating that his luck is the X-File.


Unlucky Joe Cutrona enforcer.

Then, Cutrona's enforcer comes to kill Weems but is killed by accidentally shooting a lamp, that knocks over an ironing board, trips over the ironing board, and ends up getting tied up in a fan. Weems is obsessed with Rube Goldberg Machines and his apartment is filled with them. He also was the sole survivor of a commuter jet that killed 20 people in December 1989, where he was placed in Seat 13 of Flight 7 (lucky numbers).


Rube Goldberg machine that Henry Weems made for Richie.

Weems picks up a lottery ticket and wins $100,000 but learns that it would take 12 months to get the money, so he throws the ticket away. A man picks the ticket out of the trash and is then hit by a truck after Weems warned him that "something bad will happen". Later, Mulder comes to question Weems again and another one of Cutrona's enforcers comes to kill Weems but his bullet ricochets off Weems' pocket knife and kills the enforcer. Weems has been finding a way to get this $100,000 for treatment of a serious illness of a boy in his apartment building, Richie, which has brought him to the mobsters. It appears that Henry's lucky streak ends and he is hit by a car. Cutrona kidnaps Richie's mom Maggie to stop Henry from testifying against him. Henry is also taken but all the mobsters are killed and it turns out that Cutrona is an organ donor and a perfect match for Richie.



Background Information[]


  • 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.
  • The title refers to Goldberg Variations. "The Goldberg Variations" were special compositions of the work of J.S. Bach in the 1700s 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 its main feature.


  • 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 (where 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 multimillion dollar payoffs, winners have the option of collecting in installments or a lump sum).
  • Although the entire episode took place in Chicago, the lottery tickets sold at the convenience store were from the Wisconsin lottery.
  • Although the entire episode is said to be set in Chicago, the opening scene wherein Henry is thrown off of the building following the poker game clearly shows the US Bank Tower, which is an easily recognized landmark and the tallest building in Los Angeles.
  • Although Weems supposedly has a prosthetic eye, there was no compensation for that in the episode. When someone has a prosthetic eye, it doesn't move around when they look in different directions, as Weems' does.

Cast and Characters[]



Guest Starring


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