September 2013 saw the 20th anniversary of the first airing of The X-Files. To celebrate this on The Hex Dimension, I’m providing you with retrospectives on episodes and I’ll also be covering the films at the points that they fit into the series’ chronology. So, without further ado… welcome to “Miracle Man”.
Compared to earlier episodes in the first season, this one certainly tackles the fervour of faith head-on. What’s more interesting are the ideas around faith healing that it explores, at least from an outsider looking-in perspective. Faith healing as a thing that certain Christian denominations are engaged in is only something that has become more visible in the UK since 2000, while it’s been something that’s been a thing in the US for much longer. And so this episode has always remained a little unusual for me.
As with much of The X-Files, this episode is centred on the themes and possibilities of belief. Where Mulder’s deep belief in the existence of aliens has been scary to see on screen several times earlier in the season, the fervour of the Christians depicted in this episode is equally as scary. The story of Samuel, a faith healer from the South introduces a man who’s as strong in his belief of God as Mulder is in his belief of what happened to his younger sister.
Of course what’s different with Samuel, other than the murder charges, is that Samuel is far more embedded in his phenomena than perhaps Mulder in his. The idea that their beliefs could coalesce like they do is an interesting play on the part of Howard Gordon and Chris Carter. Samuel saying that he can see into Mulder’s past as he does and the things that Mulder sees during the episode… it’s very interesting to have them playing off of each other as they do.
Scully being the more religious of the FBI agents remains the most sceptical during the episode, which is an interesting choice. I always get the feeling that Scully did not appreciate seeing her faith commoditised so – the vast amounts of money that the fictional ministry appears to rake in is perhaps her main source of displeasure. Plus she seems really agitated by Mulder’s continued ignorance of the logical explanations that are available.
“Mulder, don’t discount the power of suggestion. A healer’s greatest magic lies in the patient’s willingness to believe. Imagine a miracle and you’re halfway there. We learned that in med school,” is Scully’s main line embodying the above.
We don’t learn too much about Samuel’s life before he became a faith healer, other than the minister adopting him when he was a young child. However, the way Samuel is convinced to do what he does and as frequently as he does is one of the saddest parts of this episode. Samuel is used and a victim because of it.
The way the episode ends is somewhat anti-climactic. The character of Samuel is not revisited in the TV series and it’s a shame that he wasn’t.
What did you think of this episode? Let us know in the comments below.