Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Episode Review: "Miracle Man" (1x17)

As part of the countdown to the premier of the new episodes on January 24, I will be posting (or reposting) some episode reviews. The episode for today in the 204-day rewatch schedule is "Miracle Man."

I already posted this review a couple of weeks ago on the Top Ten Religious X-Files page, but I am reposting it here.

Miracle Man (1x17)
Original airdate: 03/18/94
Written by: Howard Gordon and Chris Carter
Directed by: Michael Lange


Samuel Hartley is predominantly a Christ figure in this episode, but he also has connections with other biblical figures. Reverend Hartley’s claim to have found Samuel as an infant in the tall weeds of the banks of the Mississippi River recalls the story of Moses. But Samuel’s name, his apparently motherless youth, and his calling by God as just a child recall his biblical namesake, Samuel the son of Hannah (1 Samuel 1-3). (In terms of The X-Files, there is also the irony of Samuel’s name, Sam, and its similarity to the name of Mulder’s sister, Samantha, whom Mulder believes that he keeps seeing after Samuel mentions her to him. However, this connection may not be intentional, since Samantha is never mentioned by name.)

Several aspects of Samuel’s story parallel that of Jesus: he can heal with a simple touch, even bringing people back from the dead; he is falsely arrested by authorities who are determined to convict him regardless of his innocence and lack of adequate proof or witnesses against him; he accepts the claim of guilt rather than trying to defend himself; he is beaten while in custody (with his arms extended, as if on a cross); he dies, his body is later missing, and he is seen alive by several people after his death. In the final scene, Mulder quips, “The boy did rise from the dead. That kind of thing happens only once or twice every two thousand years or so” (referring back, of course, to the resurrection of Jesus Christ).

As the first of the religion-centered episodes on The X-Files, this episode allows the first glimpse of Scully’s Catholic background and her willingness to believe in miracles but not religious fraud, and a rare glimpse of Mulder’s openness to the possibility that someone with radical Christian beliefs may have genuine supernatural or even spiritual abilities. When Samuel asks Scully if she doubts God’s power, and she doesn’t hesitate to say no. She doubts Samuel, not God. Mulder, on the other hand, doesn’t claim any belief in God, but he does believe in Samuel’s ability, even though Mulder might explain it in terms of Eastern medicine or psychic healing instead. This offers an interesting division of belief between the two of them: they each still represent opposing viewpoints, but unlike some later episodes, it is not that Scully believes the religious characters whereas Mulder is hostile to them; rather, they each believe one aspect and are skeptical of another aspect of the characters’ claims.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rewatching the Entire Series

If you haven't yet launched into a rewatch of the entire X-Files series, it's not too late to start now! On July 4, many fans started a rewatch including all 202 episodes ("The Truth" originally aired as one episode but is numbered as two) and both movies, counting down to the premier of season 10 on January 24. On July 7, FOX initiated their own rewatch schedule, "201 Days of The X-Files," which treats the final episode as one and does not include the movies.

Now that our summer discussion series on The X-Files has concluded, I have posted my episode reviews for Miracle Man, Revelations, All Souls, Signs & Wonders, and Improbable. Over the next few months, I also intend to post reviews for Die Hand Die Verletzt, Gethsemane, Amor Fati, The Gift, and I Want to Believe. In light of the rewatch, I figure the best time to post each of these is on their day during the countdown. However, since the FOX schedule omits the movies, I'm going to follow the fan schedule that started on July 4.

Enjoy the rewatch!