Thursday, December 2, 2010

X-Files--"Miracle Man"

X-Files periodically delved into the fringe elements of Christianity, most notably faith healing, snake handling, and stigmata, with varying degrees of success. “Miracle Man” is the faith healing installment and the worst of the bunch. There is no real mystery to the story. When the final twist is revealed, I found myself enormously disappointed.

The episode begins ten years in the past during an apartment building fire. A man lying in a body bag outside has been burnt to death. Rev. Calvin Hartley brings his adopted son, Samuel, son to the body. Samuel does a laying on of hands tio bring the man back to life. Samuel becomes a major Benny Hinn style attraction healing the sick and wounded until recently when a young woman died as he touched her.

Mulder and Scully arrive in Tennessee in time for their tent revival. They bear witness to a wheelchair bound woman’s death as Samuel attempts to heal her. During the autopsy, Scully discovers she was poisoned, but Samuel, now in jail refuses to leave even though is clearly innocent. He opts to stay behind bars because he believes God is punishing him for lack of faith. That night, the sheriff lets a couple drunks in his cell to beat him up. Samuel dies from his wounds.

All right. So who poisoned the two women? Would you believe it is the burn victim he brought back to life a decade ago? He has grown weary of living so horribly scarred, so he wants Samuel to pay for the pain with which he has to live. Certainly, one can grow weary of living with a disability, particularly one as horrid as being completely burned from head to toe. But the episode never plausibly develops the guy is crazy enough to rationalize such a plot it just does not make sense.

An odd element is that Mulder sees his missing sister, Samantha, whenever Samuel is using his abilities. Samuel demonstrates the ability to do the cold questioning scam to convince people he has insight into their lives, as he does with Mulder at one point. But is mulder hallucinating, or is Samuel making him see her? It is never resolved whether Samuel actually has any abilities, for that matter. We have to assume he does, but since his adopted father is such a charlatan ought to fleece the faithful flock, who knows for certain?

The sheriff’s wife is a paraplegic. There is a certain vibe right on up through the time he sends the other prisoners in to beat Samuel to death he is angry the boy never healed her. That aspect does not go anywhere. It is not even a particularly good red herring, for that matter. But nothing is particularly good about “Miracle Man,” so I am not surprised.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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