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The X-Files: Miracle Man

Case: A series of deaths which apparently occurred at the hands of a young faith healer.

Destination: Kenwood, Tennessee

As the star of his adoptive father’s “Miracle Ministry,” Samuel Hartley has been miraculously healing the afflicted for the past 10 years, much to the chagrin of local authorities who believe the whole thing is a scam. When several of Samuel’s recent attempts at healing result in deaths, Scully and Mulder are called in to assist in the investigation. Mulder begins to suspect the boy is a legitimate psychic healer, after he “sees” Mulder’s long-held pain regarding his sister, but believes that the murders are the work of a third party.

“Miracle Man” is a perplexing episode. The story flow was awkward, and the ultimate answers to the basic “what the heck is going on here?” question didn’t seem to make any sense. Samuel appeared to be the real deal, but was done in by non-believers. At least, I think that’s what happened. Vance supposedly believed he was a false prophet and wanted to punish him, and the Sheriff believed he was a phony and wanted him dead because …?

It makes no sense to me that Vance would suddenly turn on Samuel and the ministry after 10 years. Why wait so long? If he was that miserable with his resurrected life, why keep being a featured player in the dog-and-pony show for 10 years? Did it really take him that long to decide Samuel was somehow evil? Even though he must have seen him perform countless miracles if the boy was legit (which the episode seemed to suggest he was)? This turn of events just didn’t ring true to me.

As for the Sheriff, what the heck was his deal? They made it seem like he was responsible for letting in the guys that murdered Samuel in his cell. Why would he do that? Was he that bothered by the possibility that the boy was an actual miracle worker? Was it that he couldn’t accept that he’d possibly denied his wife a miracle all these years? Would that really drive him to murder? I just don’t get it.

I was also irritated that they went to the “Mulder’s missing sister” well but didn’t do much with it besides pained looks and visions of a little girl in a red dress. He concludes that “I think people are looking hard for miracles. So hard that maybe they make themselves see what they want to see.” Okay. So Mulder is desperately hoping that his sister is miraculously still alive. This is news, how?

Other Thoughts

The exhumation sequence was incredibly cheesy. They made it look like zombie villagers were converging on the gravesite. Plus, why couldn’t they just continue with the exhumation and autopsy? Vance saying the ministry objected as the deceased’s family didn’t seem like a very solid legal position. The law should have been on the authorities’ side to continue.

Samuel’s ghost visiting Vance looked pretty darn ridiculous.

I don’t understand why Scully came to the conclusion that it was “highly doubtful that there have ever been any miracles in Kenwood, Tennessee.” Just because Vance poisoned the recent victims, why does that invalidate the earlier “miracle healings”?

Scott Bairstow, who played Samuel Hartley, went on to be featured in various television series, including Party of Five and Harsh Realm (a short-lived Chris Carter series including D.B. Sweeney and Terry O’Quinn).


Mulder: “The boy’s been performing miracles every week for the last 10 years. Twice on Sunday.”

Mulder: “People wanna believe, you know?”
Sheriff: “Ninety-nine percent of the people in this world are fools. And the rest of us are in great danger of contagion.”

Samuel: “Man gets too proud, sometimes it does him good to get the crap kicked out of him. Saves God the trouble.”

Scully: “I was raised a Catholic. And I have a certain familiarity with the scripture. And God never lets the Devil steal the show.”
Mulder: “You must have really liked The Exorcist.”
Scully (smiling and nodding): “One of my favorite movies.”

Scully: “Mulder, don’t discount the power of suggestion. A healer’s greatest magic lies in the patient’s willingness to believe. Imagine the miracle and you’re half way there.”

Final Analysis: A very weak episode featuring a convoluted story with a perplexing conclusion. Despite an attempt to incorporate some character beats by bringing up Mulder’s sister issues, the episode never really connects and ends up being entirely forgettable.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.


  1. Agree with you completely, Jess. The miracle healer story was done much, much better in the first season of Supernatural.

  2. Thanks for all the feedback, Chris. I've been enjoying your comments. Of course, they are also making me feel incredibly guilty that you are going to run out of reviews to read soon. I need to get back to XF soon to tackle S2. You know, after I get back to Farscape S2. And once I'm done with Eureka. And ...

    Sigh. I'm very jealous of your time to keep up with new stuff and indulge in oldies, but goodies.

  3. I must admit that I've been using the first season of X-Files as background. In other words, I watch with one eye while I am doing something else. Paperwork is just too tedious without some kind of distraction!

    Your reviews are fantastic! I will look forward to season two.

  4. I actually liked this episode. Had quite a few interesting characters. Thinking of that evangelist's sermons makes me

  5. should have had the word 'smile' on the end of that last post.

  6. I'm with the above poster, I liked this one... Even if it's not one I'm likely to revisit it breezed by really quickly compared to the others in this latest batch I've watched.


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