wendelah1: (Scully's cross)
[personal profile] wendelah1 posting in [community profile] xfilesficrecs
Though it's not the worst episode of season one, "Miracle Man" doesn't work for me. It's a leaden mash-up of religious clichés and cultural stereotypes for everyone from the Evil Southern Sheriff to the Bitter Disabled Guy. The pacing is slow, the direction is pedestrian. The ending with its relentless Christian symbolism is heavy-handed and ambiguous. Okay, this is The X-Files; ambiguity does come with the territory. Sigh.

One fact which everyone, from fanfic writers to the Monster of the Week comics artist, Shaenon Garrity, seems to have missed is that this is not Mulder's case. Scully was asked to consult on it because of her medical background. They haven't been asked there to investigate the paranormal. But the writer's worst decision was to make this episode about Mulder's obsession with his sister, rather than about Scully questioning her faith--or lack of it. The Samantha angle feels contrived as hell, for one thing, designed only to make Mulder the focus of the episode rather than Scully.

Maybe this is why we never find out why Scully is so quick to dismiss Samuel Hartley's ability as a healer. Come on: She's the one wearing the cross around her neck. From her notes about the case: "Rather than simply killing Samuel, Vance contrived to kill the ministry's faith in him. We have conclusive evidence connecting him both to the courtroom infestation and to the poisoning deaths of three members of the ministry. Vance's obsession outlived Samuel, however. His conscience haunted him until he became delusory and finally took his own life, effectively ending our investigation." Okay. So far, so good.

Then she writes this: "In light of this information, it is highly doubtful that there have ever been any miracles in Kenwood, Tennessee." In light of what information? The evidence that solved the murders has nothing to do with the healings which Samuel Hartley was alleged to be responsible for. Why would Samuel Hartley be mentioned in the report at all except to say that he was exonerated? That report just made Scientist Scully look stubborn and myopic. Damn it, I hate that.

There is another unanswered question: Why is Mulder so ready to believe in Samuel? Are Mulder's visions of Samantha coming from Samuel—or not? It might have helped the writer's cause if this version of Samantha looked more like a normal little girl and less like a demon child. I don't know who to blame for the tacky red dress they have "Samantha" wearing--the costume designer or the art director. Mulder's final conclusion is arrived at too quickly by a guy who was chasing after apparitions all week. "I think people are looking hard for miracles...so hard that maybe they make themselves see what they want to see."

Fanfic Recs:

"Doubting Thomas" was originally posted to alt.tv.x-files.creative some time before November 1994, according to Fanlore. It was written by Pat Gonzales, "Keeper of the X-Files Creative FAQ" at the time. It's her only story archived on Gossamer; I have no idea whether it's the only fic she wrote. Just out of curiosity, I'm going to try to track down all of the fics on the list: 11/04/94.

Doubting Thomas by Pat Gonzales
Rated G | 15K | Category VA | Archived 95-03-24
Spoilers: Miracle Man
Keywords: (none specified by the author)
Summary: Mulder and Samuel Hartley meet again.

I could have saved this for "Closure," but unless you're watching for the first time and are avoiding spoilers for the rest of the series, there's no reason not to read this now. "Anima Sola" is one of my favorite Samantha Mulder stories. I particularly love the section that references "Miracle Man." This fic should have all the kudos but like most gen fic written in the past few years, it's been ignored in favor of MSR. I try not to be bitter, Wendelah mutters. TRY HARDER, the fandom advises.

Anima Sola (2426 words) by secondsflat
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The X-Files
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Samantha Mulder
Additional Tags: Angst, Closure, Paper Hearts, Conduit, Miracle Man, Colony, End Game, Episode: s04e05 The Field Where I Died, Character Study

Samantha, to Scully, is a collection of feelings.

Another from leiascully's The FBI's Most Unwanted.

Miracle Man (966 words) by leiascully
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The X-Files
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully
Additional Tags: Christianity, Miracles, Episode Related
Series: Part 20 of The FBI's Most Unwanted

He wondered if Scully felt she'd muddied the river of her faith, working with him.

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