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Recap / The X-Files S01 E18 "Miracle Man"

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Season 1, Episode 18:

Miracle Man
"Pray with me."
Written by Chris Carter & Howard Gordon
Directed by Michael Lange

Rev. Hartley: But I say to you that what the doctors cannot cure, the Lord can.
Crowd: AMEN!
Rev. Hartley: Yes, indeedy, praise God! Because God can work miracles. Today the clear light of God's healing love is flowing through Samuel's healing hands.

Ten years ago, Calvin Hartley's adoptive son Samuel raised a man, Leonard Vance, from the dead after a car crash. Now, the three of them run a faith-healing tent ministry. When one of the people Samuel heals goes on to die soon after, Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate. They find Samuel to be a mess of guilt, feeling that his power has been corrupted as punishment for wavering from the straight and narrow, while convincing Mulder that he's the real deal by telling him about his lost sister Samantha. Meanwhile, they encounter hostility from the townspeople who follow the Hartleys — and a seemingly sympathetic voice in Sheriff Daniels, who believes that the Hartleys are frauds.



  • Back from the Dead: Leonard is resurrected by Samuel in the prologue and it's implied that Samuel did the same to himself at the end.
  • Corrupt Church: Subverted. The Hartleys' entire setup initially looks like a stereotypical phony faith-healing scheme, complete with blatant encouragement of monetary donations. As it turns out, not only is Samuel's ability real, his foster father is a truly faithful man who genuinely cares for him. It's Sheriff Daniels who's portrayed in a poor light for his commitment to the idea that Samuel is a fraud.
  • Dirty Cop: Sheriff Daniels. He arranges for Samuel to be beaten to death in his cell.
  • Doing In the Wizard: While Samuel's powers are real, the cause of the deaths is completely mundane — Leonard was poisoning people with cyanide. He also orchestrated the plague of locusts in the courtroom, and it's implied that his vision of Samuel's ghost was a hallucination caused by his guilt.
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  • Driven to Suicide: Leonard, due to a mixture of his guilt over the murders and what may or may not be Samuel's ghost calling him out for them.
  • Elvis Lives: Mulder's joke.
    Scully: Maybe we should head backstage and see what the Reverend has to say.
    Mulder: No, wait, wait, this is the part where they bring out Elvis.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Sheriff Daniels is absolutely convinced that the Hartleys are frauds, to the point of refusing to let his wheelchair-bound wife visit them. When Samuel winds up in jail, he happily throws two thugs into his cell to beat him to death.
  • The Fundamentalist: Samuel is a tragic example. He guilt over perceived sin makes him an easy mark for Leonard.
  • Gaslighting: Leonard was doing this to Samuel, killing the people he healed and unleashing a horde of locusts in the courtroom to get him to think that God was punishing him for sin.
  • Healing Hands: Samuel can heal people by touch alone, or at least he used to.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Samuel can heal people and even bring them Back from the Dead, is killed by corrupt authorities, and may have come Back from the Dead soon after. Remind you of anyone?
  • The Swarm: A plague of locusts attacks the courtroom where Samuel is standing trial. It was actually caused by Leonard.
  • Unwanted Revival: Leonard resents how, even though he was revived, he was left disfigured by burn scars. This was his motivation for turning against the Hartleys and trying to discredit their ministry.

"I think people are looking hard for miracles ... so hard that maybe they make themselves see what they want to see."