September 27, 2015

The X-Files 1.18, Miracle Man: Touched

Posted in TV tagged at 3:10 pm by Jenn

Poor Samuel doesn't even get his name above the title

Poor Samuel doesn’t even get his name above the title

Summary: There’s been a car accident in Kenwood, Tennessee, in 1983. A man brings a young boy to one of the victims. The boy takes the victim’s hand and starts talking about separating light and darkness, and people rising up. The supposedly dead victim isn’t so dead anymore. In the present, Scully shows Mulder footage of a tent revival service. Mulder’s already familiar with the people involved – Reverend Calvin Hartley and his adopted son Samuel, an alleged faith healer.

The agents give some exposition: Hartley claims to have found Samuel on a riverbank when he was a baby. As a child, Samuel supposedly brought someone back from the dead. Now he heals people through touch every week. Recently, though, he was accused of murder. The footage shows Samuel attempting to cure a woman’s cancer. Just minutes later, she was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead, but not of cancer.

Mulder and Scully head to Tennessee for the next healing service. A sheriff leaves his wife in their van while he checks things out. But things end before they can start – Samuel’s unable to make it to this service. His father announces that he’ll be back in two days for a super-special miracle mission. Scully wants to go backstage, but Mulder would like to wait and see if someone brings out Elvis.

As Hartley leaves, Scully and Mulder flag him down, asking to meet Samuel. Hartley admits that he doesn’t know where his son is. His assistant, who’s wearing about an inch of makeup on his face, hurries him off. The agents then meet the sheriff, Daniels, who complains that the Hartleys use the money from Samuel’s miracles for material things, rather than helping their town. He’s on Team Samuel’s Killing People.

Scully notes that no autopsies have been performed on the people Samuel’s supposedly healed. Daniels says that Hartley has gotten them blocked on “religious grounds” (and the coroner is a big Hartley fan). The agents are able to get the bodies exhumed, but a band of believers (led by Vance, Hartley’s assistant) descends on the cemetery. The Miracle Ministry considers itself the latest victim’s family, so they should be able to stop the exhumation.

Before the agents can put up a fight, Daniels tells them that Samuel’s car was seen downtown. They abandon the exhumation and head to a bar where Samuel was just in a fight. He doesn’t seem to object to being arrested for murder; he’d just like to finish his beer first. Mulder asks what evidence the sheriff has against him anyway. Daniels says that they know Samuel killed his latest victim; the investigation will focus on how.

Samuel agrees to talk to Mulder and Scully, babbling about guilt and innocence and pride. That pride allowed the devil to mess with him. “God has given me a special gift,” Samuel says. “Did he buy you all that jewelry, too?” Scully replies. Samuel accuses her of lacking faith. He insists that he can see people’s pain – he saw it in the woman with cancer, and he can see it in Mulder. He knows Mulder’s pain is related to a sibling.

Samuel continues that Mulder had a sister who was taken by strangers. If Mulder had come by earlier, Samuel would have been able to help him, but now his power is gone. As Samuel is arrested, he tells Mulder that God watches His flock and gives answers every day. Mulder needs to keep his eyes open. Samuel’s bail hearing goes poorly because the defendant himself doesn’t want to be released. As the judge sets bail at $100,000, the courtroom is swarmed by grasshoppers. Samuel’s like, “See what I said about y’all not having faith?”

Scully studies a grasshopper as Mulder reads about the plague of locusts in the Bible. She thinks a swarm of insects is normal for the area. Mulder, of course, believes Samuel’s for real. A bunch of people went to him for treatment and were cured after being told they couldn’t be. Scully says there’s a medical precedent for spontaneous healing.

Vance summons the agents to the Hartleys’ house, where Hartley insists that Samuel’s innocent. “His power comes from his ability to feel,” but not everyone sees that as a gift. Scully wonders why Daniels thinks the Miracle Ministry is a fraud. Hartley reveals that Daniels’ wife has an incurable condition, so Daniels is just annoyed that Samuel can’t help her. Mulder spots a little girl outside and runs out to find her, but no one’s seen her. Samuel watches him from a window.

Vance greets a family at a healing service, promising to try to get a woman named Margaret placed in the front row. Backstage, Hartley encourages Samuel not to forsake his gift. As a preacher, Hartley uses his gift, but it’s nowhere near as important as the miracles Samuel performs. The Hartleys and Vance say a prayer before Samuel makes his appearance.

Mulder and Scully are in attendance as the service begins, and Scully can’t help herself from noting that an offering’s being taken. Hartley introduces Vance as a man who saw the face of God but was left on Earth to continue God’s work. Vance says he owes his life to Samuel, so I guess he was the guy in the car accident in the first scene?

As Samuel takes the stage, Mulder spots the little girl and chases after her again. Samuel prays with Margaret and her family, but after a minute she has a seizure. Scully examines her, but it’s too late – Margaret’s dead. The believers follow her body to the hospital, where Vance leads a prayer for her. Scully learns that Margaret had MS but had never had a seizure before. She thinks Margaret had an embolism, and there was foul play. She asks Margaret’s father to agree to an autopsy.

While Margaret’s parents confer, Scully tells Mulder that she was raised Catholic. She knows that “God never lets the devil steal the show.” Mulder recognizes this as a line from The Exorcist. She asks him about his strange behavior at the service, but he just says he thought he saw someone he knew. Scully guesses that he keeps thinking he sees his sister. Mulder denies that he’s delusional. Scully agrees – he’s just a victim of the power of suggestion.

Margaret’s parents approve the autopsy, so Scully gets to it. She thinks Margaret died from a lack of oxygen to her cells, possibly because she was poisoned. Mulder heads to the police station and asks Samuel straight out if he poisoned Margaret. Samuel says he didn’t, but he still takes responsibility for Margaret’s death.

Mulder thinks Samuel’s punishing himself for not being able to save people. He knows a jury won’t find him guilty. Mulder asks Samuel to examine his pain again, and though Samuel says he can’t do that anymore, Mulder knows he’s lying. He asks if Samuel made Samantha appear, then if Samantha’s alive, or if it was a trick. “A trick of the devil?” Samuel asks with a smirk. Mulder requests that Daniels release Samuel from lockup – he doesn’t think Samuel’s killing people.

A deputy lets two men into Samuel’s cell, where they beat him up. The next day, a deputy goes to Daniels’ house to tell him that Samuel’s dead. The story is that two people were picked up for rowdy behavior and beat Samuel while they were sharing a cell. No one’s allowed into the building. Scully notes that Mulder has a look on his face like he lost his keys and is trying to figure out how to get back in the house.

The agents break in and, after Mulder sees grasshoppers in an air vent, they head to the roof. Mulder realizes that there’s a trail of food from the ventilation system to the courtroom. He thinks whoever left it was responsible for the grasshoppers and the murders. Elsewhere, Vance has a vision of Samuel, who accuses him of the murders. Vance appears to be unhappy with the life he’s had to live for the past ten years, though he’s only alive thanks to Samuel.

Mulder, Scully, and Daniels head to the Hartleys’ house with a warrant to investigate Vance. They were able to connect him to a pesticide containing cyanide. By the time they get to Vance’s room, he’s drunk cyanide and is babbling about betraying Samuel. He insists that Samuel appeared to him and forgave him. Vance takes one last breath and dies.

Sometime later, Scully types up her field report, stating that Vance tried to sabotage the ministry from the inside. Scully doesn’t think Samuel ever performed any miracles. But the case isn’t over: Daniels calls to tell the agents that Samuel’s body has disappeared from the morgue. An employee claims that she saw Samuel walk out. Daniels isn’t sure what to tell his wife after all these years of insisting that Samuel was a fraud. Also, the DA has some questions for him about Samuel’s death.

Mulder and Scully head back to the service site, wondering if Hartley will continue his ministry even without Samuel. Scully hopes that Hartley didn’t take his son’s body to make everyone believe another miracle occurred. Mulder thinks he sees Samantha again, but this time, instead of chasing after her, he heads back to D.C. with Scully.

Thoughts: Samuel is played by Scott Bairstow, Ned from Party of Five.

Hartley’s license plate: B HEALD. Well, it’s no 1BRUCE1.

This episode could have been done a lot better. They didn’t spend enough time on things that should have been better developed. Where did Samuel come from? When did he start exhibiting his ability to heal? Why didn’t we get more about Daniels and his wife? Was Daniels ever a suspect because he resented the ministry? Actually, was anyone other than Samuel ever a suspect? There wasn’t much of a murder investigation there.

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2 Comments »

  1. BSCAG said,

    “Scully notes that no autopsies have been performed on the people Samuel’s supposedly healed”

    I know you mean “and who died” but this makes me think “Cause of death: autopsy.’ 😀

    I found this a very interesting episode, although you’re right, it could have been done better.

    • Jenn said,

      HA! I guess I shouldn’t have assumed that was a given.


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