Sarah Blair begins the ultimate X-Files countdown of all 209 episodes, starting from the very bottom to the top as voted by you, with Season 1 Episode 18, ‘Miracle Man’…
Here we have it, the one and only episode of The X-Files to come through with zero votes. To be quite honest, I thought there would have been more episodes to surface empty-handed. I most definitely never would have guessed the one to obtain this dubious honor would be ‘Miracle Man.’
Certainly, there are many endeavors over the course of the show that didn’t quite pan out the way Chris Carter and crew might have liked. Not all of them can be winners. With a breakneck production schedule, as well as monetary and network challenges, honestly, it’s a wonder The X-Files was able to pull off as many spectacular episodes that it did. But out of all of them, I feel like ‘Miracle Man’ is deserving of at least one vote.
As episode 18 of the first season, this marks the first ever writing collaboration between the show’s creator Chris Carter and producer Howard Gordon. In this standalone, agents Mulder and Scully travel to a small town in Tennessee to investigate a death in a popular tent ministry. The son of the minister is said to have the power to heal the sick, but his gift of life seems to have turned into the touch of death. Upon a re-watch, it seems there are a lot of ideas trying to be dealt with in a short amount of time. And isn’t that somewhat typical for the episodes penned by Carter? A great man with big ideas and not enough time and space to flesh them out properly. There’s the overarching theme of faith, along with Samuel’s struggle with his gift, and Mulder’s search and longing for his sister thrown in for good measure. All topics which could have been singled out and honed in on to craft a more memorable viewing experience.
One of only four episodes in the series directed by Michael Lange, it’s relatively straightforward, focusing mostly on the story rather than any spectacular visual effects. Not to mention, there was the giant hurdle of trying to make-over several Vancouver locations meant to represent Tennessee, and the fact that the Canadian actors all had a different idea of what a Southern American accent sounds like. (Side note: As a girl born and raised in Tennessee, I can tell you not one of them came close to sounding like a true Tennessean, but I applaud the effort.)
The moments where Mulder clings to the idea of discovering more about what might have become of his sister, and Scully rushing in to prevent him from having the wool pulled over his eyes are strong in establishing the foundation of each character and the relationship between them as partners and friends. Overall, this is where I believe the episode obtains most of its value.
Is ‘Miracle Man’ an outstanding or memorable episode? Not particularly. But it doesn’t entirely lack merit, and it deserves at least one point—if only for participation.
Sheriff Daniels: “99% of the people in this world are fools, and the rest of us are in danger of contagion.”
Mulder: “I think I saw some of these same people at Woodstock.”
Scully: “Mulder, you weren’t at Woodstock.”
Mulder: “I saw the movie.”
Scully: “You’ve got that look on your face, Mulder.”
Mulder: “What look is that?”
Scully: “The kind when you’ve forgotten your keys and you’re trying to figure out how to get back in the house.”
Our blog team also decided to rank the show based on their own lists, so here’s what they picked in 209th place:
Tony: “BABYLON. For years it would probably have been ‘Fearful Symmetry’, but this was just absolute indefensible guff. Rampantly pretentious, borderline offensive in its approach to racial politics, and nonsensical while trying to be profound – Mulder’s acid trip is just about the worst idea the show ever did, and this show did invisible elephants and space ghosts. This episode can fuck the fuck off until the end of time.”
Andrew: “BABYLON. Shallow, terrible, terrible dialogue, terrible characterization, just terrible on absolutely every single front. No mystery here. Just Chris Carter at his absolute worst. This episode makes ‘Fight Club’ look like a Marx brothers’ masterpiece. Warning: The Mulder dance sequence may induce vomiting.”
Paige: “3. It’s an easy target — an early ep without Scully. But there’s just nothing remotely likeable about this one. It utilizes dozens of standard vampire conventions with the added hubris of casting David Duchovny’s then-girlfriend so Mulder can get some.”
Carl: “FIGHT CLUB. Mulder gets sucked into a storm drain and misses part of the action during this episode, and to be honest I was somewhat envious. It’s a screechingly unfunny, tonally incoherent mishmash of an X-File with nothing to recommend about it. Doppelgängers are clearly something that interest Carter, but he found much better ways to incorporate them into other episodes.”
Sarah: “THE TRUTH 1 &2. A ridiculous and unfulfilling finale as far as series finales go. It’s the one and only episode on the show I’ve taken a solemn vow to never watch again. I’d like to live in my little bubble and pretend it doesn’t even exist. It was a great relief when we got the second film and a much more satisfying ending.”
Do you agree with this episode ranking? Let us know what you would put in this spot on Facebook, Twitter or via comments below!