Re-Opening The X-Files: Miracle Man, Shapes, Darkness Falls

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Come on, Scully, it’ll be a nice trip to the forest.

Miracle Man

Two episodes in a row have a connection to my home state of Tennessee.  First up, we had the trucker on the road, listening to the Opry on WSM in “E.B.E.” and now we’ve got a small town with its own miracle worker.

This won’t be the last time the show pays a visit to the Volunteer State.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“Miracle Man” is an episode with an interesting idea, though it’s not extremely well executed.   Watching it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Steve Martin film Leap of Faith and wondering if Samuel’s ability to heal might not be revealed to have started out as a scam but became something different.

The episode does try to tie in some continuity items — Mulder’s visions of the girl who may or may not be Samantha.  And we’re introduced to Scully’s faith — something which will become a major factor in the series and her character as we get deeper into the series and the overall mythology.

And yet beyond that, there’s not much else to really recommend about this one.  It’s a decent hour, but not a great one.

Shapes

Of course, “Miracle Man” looks like a classic compared to “Shapes.”

Take one part Native American folklore and one part werewolf folklore, blend it together and you’ve got…well, this episode.

The best thing I can say for it is it looks really nice.   David Nutter directs the episode and it really looks visually striking.   Well, except for the portions where we get to see the werewolf for any length of time.

It’s a fairly pedestrian outing, though I believe that this was one of the first hours of the show I saw back in the summer after season two.  I recall being fairly unimpressed then and I’m still unimpressed now.

Darkness Falls

In college, I had a roommate who swore by this episode.  Every time we’d start talking about the show, he’d ask if I’d seen the one  with the bugs.   (Maybe he didn’t bring it up every time, but he did bring it up a lot and he was very enthusiastic about it).   This may be why when I finally did get to say it, I was a bit underwhelmed.

Or maybe it was because I felt like we got this one done better earlier in the year with “Ice.”

We’ve got our agents in an isolate region, facing some kind of threat that has been released by humanity.   In this case, it’s a bunch of bugs who don’t like the light and were released by loggers clear cutting the forest.

Writer Chris Carter says that the environmental message in this one was unintended and that the storyline came from his interest in tree rings from his college days.    I’ll take him at his word, but the message does seem relatively clear and fairly straightforward.

Visually, the mites are very striking with their green glow and their swarming around people.  I think this is what makes the episode so memorable and why it struck a nerve with a lot of fans back in the day.

But to be honest with you, it’s not a favorite of mine.  There’s a great scene with Mulder and Scully after Mulder trusts a professed eco-terrorist to go for help and take what little gas they have left.   There’s a sense of dread and paranoia at times, but honestly it all worked much better in “Ice.”   In fact, the whole reason to not trust each other worked better and it feels like the story has to come up with manufactured reasons to create Mulder/Scully tension.

It’s not a terrible episode by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s just one that I feel is a bit overrated by certain X-Philes.

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Filed under Re-Opening the X-Files, review, The X-Files, TV review

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