210.6 The K Files | The Miracle of Scully in ‘Milagro’ | The X Files 201 Days Rewatch

milagro


210.6 The K Files | The Miracle of Scully in ‘Milagro’ | The X Files 201 Days Rewatch


Milagro is one of the few episodes I did not watch live during the run of the original series, which means I have seen it fewer times than others in the bunch. Perhaps this is why I never truly understood the meaning of ‘Milagro’ until the glory of the Rewatch.

Milagro’s achievements are multi-faceted. Written by Chris Carter, summoning his most elegant prose in service of a deeper understanding of our beloved Danacakes, and directed with equal grace by the late Kim Manners, this episode offers a layer cake of a story which progresses both characters (especially Scully) emotionally, meditates on the nature of love, inspiration, and what it means to create, while also serving up some top notch performances from Ms. Anderson and guest star John Hawkes as Philip Padgett.

Personally, I find Milagro to be one of the most unique and surprising stories in all of X-Filesdom, especially poignant given its puzzling messages about art and the act of creation. Let’s investigate.

If Arcadia was a Mulder story or a Mulder dream, then Milagro is most certainly a Scully vehicle. Similar to Mulder in Arcadia, Scully progresses through an emotional journey in the episode during which she faces her fears, which (per the usual) revolve around her relationship with Mulder.

In previous blog on Arcadia, I mentioned that the monsters in this sixth season express Mulder and Scully’s anxieties more deeply than previous, mostly over their changing relationship. Scully sees not one but a few anxieties play out in this episode, though those anxieties are hard to pin down until later in the episode in a way that mirrors  the character’s own lack of understanding about her emotions. The writer explains it perfectly: “Motive is never easy – sometimes it occurs to one only later.”

Scully only finally addresses this concern aloud when Mulder disregards her ideas about the significance of the milagro token Padgett sends. It’s a double whammy: Mulder also takes Scully’s time for granted by scheduling an appointment for her without asking. She pathologically rebels against Mulder (and historically other male figures in her life) when he assumes her time and takes her for granted, understandably, and in this time in the arc of their relationship, it’s playing to fears she’s having, as her life adheres even more inextricably to Mulder’s.

The writer negates Scully in a similar way and does something expressed in an earlier voiceover sequence as rankling to Scully – he regards her as merely a beautiful woman, rather than a fully formed person with her own thoughts and emotions, who of course would participate in a torrid love scene with him.

What Scully gleans from this encounter pokes another sore spot:  Her disappointment and resignation expressed over learning that this story isn’t about her really, it’s about a man and his feelings superseding all the massive emotional things happening to Scully. She worries that her identity is being shaped in counter to another person’s, rather than as a result of her boldly following her own path. She doesn’t want to misplace her divine loyalty. Again the show is quietly asking if Mulder is a worthy cause. To put it in the terms of the episode, is Scully’s devotion to Mulder drawing her closer to creation or destruction?

Milago is the Spanish word for miracle, and I think there is a writing miracle achieved in this episode. I realized watching that it is only through Scully’s pure belief in Mulder’s cause that steers them toward creation. That only through her love is his cause rendered undeniably worthy. The miracle of Scully.

What’s really interesting, is we do not learn whether or not Scully actually learned this lesson, due to the jarring ending. I feel like there’s a final scene missing where we see how the character has been changed by her journey. The last moment on screen Scully appears deeply affected by her experience – perhaps the explosion of emotion while in the safety of Mulder’s arms allowed for a powerful catharsis from which she will emerge, like St. Margaret Mary, triumphant, infinitely powerful. Or more likely and more realistically – Scully isn’t quite ready for the relationship’s consummation. She’s not done fighting her own monsters yet. But then again, as evidenced by Arcadia, neither is Mulder.

x files milagro

In addition to writing feats of wonder, the story within a story of St. Margaret Mary gets at the message of the episode, which is really what Scully embodies on the show: the circle of power that is love, creation, and death. It’s one of my favorite truths in all of The X-Files. Margaret Mary’s belief was so strong that she miraculously survived the experience of having her heart removed from her chest. She learned that love was a furnace with endless fuel to override death. This is Scully, unfaltering in her faith and fealty to her belief in the truest truths, which in turn give her power over death (there are a number of other clues in the show that point to Scully is immortal, such as being associated with the ouroboros and her recent encounter in Tithonus).

Symbolically, we can also read this as a helpful sign on the hero’s path provided by Chris Carter: Scully’s character shows how to be actually immortal. That in loving truly you transcend death to achieve renewal and endless life.

Other evidence worth evaluating:

Just like in previous episode Post Modern Prometheus, a writer character is given power over real life in Padgett. We are shown this power in Padgett’s first Scully musings. Scully’s part in the story really begins for us when she receives the token from the writer. Then, via the voiceover, the writer’s version of Scully appears – normal Scully made almost holy by his words. Transformed.

My favorite Chris Carter bon mots from this episode: Describing Scully’s “errant strand of titian hair,” and, “Words are imprecise: The signs of things, not the things themselves.”

The story of the writer is a compelling parable in and of itself. A psychic surgeon’s “hands are the tools of God.” The writer is the pyschic surgeon going into the heart of his characters. He sees that he’s misguided and that his love is tainted – he seeks to offer his own heart but only takes others instead. That’s what happens when your hands are not the tools of a benevolent god. If you are not a creator, but a destroyer.

x files milagro pp

The writer’s fatal flaw is revealed by his killer character: “That’s not a reason, it’s an excuse.” The writer’s motives are not worthy. He did it to meet girls, he realizes, a little too late. He uses his divine gifts, his holy hands, in service of an unworthy cause. Writers are the characters in their stories, playing out the strange sights seen in their dreams, in the dark corners of their psyche. This writer saw the truth about himself and was horrified enough to kill himself. This last act of destruction transforms surprisingly, miraculously,  into an act of true, unselfish love which gives Scully more life.

Milagro is aptly named. A special round of applause to Chris Carter and story scribes John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz on this one.

If you love the original art at the top of the page, check out Kryzzalia Lopez’s other work. Her crime scene renderings will continue to be submitted as evidence in our continuing mission to explore every story mystery on The X Files.

Keep checking in with The K Files as we furiously investigate The X Files 201 Days Rewatch  from our lush basement office. The MSR is reaching a fever pitch – stay tuned to our full coverage of every nuance and gaze.

 

x files - i still want

 

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210.6 The K Files | The Miracle of Scully in ‘Milagro’ | The X Files 201 Days Rewatch


 

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