X-Files Flashback: ‘Revelations’


Season 3, Episode 11
Director: David Nutter
Writer: Kim Newton

Any episode of The X-Files that stars R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket) as a preacher who may or may not have stigmata is alright by me. That said, it’s even better when it attempts to merge consistent theming with a deeper exploration of Mulder and Scully. So, naturally, I very much responded to “Revelations,” an episode that nearly eschews plot mechanics (it doesn’t, but it definitely takes a backseat) in favor of growing Mulder and Scully as characters.

The episode begins with Ermey standing in front of his rapt congregation giving an intense sermon. At its conclusion, he casts his hands skyward, squeezing his fists until blood trickles through his fingers which elicits understandable gasps from the audience. One man watches intently and approaches Ermey backstage after the service completes. He grabs the preacher around the throat and steam begins to pour from his neck. Ermey screams as blood trickles to his feat. Good stuff.

The stigmatic condition, of course, was faked as Mulder and Scully discover when they investigate. Mulder was tracking similar cases across the world – this marked the twelfth such incident. Later, a young boy begins to legimately bleed from his palms when called in front of the class. Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate as the boy is sent to a children’s home when his family life is questioned. There, he is kidnapped by a massive and vaguely deformed man (Michael Berryman, The Hills Have Eyes) who claims to have been called by God to protect him. Mulder and Scully track down the boy and barely rescue him from the man who killed the preacher earlier in the episode. The man, apparently an agent of Satan, does manage to eventually kidnap the boy with the intention of sacrificing him to bring about a dark age (i.e. – all that stuff in Revelations). As the man plunges into trash shredder, the boy manages to cling to a railing, allowing Scully to save him. The entire experience stirs Scully’s faith, sending her to confessional for the first time in six years. There, she wonders if God is out there and if he’s listening at all.

The basic events of the episode aren’t a revelation on their own. It’s a fairly straightforward cat-and-mouse game with a tinge of the supernatural. What truly sets it apart is the exploration of faith and belief throughout the episode. The opening shows a church audience begging to believe in their preacher and in a higher power, yet their faith is misplaced and betrayed – the preacher is a fake. When the real thing comes along (the boy with stigmata), Scully is drawn to him having always expressed a degree of father in a higher being. She ultimately takes the position of the protector of the young boy, of her religious faith, and goes to great lengths to save it. Ironically, given Scully’s persistent belief in the intangible aspects of religious faith, Mulder is skeptic through the episode. He doesn’t believe in the Biblical signs, in the boy’s stigmata, and slightly ridicules Scully for her faith. It is a nice way to turn the tables on the relationship and view the series through the eyes of someone who wants to believe – just not in aliens.

Is “Revelations” heavy-handed? Maybe a little. Scully and Mulder argue at the end about the very topics they’ve previously discussed in a much more subtle manner. Still, whether it be subtext or up-front text, the presence of a conversation and a theme in which you can sink your teeth into is greatly appreciated. “Revelations” isn’t a great episode of The X-Files, but it is a very good one if only because it takes the time to deepen the two characters in which we must believe and follow as central points of the show.

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