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**Fake a miracle to disprove a Miracle, the girls, and Erika’s hearing loss explained – a new comprehensive theory** In response to several thought-provoking arguments, criticisms, and questions arising from my [last post](, I’ve revised my theories about what happened to the missing Jarden girls, and which explains their odd behaviors: * Why were the three teenage girls so somber in the car on their way home from the lake? * Why did the girls run naked through the forest, and Evie raised her arms up high as if being released/victorious? [Screencrush review]( * “Later in the episode, Evie and her friends sing a song praising the wonders of Miracle during choir practice. Evie sings joyfully, looks at Taylor beside her and smiles. Then as she sings the words 'That God had spared our town' something shifts on Evie’s face. Her eyebrows become more stern and less jovial. It’s as if a sense of doubt crept over her as she sang those lyrics.” [Screencrush review]( Evie and her two teenage friends lived in Jarden before the Sudden Departure—likely for their entire lives—and probably didn’t find life in a small Texas town in to be that ‘miraculous’. It was just Smalltown, USA, to them. And when they entered their rebellious teenage years, they likely found Jarden to be [stifling]( It was only after the Sudden Departure, and word spread that Jarden had experienced no departures, was the town renamed, ‘Miracle’. Now, three years after the Sudden Departure, the small town of ~~Jarden~~Miracle has been turned into a virtual prison: encircled by barbed-wire fences, guarded by taser-wielding guards, with wristbands required for admission. Many of the townspeople have turned into hucksters, and are treating Jarden’s ‘miracle’ status as a cash cow, selling overpriced water, and dubious cures, potions, and trinkets to busloads of desperate tourists hoping for inoculation from the next Departure. In this carnival-like atmosphere, Evie and her teenage friends could easily view the townspeople as ‘phonies’, who are simply PROFITING off of the miracle—and that the townspeople do not necessarily BELIEVE that the Sudden Departure was a miracle. Today, teens really hate anything [fake]( Per Caitlin Dewey, at the [Washington Post](, “Authenticity is becoming more important among teens and millenniasl”. Therefore, it would come as no surprise to me if Evie and her teenage friends hated the ‘fake’ townspeople of Jarden and wanted to make the spectacle end. Unlike in the story of Jesus, who was able cast the moneychangers out of the temple because they turned holy ground into a place of commerce, the girls likely felt powerless against the townspeople who were now heavily invested in perpetuating the ‘miracle’ gravy train. However, perhaps they felt they could attack that validity of the purported ‘miracle’. If the lack of Departures made Jarden into Miracle, and if Departures then occurred in Jarden, there is no miracle. If there was no miracle, the hordes of tourists would stay away. The fences could come down. Miracle would revert to Jarden. The show writers have made it very clear that no one has successfully faked a departure. Nora herself was part of the fraudulent claims division of the Department of Sudden Departures, and she relayed to Jill how she eventually tracked down a man in Puerto Rico who had gone AWOL after faking his Departure. They’ve even showed an ambush journalism-style TV show in which an alleged Departee is [confronted on-camera at a taco joint](, hiding out in a Chihuahua, Mexico. Evie and her friends would almost certainly be aware of the show/the fact that no fake Departures had succeeded, and that no verified secondary Departures had occurred. Therefore, the girls would have had to put a considerable amount of thought into how to successfully fake their own Departures. Although family members were required to sign confidentially agreements when taking the Sudden Departure questionnaire, it is not unreasonable to assume that the nature of the questions became public knowledge (and the questionnaires are sometimes left in unlocked briefcases), so the girls likely knew what NOT to do to arouse suspicions of a false Departure. Unfortunately, and with a heavy heart, I believe that Evie and her friends came to the conclusion that the only way to successfully fake their Departures was to commit suicide, and to do so in such a fashion that their bodies would never be found. The obvious question now arises: Why would Evie consider death as a viable option in their desire to disprove the miracle of Miracle? I believe that Evie either knew (recall her and her Mom signing) or discovered that her mom was going to leave her father (via the hidden go-bag of cash and hearing aid batteries, but no seizure medication)—AND leave her and her brother: [‘Erika wished that after she left John, Evie would be O.K. without her.’]( As a parent myself, it is unfathomable to me, why Erika wouldn’t take Evie and Michael with her when she fled her violent spouse. I’m guessing that Evie couldn’t understand it either. Meanwhile, her father, John Murphy, [likely [‘part of the brutal government conspiracy—hinted at throughout season one—to prevent upstart spiritual leaders from unraveling order’](], is beating up people and burning down houses. Him going back to jail could seem like a very real possibility for her, and when combined with her mom’s solo escape plan, Evie would certainly have grounds for feelings of abandonment. Throw in possible feelings of being ‘weird’ due to having seizures, (ironically) missing the ‘old Jarden’, and the usual and customary [personal fable]( that all teens manifest as part of normal brain development, and I think you have sufficient reasons for an emotionally undeveloped teen to contemplate thoughts of suicide. I can’t speculate as the reasoning of Evies’ friends (Taylor and Violet) beyond their shared desire to disprove the miracle (and the fact that one of the girl’s moms seemed to be an alcoholic, as called out by Erika), but I would like to point out that suicide pacts are NOT that uncommon amongst teenagers [[Gooogle, 416,000 results](]. **Note:** It is ironic (for my argument) that George Brevity, the Department of Sudden Departure official sent to investigate the possible Departure, stated, “None of the fraud flags popped,” in regards the fraud-detecting questionnaires administered to Taylor and Violet’s families. I say ironic, because it both supports my argument that the girls planned well (or instead didn’t plan?) in faking their Departures, but it also leads credence to a counter-argument that the girls actually DID Depart. Evie, Violet, and Taylor were somber in the car because it reflected their true mood in regards to their impending suicide vs the forced happy behavior that they exhibited publicly. Evie running naked through the forest with her arms raised symbolized her pending freedom from the town/life, and her change in attitude while singing in the choir that ‘God saved our town’ is a reflection of her belief that while God may have saved the townspeople of Jarden, in doing so, he cursed the town. **Note:** I DO think that Evie still believes in miracles and God. She simply doesn’t believe that the town was spared by one. It is against this backdrop that we have the characters of Evie’s twin brother, Michael Murphy, and Virgil Murphy, her and Michael’s maternal grandfather. **Note:** I used to wonder as to if Virgil was Erika’s father or John’s father, but after Erika relayed to Nora the story of her Grandmother’s bird-burying ritual, and we see that Virgil keeps caged birds, I’m almost certain now that Virgil is Erika’s father—not John’s. The writers have gone to great lengths to convince the viewers that Michael is very religious. He has forgiven his grandfather for his transgressions, volunteers at and gives sermons at church, delivers food to the poor, sells Miracle water in return for donations to the church, and who is so pious that he turns down sex with an attractive teenage girl because he’s not sure they are in love. Michael also disapproves of his father’s brutal, ‘there-are-no-miracles-in-Miracle’, debunking activities, as evidenced by Michael giving a sermon while looking directly at his father, and in which he says, [‘See to it that no one pays evil for evil to anyone’.]( Virgil lives in a trailer down by the river (and which was what caused me to believe he was a child molester), yet is now also deeply religious—he prays with his grandson often. He had a near-death experience that he believes allowed him to be freed from his sins [(“I hurt (John). I hurt him a long time ago. And then he hurt me back. And he freed me.”)]( **Note:** Did Virgil molest John Murphy when John was a child? If so, I’m very interested to find out how Erika ended up marrying the man her father molested. Or, did he molest Erika/his own grandchildren? It is my opinion that Virgil believes that the Departure was a miracle, but that the townspeople have perverted it into a crass, money-grabbing spectacle (with a guided audio tour that includes pictures with a woman in her wedding dress). He wishes for a Departure to occur in Jarden, so that the reason for the hordes of tourists journeying to Jarden—the fact that no Departures have occurred there—will cease to exist. However, wishing rarely results in happening. How about making a Departure occur? To do so, you’d have to make someone really ‘disappear’, as all the people who fake their Departures seem to be caught. Killing someone seems like the best way to do so. However, I believe that Virgil can’t bring himself to kill anyone due to his strong religious beliefs. I came to the above theory based on the fact that Virgil has been fishing for a victim for a long time now, evidenced by whenever he meets someone new, he tells them that, ‘he can help them with their problem’ (Kevin at the Visitor Center), or, ‘sorry for your loss’ (Nora at the convenience store, where she is buying the [favorite elixir of the mentally unstable](—alcohol). Perhaps ‘victim’ is the wrong word, because he is trying to find someone who is *willing to kill themselves*. If he had just wanted to disappear Kevin, he could have easily shot him with his pistol and buried his body. Instead, he convinced Kevin to drink the poison, by promising him that he would restart his heart with an epinephrine shot. He did not do so. An argument could be make that Virgil helped to kill Kevin, or that failing to give him the epinephrine was tantamount to murder via inaction, but an argument could be made that Kevin killed himself, by his own hand. **Note**: The fact that Virgil has been ‘fishing’ for a long time is confirmed by the fact that the convenience store clerk gets mad at Virgil and tells him that he promised to [knock that off.]( **What does Michael know about the girls’ plans?** I think the answer is everything. Michael knew what his sister was planning and actively assisted them. He shares their dislike of what the town of Miracle has become, and wants Jarden to return to its pre-Miracle, Eden-like state. To do this, he has to make the townspeople believe that the girls Departed. * When Evie disappears, it is Michael who helpfully tells his father that the girls like to swim at the lake (and where the car is found). * When Jill asks Michael why he isn’t helping search for his sister, he tells her, that she [‘would not understand because she does not believe in God’]( No need to search when you know where they are. * When Michael scrapes off the orange ‘No Departures’ sticker from his house, it is not because he believes Evie ha departed, but because he wants others to believe that she did. **How are the girls, Michael, and Virgil connected?** Since they all have the same motivation—to disprove the Miracle in Miracle, and return Jarden to its pre-departure state, I do think that Virgil was the spiritual leader who came up with the faked Departure plan, and later recruited both Evie and Michael to help him. I think that Evie came up with the suicide plan because Virgil was unsuccessful in finding someone to ‘help’ Depart. **Note**: It is ironic that the characters are motivated to fake a miracle, in order to disprove another miracle. **How did Kevin get involved?** Earlier that night, Michael likely accompanied the girls to some location, then drove their car back to the lake, dropped it off there still running, then biked home, and was therefore in bed when the earthquake occurred early the next morning. After years of searching for a victim to Depart, the fact that one (Kevin) finally decides to show up that night at Virgil’s trailer—the very night that Virgil, Michael, and the girls had finally decided to execute their plan—is quite ironic. As he did again later, Virgil must have convinced Kevin that killing himself was a way to rid himself of Patti. I’m a bit unclear if Virgil accompanied Kevin to the lake, (falsely) promised to pull him out, then drove Kevin’s truck back to the trailer, and had Michael return it to Kevin’s house/or the lake. I don’t believe that HOW Kevin got home (after waking up in the lakebed) was ever specifically explained (drive, walk??). As pointed out by others, Virgil certainly does not seem physically capable of walking back from the lake by himself. Perhaps Virgil sent Kevin to the Lake with the cinder block and rope, with the thought that one more disappearance would make a Departure more believable, especially if all disappeared from the same location—the lake (the show writers have suggested that the geography of a location might be in some way the cause of the Departure). **Why did Virgil try to Depart Kevin a second time?** Why didn’t Virgil just send him away—the girls have already departed? Virgil may believe that it is Kevin’s handprint on the car since Kevin was at the lake (and Michael would have been very careful not to leave any trace/fingerprints), and wants Kevin to disappear before Kevin is identified as being at the scene of the girl’s disappearance. He believes that the identification of an actual suspect will severely reduce the likelihood that the girls’ disappearance is classified as a Departure. **Why did Virgil kill himself?** I think Virgil was an old man in great physical pain due to being shot, as well as the long-term neurological effects of a work-related exposure which forced him to walk with a cane (more on that soon), that he may have simply killed himself after he thought that his plan was finally complete, and that Michael could complete the final step of disposing of Kevin’s body (and Kevin’s identifying palm). **Note**: Michael is Baptist, and Virgil, being of the same family is likely Baptist as well. Suicide is not an [unpardonable]( sin to Baptists (unlike for Catholics). **So, where are the girls?** Before I answer that, I’d like to explore and theorize as to Erica’s hearing loss, and which might point to their location. Since Erika has hearing loss, but speaks normally, this points to an acquired hearing loss (if she had hearing loss from birth, her speech would likely be affected). This led me to believe she was exposed to something as a child, and that it caused her hearing loss. I recalled that many family members experienced [secondary exposure to asbestos](, when one of their family members worked with asbestos. Possible causes of hearing loss led me to mercury. Therefore, I believe that Erika is a victim of secondary exposure to mercury, when she came in contact with contaminated work clothes from her father. Initially, I thought that since Virgil’s trailer was filled with what appeared to be old lights, and Thomas Edison’s original incandescent light bulbs contained mercury, perhaps Virgil was involved in light bulb manufacturing, and was thus exposed. However, another possibility was that he was exposed to mercury from mining, [as mercury mining does occur in Texas]( Here is the top result from Google when searching for ‘mercury mining Texas’: * ‘Abandoned since the 1940s, and isolated by its remote location in the middle of Big Bend National Park, the Mariscal Mine is the best preserved mercury mining site in the state of Texas’ I think you can understand why I stared at this open-mouthed. An abandoned mercury mine in TEXAS, in the middle of a freaking federal PARK! And the name?? Sounds like it could be Miracle National Park, no? Mercury is also a known cause of birth defects, and thus perhaps a possible cause of Evie’s seizures. Also, as mentioned before, Virgil uses a cane. He admitted to being shot in the abdomen and groin—but not the legs. Perhaps his use of the cane is a result of neurological problems stemming from long-term exposure to mercury? So, where are the girls? In the abandoned mercury mine. Why there? I am no expert in the disposal of bodies, but I think that the most full-proof method to avoiding the discovery of the bodies is to bury them underground. Bodies placed in water almost always float to the top after decomposition occurs, unless wrapped in chicken wire and weighted with stones (now I do sound like a creepy expert). I imagine it is pretty hard to bury yourself so no trace is found—you would need help—thus Michaels assistance was required. **So the girls are dead?** No. I believe that just as Virgil was unwilling to kill, so was Michael. The girls had themselves buried alive in the mine—to die—and yet, are still alive. Just like the ritual/story of the bird being released alive from the box, the girls will be released alive from the mine as well. And ironically, the story that will develop is that their release alive from the mine is a miracle—another miracle in the town of Miracle. And completely opposite what the girls, Michael, and Virgil intended **Note:** If the girls are trapped, and assuming they have water, [they can live up to ~40 days without food]( **So what happens next?** That last we saw, Michael was dutifully dragging Kevin’s body off to be buried (I sure would like to hear Michael explain his reasoning to Jill, who will be even more screwed up after finding out that her boyfriend tried to bury her dad’s body). I wrote try, because (lead character) Kevin is going to wake up—helpless, probably half-buried, and in need of medical assistance—and Michael will have to decide if he wants to become a murderer in order to complete the plan. I expect he will choose not to, due to his religious beliefs. **What about that box?** What’s in the box that Evie gave her dad, and whom she admonished, ‘Don’t open until I’m gone’.? I think she gave him something important to her—a prized possession (a not uncommon sign of someone planning a suicide). I would guess a symbol/token of religious faith, or perhaps something he had given her to remember him by when he was in prison. Evie also said, ‘it was it was the best gift he will ever get.’ Perhaps something to restore the faith of a man who claims, ‘there are no miracles in Miracle’.? Whatever is in the box, I think it is telling that he has NOT yet opened the box, that it will be opened soon, and will point John Murphy’s character towards a major plot resolution in this season. **Final Thoughts** I like this plot because it doesn’t rely on any supernatural occurrences or mysteries—just some religious people who concoct and execute a plot to fake a miracle, in order to disprove another miracle. It is completely opposite what you’d expect from a show about supernatural occurrences. And tellingly, there is no attempt to explain the miracle of the Departure, almost as if the writers want to “*Let The Mystery Be*” (the name of the second season’s theme song). *Some say once you're gone you're gone forever* *and some say you're gonna come back* *Some say you rest in the arms of the Saviour* *if in sinful ways you lack* *Some say that they're comin' back in a garden* *bunch of carrots and little sweet peas* *I think I'll just let the mystery be*