Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The X-Files - S2:E14 "Die Hand die Verletzt"

[ S2:E13 "Irresistible" <<< Season 2 >>> S2:E15 "Fresh Bones" ]

The show's creators must have had devils on the brain, because, like the last episode, Die Hand die Verletzt (German for "the hand that wounds") deals with the devil, but in a much more X-Files-y way. An evil presence has come to Milford Haven, New Hampshire - a town rich with a history of occult influence (their high school and local library are apparently named after Aleister Crowley). If there are such things as avenging angels, then so, too, must there be avenging demons.

But instead of violent maniacs retreating to darkened basements, this middle class community's devil worshippers are, intriguingly, the sort of otherwise normal-seeming people - pillars of their community, in positions of authority - who are simply as likely to end a PTA meeting with a Satanic ritual as anyone else might offer a prayer to the Lord.

When a teen turns up dead in the woods after imitating a mock ritual to Azazel, Mulder and Scully must grapple with the implications of infernal influence despite overwhelming statistical evidence debunking the phenomenon of occult conspiracies. Could this be the rare exception? Either way, Scully is thankfully back to her old, skeptical ways.

Predictably, the topic of Satanic ritual abuse comes up, but is ultimately handled in a satisfactory way (given what we know now). I have to admit that as frightening as the very concept of it is, I find myself having a hard time sympathizing with such sensationalized claims. I know how frustrating it is to be disbelieved by someone when you're telling the truth, but I also understand that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I wouldn't expect someone to believe something so outrageous without looking into it first.

This episode is great fun (that's coming from a horror fan), with a fantastic and memorable scare that plays on a common fear involving high school biology class. I imagine it would be a treat to watch this episode on Halloween!

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Mulder, toads just fell from the sky!
Mulder: I guess their parachutes didn't open. You were saying something about this place not feeling odd?

Scully (incredulous): Look, if the number of murders attributed to occult conspiracies were true, it would mean thousands of people killing tens of thousands of people a year - without evidence, without being exposed. It would be the greatest criminal conspiracy in the history of civilization!
Jim Ausbury: Finally, you people understand what we're up against.

Psychologist: This is high school - it's normal for students to display abnormal behavior.

Mulder: Modern witches, known as Wiccan, are a religion. They have a great reverence for all life and nature. They do not cast harmful spells; they don't worship Satan. Even the Church of Satan has renounced murder and torture.

Mulder: Did you do it?
Jim Ausbury: I would kill anyone who did the things to her that she claims.
Mulder: Not a very Christian tenet.
Jim Ausbury: "Thou, God of vengeance, shine forth."
Mulder: Even the Devil can quote scripture to fit his needs.

Jim Ausbury: I was raised to believe Christianity was synonymous with hypocrisy. Man's natural tendency was to do what thou wilst, not do unto others.

Mulder: Did you really think you could call up the Devil and ask him to behave?

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