Wednesday, December 22, 2010

X-Files--“Die Hand Die Verletzt”

I have spoken many times of the struggle to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the heavily bob Jones influenced Christian education. Christian fundamentalism is much like our natural sinful nature--which might be a revealing sign, come to think of it--in the sense you can never really get rid of it. My fundamentalist influence always bubbles to the surface when I experience things like “Die Hand Die Verletzt.” (Translated from German: "The Hand That Wounds.") The episode is combination of that fundamentalist fear public schools are controlled by Satanic forces and a satire on flaky religious adherents. My reaction: a slight twinge of discomfort with the former and a smirking recognition of the latter.

Two teenage couples head out to the Nw Hampshire woods to a site that is said to be a place for witch ceremonies. One kid begins reading incantations from a torn page of a book. The kids hear demonic voices in the distance. The kid who was reading the incantation bursts into flames. The local sheriff calls in the FBI because he, like the rest of the town, have heard stories of a secret coven a Satan worshippers who secretly run everything. He fears the conspiracy is too big for him to handle.

Mulder and Scully are both skeptical. They think someone is playing with the town’s fear in order to cover up the real motivation for killing the boy. It is not an FBI matter, that is until toads start falling from the sky. Then Mulder suspects something is odd. They opt to investigate further by interviewing the murdered kids’ friends.

They admit to playing around with devil worship solely because everyone in town is so afraid of it, they wanted to see what the fuss was all about. They had no idea they could actually invoke satan. Truth is, they did not. The school, Crowley High, is run by a coven of Satan worshippers. They killed the kid for blasphemy.

They cover their tracks well up until the murdered kid’s girlfriend has repressed memories of secret ceremonies in which she was subjected to as a small child return. Again, the agents do not believe it, but the description is enough to make them suspect she has been abused by her father. The other members of the coven use black magic to force the girl to commit suicide in order to shut her up. Her sacrifice convinces her father to abandon his beliefs and confess all to the agents.

The truth is they are wishy washy Satanists. They do only the rituals that are easy and do not involve any bloodshed. They did use the girl in their early rituals, but it was little more than playacting. The fact two kids are now dead scares the heck out of him. Realizing they have been betrayed, the head of the coven summons a python to kill the traitor. The rest of the coven captures Mulder and Scully to get rid of everyone who knows anything about them. In the climax, the coven members are all killed, saving the agents. A message is scrawled on a chalkboard saying it was nice working with them. The implication being Satan intervened on their behalf because he is not found of Loadiceans, either.

As I said above, the episode prompys mixed emotions. I do not care much for involving Satanism in popular entertainment. It makes me uneasy. However, the satire on half hearted religious types is still amusing. Overall, I have to give the episode reasonably high marks. It is not bad, but it is one a small army of teachers from my past would rail against. There is also a knowing wink in that the high school is named after Aleister Crowley, the British occultist who heavily influenced modern day Wicca and realy bad mysticism in ‘60’s rock and roll The guy was a huge waste of flesh.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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