Die Hand Die Verletz 2×14: Better hide your Megadeth albums.


Is it raining men?

This episode flips the typical on its ear. For starters, the teaser doesn’t present a crime or even a mystery. Instead, it just leaves us with an unsettling image: Leaders of the community gathered together in solemn prayer… but not to God, to the Devil. The Devil worshippers are the religious, hyper-sensitive and hypocritical ones. God punishes the evil-doer? No, the Devil punishes the evil-doer for not being evil enough. Even water goes down the drain the wrong way.

Instead of a typical nitpick of conservative Christians, which is where we think this episode is going for the first 60 seconds or so, this story is about a group of Satanists whose faith has gone stale. You don’t hear many rumors about occultist practices anymore, but these issues were a much bigger deal in the early 90’s. Young though I was, I remember hearing news stories/exaggerated rumors about children falling victim to Devil worshippers. Then there was the hot button issue of the occult in movies, TV and music. I gather that most people didn’t put much stock in the rumors and even if they had, they didn’t imagine the likes of what we see in “Die Hand Die Verletz.”

We all know there’s nobody out there conjuring up the devil… right? I mean, not really. A snake can’t eat a man that fast, you’re letting your imagination run away with you. The thunderclap wasn’t a portent, it just happened to sound at the right dramatic moment. Flesh-eating disease? A freaky coincidence. But for once, what if they’re not paranoid? What if you’re not paranoid enough? The X-Files is inviting us to let ourselves get caught up in the hysteria, if only for a moment. What safer way to do that than through a TV show?

If there’s any point of irritation it’s that this episode has a distractingly neon disclaimer tacked to its forehead. The writers want to make sure that an audience potentially made up of people interested in the occult won’t be driven away by the over-the-top treatment of this subject matter. In other words, we know we’re using an arguably offensive cliché so we’ll be sure to tell the audience how lovable real witches are these days and hopefully that will appease the masses. “Even the church of Satan has renounced murder and torture.” (Then what, praytell, is the point of being the church of Satan??) At least the occultists in the story admit what they are.

On the Mulder and Scully partnership front, there’s a lot going on but it all happens in the span of about 2 seconds. It’s that scene in the shower room when Mulder and Scully are about to be killed. Notice that when the bullets start flying Mulder covers Scully with his own body. Blink and you’ll miss it. Would it have done any good in the face of a shotgun blast? Hardly. But it’s always struck me because Mulder did it almost instinctively. There was no deep moment of contemplation, no close-up of our hero’s face as he makes a dramatic decision. It was almost like a reflex, the way a mother would grab her child if she heard a loud noise.

It’s probably not significant to most people, but I think there’s a difference between being willing to risk your life for someone and being willing to actually stand between them and the bullet. The latter takes it to a whole other level, a level that, somewhere along the line, Mulder and Scully have quietly reached. There’s no fanfare or fireworks. In true Mulder and Scully form, I doubt they ever mention the incident between themselves.

Conclusion:

Try not to take this one too seriously. It’s exaggerated on purpose. Not that this is a distinctly humorous episode. We won’t see that until “Humbug” (2×20) later this season. But it is a self-conscious tale and I think that’s its strength.

This is an episode I enjoy watching as much for the outlandishness of the subject as anything else. Writers Morgan and Wong were leaving the show to produce Space: Above and Beyond and I suspect they wanted their last outing to be as extreme an X-File as ever there was. They can rest assured that they went out with a bang.

Fortunately, we don’t have to live without them for too long. They’ll be back.

B+

Random Musings:

For a woman who just came off of “Irresistible” (1×13), where seeing bodies whose hair and nails had been cut off was a trauma to her, Scully’s doing awfully well with a corpse that’s had its eyes and heart cut out.

Be on the lookout for a great moment when Ausbury (AKA: Frasier’s Bulldog) gives a monologue that I think has some great truth hidden in it.

I’m ashamed to admit that as many times as I’ve seen this episode I never appreciated that Mrs. Paddock wasn’t just controlling the snake, she became the snake and ate Ausbury whole. There may be something wrong with me, but I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Iconic moment alert: It’s raining frogs. Funny how even the worst episodes have memorable visuals.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: So… lunch?
Scully: Mulder! Toads just fell from the sky!
Mulder: I guess their parachutes didn’t open.

——————–

Scully: The FBI recently concluded a seven year study and found little or no evidence of the existence of occult conspiracies.
Pete Calcagni: And J Edgar Hoover never admitted to the existence of the Mafia.
Scully: 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 is the history of civilisation.
Jim Ausbury: Finally. You people understand what we’re up against.

——————–

Mulder: But you are responsible. You knew the possibilities contained in your beliefs no matter how watered down. Did you really expect to conjure up the devil and ask him to behave?

———————

Mulder: “There are tracks in the dirt. They’re from a snake.
Scully: “That’s impossible. It would take a large python hours to consume and weeks to digest a human being.
Mulder: You really do watch The Learning Channel.

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13 responses to “Die Hand Die Verletz 2×14: Better hide your Megadeth albums.

  1. This episode was just plain spooky until the child abuse angle dropped. Then it just got dark. The resolution left me wanting a little: I wanted them to catch Paddock.

    Above all that, DD’s delivery of the line “Did you really expect to conjure up the devil and ask him to behave?” drips with such incredulity! The sardonic tone was spot on, and made this an oddly foreboding thing to say, especially when you consider what eventually happened to Ausbury.

    • I’m constantly amazed, more so as the seasons go on, at the subtlety of DD’s performances. He’s the king of walking fine lines between emotions. And GA’s the queen, for that matter. I miss my show!

  2. Something I never understood : When Mulder and Scully are tied up in the showers, after Paddock killed the Devil worshippers using her “black magic”, how the hell did M&S got free ? On the next scene they are free from their cuffs lol that never made any sense for me.

    • Hey!! Thanks for all your encouragement!

      Right after Paddock possesses the guy with the shot gun so that he kills the others and then kills himself, do you remember M&S fiddling with each others’ hand ties back to back? They kind of struggled on the floor there a minute while they figured out they needed to get back to Mrs. Paddock. :o)

  3. Yes, but that doesnt explain how they can get free from their ropes ? (i checked, it was not cuffs as i previously said)
    Did Paddock untie them ? (I mean, not by herself, using her magic tricks lor something)

  4. I think this is the only plausible explanation 🙂

  5. I’ve watched that part in the shower over and over again. Love it!

  6. So…What’s up with the teen girl that makes all the accusations??? Did i miss something? Was she lying ? Why? Was the dad lying? Did i miss the explination for her Lies? Her mom says she was “never Pregnant” and that the sister was not “8 years old” but “8 weeks old” so whats up with that?

    Great commentary on a great show by the way!!!
    I am enjoying rewatching the show after all these years and then coming here to break down the episode with you and your readers!

    But seriously, what was up with that chick!!!

    • Agent Venkman

      I don’t think she was lying, she really believed that happened, but it never really happened. The father’s explanation is that his daughter came up with the sexual abuse “memory” after watching too much tv about satanic cults. That might be it, but I believe Mrs. Paddock might have had some influence in her memories too.

  7. Pingback: Surekill 8×9: Calling Clark Kent | Musings of an X-Phile

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