Die Hand Die Verletzt
|"Die Hand Die Verletzt"|
|The X-Files episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Kim Manners|
|Written by||Glen Morgan
|Original air date||January 27, 1995|
|Running time||44 minutes|
"Die Hand Die Verletzt" is the fourteenth episode of the second season of the science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on January 27, 1995. It was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, directed by Kim Manners, and featured guest appearances by Susan Blommaert, Dan Butler, and Heather McComb. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-Week" story, unconnected to the series' wider mythology. "Die Hand Die Verletzt" earned a Nielsen household rating of 10.7, being watched by 10.2 million households in its initial broadcast. The episode received positive reviews, with many critics praising its writing. The title translates from German as "the hand that wounds."
The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. In the episode Mulder and Scully are called to Milford Falls, New Hampshire after a teenager dies in a strange occult-related incident. At the same time, the town’s real Devil worshipers attempt to hide their tracks. During the investigation, the devil visits Milford Falls, in the guise of Mrs. Phyllis H. Paddock, a substitute teacher.
"Die Hand Die Verletzt" parodies some aspects of the followers of organized religion, most specifically those who follow a religion, but only pay it lip service. In addition, the episode was the last episode of The X-Files to be written by Morgan and Wong before they left to create Space: Above and Beyond; and as such, it featured several nods and in-jokes to The X-Files. All of the scenes that featured animals were filmed with living creatures, including the scene wherein frogs rain from the sky. In fact, actor Dan Butler was terrified of a snake used during one scene.
In the town of Milford Haven, New Hampshire, a group of high school faculty members meet to discuss various social events. The adults initially appear to be socially conservative, debating whether students should perform the musicals Grease and Jesus Christ, Superstar. However, when the group ends the meeting in a prayer, they recite a Satanic chant.
Later, a group of students go out into the forest at night to play around with black magic. The experiment causes unexplainable things to happen, such as fire erupting from the ground, causing all but one of the teenagers to flee the woods. The one teen's mutilated body is discovered the next day, leading Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) to investigate. Locals — including the faculty members — claim that the children have unleashed a demonic force with their rituals; the theory which is given validity by strange occurrences, such as frogs falling from the sky and water in the drinking fountain draining counter-clockwise, contrary to the Coriolis effect.
Unknown to the agents, substitute teacher Mrs. Paddock (Susan Blommaert) is behind the murder, keeping the eyes and heart of the victim in her desk. One of the faculty members, Jim Ausbury (Dan Butler) suspects one of his colleagues killed the boy, but the others believe it was an outside force. Ausbury's stepdaughter, Shannon (Heather McComb), suffers a breakdown during science class while dissecting a hog fetus. Meeting with Mulder and Scully, she tells them that her stepfather raped and impregnated her as part of a secret Satanic ritual, sacrificing their babies. When the agents confront Ausbury with the accusations, he angrily denies them.
Shannon stays after school to make up her assignment of dissecting the pig. Mrs. Paddock takes her bracelet and uses it as part of a spell that causes Shannon to slit her wrists. When Ausbury learns that the other faculty members plan to use Shannon as a scapegoat, he admits all to Mulder. He confirms Shannon's memory of the rituals, but exposure to sensational media coverage led her to "remember" the sexual abuse. Meanwhile, Scully researches Mrs. Paddock and finds that no one knows anything about her or her background. During a sudden power outage, Mrs. Paddock steals Scully's pen and uses it to impersonate her in a call to Mulder, pretending to be in trouble. Mulder handcuffs Ausbury in the basement to prevent his possible escape, then leaves to search for Scully. Soon after, a giant snake appears and devours Ausbury.
Mulder arrives at the school, where Scully claims that she never called him. They find Mrs. Paddock seemingly attacked by the remaining faculty members, and go to search for them. The faculty members capture the two agents, convinced that they need to perform a sacrifice to regain favor with the Devil and make up for their diluted faith before it is too late. As they are about to kill Mulder and Scully, Mrs. Paddock causes them to instead kill themselves, confirming that their attempt was indeed too late. The agents escape their bonds and find Mrs. Paddock missing, with only a parting message on the chalkboard stating, "Goodbye. It's been nice working with you."
Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, proposed that the episode is a parody of organized religion, most specifically those who follow a religion, but only pay it lip service. The two argue that the principle joke in the episode is "to look at the way religious faith has been so watered down and paid nothing but lip service, its rituals and doctrines reinterpreted so that only what's comfortable is adhered to." This parody, however, is turned on its head: the followers paying lip service in "Die Hand Die Verletzt" are not stereotypical Christians, but rather, devil worshippers. Shearman and Pearson compare Mrs. Paddock—which the episode insinuates to be the devil incarnate—coming to Milford Haven, New Hampshire to judge his followers to St. Paul "coming back and taking a pop at all fair weather Christians who only affirm their faith at their own convenience."
"Die Hand Die Verletzt" was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, who were co-executive producers for the series as well as writers; and directed by Kim Manners. The episode originally stemmed from an idea of Glen Morgan's to have a scene where a snake eats a man. Series creator Chris Carter described the episode as "a cautionary tale about playing with fire, playing with things bigger and badder than you might imagine". Morgan and co-writer James Wong left the series after this episode to produce the series Space: Above and Beyond. The line written by Mrs. Paddock on a chalkboard at the end of the episode, "It's been nice working with you," also acted as a goodbye to the crew of the show. The two later returned to the show in the fourth season.
Crowley High School refers to British ceremonialist and occultist Aleister Crowley. The character names Deborah Brown and Paul Vitaris were based on fans of the series who were active on the internet. In fact, the inspiration for Vitaris—Paula Vitaris—wrote episode reviews of the series for the magazine Cinefantastique, starting with the third season of the show. The episode's title means "The hand that wounds" in German. An alternative translation is "His is the hand that wounds".
While fake frogs were considered for the scene where they fall from the sky, the producers decided to make use of real frogs instead, dropped from a short distance. According to Carter, the "fake ones looked too bad and didn't hop away after command". The snake going down the stairs proved difficult to film as the animal kept on falling onto the floor after slithering down the steps. Actor Dan Butler was terrified of the animal, being unable to talk while shooting the scene in the basement. The actor's fright meant the make-up team did not need to apply fake sweat to his face.
Broadcast and reception 
"Die Hand Die Verletzt" premiered on the Fox network on January 27, 1995. The episode earned a Nielsen rating of 10.7, with an 18 share, meaning that roughly 10.7 percent of all television-equipped households, and 18 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 10.2 million households.
The episode received praise from critics. Entertainment Weekly gave "Die Hand Die Verletzt" an A-, noting that, in the episode, "Mulder and Scully largely step aside in this wacky, wicked effort chock-full of stunning imagery and wry comment." Reviewer Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club gave the episode an A and wrote that "There's the sick sense of humor. There are the outright left turns into demented darkness. There are the horrifying visuals. And there's always the sense that the darkness is only barely kept at bay, that even Mulder and Scully would be powerless should it be unleashed and sweep across the land." Connie Ogle from PopMatters ranked the members of the Satanic PTA as some of the "greatest" monsters-of-the-week, writing, "You don’t want to cross the Satan-worshiping teachers at this high school, but there are more vengeful evil forces to displease." Shearman and Pearson awarded the episode five stars out of five, citing the "very good" conceit about organized religion, the humor, and the "great set pieces" as positive factors.
Chris Carter said of the episode "It was a fun script that turned this big corner when the girl had the emotional breakdown. It suddenly became a very creepy, dark, disturbing episode. It was vintage Glen and Jim, and we had a great, great performance by the guest stars. A really good, solid episode that actually veered a little more toward the horror genre. But it worked because of Mulder and Scully."
- Lowry, pp. 193–194
- Lovece, pp. 143–145
- Shearman and Pearson, p. 43
- Shearman and Pearson, p. 44
- Lowry, p. 195
- Chris Carter (featurette). Chris Carter Talks About Season 2: "Die Hand Die Verletzt". The X-Files: The Complete Second Season: Fox.
- Vitaris, Paula (October 1997). "Morgan and Wong Return to The X-Files". Cinefantastique.
- Vitaris, Paula (October 1996). "Episode Guide". Cinefantastique 28 (3): 18–40.
- Lovece, p. 146
- Rozum, p. 27
- (featurette) Behind the Truth: Die Hand Die Verletzt. The X-Files: The Complete Second Season: Fox.
- Lowry, p. 249
- "X Cyclopedia: The Ultimate Episode Guide, Season 2 | EW.com". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 1996. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (June 6, 2010). ""Irresistible"/"Die Hand Die Verletzt"/"Fresh Bones"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
- Ogle, Connie (July 28, 2008), "The X-Factor: A Look Back at 'The X-Files' Greatest Monsters", PopMatters (PopMatters Media), retrieved August 25, 2010
- Edwards, p. 113
- Edwards, Ted (1996). X-Files Confidential. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-21808-1.
- Lovece, Frank (1996). The X-Files Declassified. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-1745-X.
- Lowry, Brian (1995). The Truth is Out There: The Official Guide to the X-Files. Harper Prism. ISBN 0-06-105330-9.
- Rozum, John (1997). "Grey Matters". Sky Buster (Graphic Novel). 1 34. Topps.
- Shearman, Robert; Pearson, Lars (2009). Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen. Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 0-9759446-9-X.
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- "Die Hand Die Verletzt" on TheXFiles.com
- "Die Hand Die Verletzt" on The X-Files, an external wiki
- "Die Hand Die Verletzt" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Die Hand Die Verletzt" at TV.com