25 best standalone episodes of The X-Files

22 of 26

21. “Die Hand Die Verletzt”

Back in the 1980s, the “Satanic Panic” was a real phenomenon that really ruined lives. Instead of devil worshippers, however, it was the anxious, thoughtless adults who attacked without thinking and accused their neighbors of devilry.

By the time “Die Hand Die Verletzt” aired in 1995, most of the country had shaken off the panic. However, lingering fears about Satanism remained. Moreover, many worried about the place of religion in busy modern life. Were people being too careless with their immortal souls?

Such is the question faced by the faculty members of a high school in sleepy Milford, New Hampshire. However, they’re not Christian. In fact, they’re members of a well-established, though underground, sect of Satanists. When a group of teenagers inadvertently summon an actual demon, the adults don’t immediately react with fear. Instead, they gripe about how they’ll have to become more devout, and how their intensified practice will interfere with their daily lives.

Of course, Mulder and Scully must come into the picture to investigate a gruesome murder and another teen’s subsequent claims of Satanic ritual abuse. However, they soon learn that there is an actual evil force in their midst, as evidenced by a mysterious new substitute teacher.

Though you won’t always find “Die Hand Die Verletzt” on “best of” lists (perhaps because of that name – it’s a lot to type out, you know), it’s a genuinely interesting episode. Alongside the dark humor of boring Satanic adults, there is truly scary imagery, including a giant snake and an evil substitute.