Mulder: The man was obsessed with reincarnation.
Scully: Being obsessed with it doesn’t mean you can do it.
Mulder: No. Unless he knew something we don’t.
Scully: Like what? The secret password?
“The List” isn’t a terrible episode of The X-Files, but it’s not a good one either. It’s one of those episodes that’s just sort of there.
Chris Carter returns to the directing chair trying to follow-up on the success of “Duane Barry.” And while this episode is a visual treat, there isn’t much depth to the overall story. In many ways, it feels like Carter is throwing together a greatest hits of several earlier episodes and offering it up here.
A man named Neech is put to death in the electric chair, but before his execution he swears out revenge on a list of five people. As people on the list begin to get killed, Mulder and Scully come in to look into whether Neech has discovered the secret to reincarnation or whether he’s got someone helping him carry out his revenge.
The script spends a lot of time taking us down blind alleys and giving us red herrings and sideplots. It’s a shame that none of these ever quite add up to anything. Carter’s script attempts to infuse some creepiness into things by having maggots appear on Neech’s victims. But if you’re waiting for some connection between the maggots and what’s happening here, you’re going to be disappointed.
Even Scully seems to be channeling a bit of her character moments from “Beyond the Sea” here as she’s a bit creeped out by the prison block.
Looking into this episode on-line, I see that Carter and company went way over budget on the prison set — and certainly the dedication shows on-screen. Visually, this episode has a lot going for it and it’s beautifully realized. It’s just a shame that the story itself isn’t quite on the same level.
So, a predator is preying upon lonely hearts using Internet chat forums. Honestly, I recall this one feeling a bit silly and dated when it first aired — and twenty years later, it still looks a little silly and dated.
So, we’ve got a monster that has to feed on people’s fat. So he does this by attracting lonely girls on-line and luring them to their deaths with sweet words and quoting poetry. The idea of an Internet predator that is literally a predator has some merit to it and the realization of our monster of the week’s taking advantage of his victims is well done and delightfully creepy. (Again, not an episode to watch while eating).
But there is so much that’s dated to this one — even beyond the Internet dating warnings.
Scully runs across a police officer who is wary of having her on this case because she’s a woman. Seems he doesn’t think that having woman on these cases is a good idea. He’s an older guy and I kept waiting for some type of explanation as to why he felt this way or some type of motivation. It never comes.
Unlike “DPO” this isn’t necessarily a monster of the week episode that looks a bit more like a hidden gem when we’re looking back on it.