The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 5

The List

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Oct 20, 1995 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
318 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

No-one takes much notice when a death row inmate vows on the electric chair to come back from the dead and kill 5 men who have wronged him during his time in prison; until a guard is mysteriously murdered in the former inmate's cell.

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  • The List

    The List was a superb episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was interesting, there were great character moments, and it was fun watching Mulder and Scully in action. There were some underlying themes regarding prisons and how people are treated there, on both sides of the bars. The characters were interesting, the idea of what happened was very intriguing and the ending was great! I liked how it all played out. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Uninspired

    I'm puzzled by the mediocrity of this episode, particularly in light of the strength of the previous four episodes that opened this season. Chris Carter is credited with the writing but it's hard to believe given the lack of any real sense of wonder or mystery in the story. The biggest problem is that we are not really given an opportunity to know Neech or his motivations so it's hard to care when the killing starts. Sure, there are some comments in passing about the raw deal Neech supposedly received but this was not enough to make me care whether he got his revenge or not. The story would have benefited from a few scenes actually showing how Neech got to where he ended up. The same holds for the victims; we never really get to know them and so we don't care when they are killed.

    There was also a lack of any explanation as to how Neech was able to come back from the dead, which was surprising given that this is the X-Files. Where are the great ideas, the theories, the "X" stuff that we all love?

    All in all, a rather empty, poorly written episode that goes nowhere.moreless
  • Mulder and Scully look into the possibility of reincarnation

    For me, this episode was alright, but only to a point. I like the idea of reincarnation and the guy on death row coming back to get revenge on people, but for a show that explores the supernatural and what makes it happen, there was absolutely zero explanation for half of the weird stuff that happened, and so many people were dropping like flies and killing each other that it was nearly impossible to figure out what was happening.

    It was pretty cool to see J.T Walsh in the episode.. he was always a great character actor in movie, so it was nice to see The X-Files grab him up. However, once again, like most of the supporting characters in this episode, there was very little that made him interesting. The plot was interesting, but it made little sense in the end. And everything started getting confusing after the warden killed the two men. It made me wonder who the hell the five people on the list were because people were dying so much.

    Not a bad episode overall though. For a stand-alone episode, there have certainly been worse, but for me, it was mostly just average.moreless
  • Interesting but...

    I never thought why Mulder and Scully never really tried to investigate Warden Brodeur and make him a main suspects for all those dead man that weren't on 'the list'. Sounds hard to believe, they went for the paranormal instead of what seemed more normal.

    I guess Niche's wife had a very unclean conscious for believing that he had come back to haunt her and probably kill her. Funny how Scully walks around the prison alone, knowing what she could get into... I liked the little conversation Mulder and Scully had about making a list and Mulder mentioned Scully's birthday even when we only saw that once in 9 years of series.

    Interesting episode, not a strong one, but still entertaining.moreless
  • Underrated

    Although we've all been here before (ie, the executed prisoner coming back to life to avenge his death, most recently in Renny Harlin's 1988 film "Prison" and Wes Craven's film "Shocker" a year later, ironically starring Mitch Pileggi as the killer), "The List" nevertheless has something to it to raise it out of the ordinary rut. Marking Chris Carter's second, and highly confident, step behind the camera, it's main reason for its success is achieved through its extraordinary look. This contains some of cinematographer John S. Bartley's very best work on "The X-Files", saturating everything in a deep green, almost submarine glow. There's actually no particular reason why the prison should be rendered in such terms, but it works enormously well, helping to create a very chilling atmosphere.

    Maybe atmosphere was what was really needed, for this is an unusual X File in that Mulder and Scully get it really wrong. It IS about transmigration of souls, as Mulder originally thought, and NOT about an elaborate hoax set up some inmates and guard Parmelli. Neech Manly does indeed come back from the electric chair to exact his grisly revenge, including some highly creative and stomach-churning uses of maggots, but it would appear that it's Manly himself who's set up the hoax. Not content with doing the reincarnation thing, he's also engineered it that he gets everyone on his most hated list, whilst removing the man occupying his wife's bed. On reflection, the clues are there, especially when the warden mentions that if he hadn't gone down the criminal path, Manly would have been a Nobel Prize winner.

    Speaking of the warden, while he is expertly and insidiously played by the late J. T. Walsh, doesn't this amount to lazy casting? How many films have we seen starring this actor and he's the baddie in every single one?

    By placing this episode in a prison, we can't really avoid the obvious reference to "The Silence of the Lambs". Never has it been more obvious that Scully is based on the character of Clarice Starling when she has to run the gauntlet of walking past a row of prison inmates all jeering at her (luckily for Scully, she doesn't get any semen chucked in her face). Even the way Gillian Anderson plays this scene harks back to Jodie Foster's own portrayal, with the head bowed and the character obviously being rattled by the experience. Though Scully wandering off by herself into the shower block was an almost ludicrously stupid thing for her to do. I also liked the irony of Neech's list. By making his intended victims on it all prison guards and the warden himself, he has turned the tables on his captors and put them in Death Row. The only difference is that these guys don't know when their execution is going to be. So, all in all, a reasonable episode, bolstered enormously by Bartley's contribution and by Carter's assured handling. Although quality and craftsmanship has always been well to the fore in "The X-Files", here we see them being put to extremely good use, and raising what good have been an average episode into one that's slightly above. 7/10moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • You can see the stunt driver twice in the scene where the warden is forced off of the road and into a tree. The warden is seen in the car, wearing a sports coat. The stunt driver is wearing a short sleeved shirt.

    • Principal Setting: Leon Country, Florida

    • Mulder and Scully at Mr. Simon's house. As Mulder knocks on the door a man's face is visibly reflected 27:16, but when Mulder looks around no one is in the room 27:26.

    • Response: If he was reborn once, why not several times, as several different flies until he was done? And all the victims were at the jail at some point, so that's easy access.

    • If Manly was reincarnated as a fly (as is suggested), wouldn't his killing spree have been limited to his new lifespan? Also, exactly how could the fly travel some of the distances involved here?

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Scully: Woman gets lonely, sometimes she can't wait around for a man to be reincarnated.

    • Mulder: The man was obsessed with reincarnation.
      Scully: Being obsessed with it doesn't mean you can do it.
      Mulder: Well, unless he knew something we don't.
      Scully: Like what? The secret password?

    • Warden: John. Did you hear about your friend Parmelly tonight?
      Speranza: He's not my friend.
      Warden: Oh, he's not your friend. Well, it doesn't matter any more anyway, does it, huh?
      Speranza: You promised me a deal.
      Warden: Yeah, well, that was when there was a deal to be made.
      (The Warden punches Speranza in the stomach, doubling him over to the ground.)
      Warden: Who else was in on it, John?
      Speranza: (groaning) I can tell you.
      Warden: Tell me.
      Speranza: (groaning) I can tell you, what I know.
      Warden: Tell me.
      Speranza: Neech's list, ain't but got one man left to die.
      (The Warden starts beating Speranza to death.)

    • Speranza: Hey! Where are we going.
      Guard: The warden wants to see you.
      Speranza: Well, the warden's office is that way.
      Guard: We're going down here.
      Speranza: Uh-uh. No.
      Guard: Why not?
      Speranza: Man, this is bull! I ain't going for it! What the hell is this, man? Why do you want to talk to me in the shower for anyway, huh? What the...
      (The guard shoves Speranza in the shower area where the warden eagerly awaits for him.)

    • Warden: Hello, John.
      Speranza: What do you want?
      Warden: Oh, no, sit down, sit. I'm here to do you good.
      Speranza: What you talking about?
      Warden: I want to be your advocate. I'm gonna get them to look at your case again, pull a few strings in Tallahassee.
      Speranza: And what do you want from me?
      Warden: Just call off the dogs. That's all. What do you say? Scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.
      Speranza: All right.
      Warden: (sarcastically) I'll have somebody from the Governor's office down here to see you by this weekend.

    • Mulder: Why Roque?
      Warden: Neech hated Roque. In fact, they nearly killed each other one day.

    • Neech & Parmelly: Gotta go now.

    • Warden: I can't do it. I can't make that deal.
      Mulder: You don't have the authority?
      Warden: No, it's not that. If I make that deal I might as well go into the deal-making business. Every con with half a brain would come up with a scheme like that.

    • Mulder: I hear you have a list.
      Roque: I prefer not to talk about it here. Not on the block.
      Mulder: Guard!
      Speranza: You's a dead man, Roque! You hear me?! I'm gonna peel that head like an onion! I'm gonna to break you off a big chunk! You hear me?! He ain't gonna tell you nothing but a bunch of lies! You talk, punk, I will make you my Maytag! He's alive!

    • Brodeur: Am I on the list Roque? Is my name on that list?!
      Roque: You're number five. How's it feel to be on death row, Warden?

    • Mulder: Imagine if you could come back and take out five people who had caused you to suffer. Who would they be?
      Scully: I only get five?
      Mulder: I remembered your birthday this year, didn't I, Scully?

    • Speranza: 'Cause everybody's afraid of what they say can't be true. Neech is back.
      Mulder: Reincarnated.
      Speranza: Well, he would have called it "transmigration of the soul."
      Mulder: Into what form?
      Speranza: You, me, this mattress - I don't know. He didn't specify, but he's back. I can feel it. The man was electric, you know what I'm saying? Pure energy.

    • Speranza: Hey, look around, we ain't got budding opportunity to itchy-scratchy outside our cell.

  • NOTES (5)

    • J.T. Walsh (the warden) went on to play Frank Bach, head of Majestic-12, on another alien-themed T.V. show, the short-lived "Dark Skies", which ran from 1996-1997.

    • A deleted scene from the beginning of this episode shows Neech Manly's journey to the electric chair, and Danny Charez appealing to the Governor for a last-minute stay of execution.

    • Joseph Patrick Finn, the line producer at the time, made a cameo as prison chaplain.

    • This episode went over budget in building the prison set from scratch. The set was recycled in other episodes (Teso dos Bichos, Talita Cumi, ...) and rented to other productions in Vancouver. This way the set paid for itself and then some.

    • Chris Carter received a Directors Guild of America nomination for this episode.


    • Movie Connection: Shocker

      The plot of this episode is very similar to the 1989 film directed by Wes Craven. To continue the connection, it starred Mitch Pileggi (who later played FBI director Walter Skinner) as a foulmouthed death-row con who dies in the electric chair and comes back as a vengeful, murderous electric ghost.

    • Character's Name: Neech

      The main character's name is very similar to the pronunciation of the name of the Prussian philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (said Neechj-uh), an extremely influential 19th-century theorist on concepts such as religion, morality, ethics, and society. As Neech (in the X-Files episode) is a jailhouse philosopher who expounds on morality and judgment, this is likely an allusion to Nietzsche.