Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The X-Files: The List (3.5)

This is the kind of episode that The X-Files can do in its sleep. All of the themes displayed here; "revenge from beyond the grave", "intrigue and conspiracies in a prison"; have been presented in at least two or three previous episodes. So, in that regard, The List is disappointing. But what really drains the episode of any success is the fact that it's so inconsequential.

The List employs the problem that I had assumed the show had eliminated. Here, Mulder and Scully literally stumble across clues and end up doing nothing of any consequence. Everybody on Neech's list still dies, neither Mulder nor Scully actually work out what's been happening. It's a ridiculously "blah" anti-climax, made even worse when you realize the episode was written by Chris Carter, who should over everybody else know how to construct a decent episode of this show. I originally assumed we would get some kind of throwback to Beyond the Sea when Scully flinches and demands she be allowed to exit the facility, but I guess that was just a lazy retread of past episodes. Neither character learns anything or seems particularly affected at all. They may as well not have been there.

Obviously, there are some things that work. The jail set is reliably atmospheric, even if it does look like a music video, and the performances from genre veterans J.T. Walsh and Ken Foree, as well as April Grace's nervous widow, are pretty great. But Carter fails to utilize any of the ideas raised during the hour. Sure, he shows Walsh's warden abusing his inmates, he shows the largely black prisoners, but little emphasis is given to any of it. It's just... there.

Major filler material, The List doesn't rise above its flawed script, even with some memorable performances. And there are way too many maggot scenes. Ugh. Rating D+

Guest stars Bokeem Woodbine (Sammon Roque); Badja Djola (Napoleon "Neech" Manley); John Toles-Bay (John Speranza); Ken Foree (Vincent Parmelly); April Grace (Danielle Manley); J.T. Walsh (Leo Brodeur)
Writer Chris Carter Director Chris Carter

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