Recap / The X-Files S01 E12 "Fire"

Mulder receives a visit from an old flame (get it?) in Scotland Yard. Members of the British aristocracy have been bursting into flame for no readily apparent reason.


  • Ax-Crazy: Cecil
  • Book Ends: Mulder gets a tape from Phoebe at the beginning and at the end of the episode.
    Mulder: Ten-to-one, you can't dance to it.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Gillian Anderson pulls out her British at the end.
  • Creepy Mortician: Or in this case, FBI arson specialist. The first thing we see of him as he is shown a slideshow consisting of fires that spontaneously erupted on - and killed - a member of the British aristocracy is him hugging the projector screen while gushing about how beautiful the fire is. He's even a little jealous that it's Mulder on the case and not himself.
  • Distress Ball:
    • Mulder carries a Distress Ball in one scene when he tries to rescue the children from fire. He cannot continue and just collapses. Firemen and Scully to the rescue!
    • The boys are in big trouble twice. First the villain pulls the trick of saving them and then it's Mulder, overcoming his fear.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Scully does enjoy looking at shirtless Mulder.
  • External Combustion: Mulder and Scully get into their car and find a strange cassette tape on the dashboard. They pop it in, and a voice informs them that by doing so they have armed a bomb hooked up to the car, and opening the door will trigger the explosion. Someone then opens the door from the outside, and Scully jumps—turns out the voice on the tape was just Mulder's New Old Flame, trying to mess with their heads.
  • Finger Snap Lighter: Cecil L'ively lights his finger to mess with a young woman at a bar. He also lights his cigarettes completely hands-free on several occasions.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Mulder: I was merely extending her a professional courtesy.
    Scully: Oh, is that what you were extending?
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Cecil is a heavy smoker, and at one point tries to induce the boys to take a puff.
  • Healing Factor: Cecil's ability to heal is pretty extreme, as is revealed at the end of the episode. He not only survives getting fifth to sixth degree burns over most of his body, where a fourth degree burn is often lethal, he is shown to be recovering within weeks.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Mulder wants Phoebe Green.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue:
    • Invoked by Cecil L'ively who set the fire at the hotel himself so that he could save the boys from their room. He succeeds and comes off as a hero.
    • Played straight with Mulder who saves the children from the burning house.
  • I Am Very British: The case of the week is the serial immolation of very posh English people. Upon espying his new home, a seven-year-old British child naturally exclaims:
    "What a pleasant surprise!"
  • Infernal Retaliation: "You can't kill fire with fire."
  • Kick the Dog: Cecil has two. Near the beginning, he literally kicks and berates a dog that is about to expose the corpse of the caretaker he is impersonating. Later, after taking time out to show the Marsden children a series of magic tricks with a cigarette (which on its own might have been a Pet the Dog moment), he rather aggressively tries to convince them to smoke.
  • London England Syndrome: The opening scene in England even includes the distance from London on the time-stamp.
  • Monster of the Week: A pyrokinetic villain.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Mulder wears nothing but black boxer shorts in one scene.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Cecil's smoking may have more to do with his pyromania than with an addiction, but he at least references this trope in the final scene.
  • New Old Flame: Mulder and Phoebe Greene were a couple at Oxford.
  • Playing with Fire: Cecil has pyrokinetic abilities and is capable of starting fires at a distance.
  • Pyro Maniac: British arsonist is the monster of the week. The FBI arson specialist also comes off as a (benign) pyromaniac.
  • Shirtless Scene: Mulder when recovering from smoke inhalation.
  • Shout-Out: Green refers to the arson case as a "three-pipe problem", which Mulder explains to Scully as a Sherlock Holmes reference and an In-Joke.
  • Single-Issue Psychology: Mulder has to face his fear of fire, which goes back to a single traumatic event in his childhood. It will never come up again after this episode.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: Cecil tries to get the kids to try his cigarette, but they are mostly grossed out by it (even though he just did a cool magic trick with it).
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: This was suggested as a possible explanation, but it wasn't the case.
  • Stock Episode Titles: 39 uses.
  • UST: Scully is supposed to hate Phoebe, and she's not too fond of her, but more than anything she's annoyed with Mulder's non-professionalism. Dancing and kissing while he should be looking out for a suspect. Seriously, Mulder, you're an FBI agent.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Mulder is deathly afraid of fire, and guess what he has to face. However, it is not that much of a coincidence, as Phoebe Green brought him on the case on purpose.
  • Wreathed in Flames