The X-Files

Season 1 Episode 12


Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 17, 1993 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
489 votes

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Episode Summary

When an old Oxford girlfriend of Mulder's asks for his help in an international case concerning the unexplainable execution of several British dignitaries they encounter an assassin who can produce fire from his bare hands.

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  • Fire falls short

    This episode gives us more Mulder character development but as a whole the script and the special effects don't have enough (may I dare say) fire. But I certainly did enjoy the rather hilarious scene with Phoebe and the arson specialist.
  • its another filler

    Here we have some good brittish acting, A guy who kills by fire. And we get to know lots about Mulders past. An old girl friend of his turns up. And we learn tthat Mulder hates fires, he is terrified of them. But like he says, a man gotta face his deamons.
  • A Three Pipe Problem

    The tightest writing yet in season one. From the thrown-away references to Sherlock Holmes ("three pipe problem") to the recurring fire motif throughout the episode, this is the show at its first season best. It's also evidence that the "monster of the week" episodes reign supreme over the "myth arc" episodes. Freed from his obsession with alien abductions, Mulder is given room to grow as a character while Scully is able to flex her scientific muscles. Mark Sheppard sets the bar for future X-Files villains with a creepy, menacing turn. The special effects are uncharacteristically good for a first season episode of the show, perhaps because there is a greater reliance on practical effects than the sort of CGI we saw in "Ice" ormoreless
  • Fire! Fire! Fire!

    See Mulder's old girlfriend. See Scully jealous--once again, Scully sees Mulder's taste in women and fails to realize that she's not his type. See a new psycho with superpowers--he's not quite the Human Torch, but he can make items combust by just thinking about it (why aren't there any superheroes in the X Files universe, and why are all the people with incredible powers bad?) See Mulder crawling along a burning hallway in a ridiculous and way-too-long scene. See yet another open-ended ending that makes it feel like a waste of time to watch this episode.



    From start-to-finish, this is a very irritating stand-alone episode. The bad joke at the very end was just further insult to the aggravation of this time-waster.moreless
  • A man who can control fire and Mulder overcomes his fear.

    This was an episode that showed a bit about Mulder's past and a woman from his past helps him in a case where a man is burning his victims alive.Throughout the episode it shows the man is a painter for a family and he shows people all sorts of tricks and shows off his abilities but is a very dangerous man especially at the end when he tries to kill the whole family and Mulder has to save the kids caught in the fire.The arsonist sets himself on fire in the end after having water thrown on him and the shocking part was he could make a full recovery.moreless
Amanda Pays

Amanda Pays

Inspector Phoebe Green

Guest Star

Mark Sheppard

Mark Sheppard

Cecil L'ively/Bob

Guest Star

Dan Lett

Dan Lett

Sir Malcolm Marsden

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • Principal setting: Boston, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

    • 40:05 As Mulder dives for the floor in the hallway there is a hole in the center of a painting that has yet to burn.

    • Revealing Mistake: Towards the end of this episode, everyone gathers into the attic room where the drapes have caught fire. They continue to stand in the room watching as the whole place goes up in flames before finally racing out. Why did they wait so long?

    • Continuity: When Cecil L'ively sets the ceiling of the Marsden family on fire, you can see him duck away from the fire in one shot. In the next, he is still standing up however.

    • Factual Errors: Scully claims that L'ively's name appeared on a list of recent visas issued by the British government. However, the country of destination should have issued the visa. In this case the visa should have been issued by the USA.

    • Factual Errors: It is true that water dissociates at 7000 degrees. However, the addition of water to a fire of 7000 degrees wouldn't make any difference. It wouldn't extinguish it nor add fuel to it.

    • Factual Errors: You would only get a magnesium residue after an exothermic reaction if there was magnesium present to begin with.

    • Plot Hole: The Marsdens said that they don't know where their driver is but if they bothered to check his room surely they would have found his burned corpse in the bathroom?

  • QUOTES (16)

    • Mulder: There's something else I haven't told you about myself, Scully. I hate fire. Hate it. Scared to death of it.
      Scully: Mulder? Are you sure you don't want me to help you out on this one?
      Mulder: Sooner or later, a man's got to face his demons.

    • Mulder: But there have been cases of pyrokinetics, people who can control and conduct fire.
      Beatty: Well, I've seen fire bend around corners, seen it bounce like a rubber ball. Fire's got a certain genius, you know? A certain demon poetry. It's like it's got a mind of it's own. But I've never seen one that can defy the laws of physics, not when you figure it out.

    • Beatty: There have been some arson fires in Seattle lately and, uh, Pennsylvania that burn so hot that the firemen can't put them out. 7,000 degrees. I mean, hosing that down just makes it worse.
      Mulder: How's that?
      Beatty: Uh, the, uh, reaction is so intense that it splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen. Just adds fuel to the fire.

    • Phoebe: Oh, come on, don't tell me you left your sense of humour in Oxford ten years ago.
      Mulder: No, actually. It's one of the few things you didn't drive a stake through.
      Phoebe: You know, some mistakes are quite worth making twice.

    • Mulder: Ten years it's taken me to forget about this woman and she shows up in my life with a case like this.
      Scully: So she shows up knowing the power she has over you and then she makes you walk through fire, is that it?
      Mulder: Phoebe is fire.

    • Scully: Mulder, you just keep unfolding like a flower.

    • Mulder: That's no problem. You can come down to the field office and work with somebody there. I'll give you a minute to think about it, okay?
      Green: Deftly done, Agent Mulder. Casually disregard her indiscretion. A firm but polite manner until she accedes to cooperate.
      Mulder: It's a technique I refined in my relationship with you.

    • Mulder: Remember those reports I told you about? About people who could control and conduct fire: pyrokinetics?
      Phoebe: Vaguely.
      Mulder: I think this guy sent us a message that he's far more exotic.
      Phoebe: I should say so, I mean, if he can set himself afire . . . (Mulder laughs) What?
      Mulder: I'm just not used to someone so quick to agree with me.

    • Arson Specialist: (examining the evidence photos) Was there any kind of incendiary device used?
      Phoebe: Yes, actually. The victim's body.

    • Scully: Where is Phoebe?
      Mulder: I don't know.
      Scully: You don't know? She didn't call?
      Mulder: No. She did messenger this to me last night though. (holding up audio tape)
      Scully: Did you play it?
      Mulder: No.
      Scully: Why not? Aren't you curious what's on it?
      Mulder: Ten-to-one, you can't dance to it.

    • Scully: (Imitating Pheobe's British accent) Care to take me to lunch?... (In her normal voice) Scare you?
      Mulder: You have no idea.

    • Phoebe: Enjoying yourself?
      Mulder: It's good food, witty conversation, I'm having the time of my life.
      Phoebe: I wondered if you think it's safe enough to indulge ourselves in a dance?
      Mulder: Doesn't look like your arsonist is gonna make an appearance.
      Phoebe: That doesn't mean there won't be any fires to put out.

    • Scully: So Sherlock, is the game afoot
      Mulder: I'm afraid so, Watson.

    • Scully: [about the car] It's open.
      Mulder: What?
      Scully: It's unlocked.
      Mulder: That's weird. I'm sure I locked it.
      Scully: Must be an X-File.

    • Scully: I forgot what it was like to spend a day in court.
      Mulder: That's one of the luxuries to hunting down aliens and genetic mutants. You rarely get to press charges.

    • Mulder: I was merely extending her a professional courtesy.
      Scully: Oh, is that what you were extending?

  • NOTES (5)

    • This episode originally included the following line of dialogue towards the end:
      Scully: Never let it be said that you wouldn't walk through fire for a woman, Mulder.
      Mulder: And never let it be said that I wouldn't do it for you again, Scully.

    • While shooting this episode, David Duchovny suffered a burn severe enough to leave a scar on his hand. It is clearly visible on the outside of his left hand in the scene where he is waiting outside the ballroom and he wipes his forehead. It was not there earlier, in the opening scene between Mulder and Scully. The scene where Mulder is crouched in the hallway, the ceiling on fire, is where he got the burn. If you watch closely, as he walks down the hallway, with his hands on the walls, he yells in pain and grabs his left hand - exactly where the burn later surfaces.

    • The famous "black silk boxer shorts" scene was originally a "jockey underwear" scene.

    • The character of Malcolm Marsden is named after the show's hairstylist.

    • This is the second episode to provide character development as we learn a bit about Mulder's past: His rocky relationship with fellow Oxford student Phoebe Green (where they shared a certain 'youthful indiscretion atop the tomb of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle'), and that Mulder is deathly afraid of fire.


    • Character Name: Phoebe Green

      The name "Phoebe" is a Greek name, meaning "the shining one", an appropriate title for a woman sending Mulder into fire. This is also reinforced by Mulder's assertion that "Phoebe is fire." It is the feminine form of "Phoebus", another name for Apollo, the fiery sun god.

    • Dialogue References: Sherlock Holmes

      This episode contains a number of references to Sherlock Holmes: (a) Phoebe Green reminds Mulder of the fact that they once made out on the tombstone of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle is the creator of the character of Sherlock Holmes; (b) Phoebe makes a reference to a 'three-pipe problem'. This is an expression used in in the novel The Red-Headed League which featured Sherlock Holmes. It refers to the fact that one has to sit and smoke at least three pipes in order to solve a case with the information one has gathered; (c) Scully asks Mulder if 'the game is afoot'. An expression used many times in the Sherlock Holmes novels; (d) Scully calls Mulder "Sherlock" and he calls her "Watson". Watson was the faithful friend and colleague of Holmes.