The X-Files

Season 1 Episode 12


Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Dec 17, 1993 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (28)

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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" or
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fire.

    The pyrokinesis is the main subject of this good episode of "The X Files", which decided to address issues such as psychopathic personality and coping with fears to develop, but was a mixture of light comedy and some special effects to hide a weak script. Among the double Scully-Mulder, I do not know for what reason, but decided to put the ex Mulder in the game (one flat and without any charisma), Scully just to stay with their first signs of jealousy, something quite unnecessary. I honestly thought it would be a game of 45 minutes a mutant "X-Men," however, I just fooling myself and seeing that the series addressed the pyrokinesis as a metaphor for the psychopath, the cover misuse of your character and difficulty of living in society and frustration for their sexual desires and primitive unmatched, making the act of burning people a reassuring attitude of pure guilty pleasure. The killer is well characterized and really convincing, but his preference for killing members of the British aristocracy was badly explained, if it even has an explanation. It is an episode that also allows a good amount of jokes, but the most boring of all was the end, that besides not having any sense, was something quite ridiculous. A few minutes of moralism also come just to mess with those old lessons "do not talk to strangers" and "do not use drugs," but even that fits well in the context of the scene in what is happening. Finally, an episode that has nothing to do with the show's mythology, not shown as smart or scary, ending a temporary amusement well conducted and even funny.
  • Fire was a good episode!

    Fire was a great episode of The X-Files. I enjoyed watching the episode as Mulder is contacted by a friend from his past for help on a bizarre case. Phoebe was quite a character as was Cecil. It was awesome seeing guest star Mark Sheppard in a great and very fitting role. The story was pretty good but the execution wasn't the best. I liked the episode but it didn't feel like a must watch. There were some good character moments though which definitely helped. The ending was funny as Cecil requested a cigarette. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!
  • Fire and some wordplay.

    Yeah so basically a guy is setting people on fire with his mind and moves with his target from England to the states so that the woman investigating his case (an old girlfriend of Mulder) can show up.

    There's so much wrong with this plot I don't even know where to start! First off: the motive. Okay so he likes the women of the guys he sets on fire. But why no follow-through? Why doesn't he ever approach one of these women?

    This Phoebe character. Is she the only one on the case? Why does she need Mulder's help, when all he does is duck from the fire? If the man really had to be scared for his life than why plan such a trip with so many safety risks? What exactely did she do to Mulder that was soooo horrible? What is it with her mouth in that scene by the car where she suddenly speaks as though she had a cotton ball in her mouth? At first she comes on to Mulder rather strongly but the goodbye is more than cold.

    The family is unconvincing. What parent would ask with that little interest about their sons, when the house is on fire. And then they walk slowly out, as if going home from a party when Mulder says rather weak: I'll get the boys. Yeah made me feel all secure and such...

    Scully (and Mulder most of the time) only gets to stand around and look annoyed to jealous. Only upside here is GA using her british accent and the fire effects are beautiful. But that's really it for this episode.
  • An old British friend of Fox asks for the agents help in protecting a visiting dignatry and his family, which forces Fox to deal with his fear of fire.

    OK, this episode does not really add much to the story involving the vast government conspiracy and thus most of the plot developments and sci-fi elments are meant to be quickly forgotten once the episode is over. However, this is still an above average episode, largely due to the steller writing and cast -- fans of Josh Whedon's "Firefly" series should recognize the firery villian --.

    A working class British man gets jobs working for various upper class families, where he proceeds to use his special gift to get away with murder. This brings an old friend back into Fox's life, who asks the X-Files agents to help protect an important British family from being the next target.

    I did wish that the episode was a bit more creative with the villian's motivation and -- in sign of the times -- it should be noted that the firey villian not only smokes, but offer some cigs to his target's kids, which probably would not be allowed on network television day.

    The main problem I had with these type of episodes is that they were almost always totally divorced from the storyline involving the government conspiracy. While I appreciate the reasoning behind this, it did always bug me how the vast government plot to hide the existence of the supernatural had little or no interst in the various unexplained events and creatures that Fox and Scully would meet in these type of episodes.
  • I have only watched this episode once and I loved it!

    So we get Phoebe, an old "friend" of Mulders who has a case for them. The guy who can control fire. Or so we find out later in the episode. This episode is pretty funny at the start when we first see Phoebe and you can tell Scully is a bit funny with her there. There is one bit at the end, where the guy who can supposedly control fire, is on fire and he is laughing really crazily. Its actually a bit creepy and then he falls to the ground. Later we see him in hospital and he is healing really fast and is expected to fully recover in a matter of months....strange.
  • Wanna see a magic trick?

    Old rich guys are dying in englang. Mulders ex has the case and wants to share it. one of the victims families is coming to the us. The old important rich guys are dying from spontanious combustion... caused by the grounds keeper. Cecil has the ability to conjure fire out of nothing. He uses this power to kill and make himself look like a hero saving to kids lives in a burning hotel room. Cecil is a bad guy. mulders afraid of fire. and scullys jeakous of mulders old flame (sorry no pun intended). the family has begun to like the man who saved their kids
  • Don't play with fire

    This is not a bad episode. Arson makes good stories and this wasn't the exception. There are a few holes, bad acting but it was entertaining.
    We meet Phoebe Green, one of Mulder's ex-loves who you might hate immediately. Especially because we learn that she sort of broke Mulder's heart. She's back and she asks him for his help among other things.
    Again, I like the trust that is building between Mulder and Scully. He confesses her one of his biggest fears and she takes care of him when he needed it and even joking and asking him about Phoebe when she knew the answer.
    Scully looks a little uncomfortable whenever Phoebe is around, but she still helps Mulder with the case and brings important information to him. I'm sure in the end he was glad he hadn't gotten involved with Phoebe again.
    I guess my favorite moment is when Scully is taking care of Mulder in the hotel room. You can see that there's something stronger growing between them and they just can't deny it.
  • There's a bally madman on the loose!

    As a Brit, one who knows their Derby scones from their Darby and Joans I have to say I found it terribly perturbing that Englishmen were being targeted. A man's home is his castle, what what, and there's some sort of pyromaniac running about setting them on fire like last year's Encyclopaedia Britannica! It's just not cricket! By one of our own, no less!

    One would think someone with an authentically British name like Cecil L'Ively would be a jolly decent chap, but one would be wrong. You see, he is a ne'er do well who has a bit of a thing for the ladies. Well, that's what that nice Miss Scully said, and I have no reason to doubt her. Seems rather rambunctious to run about the place making torches out of perfectly pleasant people. My word. I must confess I have come over rather light headed, what with all the excitement. I'm quite unused to it. You see, we don't have things like this in England. We have fire, mark my words we do, but only behind grates to toast some fine bread on. I must confess to finding it all rather an enigma.
  • We get a glimpse into Mulder's past as he hooks up with an old flame (ha ha) in order to find a man who can apparently control fire with his mind.

    Pyrokinesis is cool. There's no doubt about it. So an episode about someone who can light things on fire at will is pretty much a given when you're watching The X-Files. Add Mulder's fear of fire and his old girlfriend Phoebe Green to the equation and you get a pretty good episode that suffers from only minor problems.

    The biggest problem with this episode is that Cecil's ability is never really explained. There are lots of hints towards pyrokinesis (the ability to light things on fire with your mind), but it is evident at the end of the episode that it is more than that, since Cecil's body temperature is 11 degrees higher than normal and he can apparently survive fifth and sixth degree burns with an increased rate of regeneration, recalling the genetic mutant idea that was presented in Squeeze with Eugene Victor Tooms. It would have been nice to know more about exactly what caused this. However, I am willing to be lenient since we finally get Mulder in his underwear (I mean, come on, Scully stripped down in the pilot!), and no girl can complain about that.
  • Can't Fight Fire With Fire...Or Can You?

    I love this episode. Ok, I'll admit that it mainly has to do with the whole Pheobe and Mulder interations. =) I just loved it...especially in the beginning when she scared the hell out of Mulder and Scully in the car. Then...OMG, the dance together. It seemed like Mulder was more hesitant to dance with her than she was but the look on Scully's face. Hmm...interesting!

    So, we learn something new about Mulder. He's afraid of fire. Actually, terrified of it. Sounds kind of like a weird phobia that he has but it fits. When he went to try and saved the children only to end up having to be saved himself by the firefighters...ahh, I felt bad for him. I'm sure he felt embarrased. I know I would be.

    Oh yes and *Smiles* When Mulder woke up...Yummy! Loved how he just got out of bed only wearing his skimpy little boxers.

    So yeah...I don't know why people don't like this episode. I actually liked the plot of it too. I found it interesting.

  • You cant fight fire with fire

    One of the things this story was do some stuff with the relationship of scully and mulder. When Mulder got out of the car and kissed her it showed that he really does have time for stuff other than his work; and when Scully still helps him even though he said not to it proves that maybe she does like him...maybe just a little...
  • “Well, that’s one of the luxuries of hunting down aliens and genetic mutants. You rarely get to press charges.”

    I am ambivalent about this episode. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really like it either. First off, I despised Phoebe Green, her addition was silly and added nothing to the series plot. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have incredible chemistry, the heat between the two of them is so natural and readily apparent that one never questions Mulder and Scully’s rightness. However, Duchovny has more chemistry with a piece of sweet potato pie than with Amanda Pays, the actress who played Phoebe Green. One simply cannot see the two of them having any sort of fiery relationship. In fact, the heat being generated on screen is coming from Scully, who obviously hates Ms. Green from minute one. Who doesn’t love jealous Scully? For the sake of the episode, Mulder is given a paralyzing fear of fire, which in and unto itself is fine, however, it is never touched on again, and the viewing audience is left to believe that he conquered this fear by the episodes conclusion; considering that Mulder is in no way pro at conquering his demons this makes no sense. Mulder seems half-asleep throughout the entire episode, he does nothing to aid in solving the case, Scully does all the work. This episodes starts off very well, then the director cued Phoebe Green, who, despite a fantastic entrance, was merely a hindrance, not to mention a brutally predictable character, the entire episode slid downhill from there.
  • A smokin hot episode!

    One of the main reasons why I enjoyed this episode, was the fact that you got to see a bit into Mulder's past. The character Pheobe Green was well played and had me interested in what was going on. The writers of this episode allowed you to see how Mulder got one of his first phobia's. You also got to see how one of his previous love affairs turned out. Scully's whole reaction to this episode was halarious. You could definatley tell that she was a bit jealous and felt a little left out. It also gave you a taste of culture difference with Pheobe's background.
  • Not bad

    Another well written but otherwise unmemorable episode. Why do they always get the poshest British people possible in American shows? It makes us all look like posh twits. The addition to Mulder's backstory is nice, and the visual effects are done well. However, we're not really told why the man has taken to killing people with fire, or why he burns himself at the end when he could just burn Mulder and co. Pretty average, with a few neat twists.
  • Character development!!

    I love episodes that feature a glimpse of the past lives of the characters. This episode provides just that sort of look into Mulder's romantic past - his ex-flame, Phoebe Green. Ten years ago! Has he been alone all that time? The poor guy. This is the first real episode where Mulder is portrayed as a genuine human, rather than the obsessed ufo-nerd (as much as I love that side of him). We get to see his vulnerability, his soft side, and how he reacts to past hurts. This is the episode where I get the sense that he uses humor as a defense mechanism. And of course, we find out about his fire phobia, which is well-played by David Duchovny. I heard he suffered a severe burn that left a permanent scar, so I suppose he'll have reason to develop a fire phobia now too. Watching closely, I was able to spot the exact moment the injury occurred, I believe. I think I'll post it in the Trivia section once I muster up enough points as a member.
  • Stop, Drop, and Roll

    Interesting. I found the story line to be kinda lame, but entertaining. Mulder's ex- girlfriend was extremely obnoxious- why couldn't she have caught on fire? Now that would have been good. I like how Scully seems to have a jealous streak and think that helps add to the romanatic tension that Scully and Mulder have. I particulary enjoyed the ending of the story and how creepy it is. It's not one of my favorites, but I think it contains enough of a X- Files vibe to create a semi-good episode. It's original but not stimulating enough to make it a 10.
  • Flame Boy!

    You can't expect too much from an episode with a simple premise, and, obviously, Fire isn't exactly a hugely original or convoluted hour, but more one of those monster-of-the-week shows that are, simply put, pretty awesome.

    Amanda Pays' character Phoebe Green appears to have been added into the episode purely to annoy the fans, as she's nothing but an irritating whore who uses her intelligence to seduce Mulder, sometimes when directly around Scully, who's left feeling awkward and disturbed. Although, because of her appearance, we were able to explore into Mulder's past a little, in particular his education and, obviously, his relationships.

    I also need to commend director Larry Shaw and the special effects team for the fire scenes throughout this episode. Creating real-looking fire on a TV budget is extremely difficult, and though some of the flame shots did look a little lame, the scene with Cecil making the fire spread through the hallway was visually stunning, and you could almost feel the heat coming out of your TV set.

    Although, there are problems. Firstly, the dialogue for the British characters plain sucks. I have no idea if people do actually talk like that in England, but all the uses of phrases like "bloke" or "good heavens" just grates, especially when you're supposed to feel sympathy for the characters saying them, when you end up looking forward to the moment Cecil burns them all to death. Secondly, Jimmy and Michael Marsden are two of the lamest child characters I've ever seen, mainly because of their annoying haircuts and their "ooh, good heavens, no!" attitude to Cecil offering them cigarettes. Okay, maybe this is just general issues I have with British people in American TV shows, but whatever.

    Despite all that dialogue, Fire is a pretty good episode, thanks in most part to the awesome effects and a hilarious performance from Gillian Anderson, who plays Scully's undeniable jealousy of Phoebe excellently.

    Director: Larry Shaw
    Writer: Chris Carter
    Rating: B-
  • A word to the wise, if it's not a mythology episode all Chris Carter penned episodes in the first season are less than thrilling.

    Fire, like Eve before it, is mediocre. Phoebe Green, a former love of Mulder's from his days at Oxford, and the one that apparently hurt him quite badly, returns with a case from Scotland Yard that has her baffled. Oh, and it involves fire, Mulder's great fear. Like some of Carter's other first season episodes, the good guys win, the bad guy goes away, and nothing is truly resolved at all. Why does our villian do what he does? We have no idea as Carter never feels the need to explain it at all. He simply sets fires killing members or English monarchy. Mulder has to face his fears, Phoebe hurts him again, and in the end its back to the same old same old for Mulder and Scully. Add to this that Phoebe is played by Amanda Pays, an actress I loved in the shortlived Flash series fromn a few years prior to this, but here she acts as if she can't act at all. Scully once again gets the short end of the stick in a Carter penned episode for the majority of the time, although she does figure out far more than anyone else is able to, but considering how stupid everyone acts in this episode that's not saying much. Mulder acts like a lovesick idiot, much like he acted like a starstruck idiot in the last Carter episode, Space, and it's hard to watch.

    So, what does Fire have going for it? Well, we have more heretofore unknown pieces of Mulder's past filled in, Scully does pretty much singlehandedly solve the case, and the firs scenes are very nice to watch and almost tense. Other than that, it's a paint by numbers run of the mill episode that furthers little to nothing for character development nor anything else.
  • Irish man who likes to set British people on fire

    Fire is a great episode about an Irish man (who reminded me of Colin Farrell) who likes to set British people on fire (not with matches, like Jonny Torch from the Fantastic Four, by pointing his fingers and doing some weird stuff). Mulders old partner from Oxford come along to help him and there’s a lot of sexual tension between the two of them, and I suspect a little jealousy from Skully. Mulder gets a good old snogging and then the three of them all sort out the Irish man, it may not sound good but it’s a real good episode and is a lot better than the last one (eve).
  • Come on baby, light my fire!

    This is a good episode, because it reveals a little more about the characters of Mulder & Scully and also has a stonking good storyline.

    I think the casting people for the X Files should be commended for their ability to find known and unknown actors who can really portray menace. The firestarter here is the perfect combination of manners, smiles and evil.

    I like the opening to this, with the tape and the worry that M&S might be trapped inside a car about to explode. And Amanda Pays is certainly delightful enough to look at, but in my opinion she's not really an actress. She doesn't have the presence to make a real 'threat' to Scully, or to carry along a story.

    The fire effects are terrific and the ending another of those great X Files episodes that don't explain everything and leave you wondering...
  • The one with the fire starter

    This episode is near perfect and massively underrated.

    Man, what a fiery episode it was. It begins in a home where a guy is doing the yard and possibly his boss walks out but suddenly he catches on fire and burns to the ground.

    Mulder and Scully have a visit from an old flame of Mulder, Phoebe. Scully doesn't like her at all and she begins to make Mulder fall for her and they even kiss. Meanwhile the murderer works for a rich family and he looks very harmless and he even saves the two boys from fire he started himself.

    I really loved the Mulder being afraid of fire storyline, it was sort of character development for him saving the two boys at the end. I also loved the 'fire' subject and it really worked for the X-files.

    The guy ends up burning up himself but he doesn't die and they put him in a cell where he isn't able to start anymore fire.

    Scully: Mulder, you just keep unfolding like a flower
  • Not so fiery

    A good solid episode that would have quite happily trundled by if it hadn’t been for a fairly ingenious twist by writer Carter to give it a whole new dynamic. That being a blast from Mulder’s past, an old flame, as it were, in the form of the duplicitous Phoebe Green. And of course the fact that Scully can’t stand her makes it all the more delicious.

    Unfortunately this new development almost doesn’t come off, due to the bad casting of Amanda Pays. “The X Files” has an outstanding track record when it comes to guest casting, but they really take their eyes off the ball on this one. Phoebe Green is an interesting character, a “user”, but Pays simply isn’t up to the challenge of portraying her in a complex way. Instead she does it in the simplest of strokes and we are mystified why this woman has such a hold over Mulder. Duchovny as an actor too has real difficulties playing off against Pays. There’s a real sense of dead air between the two when they are onscreen, and you only need to look at how much more responsive he is as an actor with his scenes with Anderson to see that.

    The satisfying quality of the mystery itself aside, “Fire” also demonstrates the duality of Carter’s writing. On the one hand, he totally has the measure of the Mulder-Scully dynamic (some of their banter is just priceless – “Oh, is that what you were extending?”). But give him an English character to write for and he is all at sea. Green’s dialogue sounds like she should be in some 30s drawing room comedy, her use of the word “bugger” aside.

    But we do learn a few interesting gobbets from Mulder’s past. As we saw Scully nearly embrace a normal life by going on a date in “The Jersey Devil”, here we learn that Mulder too has his normal sexual urges, which he addressed in his tenure at Oxford University. We also learn of his fear of fire, something which renders him powerless on several occasions within the episode. Green knows of this fear, yet she deliberately embroils him in this case. This knowledge, and also her awareness of his unresolved feelings towards her, means that Green effectively emasculates Mulder.

    Leaving it wide open for the dedicated Scully to break the case. Which she does. Go, girl. Though it was to be said that Scully is given pretty short shrift in terms of screen time here. Lot of looking on from the sidelines as the Mulder With New Chick Show unfolds in front of her. Scully as a character deserves a bit better than that, Anderson as an actress definitely does (but then we do have “Beyond the Sea” to come next, in which she wipes the floor with our expectations of her as an actress).
  • An explosive episode about a man who can control fire with the snap of his fingers.

    This episode is above average and is very frightening and explosive. The performances are superb, but the effects are even better. Cecil Lively (Mark Sheppard), with the ability to control fire is intense and frightening and is a real thriller, and with a former romance of Mulder calling in Mulder and Scully to the case, the episode is full of drama from the first frame.