Revisiting The X-Files: season 1 episode 12

News Matt Haigh
4 Nov 2008 - 06:19

Matt's look back at the maiden season of The X-Files continues...

12. Fire

When a wealthy Englishman appears to spontaneously combust right before the eyes of his horrified wife, Mulder and Scully are on the case to find out exactly what happened. Things are already difficult here, as Mulder reveals his phobia of fire; but things get even more heated when an old flame of Mulder's turns up from England. I never realized just how pun-worthy fire is until that last sentence.

This episode is great for highlighting the sexual tension between our two leads, as the presence of the English ex-girlfriend (sporting a horsey-yah accent so strong it's almost impossible to tell whether she's faking it or is in fact English) brings out the Ice Queen in Scully. Plus, it simultaneously highlights how inept Mulder is with women (my personal belief at this stage is that Mulder isn't nearly as interested in women as he is in some bizarre fetish, such as midget porn).

The answer to this riddle lies in the form of an Englishman who walks into a bar one night and asks a woman if she would like to see a trick. She drunkenly agrees, and the man lights his fingertip on fire. Impressed, the woman turns around to call her friends over to see, but by the time she's turned back to the man, his whole arm is on fire. He burns down the bar, leaves several people dead or injured, but walks out alive. This man is also posing as a caretaker at a very posh manor house, working for a very posh family, and it would appear he has a certain history. As Scully's cold, detached voice-over tells us as she taps away at her computer screen, the man develops obsessions for peoples' wives and sends them love letters, but is unable to have normal relationships with women. Thus, he unleashes his frustration and anger in bursts of flame.

At first, nobody suspects the caretaker, as when a room catches fire at a swanky hotel, he manages to rescue the children of the posh couple and becomes the hero. That is, until Mulder and Scully do a little digging and find out this man has been posing as a dead person for quite some time, managing to worm his way into families only to then murder the husbands/fathers. A show-down at the manor house finds Mulder facing his fear of fire in order to save the children, but in the end it's his ex-girlfriend who manages to apprehend the pyromaniac.

This was a great episode, but just one thing bothered me. At the start, Mulder and Scully get into his car. They find a tape waiting for them on the dashboard. Mulder puts it into his player, and a voice begins to talk, incinuating that the car they're sitting in is wired with enough explosives to send it crashing through the roof of the multi-story car park. It's then revealed that the voice belongs to that of Mulder's English ex-girlfriend, who proceeds to yank open the car door in a kind of "Ha - fooled you!" manner.

Firstly, isn't that an extremely twisted and cruel way of greeting an old friend? And secondly, surely Mulder would have recognised his ex's voice? Hmmm.

Check out Matt's review of the preceding episode here.


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