"Fire" is the twelfth episode of the first season of The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on December 17, 1993. The episode was written by series creator Chris Carter, directed by Larry Shaw, and is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc.
Mulder must overcome his phobia of fire to catch a mutant killer with pyrokinetic capabilities.
Bosham, England, 70 miles southwest of London. A distinguished older man leaves his house for the day, saying goodbye to his wife and his many groundskeepers. As he gets into his chauffeured car, the man spontaneously bursts into flame in front of everyone, as the gardener glares evilly.
At the Hoover Building garage, Mulder and Scully get into their car to find a mysterious audiotape on the dashboard. When Mulder plays it, a female British voice tells them Parliament member Reggie Ellicott was killed six months ago when a similar cassette triggered a car explosion. The agents are apparently sitting on a bomb, but then Mulder's door opens to reveal Scotland Yard Inspector Phoebe Green, an acquaintance from Mulder's Oxford days more than 10 years ago. Though having broken his heart then, she kisses him heartily now, as Scully looks away in annoyance.
Phoebe explains someone is burning up Parliament members, then sending love letters to their wives. One MP, Sir Malcolm Marsden, had barely escaped a garage fire and has subsequently moved his family to Cape Cod, Massachusetts on vacation. Mulder, recalling Phoebe's penchant for haranguing, runs the information by the arson guys as a "professional courtesy," despite Scully's suspicions. Arson Agent Beatty suggests the cause is rocket fuel, which burns at very high temperatures, almost completely destroying any traces of itself. Mulder suggests pyrokinesis.
At Sir Malcolm's vacation cottage, a caretaker, Bob, dressed in painting garb, is applying argotypoline rocket-propulsion class-3 liquid to a window frame. When Sir Malcolm and his wife enter, he endears himself to them. "Bob," who is really the gardener from England, makes a cigarette light by itself without touching the tip. Outside, a dog scratches at the shallow grave of the real caretaker before Bob chases him off.
In his office, Mulder tells Scully that Phoebe is playing mind games with him, since she knows he has a long-standing phobia about fire. While in town for cough medicine for the MP's ill chauffeur, Bob stops in at a bar, where he uses his finger to light a cigarette for a Miss Kotchek. She thinks it's just a charming magic trick—until he sets his arm and the whole bar afire. At Boston Mercy Hospital, Kotchek describes the events to Phoebe and Mulder (who have pulled a news-wire report of this suspicious fire). At Cape Cod, Bob poisons the chauffeur via cough syrup in order to take his place driving the family to a Boston party in Sir Malcolm's honor. He also shows a "magic" fire trick to the MP's children, Michael and Jimmie, and briefly tries to tempt them into smoking cigarettes before they are called away by their mother.
Phoebe agrees with Mulder that the arsonist may be pyrokinetic and asks him to assist with a potential trap at the party that evening; she also mentions with a sly smile she's taken a hotel room in Boston. At 5:15 p.m., Mulder arrives at the Venable Plaza Hotel, suitcase in hand. When Scully calls to say she wants to fly up with some data on a possible suspect, he is hesitant, which Scully catches on to. At 6:47 p.m., the MP and his family arrive. Phoebe works undercover in a stunning black gown; Mulder is in a tux. When the arsonist doesn't show, she begins to dance with Mulder in the hallway outside the party. Scully appears, but hangs back when she sees them kissing. She turns away to see Bob lurking in the hallway, but interrupts the dance a moment later when a fire alarm panel shows smoke and fire alarms on the 14th floor, where the MP's children are. Mulder races upstairs, but the fire causes him to panic and collapse, necessitating rescue by firefighters. Bob himself "saves" the kids. Mulder appears partially nude in the next scene, laying in bed with his silky chest hair apparent.
Phoebe tells Scully that she checked out the chauffeur before the family came to America and cleared him (not knowing Bob is not the real chauffeur). She also tells Mulder she'll be leaving with the family in a few days. Scully tells Mulder she ran an Interpol check on the victims' domestic help. The only duplicated name: Cecil L'Ively, a gardener for two of the victims. Searching further, she found him listed as having died in a London tenement fire in 1971—and having died with a group of kids in a Satanic cult sacrifice in 1963. His name also turned up at a Boston immigration office list of recent visas. Scully gets a fax of the composite sketch of the bar arsonist, whom she recognizes as the "hero," Bob.
Mulder races to the Cape Cod house, where he barges in on the married MP nuzzling on the stairs with Phoebe. When Scully arrives, a visibly upset Mulder shows her the rocket fuel he found, suspecting the entire house has been coated with it. Sir Malcolm looks at the composite and realizes the arsonist is not the trusted chauffeur but the caretaker, who is upstairs with the kids. The real chauffeur is found in the bathroom, burnt to a crisp. Suddenly, the house catches fire. The agents hustle everyone out while Mulder goes back upstairs to find the children; he confronts L'Ively, but is stymied when L'Ively sets the hallway on fire. Going back downstairs, he is confronted by Scully, whom he dares to shoot him and risk an explosion by the combustion of the gunshot. Phoebe splashes him with an accelerant. Mulder manages to overcome his fear and break into the room where the children are held, carrying them outside to the others. L'Ively sets himself on fire after he stumbles out of the house. Everyone watches as L'Ively burns on the lawn, laughing maniacally and declaring that "you can't fight fire with fire!"
Back at the office, Mulder is startled by Scully's rather accurate imitation of Phoebe's voice. Phoebe, who has apparently left for England without saying goodbye, left another tape for Mulder, but he chooses not to listen to it, having seen her with the MP, an indiscretion similar to ones that led to their breakup years ago, and deciding it is not worth dwelling on.
At Boston Mercy Hospital, Cecil is in a hyperbaric chamber with fifth- and sixth-degree burns, a temperature of 109ºF, and a loss of all his hair. Specialists have found phenomenally rapid regeneration of his fundamental, basal cell tissue. He'll recover in as little as a month, at which point he'll be tried for the murder of the caretaker. When a nurse stops by to check on him she asks if there is anything he would like, he replies, "I'm just dying for a cigarette," and grins cheekily.
- Amanda Pays as Inspector Phoebe Green
- Mark Sheppard as Cecil L'Ively
- Dan Lett as Sir Malcolm Marsden
- Laurie Paton as Lady Marsden