A pyromaniac named either Bob or Cecil tries to burn some old rich dude to death, as is apparently his wont. Mulder and Scully try to stop him, while Mulder’s old Oxford flame Phoebe reminds us just how nice it is that Phoebe is never in any other episodes besides this one.
Ye Olde England
An old rich dude! An Irish gardener guy named Cecil!
Oh no! Richie McRicherson is on fire!
And Cecil just sits there, grinning Irishly.
Scully and Mulder, bantering gamely in a parking garage, discover that (a) their car is unlocked, and (b) there is a CASSETTE TAPE on the dashboard!
The tape contains what appears to be a threat that the car will explode and kill them both if they open the door. This is a very tense revelation! And then…some lady opens the door to the car! And says hi. And the car does not explode. And they do not die. Mulder knows her!
Her name is Phoebe Green. She’s in the US regarding a rash of people-burning-to-death incidents. The perp likes to send love letters to the wives of the victims. The latest intended victim is hiding out in Cape Cod after a near, uh, burn.
The Arson Guy
Arson guy: “Spontaneous combustion?”
Arson guy drops some vocab: aliphatic pyrolysis.
Arson guy gives Phoebe — who he clearly has a huge arson guy crush on — a sidelong glance and says, “You’ve got quite a case for yourself here, Mulder. I almost wish I could be in your shoes.”
Out on Cape Cod
It’s Cecil! He’s painting this house with rocket fuel, and creepily watching the British guy he apparently tried to kill back in England arrive at said house. And then he puts a cigarette in his mouth and lights it…WITH HIS MIND.
And now, the kicking of a dog:
The dog was digging up a corpse! This makes CecilBob unhappy. The digging up part, anyway, not so much the corpse part.
Back at the office
Okay, so, at this point Mulder goes off into the mists of major personal revelations.
British lady makes tea. Cecil creepily spies on her from the yard. A man coughs!
It’s the family driver! Cecil bums a smoke off him, and offers to get him some cough syrup. This is…this is not very exciting stuff. Let’s skip a bit — Cecil chats up a girl with a lighting-his-finger-on-fire trick:
…then sets the bar on fire. Okay!
That was the only good part of the line. Anyway, Mulder and Phoebe talk to the lady who did not end up hooking up with Cecil. Instead she ended up hooking up with some 3rd degree burns. She recaps the fire thing and gives ‘em a rough description. And then some Mulder/Phoebe post-romatic yadda yadda. Including the revelation that THEY HAD SEX ON ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE’S GRAVE.
Also: Cecil is poisoning the driver’s cough syrup? Probably?
Now: Scully writing up a quality case report. Key notion: he’s a crazy sexual deviant psychopath nutter.
And: Cecil entertains the British kids by pulling a burning cigarette out of his ear.
Then: Scully catches up with Arson Guy.
Next: Cecil tries to peer-pressure the kids into smoking.
Venable Plaza Hotel
So the family is coming to a party at this hotel, and Mulder and Phoebe (sans Scully) are going to use that to set a trap for their perp, and they’re sharing a hotel room at the hotel and there’s only one big canopy bed and oh nelly that’s–
Cut to the party. The Phoebester is all dressed up in a dress and shit, and Mulder’s all “hey that lady is kind of pretty” in a mooning, wordless sort of way. And then, fuck it, how about some slowdancing and innuendo? What’s the harm? It’s not like Scully could show up at any minute and–
Scully, put out, glances around the portions of the lobby where Mulder isn’t dancing with THAT WHORE, and she notices
Bob Cecil hiding behind a potted plant grinning like a voyeur. Uncomfortable, she looks away — at Mulder kissing THAT WHOOOORE. Uncomfortabler, she looks away from that to where Cecil is now no longer standing.
And then she notices a fire alarm on the 14th floor and that kind of makes the whole I See You But I’m Not Telling You That I See You romantic drama bullshit moot, and they go running to save the British kids.
Someone who is not Mulder saves the kids, and a couple of firemen save Mulder.
So it was Cecil who saved the kiddos. How conveeeeenient.
This whole weird sexual-tension love triangle thing here is really not compelling. Let’s jump to a line that sounds naughty out of context:
So Cecil (last name: Lively) died in 1971. Hmm! Also, something about satanism. Also, Mulder takes his shirt off when he gets excited:
Scully gets a sketch of the suspect and it turns out that it’s ACTUALLY CECIL!
The Brit House
Mulder bursts in and…finds Phoebe and British Guy neckin’!
And now, pretty much out of the blue, they find the driver in the bathroom, poised in puking position but burnt to a crisp.
And now the house starts catching on fire, and Mulder bats at a burning wall with a towel, which I guess is progress for him compared with falling down and choking to death. He mans up and goes upstairs to look for the kids.
But Cecil sneaks up on him! And snaps his fingers and sets the hallway on fire! And bails, but Scully points a gun at him and it’s all “freeze” and “no but if you shoot me the house might blow up” and then Phoebes jumps him and douses him with accelerant or something? And Mulder is still upstairs facing his fears and shit and saves the kids after all.
But then Cecil laughs madly and sets himself on fire and, uh, dies. Take THAT, someone!
Closin’ it up
Scully psyches Mulder out by pretending to be British.
Scully mentions 5th and 6th degree burns in her report.
Cecil lived, and is recovering nicely.