211 Scorched

Every fire set … would be as unique as the person setting it …

Summary: An arsonist is setting fires using Molotov cocktails in the LA area. Don enlists Charlie’s help to investigate the latest fire where a man is murdered.

Original air date: December 16, 2005 (US)

Written by: Sean Crouch

Directed by: Norberto Barba

Opening numbers:

6.013: Fires
30,000: BTU
700: Arson deaths
1: Match

Family Concepts: (character development):

  • Charlie had a hard time fitting in his freshman year at Princeton
  • Charlie’s work on Cognitive Emergence Theory is taking up all the space in the garage.

Episode Quotes:

  • Colby: That was the 1960’s. Do me a favor and check a calendar.
  • Colby: It must have fallen off the bulletin board and got stuck to my shoe.
  • Megan [to Colby]: Why don’t we try and just break one law a day.
  • Megan: Cigarettes, lighter, spray paint; I thought you guys were all about clean air.
  • Megan: He knew exactly what to say.
    Colby: Yeah, I used to be smarter than everyone else, too.
  • Megan: Sometimes people say things to be noticed because sometimes being ignored is worse than being blamed.
  • Larry: There was another fire and apparently a signed confession does not satisfy Professor Eppes standard of guilt.

Episode Synopsis:

Three fires in the LA area over a few weeks time have spray painted notes from the Earth Liberation Movement, a fourth, also with ELM notes has killed a car dealership salesman.  Don calls Charlie to help with the arson investigation and Paul Stevens,, the arson investigator for LAFD is more than willing to take whatever help is offered.

Megan and Colby follow up with the ELM about the fires.  Members of the organization deny setting the dealership fire or the other three fires under investigation and state the fires are meant as a way to discredit the organization.  Colby “borrows” a photo posted to a bulletin board and discovers one of their members, Jake Ekworth, was seen at two of the three previous fires.  Jake is tracked to a Glendale housing development with the help of Jake’s roommate, Ethan and arrested.  Jake denies he was doing anything wrong, and that he is merely a media representative for the ELM.

Larry and Charlie with the help of Professor Bill Waldie try to recreate the conditions for the fire that killed the sales man.  When their experiment fails, they realize there had to be some sort of accelerant used in the fire.  Further investigation of the fire signature reveals there were two different arsonists at work at the car dealership: one was making a statement and the other was set to injure or kill someone.  While explaining his idea to Don’s team, Charlie is interrupted by a call to Don saying there had been another fire set in a high rise.

Paul Stevens is at the high rise fire and states that once again this was an arson fire and that six firefighters were caught in it and badly hurt.  He can’t figure out how the fire wasn’t put out quickly as the information he has states the fire should have been easily contained.

Colby has been working with Jake’s ISP to find more proof of Jake’s involvement in the ELM fires and finds there are two passwords on the machine, one that’s simple to break and one far more complex. When Megan sees the screen name of the second password, she realizes Ethan may be more involved than originally thought.  He is brought in and makes a full confession to the fires including the one that killed the salesman.  Charlie further supports Ethan’s guilt by proving the high rise fire was set up to deliberately hurt or kill firefighters by proving the water flow to the stand pipe had been blocked somehow and the men didn’t have enough water pressure to actually put out the fire.

Megan doesn’t think Ethan is capable of killing and has Jake talk to Ethan on the theory Ethan is taking responsibility in order for Jake to notice him.  Ethan admits he’s been talking to someone about engineering and that he helped this person with the problem of the standpipe, but that he doesn’t know who the person is, they’ve only talked online.  Ethan does give Megan his password for the computer and a chat log is traced back to the LAFD arson investigation building; Ethan had been talking to Paul Stevens.

Don and his team go back to the Glendale development and find Stevens in the act of setting more fires, but when they try to arrest him, Stevens drops a jar of white phosphorus and is killed.

Last family scene has Alan trying to get his shower put back together after the experiment Charlie and Larry were doing to prove the stand pipe had been tampered with. Alan wants to call a plumber and charge it to the FBI.  Don says he can fix it and the scene fades out with Don and Charlie trying to get the shower back together.