The pastor of the Hills' church, Reverend Thomason is retiring, and is due to be replaced. Much of a surprise to the town, the new reverend is a woman, Karen Stroup. At an introductory potluck supper the next Saturday, Hank is surprised upon first meeting her, but soon he comes to accept Rev. Stroup when she holds services before the football games, herself being a Vikings fan from her native Minnesota. Reverend Stroup, meanwhile, attempts to get the congregation to try a homemade dish from her native Minnesota called lutefisk, which most of the churchgoers politely avoid. Bobby, however, absconds under the table with the dish and eats the lot, surreptitiously chucking the empty platter in the garbage when Reverend Stroup discovers the lutefisk's disappearance. Upon discovering the platter, a hurt Stroup along with everyone else assumes that someone was so disrespectful that they directly threw all the lutefisk into the trash, and Bobby is too ashamed to admit to his gluttony.
The following day, Bobby has such an upset stomach from all the lutefisk, that he quietly rushes off to the bathroom in the middle of Reverend Stroup's first sermon. Meanwhile, Cotton arrives on scene from Houston, having been informed of the new minister by Dale. When Reverend Stroup asks the congregation to hug one another, Cotton loudly voices his objection to a female having authority in the church, but ends when Bill defends Stroup, saying if Cotton hurts her in anyway, he’ll strike Cotton down. Cotton concedes and then storms off to "the one part of this church that's still men's-only". Entering the restroom, where Bobby is still holed up in a stall, Cotton is overwhelmed by the stench; he lights a match in an attempt to mask the odor, but finds the gesture futile and leaves, dropping his matchbook as he goes.
Bobby finally finishes shortly afterwards and, after locking the door, goes to wash up, but panics when someone else attempts to enter the bathroom. In a desperate attempt to get rid of the stench himself, he lights more matches to try and cover the smell, then throws the smoldering matches into the wastebasket and the matchbook into the toilet and then flees through the window out of embarrassment; unknown to him, the matches then cause a small fire in the wastebasket. When Bobby returns to the sanctuary, Hank comments on an odd smell, but identifies it as smoke just as the fire alarms go off. The congregation evacuates the building, watching in horror as the church burns to the ground before their eyes.
As the ensuing police investigation goes on, details of a suspected arson emerge: the fire started in the men's bathroom wastebasket, with a book of matches from a strip club in Houston. Given his Houston residence, openly misogynistic character, and declaration of going to the location of where the fire started just beforehand, Cotton becomes the obvious prime suspect in the apparent hate crime, which is compounded when he is caught by both Peggy and the police attempting to flee Arlen in the middle of the night after having realized that all of the evidence points to him; however, only he and Bobby are certain of his innocence - even as the police arrest him on the Hills' front lawn, he still screams for them to look for "the man with the terrible smell" in the stall who must have set the fire after he left.
With the whole town out for Cotton's blood, and even Hank himself beginning to doubt his father's innocence, Bobby feels incredibly guilty about letting his grandfather take the blame, but at the same time is too scared to come forward about inadvertently setting the fire. Both feelings become so overwhelming that he tries to flee to Mexico in shame, but when a despondent Didi arrives by bus, saying that Cotton believes in owning up to one's mistakes and had hoped that the baby she's expecting would turn out as good as Bobby, his guilt finally overcomes his fear.
Meanwhile, Hank and Peggy are at the police station with Cotton, begging him to just admit to the arson, but Bobby bursts in, confessing the truth at last. Hank demands that Bobby confess to the police, but Cotton decides to take the blame anyway, citing that he is already an old man, but Bobby has his entire life ahead of him and doesn't deserve to go to jail or be vilified for his mistake. Hank and Peggy are touched by Cotton's decision and agree to along with it. Cotton ends up getting away with it by declaring that he had in fact lit the matches, but only to hide the smell of his own, age-related digestive issues, and that he made up the other "smelly man" to cover his embarrassment thereover. Reverend Stroup forgives Cotton, and invites all the members of the church to show Cotton their forgiveness with a hug, much to Cotton's barely-concealed revulsion.
- Hank Hill
- Peggy Hill
- Bobby Hill
- Luanne Platter
- Dale Gribble
- Jeff Boomhauer
- Bill Dauterive
- Kahn Souphanousinphone
- Cotton Hill
- Didi Hill
- Reverend Thomason (cameo)
- Karen Stroup (Debut)
- Fire Chief (cameo)
- Bobby said that the Lutefisk stunk, yet he continued to eat it.
- Rev. Karen Stroup would continue to appear on the show, but would no longer be voiced by Mary Tyler Moore after this episode. Stroup's Minnesota background may have been a tribute to Moore's Minnesota-based Mary Tyler Moore Show character Mary Richards.
- Cotton goes to seek help from Dale telling him that "They found my girlie bar matches. It's only a matter of time before I'm accused of church burnery." "Burnery" is not a proper word.
- Cotton, in police custody, declares that he will tell the truth about the church fire. When Hank tries to object Cotton tells him, "I'm an old man. Everybody already hates me. But Bobby's just a child. He's got his whole life ahead of him."
- After Bobby locked the bathroom door, a man voiced like Hank was speaking, but the captions do not match what the man says.
- This episode aired the same day of the events of the Columbine High School shooting.
- Lutefisk is a Scandinavian whitefish recipe where the fish (cod or haddock) is soaked and treated with lye before cooking. According to Wikipedia, "Lutefisk prepared from cod is somewhat notorious, even in Scandinavia, for its intensely offensive odor." It is traditionally served with boiled potatoes, peas, and a cream sauce.
- While Lutefisk is a common Christmas party food in Minnesota, which also has a large population of Scandinavian dissidents, it is not as commonly eaten in the state like how Rev. Stroup suggests. It is mainly eaten at culture events and Christmas parties rather than on a common basis. However, the rural town of Madison, Minnesota is regarded as the world's Lutefisk capital and Lutefisk has been a common food meal served in Minnesota's Lutheran churches.
- When Bobby gets up to go to the bathroom, he is missing one shoe. However he has both shoes on in the next shot when he's walking down the hallway.
- After Bobby locks the bathroom door, a slew of captions follow which doesn’t match.
Man - Hello? Is someone in there or is the door accidentally locked? Hello? You’re being unreasonable. There’s a toilet and a urinal in there?
Man 2 - Hey, is this the line?
Man - No, There’s no— The door’s locked.
Man 2 - Did You try pulling it?
Man - Yes, I tried pulling it. You think I didn’t try?
Man 2 - Hey, Look. I don’t want any trouble. I just want to use the washroom.
Man - This is ridiculous.
- Man: (as Hank’s voice) Hello? Hello? Is anyone in there? Hello? Are You okay?
- Hank: (sniffs) What's that smell?
- Bobby: Nothing!
- Hank: Wait a minute. I know that smell. (Bobby gasps.) FIRE!!!!!
- Cotton: "But not in the face. That's how I make my livings."