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Recap / The X-Files S02 E18 "Fearful Symmetry"

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Season 2, Episode 18:

Fearful Symmetry

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thexfilesfearfulsymmetry.png
"This is a perfect example of man's imperialism over the animal kingdom - this craven impulse to turn animals into objects for our own selfish pleasure."
Written by Steve De Jarnatt
Directed by James Whitmore, Jr.

Willa: Aliens impregnating zoo animals?
Mulder: Yes, and harvesting the embryos.
Willa: Why?
Mulder: Maybe their own Noah's ark? To preserve the DNA of these animals that we're depleting to extinction.
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A man is found trampled to death - apparently by an invisible elephant. When the body of the elephant is discovered some 45 miles away - and discovered to have been recently pregnant - Mulder and Scully follow the trail to the local zoo. Amid intrigues involving animal rights activists and the Malawi government, animals continue to disappear and reappear. Is this the work of human zealots or alien breeding programs? And could the answers lie with the only witness to the disappearances - a gorilla named Sophie?

Not to be confused with Fearful Symmetry.


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Tropes:

  • Aliens Steal Zoo Animals: This is the crux of the plot: zoo animals are abducted by aliens to be impregnated and have their embryos stolen.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Sophie the gorilla displays a great amount of information about what extraterrestials would do to animals like her.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The WAO are a group that is dedicated to freeing animals from captivity of any kinds.
  • Green Aesop: This is essentially an anti-zoo episode, to the extent that it even won an Environmental Media Award in real life.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Mulder speculates that the abduction and impregnation of the animals is to preserve them from extinction at human hands, a thought lampshaded by a church marquee quoting Ecclesiastes 3:19 in the final shot of the episode.
    "Man has no pre-eminence over a beast: for all is vanity."
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  • Literary Allusion Title: To William Blake's The Tyger.
  • Medical Rape and Impregnate: This time, those wacky aliens are doing it to zoo animals!
  • Menagerie of Misery: The zoo was explicitly stated to have been abysmal in the recent past before the episode, to the point where they actually hired new management along with a scientific adviser to reform the zoo. Also notable in that the (fictional) zoo in question had never once had a live birth of any animal in captivity, ever. The animals are regularly abducted by aliens and made the subject of strange experiments, including the theft of their unborn children.
  • Written-In Absence: Langly stays off-camera, while Frohike and Byers talk to Mulder. The reason is because Dean Haglund was booked for a guest spot on Sliders (in the episode "Fever") and couldn't make the shoot. This ended up being the first episode where the Lone Gunmen didn't appear as a group.note 

"Will man save man?"
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