Animals from a zoo in Idaho are suspected of killing several people, but witnesses claim the real culprit is a powerful invincible force.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Willa Ambrose
Kyle Lang
Jack Rader ...
Ed Meecham
Jody St. Michael ...
Charles Andre ...
Ray Floyd
Red Head Kid
Tom Glass ...


Mulder and Scully investigate strange occurrences when an invisible forces seems to wreck the downtown of Fairfield, Idaho and an elephant from the local zoo is found lying on the highway some 40 miles away. No one at the zoo can figure out how the elephant got out of its locked enclosure and animal rights activists have been active in condemning the way the zoo treats its animals. It's not the first time animals have escaped or disappeared from the Fairfield Zoo but when an animal activist is mauled by an invisible tiger, they're dealing with something no one has encountered. When Scully determines that the elephant and the tiger had been pregnant leading Mulder to believes that the animals are perhaps being abducted by aliens. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

24 February 1995 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Alfonso Quijada who plays the young janitor in the opening sequence also played a janitor in X2 (2003). Mystique uses his form to escape. See more »


When Willa signs and says "I love you, too" to Sophie, she actually signs "to" instead. The sign for "to" is different from "too." ASL doesn't have one sign for both words as the signs for each have different meanings. See more »


Fox Mulder: [voiceover] Willa Ambrose and Ed Meecham have been charged with manslaughter for the death of Kyle Lang. And though the courts will rule on this matter, and justice will be no doubt be served, the pall of a greater tragedy remains. The motives of the silent visitors who set these events in motion remain unclear. Could this be a judgement on a global rate of extinction that has risen to 1000 times its natural rate in this century? An act of alien conservation of animals we are driving hard toward...
See more »


References Star Trek (1966) See more »


The X-Files
Written by Mark Snow
Performed by John Beal
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User Reviews

Mulder, if you're still suggesting that an elephant did this it defies logic. Someone would have seen it.
12 February 2016 | by See all my reviews

"Mulder, if you're still suggesting that an elephant did this it defies logic. Someone would have seen it." – Dana Scully.

Episode 18, 'Fearful Symmetry', original air date February 24th, 1995. Written by Steve De Jarnatt, directed by James Whitmore Jr. Monster of the week episode count, 28. This is one of the rare episodes I can remember watching on TV during it's original airing. I recall at the time that I found it quite disturbing and now 20 years on from that first impression little has changed to dissuade my opinion. Written and directed by another pair of X-Files one-timers, it's certainly understandable that some critics and fans have had unfavourable reactions to what seems at first to be a rather ridiculous premise. The script feels very Carter-esque which pushes an agenda regarding animal rights and concludes with stern warning to human-kind that our reckless attitude towards nature and our current state of apathy regarding our imminent self-destruction will lead to our downfall. This is unless we receive some assistance from another civilisation who has the foresight to anticipate our demise and help us prevent it. The common consensus that this episode is unintentionally comedic is a justifiable reaction, certainly invisible elephants and animal abducting aliens could err on the side of absurdity. And it's possible that my enjoyment of this episode is due to a sense of nostalgia rather than it being good story telling. Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief I still find this worthy of a re-visit.

The teaser, or cold opening, is definitely one of the highlights of the episode. An invisible force tears through a suburban setting, leaving a path of destruction in it's wake, including one dead road-worker. Meanwhile an elephant has reportedly escaped from a local zoo. Mulder is characteristically quick to jump to conclusions regarding the destruction, citing an invisible elephant as the perpetrator. As the pair investigate the zoo they find that other animals have been vanishing from their cages. All signs point to a local animal rights group, 'liberating' them from their man made prisons. The sub-plot makes it's way in to the show at this point and activist Kyle Lang (Lance Guest) is the writer's sounding board for perhaps their personal viewpoint regarding animals in captivity. Ultimately Mulder comes to the conclusion that these animals are being abducted, impregnated and returned. However it's in the returning that something appears to be going wrong. Mulder suggests that possibly due to a disruption in the space-time continuum these animals are reappearing in wrong place, hence their confusion and aggressive behaviour which ultimately leads to their deaths. The case is left unsolved but Mulder is convinced of the alien involvement which was acting like some kind of extra-terrestrial Noah's ark, attempting to save earth's animals from extinction.

Aliens abducting animals may seem like a silly idea on paper but one could easily make the argument, if human abductions are so easy to accept within the realms of science-fiction then why not animals? After all, all life on earth should be foreign to an alien civilisation. From an alien perspective, there is conceivably just as much to learn from experimenting on a cockroach as with a human. Going one step further, the argument could be made that animals are in fact easier to deal with since there is no need to wipe their memories and people are much less concerned with the disappearance of an animal versus a human being. Therefore the subject matter of this episode is well within the boundaries of the believable. The idea is handled with a sense of realism and re-watching the episode I found nothing comedic about the execution.

The connection between the episode and it's title alluded me until I discovered that it's taken from a line in a poem written by William Blake, 'The Tyger'. The pre-CGI practical effects of the invisible elephants destruction is worth a mention as they have held up extremely well over the past two decades. The scene where the animal rights activist is mauled to death by an invisible tiger is also done well, both of these sequences could have severely hampered the intended effect however I found them very serviceable even today. This is certainly not the greatest episode of the series, however I do believe it's unworthy of it's harsh criticism. On whole the direction is hit and miss, there's an over-abundance of close ups in the early scenes that ends up feeling like a series of talking heads, yet on the other hand there's the previously mentioned opening sequence which is very memorable. Much like season one's 'Space' which was panned by critics for it's supposedly outlandish plot, 'Fearful Symmetry' seems to have received the same unwarranted backlash from an audience who maybe forgot what television show they were watching at the time. This the X-Files remember, unexplained paranormal phenomena abounds.

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