Season 2, Episode 18: “Fearful Symmetry”
This episode is terrible. By “terrible,” I don’t mean that it’s low in quality, although you could argue that too. By “terrible” I mean that it literally makes me feel awful by the time it’s over. I don’t want to watch this. It’s absolutely joyless. Why on earth would I want to see a bunch of animals being hurt? Do they want me to donate all of my money to the World Wildlife Fund?
I’m one of those people who has a soft spot for animals, but I’m also one of those people who doesn’t think zoos are the most evil places on earth. Animals are instinctive creatures; most of them go where the food is, and many of them are perfectly happy being fed rather than having to go out and find their own food. In most cases, you won’t find them banging their heads against their zoo habitats singing the theme to Born Free. That being said, I have strong feelings against the mistreatment of animals – that’s why I’m a vegetarian. I totally understand where some of the comments made in this episode are coming from. Animals kept in environments too small for them, growing ill because of confined living spaces, not treated in a healthy manner – this all makes me feel very ill. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to throw open their cages and send them running into the African savannah. I think Yann Martel, who wrote the fabulous book Life of Pi, explained it the best:
“One might even argue that if an animal could choose with intelligence, it would opt for living in a zoo, since the major difference between a zoo and the wild is the absence of parasites and enemies and the abundance of food in the first, and their respective abundance and scarcity in the second. Think about it yourself. Would you rather be put up at the Ritz with free room service and unlimited access to a doctor or be homeless without a soul to care for you?…
But I don’t insist. I don’t mean to defend zoos. Close them all down if you want (and let us hope that what wildlife remains can survive in what is left of the natural world). I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.”
Ah, great writing is truly a gift for the soul. But I digress.
Whatever crimes this episode might commit (and it commits a lot of them) I must give it points for being, at least initially, original. After the confusing but nevertheless epic epicness we got with “Colony/End Game,” we need something either equally exciting or equally strange to follow up. Invisible zoo animals running amok in a city is very, very strange, and if you don’t think so, well. Watch where this episode goes next.
To this episode’s absolute detriment, it suffers from the early season bug of being independent but loosely mythology related.
Yes. There are aliens in this episode. In the one about invisible zoo animals.
Was this really necessary? Did aliens have to be the explanation this time around? Couldn’t they have come up with something better? I don’t think I’ve ever seen an X-Files premise go from really original to grossly unoriginal in such a short amount of time. It’s funny how, on a show about aliens, including the aliens in certain episodes makes them worse.
The worst part about this episode, though, is its complete lack of enjoyability. With the exception of the scene with The Lone Gunmen, everything in this episode is really, really tragic, mean-spirited, and kind of awful. I mean, there’s just not much else to say about it. Hey, just like Sophie the Dead Gorilla seemed to know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s one that perfectly sums up me after I watched this episode:
Final score for “Fearful Symmetry” is 3/10. Points for initial originality, but one dead elephant, tiger, and gorilla later, I was SO done with this one.
- Of course, Frohike’s famous line: “If that’s the lovely Agent Scully, let her know I’ve been working out. I’m buff.”
- Also, royally pissed-off Scully is kind of fun: “You know, that guy really pisses me off.”
- The following is only Notable in its unbelievable…unbelievability. I don’t know. Just give it a read and try to take it seriously.
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 oblivion? And if so, might it follow that our own fate and existence could finally be dependent upon the conservatorship of an extraterrestrial race? Or in the simple words of a creature whose own future is uncertain, will “man save man?”
(As they drive, they pass a church with a sign in front on which is written “Man has no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity. Eccl 3:19.”)