Sunday, December 26, 2010

X-Files--"Fearful Symmetry"

Every now and then, X-files took a trip into social commentary. Such trips can be awfully irksome considering Hollywood’s single-mindedness. It seems logical one should brace for a bumpy ride with a story is going to be about animal cruelty. Surprisingly enough, while the moral of “Fearful Symmetry” is one promoting conservation, it is quite evenhanded. Two PETA like advocates are killed, one being mauled by an animal. One cannot call the episode an advertisement for animal rights groups then, no?

Mulder and Scully are called to Idaho when a federal employee is killed by what by all signs was a rampaging elephant. Eyewitnesses say there were all sorts of signs an elephant was on the loose, but no one could actually see it. Mulder is open to the possibility of an invisible elephant, but Scully theorizes a militant animal rights group called the WAO is responsible for letting the elephant loose. However, a WAO member is mauled by an invisible tiger, pointing to something bigger going on.

The break in the case comes from Chelsea, a gorilla who knows sign language. She signs of a bright light which takes away babies of which she is terrified. She is pregnant, although she has never been bred. Autopsies reveal the elephant and tiger had both been pregnant, though they never gave birth. Mulder theorizes the bright light is aliens abducting the animals to perform breeding experiments. The animals went on rampages after their babies were taken.

Because of the violent incidents, the zoo is shut down. The naturalist in charge, who has formed an attachment to Chelsea, hides her away in order to keep her. She and her associate kill another WAO member to cover up her crime. Chelsea is abducted in a bright light just like the tiger and presumably the elephant. She winds up miles away with her baby gone.

Mulder’s vioce over at the end speculates aliens are abducting endangered species and breeding them to preserve them against man’s carelessness. He then speculates humans are being abducted for the same reason. Silly, I know, particularly since zoos, including the one in this episode, are making every effort to breed and care for the young of any animal in captivity. I am afraid the moral of the story did not tug at my heartstrings. It did remind me of this groovy song:The title of this episode is taken from "The Tyger" by William Blake:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Blake’s poem speculates that every creation must must possess some reflection of its creator…or in this case, Creator. The poem asks what can the true nature of God be if He allows evil, represented by the tiger’s brutal characteristics, into the world, and how he could create a world in which beauty and horror both exist. Take what you will from that and apply it to “Fearful Symmetry.”

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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