Director: James Whitmore Jr.
Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate after the death of a federal employee and the destruction of personal property is linked to an escaped elephant, despite the fact that no witnesses saw the creature. Mulder and Scully travel to Idaho and meet Ed Meecham, the elephant trainer at the Fairfield Zoo who shows them that the elephant's cage is still locked.
He suggests they talk to Willa Ambrose, a naturalist hired by the zoo to develop more suitable habitat for the animals. She explains that she was hired to improve conditions at the zoo after pressure from an animal activist group called the Wild Again Organization. She also tells them to talk to Kyle Lang, a member of the WAO. Their meeting leads Scully to believe that the WAO is to blame, a theory given credence when a member of the group is mauled to death by an escaped tiger while attempting to break in to the zoo. However Mulder confers with Frohike and Byers of The Lone Gunman via a satellite linkup.
They inform him that the Fairfield Zoo is renowned for never having had a successful live birth in captivity. Which leads Mulder to the conclusion that extraterrestrial are impregnating the zoo animals and harvesting the embryos as part of a conservation plan. When Mulder expresses his theory to Willa Ambrose she is incredulous until Scully's autopsy on the elephant reveals that it had been pregnant in the past. It seems the only place to find the answers is in the cage of a hand signing gorilla.
Filming the elephant necropsy scene was one of Gillian Anderson's favorite X-Files moments.
The message that Sophie signed to Mulder before she was taken: "man save man," may have many meanings, but could also be the first hint of the prophecy that Krycek alludes to throughout the series, which stated that the fate of mankind may lie in Mulder's hands.
'Fearful Symmetry' is a phrase from William Blake's poem "The Tyger": Tyger, tyger burning bright / In the forests of the night: / What immortal hand or eye, / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?. The novelisation of this episode is called "Tyger, Tyger".
When the invisible tiger attacks activist Kyle Lang it is obvious that the victim is facing the attacker. Cats, whether domestic or wild, large or small, visible or invisible, always attack prey from the rear or the side. Their killing bite is usually applied to the back of the neck, biting into the brainstem and top of the spinal cord. People have been known to avoid a lion attack simply by staying in front of the animal and staring it down.
Scully: (about doing a necropsy on an elephant) This isn't exactly in my job description.
Mulder: And the next thing you know, they'll be doing it on MTV Sports.
Mulder: I'd be willing to admit the possibility of a tornado, but it's not really tornado season. I'd even be willing to entertain the notion of a black hole passing over the area or some cosmic anomaly but it's not really black hole season either . . . If I were a betting man, I'd say it was . . .
Scully: An invisible elephant?
Mulder: I saw David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear once.