The Wife:

While I am perfectly happy to accept Fringe as a very Monster-of-the-Week-y show, I know many people (my husband included) are not. I’d also be perfectly happy to accept Fringe as something that vacillates between Mytharc-laden episodes and MOTW episodes, because that’s basically the structure of my favorite show of all time, The X-Files. I’m also happy to accept an entirely Mytharc driven show, and I was certainly happy with Fringe‘s completely Mytharc-based episode last night. Fringe detractors can shut the fuck up now, because last night’s episode wove together a bunch of plot threads we’d seen earlier in the season and it appears that the show is building toward a steady stream of true greatness coming this January.

The cold open introduced us to the same kind of technology we saw at the end of “The Equation,” which, by the way, appears to create a high-pitched laser emission that disrupts the structural integrity of matter so that solid matter can pass through it. (This is an approximation of the kind of “matter transference device” I thought this would turn out to be.) This device is really handy for robbing banks, which is exactly what a group of ex-military men are using it to do. They can now steal things from safety deposit boxes without setting off alarm systems by tampering with locks. In the best cases, they leave no evidence of the robbery. In the worst cases, like the one we are witness to, someone gets out of the safe too late and gets stuck in the wall when then window for transference expires. This, of course, means that your cronies have no choice but to shoot you in the head so you can’t reveal anything about the robbery when you are inevitably found.

This is not what I expected when I asked to have a head mounted to my wall.

This is not what I expected when I asked to have a head mounted to my wall.

When the Bishop Boys and Dunham are called in to investigate this strangeness, Olivia recognizes the man in the wall: Raul Luogo, with whom she served in the Marines. Olivia goes to Raul’s old house, remembering a time that she had dinner there, to tell his wife about his death. The wife reveals that she left Raul two years ago, when he started acting incredibly strange. The wife claims she doesn’t recognize Olivia, and Olivia is surprised that she wouldn’t remember, as they met on a very important day in Raul’s life. Olivia goes on to describe the room they’re standing in as it was several years ago and recounts the events of that evening. The wife insists that she remembers the event perfectly, only the person at that dinner wasn’t the pretty blonde standing before her: it was John Scott.

It seems that since her last dip in the LSD-laced memory tank, John Scott’s memories are all the more deeply ingrained in Olivia’s mind, so much so that she can no longer tell the difference between the two streams of memory. Now, this makes an off-hand remark of Olivia’s in the opening of this episode make a little more sense to me. When they approach the crime scene, Peter asks Olivia about her best friend. She replies that she doesn’t have one and asks if a sister counts. So, if this was Olivia answering, then she was talking to her sister on the phone in last week’s opening. But if this was an answer culled from John Scott’s memory, then we still don’t know precisely whom Olivia was talking to. I’m not sure it really matters, but I wonder if the fusion of memory also colors other facts about Olivia’s life. She now remembers serving in the Marines, which as far as we know she actually didn’t. I don’t know if we can view her as a reliable guide into this world anymore, as her own presentation of self is now somewhat falsified. I’ll have to watch closely for little Olivia inconsistencies from now on, and try to parse out which ones seem to belong more to John Scott and which to her.

While Olivia visits the Luogo house, Peter and Walter go shopping for saws with which to cut through human flesh, and have a little tiff about Walter’s low opinion of Peter’s rootless existence, which Walter feels has kept his son from amounting to his potential. Meanwhile, in a German prison, Mr. Jones reveals to his lawyer that he is responsible for certain bank robberies taking place in American cities across the Eastern seaboard. He requests that his lawyer bring him Dramamine and suntan lotion on his next visit, and to send “his people” on another job.

“Are you tripping, Agent Dunham?” — Walter Bishop

Olivia tells the Bishops about her fused memories, which delights Walter to no end. In the lab, he reveals to everyone exactly how he believes the matter transference semiconductor works — by sinking toys into rice (which appears solid) with the help of radioactive high-frequency vibrations. In the basement lab at Massive Dynamic, Nina Sharp’s team of scientists have almost completed their John Scott reconstruction, except for one thing: no one can seem to reconstruct his pesky memories.

Olivia, it seems, is not terribly interested in learning how the crooks got through walls unnoticed but is more interested in how a former Marine could be recruited for nefarious purposes. She decides to head out to a bar in Cambridge to dig up some information on Luogo from a former friend who now works as a bartender. Peter decides to tag along with her due to the promise of alcohol.

“Did I just hear ‘bar in Cambridge’?” — Peter Bishop

At the bar, Olivia presses the barkeep for information, pretending to be an old friend of Susan’s who met the barkeep years ago at Raul and Susan’s wedding (“I never forget a face”). He tells her that Raul started getting sick a couple of years ago and that he was institutionalized. He had never really been the same since he came back from the Gulf War, but the PTSD only started getting back recently. She calls Broyles to get him to dig up some information on Raul’s service record and mental health records, and he tells her that the contents of the safety deposit box from the beginning of the episode was only a map of Germany. (This is where the lightbulb in my head went off to alert me that this episode would culminate in Jones’ escape from his German prison.)

She’s ready to leave and get back to work, but Peter convinces her to stay and drink a bit longer, knowing that she can down a double scotch in about two seconds. The two spend some time showing off card tricks, which impresses Peter because “girls never know card tricks.” She then shows him that she can count cards and has been able to do so her whole life. She remembers numbers easily, including the numbers of the robbed safety deposit boxes: 233, 377 and 610. Peter realizes he’s heard these numbers before and races home to ask Walter about this sequence he’s been repeating in his sleep. Walter tells them that it’s a simple Fibonacci sequence (which everyone ought to know), and then he realizes that those numbers mean something to him, too: the safety deposit boxes are his. Unfortunately, Walter can’t seem to recall what he was hiding in them or why.

Broyles finds out that no visitors came to see Raul Luogo in the mental hospital, which shoots a hole in Olivia’s theory, until she posits that perhaps Raul was recruited not by an outside person, but by another inmate. She goes to the hospital to get access to Raul’s medical records, but the chief of staff won’t grant her access. Fortunately, another staffer approaches her and tells her that Raul liked to hang out with a group of other men and play chess. Everyone in the facility called them The Chess Club.

Olivia then gets word that the next bank hit will go down in Providence, RI. She asks Walter why, but he cannot remember, until Peter asks him what bank he would use to rent a safety deposit box in Providence, which gets him to the answer almost immediately. By the time Dunham and Francis get to the bank, box number 987 has been burgled, but the agents are able to track the robbers quickly by following the sewer lines in the building and manage to capture a straggler.

In Massive Dynamic’s lab, Nina Sharp’s team realize that the key to finding John Scott’s memories lies in Olivia Dunham’s mind by extracting the final imagine from Scott’s retina, which is of Olivia in the tank from their last fused-consciousness experiment.

In Germany, Jones’ lawyer has brought him the things he requested and tells Mr. Cole to get a new suit and work on his appeal papers. He also instructs Cole to have “his people” bring him one final thing: Olivia Dunham.

Olivia tries to interrogate the captured bank robber, but can’t get any information out of him. Peter notices his shaking hands and asks her to let him try his hand at interrogation, an act which Agent Francis didn’t realize Peter knew anything about. You know what he does know about, though? Poker tells. I bet that knowledge would indeed come in handy in an interrogation room. Peter realizes that the robber’s shaking hands aren’t because he’s nervous, but because he has radiation poisoning.

“You violated the laws of physics, Mr. Eastwick. And Mother Nature’s a bitch.” — Peter Bishop

Eastwick admits that he never had any idea what they were stealing or the name of the person they were stealing for. All he knows is that there is a field in Westbridge that all of the pieces would be assembled at: an old Army airstrip called Little Hill. Olivia races off to the destination, but is apprehended by thugs on her way there. We do not know if they belong to Nina’s people or to Jones’, but my money would be on Jones’. (I think Nina would be much more subtle about all this.)

In trying to figure out what he was storing in the safety deposit boxes, Walter remembers that Peter almost died when he was a little boy. (Yet more about Peter’s spotty medical history. I’m still not officially ruling out that he’s a clone, though.) Walter developed a device that could cross the space-time continuum so that he could travel to 1936 and bring back the one person who had successfully cured a patient of Peter’s illness. While Walter never got to use that device because his son started getting better just as the device was completed, he believes that its components are stored in the safety deposit boxes and that whoever is robbing said boxes wants to use the device to transport matter through space and time. (Which would be a step-up from simply allowing matter to pass through solid matter.)

When Mr. Cole brings Jones his appeal papers, Jones chastises him for not visiting a proper tailor and then snaps the man’s neck, trading his prison garb for the shabby suit. He takes some Dramamine and lathers the sunscreen on his face and neck, and then huddles in the corner of the room where he shortly becomes surrounded by light and is transported to the field in Little Hill via Walter’s time-travel device in what amounts to the best ending to an episode of Fringe I’ve seen so far.

So, now we know what the equation was used for, we know why Jones needed to know about Little Hill (it was code for his travel destination, which I assume he already knew and needed to confirm to assure he was in fact talking to the right people in “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones”), the fused memory storyline continues to develop and we continue to learn more about Peter’s shadowy past/medical history. For the long run, we’re set up to learn which side has possession of Olivia and now have two rival villains, both of whom are arguably major players in the events of The Pattern. I think Fringe has finally culminated its stories in a really satisfying way with this episode, and I hope this launches us into numerous continued Mytharc episodes come January.

Also: Smoke Monster, Frog, Leaf, Apple, Apple

A quick note: Apparently, the actor who plays Mitchell Loeb (Chance Kelly) is so unrecognizable to me that I didn’t really notice him among the bank robbers, nor did I realize that, before we saw him fall ill in “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones,” he was the person to whom Joanne Ostler delivered “The Equation” to in that episode. It makes sense, really. Dude is up to some serious shit.

The Husband:

It’s not that I’m opposed to MOTW stories on shows. It’s that I think Fringe had the intelligence to capably rise above a non-serialized structure. When you promise a big honking Mytharc, be prepared to get into it, or why should I be watching this show instead of the top-20 CBS concoction The Eleventh Hour? (Oh, that’s right. Because I think The Eleventh Hour is horrible, thus continuing my hypothesis that America goes out of their way to watch shit.)

I will admit that the recent transition on Fringe from MOTW to its current Mytharc was a little choppy, as if the writers had the concept of the serialized story but wanted it to take place over a longer period of time, until they realized that there was no guarantee of a second season and then decided to shift it earlier in time. Or they just really thought why should they bother to be an X-Files rip off when they have the ability to be their own unique show?

The good news is, they finally have their unique show. Considering how many questions I had for my wife during the episode last night, added to the need to be reminded of small items in episodes past that were creeping back into the show, I realized that I simply wasn’t paying enough attention to the show (which is hard when you’re trying to keep track of roughly 40 other shows) and now really needed to hunker down and devote as much thought and energy into it as I would for, say, The Wire or Lost. The show is worth it now. (It is, however, difficult to really set the brain right for the show after House, which is a program dedicated to explaining every relevant mystery to you by episode’s end.)

I did have a thought last night that made me really turn onto this here Fringe in relation to The X-Files. It was that unlike many of the X-Files episodes, Fringe is 100% science-driven. This may not seem a shocker nor that big of a deal, but to find mainstream science-fiction that actually deals in science (no matter how far-fetched) in this day and age is a pretty rare thing. Mysteries are actually explained on this show, related to bits and pieces of all those things we remember from high school and college, in addition to all those little fringe things we pick up from other out-of-the-ordinary TV shows, and it’s entirely fascinating.

Those few weeks leading up to the show’s return in January may feel long, but the wait will be worth it.