The Wife:

You guys all remember that car accident whence the Observer allegedly saved Walter and Peter? Well, he actually only saved Walter. Because Peter did done died. And he has no memories of his early childhood at all, because the Peter we know was stolen from another dimension to replace the son Walter lost in this life. Snoo! I thought I’d just get that big revelation out of the way because it was super good. We’d long been discussing that Peter might be a clone or a cyborg like Nina Sharp, but because there’s more than one of everything, he’s actually just his other self. At least, this is what I believe we are supposed to infer from the coin he doesn’t remember flipping, his grave and Walter’s lengthy discussion of how he started looking into parallel dimensions after he lost something very dear to him.

But before that revelation, Nina Sharp, shot at the end of the last episode, is rushed to surgery, requiring lots of specialists because she’s more cyborg than we previously thought. After analyzing the audio recorded by the security camera during her shooting, Olivia et al realize that it was David Robert Jones who shot her. He removed something from her arm, a super cell, powerful enough to make whatever he’s doing unstoppable. Olivia is ready to chase down Bell, but Nina assures her that Bell is not the enemy in this case. Jones worked for Bell 15 years ago, and was fired, so she posits that these actions, The Pattern, are Jones’ way of getting back at Bell. Nina tells Olivia that if she stops Jones, she will arrange a private meeting for Olivia with William Bell.

I know there's a pattern here, but what is it?

I know there's a pattern here, but what is it?

Meanwhile, Jones and his crew are out trying to open up other dimensions, using the super cell to power a device that rips open windows to other worlds. Only it isn’t totally working right, ripping things in half that try to enter or exit. (See: truck missing its back half, soccer player missing half of his body.) Olivia starts doing some hardcore paranormal research and realizes that The Pattern really does form a pattern, a series of incidents radiating out from the places in which Jones tested his ability to break down soft spots in the fabric of the universe. Conveniently, if you rearrange the way you look at those patterns, they form a new one, pointing to Jones’ next target: Reiden Lake.

Walter has been missing while all this has gone down, taking some sweet mind trips with The Observer to graveyards and beach houses and whatnot. The Observer reminds him of Peter’s otherworldly origins by giving him the coin the boy used to flip, asserting that there is more than one of everything. He tells Walter that he should now know what he has to find, and Walter goes searching his old beach house. Peter eventually catches up to him there, remembering at the least that they used to go there when he was a child, and Walter tells his son about all his old acid trips with Bell and how they thought they were seeing other dimensions and spent their lives trying to find ways to access them without LSD. In a box, he uncovers Peter’s other coin, as well as a plugging device that will stop any rifts between dimensions from opening.

I stole you from another dimesion when you were a child, don't you remember?

I stole you from another dimesion when you were a child, don't you remember?

Walter and Peter meet up with Olivia et al at Raiden Lake, where Jones is already working on opening a hole to get to the other side. Peter manages to shut down the hole just in time, which is extremely helpful, as the transporter made Jones impervious to bullets, but not impervious to being sliced in half by straddling two dimensions.

Nina sends Olivia to NYC to meet with Bell, after informing her that Bell’s research with Cortexafam was to allow gifted children to travel in and out of other dimensions without widening soft spots. Bell, it seems, has been hiding out in another dimension this whole time, and after Olivia waits for about eight hours to meet with him and he never shows, she hops in an elevator and leaves. But during the 15th and 16th floors, something weird happens: suddenly, other people appear, and then disappear, and when the doors open, she’s welcomed into a bright, white hallway and taken to Bell’s office . . . which happens to be in one of the Twin Towers . . . in another universe where 9/11 never happened. (But Obama is still president, if the New York Post on Bell’s desk is to be believed.)

This was a great season finale, and I’m very excited for the possibilities for next season. I think there will be a greater focus on the mytharc of The Pattern and interdimensional travel/alternate realities. If there’s one thing J.J. Abrams does really well, it’s peering into alternate realities or altering the time line, and I can see Fringe doing very well down that route.

Questions still unanswered:

  • Why, exactly, is Nina Sharp a cyborg? I mean, I love her even more now that I know she has Kevlar ribs, but since I’m so into cyberpunk now, I’d love to learn more about that.
  • What happened to Peter’s mother?
  • Why did the folks at ZFT do so much experimentation with hybridity and diseases? Are these experiments also to prepare soldiers for the war against people from other dimensions?
  • Everyone seems very fearful of other realities, but if Bell is hanging in one where 9/11 didn’t happen, that somehow doesn’t seem so bad to me. Where are the horrible realities filled with people with no orifices and swamp monster chimera thingies? (Husband Note: The Post did mention a New White House, which may indicate something horrible happened to the old one.)

There are definitely more questions still unanswered, but I’m sick currently and am amazed I was able to lucidly discuss that episode at all. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed geeking out with you all about Fringe, and I think we can all agree that the show has gotten to a really good place and can only get better during its sophomore season.

Until then, I leave you with my favorite Walter line this week:

“We’re trying to plug a hole in the universe. What are you doing here?”

The Husband:

Even in this post-Lost television landscape, I was still damned surprised that Fringe got away with such a slow burn during its premiere season. Did they really do that good of a job keeping me away from learning about these alternate dimensions, a maaaaajor game changer, and how they related to The Pattern? Did they actually trust in the intelligence of its viewers to keep 20 episodes in mind, many standalone and seemingly unimportant?

Between this finale and Star Trek, I am genuinely impressed with what Kurtzman and Orci cooked up. Yeah, the dudes who wrote the fun-but-dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers Transformers figured it out, along with help from the justly maligned Akiva Goldsman, the man who helped turn the Batman universe into a peacock explosion of neon, codpieces and puns about ice.

And what of alternate realities? Is this show now going to become Sliders? (I actually never watched Sliders, but I do know two things about it. 1. It starred the O’Connell Brothers and my beloved Sabrina Lloyd. 2. It was about jumping between dimensions. Good enough, right?)

And hey, to that jackass that gave me shit for my negative review of The Mentalist pilot and gave me some numbers that the Mentalist pilot scored more viewers than Fringe, I’d like to point out that as of last week, Fringe surpassed that CBS crap to become the highest-rated new series of the 2008-2009 television season. Premiere numbers are one thing, but returning viewers are another, and so Fringe proves that it has legs and drawing power. There’s nothing better than word-of-mouth, especially those words that brought back a good deal of viewers once Fringe realllly got cooking several episodes in. Suck it, hater.

And so, I will leave you with how I began writing about Fringe – with a haiku!

Alternate worlds are

Tricky. Good: David Lynch films.

Bad: James Wong’s The One.

(Wife’s note: Maybe one day I’ll tell you all about the time I spent Easter in James Wong’s living room. I usually don’t get to name drop like my husband the former entertainment journalist does, but I’ve been to James Wong’s house. And that’s fucking awesome.)

The Wife:

I’m not sure if Fringe was trying to reference The Matrix, The Butterfly Effect or I Know Who Killed Me this week with its storyline about Olivia’s visions of alternate paths on the timeline of one’s choices (see episode title!) and twins who didn’t know they were twins who were made into weapons by ZFT when they were trained to become firestarters in childhood. (They kind of ended up referencing all three.)The only problem with this is that, like Olivia and apparently all other children experimented on by ZFT, these people are unaware until recently (their “activation”) that they possess these powers, which leads one of the twins, Susan, to burn up from the inside and spontaneously combust. As Olivia tracks down Susan and tries to discover why she may have blown up (as Peter so tactfully likes to put it), she keeps having visions of things being slightly different than they actually are. Where one charred body lies, she sees two. Where Broyle’s desk once was, it is not. In fact, she has glimpses of entire conversations with people before/differently than they actually occurred. This déjà vu, Walter supposes, is an ability given to Olivia by ZFT as a child, an ability to look into an alternate reality. I don’t feel like this side effect of the Cortexafam really adds much to Olivia or to her struggle, but it seemed to be marginally helpful to her here, once the confusion stopped, of course. By peering into the alternate reality, she was able to discern that Susan had a sister who might meet the same fate without some intervention.

Yup. That's a real live dead alien.

Yup. That's a real live dead alien.

In their search for Susan’s twin, Peter and Olivia pay a visit to conspiracy theorist Clint Howard, who proceeds to tell them about an American graduate student in Budapest that spontaneously combusted and blames it all on William Bell and Massive Dynamic, the latter of which he purports is merely a cover organization for all of Bell’s wholly unethical activities. He suggests Bell is activating his ZFT soldiers for an upcoming war, which is why, we’re supposed to infer, the events of The Pattern are occurring. And whom will this war be fought against? Why, only the Romulans! Because this show is produced by J.J. Abrams! And Star Trek is coming out this Friday! So, naturally, crazy Trekker conspiracy theorist believes the Trekverse is real and that he is, in fact, Spock. But he cannot be, you see, for Leonard Nimoy is William Bell! My exclamations of these facts are meant to mock the completely unwarranted, unnecessary and wholly unsubtle tie-ins to Abrams’ next project. Look, ya’ll, I will be seeing Star Trek this weekend because I grew up on that shit and I’ve been squeeing at the trailer every time I see it. I’m even okay with turning the Lost titlecard into the Enterprise beaming itself into a commercial (because that’s kind of a neat transition), but this was a moment that, while amusing because it’s Clint Howard, totally drew me out of the show. There were other ways to show us that Clint Howard wasn’t entirely right in the head without beating us over the head with Trek. Bad Robot, we’re watching Fringe. We’re excited for Nimoy. Chances are, we’ll be seeing Trek this weekend and giving you all of our hard earned geek dollars. You didn’t need to be so obtuse about this.

Anyway, while I was busy rolling my eyes but smirking at the Trek monologue, Harris is back and rubbing Olivia the wrong way by asking her to do things like take psych evaluations. She refuses, particularly because, in an alternate reality, Olivia is able to track down Susan’s missing twin who is still alive, but unfortunately, an Isaac Winters gets to her first in reality reality. At her apartment, there are signs of a struggle, and Peter notices that the glass has been melted on one of her windows, indicating her firestarting abilities. He pops out a nice little disc of glass and reveals his plan to use the new machine he’s been making out of Walter’s old machines to read the sound imprinted on the glass like a record. (Abrams is fond of comparing things to records, no?) This is a gift to his father, so he can copy all of his jacked up old albums, which truly pleases Walter. After adjusting the white noise and a bunch of other sound-related tinkering, they’re able to play the glass record and hear Susan’s twin Nancy being abducted. They also hear a phone being dialed, so Olivia asks Peter to clarify the sound so she can use her tone-dialing app to connect her to whomever the kidnapper called . . . and it’s Harris. That scene was really cool, and filled with the kind of super-fringey fringe science we were promised. This is probably my favorite use of weird science on the show, right alongside using homing pigeons as a GPS.

Olivia and Francis track Nancy to the warehouse where Harris has taken her and while they search for the girl, Olivia finds a board with pictures of various former ZFT experiment participants, including the twins and herself. Harris manages to surprise her and locks her in the conflagration room with Nancy, who, agitated, starts heating up. Olivia tries to calm her down and tries to get Nancy to direct her energy elsewhere, so that she doesn’t blow up. Nancy fares better than her twin sister and is able to light Harris on fire, killing him while saving her own life. Remember that light box Olivia had to know how to turn off with her mind? That was attached to Nancy, and I wonder why Olivia didn’t have to turn it off in order to remove Nancy from the machines she was hooked to in the conflagration room. It seems odd just to have it appear there and not be used.

Afterward, Olivia interrogates Walter about his involvement in ZFT and why there are so damned many kids from Jacksonville who are either dead or super fucked-up. Walter, who earlier finally showed Astrid and Peter his wonky y-ed typewriter and has spent the episode searching for a missing chapter of the ZFT manifesto which would prove the organization had some honorable intentions, insists to her that they were trying to prepare the kids in their experiments for something terrible coming. When pressed, Walter can’t remember what and breaks down, from a combination of Olivia’s bullying and his own terrible guilt. Later, in his lab, he finds the missing chapter, which proves that ZFT’s intentions were to better prepare humanity to survive the coming war (against persons from another dimension, we have been told), by producing stronger, better-equipped children who, when the time comes, will be the humanity’s hope. But Walter is given no chance to present these findings to his colleagues, as The Observer has come for him, simply stating, “Walter, it’s time to go.” Without questioning him, Walter goes to get his coat.

Nina Sharp drops by Broyles’ house to deliver a packet of photographs of The Observer, stating that something ominous happened the last time he appeared with such frequency. When she returns to her office, she is shot when she steps off the elevator. Which kind of sucks, because I think every Fringe viewer loved Nina Sharp and (maybe, secretly) hoped she would be revealed as Peter’s mother. I’m assuming Bell had Nina killed because, with the war coming, he no longer needs Massive Dynamic as a front, and, clearly, she’d caught on to some badness and needed to be put asunder. As for The Observer, I believe he’s taken Walter to meet with his former partner, at long last bringing ZFT back together.

So what do we make of this? On the whole, this episode was middling at best, plugging the mytharc forward by following a largely uninteresting Freak-of-the-Week story and giving Olivia a serviceable (though I presume not entirely always this helpful) power to see the other side of a timeline. It certainly wasn’t as strong as “Bad Dreams,” but was less engaging than “Midnight.” The revelation that ZFT was experimenting on children to make soldiers for good wasn’t all that telling for me, as that’s the vibe I’ve been getting from the kiddie experiments all along. The Observer taking Walter and Nina’s death were both good, surprising and eerie moments, and are probably the most memorable bits of this episode. I did, however, think John Noble was brilliant as Walter this week, digging right into the sadness of a man who knows he has done questionable things but is looking for something, anything that can exonerate him. More than anything, he needs to believe that his involvement in ZFT was for a good, if mad scientist-y, reason. And when he finds that missing chapter, he is assured of his own belief, after having it doubt casts upon it only hours earlier by Olivia, doubts so haunting it reduced him to tears.

I told you I'd be Drew Barrymore for Halloween! I told you!

I told you I'd be Drew Barrymore for Halloween! I told you!

On another note, how happy do you think Stephen King is to hear his name and invention of the word “pyrokenetic” used on the show? I fully expect him to write about it in EW, because he loves, loves, loves pop culture and being a part of the zeitgeist.

The Husband:

While all the Trek stuff was, indeed, eye-rolling, I was satisfied enough in my head to know that Clint Howard, brother of Ron, also happened to be in one of the first episodes of the original Star Trek series, “The Corbomite Maneuver,” one of my favorites from season 1 of TOS, excluding, of course, the Athens-looking planet episode with the stationary gigantic ghost finger in the sky, as well as the Khan-focused season finale.

In it, the crew is toyed with by a silly, fake-looking alien on their monitor (or whatever it is you nerds call it), commander of a vessel intent on destroying the Enterprise, but by episode’s end, the Enterprise crew finds that they’ve been had – the alien was just a puppet, and the enemy ship is piloted only by a smart, tiny child who was testing the merits of the crew. Silly Clint Howard. The image of the puppet would be used frequently in the end credits of the show, and would be a super-inside joke during the credits of the Futurama episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before.”

The Wife:

I guess I’d better make this a good Fringe post, considering I won’t be writing about it again until April. I was completely unprepared for that announcement at the end of the show, as I thought Fox was all about giving Fringe the post-Idol ratings boost. But nope! It’s not going to get that boost for the whole Idol journey. It’s just going to pick up that boost in April. Over 6 weeks from now.

Maybe that scheduling explains why the four episodes they’ve aired since the holiday break have been so scattershot compared to the dense string of story-heavy episodes we saw leading up to the holiday break. They’re just tiding us over until the really good shit returns. But even so, “Ability,” I think, will end up being a key episode in this series as it finally explains why Olivia would be drawn into this kind of work and what makes her so special. As it happens, she was dosed as a child with a drug called Cortexafam, which unhinges the mind’s self-limiting possibilities, making her able to perform feats of extreme psychic ability. Jones knew this about her, and that’s why he chose her to be his interlocutor and, as he calls it, his warrior.

The “freak-meet” in the cold open seemingly had little to do with the rest of this episode, although it was definitely a really cool one: a man with no reflection (vampire?) buys a paper and pays with a $2 bill, after which the paper seller’s orifices start to seal shut. Like, his eyes and mouth sew themselves shut. This appears only once more in the episode when Francis and Dunham investigate Jones’ lab (with his hyperbaric anti-time travel chamber) and an FBI agent they’re with touches an errant $2. Olivia tries to stop the man’s imminent demise by giving him an emergency tracheotomy, but, lo! his skin seals over the trach tube, which was totally freaky and totally awesome.

At this point, Jones has placed himself in Olivia’s custody and after she watches her agent die, Jones tells her that he plans to kill about 700 people in this manner. He will tell her how to stop it, but first “there’s the matter of the key.” She must take the key he had on him when he entered the Boston Federal Building and go pick up a box of children’s games which amount to a series of 10 tests. Once she passes the first test, he will tell her how to stop his next attack.

Meanwhile, Olivia has had Peter use some of his special contacts to track down a manuscript with the initials ZFT, thinking perhaps that ZFT was never an organization but, perhaps, the bible of sorts for Jones and his comrades. He manages to track down a single copy of the unpublished manuscript and starts reading it. The text expresses fears the apocalypse will be brought about by technology and is a call to arms, of sorts, for “unwilling recruits” who will be brought into this battle as “warriors.” Walter becomes oddly fascinated with the text itself, enmeshed in the quality of the ideas contained within.

When Olivia goes over the instructions for her series of tests, she recognizes that the language is similar on the instruction cards and in the ZFT manuscript and realize that she’s about to go through Jones’ recruitment procedure. Her first test asks her to turn off a light board with only her mind, a task Olivia doesn’t believe she can do. But with time running out before the next attack, she asks Peter to try to rewire the board so that she can fake it before Jones and move on to stop the attack.

By this time, Jones is suffering from some major time-travel sickness thanks to the machine Walter created (no nosebleeds, though, just a lot of coughing and other respiratory issues) and has been brought into Walter’s care in the lab. He tells Olivia that he knows she can do the test because she was treated with Cortexafam as a child, and anyone treated with that should be able to do the test. Olivia, of course, has no idea what he’s talking about, even though he claims that he was the one who kidnapped her and tested her to be sure with the spinal tap she was given in “Bound.”

She finds out that Cortexafam is manufactured at Massive Dynamic and heads up to ask Nina Sharp some questions about it. Nina tells her that it was part of a clinical trial done by William Bell in 1981 intended to expand one’s mental abilities. The trials were conducted on children until 1983 in Wooster, OH. Having gown up in Jacksonville, Florida during that time, Olivia is sure that she hasn’t been treated with the drug and that Jones has no idea what he’s talking about. Still, she returns to the lab to attempt the test, which Peter has been able to successfully rewire.

I should have known I would be tested on this . . .

I should have known I would be tested on this . . .

Once she passes, Jones gives her the address where the next attack will take place: 923 Church St., 47th floor. When she arrives there with Peter, she finds a bomb attached to the window . . . that can only be stopped by disabling the same light board she supposedly just disabled with her mind. She calls Jones and he gives her a pep talk, discussing his faith in Olivia despite the fact that he knew she faked the first test. At her wits end, Olivia decides to try to disable the light board and, after an intense minute, manages to successfully do so with on her mind and 2 seconds left on the clock.

She is in complete disbelief about how she achieved this, until Nina Sharp calls and tells her that Bell conducted a second set of clinical trials in Jacksonville at a military base, the same one at which Olivia’s father was stationed. She goes to talk to Jones, presumably about why she has been chosen for this task, and arrives in his room at Boston General to find that he has hulked out in some way and has left a larger than man-sized hole in the wall of his very much not on the ground floor room. This, just as Astrid compliments Walter on the invention of a teleportation device, which is cool except for the fact that it kills you. According to Walter, “it does something unthinkable, but it doesn’t kill you.” I suppose we’ll have to wait to see exactly how unthinkable whatever happened to Jones was . . .

Finally, after some long contemplation about the ZFT manuscript, Walter notices that the typewriter upon which it was written has a wonky y key that places the Ys above where they should be. He pulls out his old typewriter, and discovers that the manuscript is his own work.

From this, I glean that Walter and Jones are and always have been on the side of “good” (whatever that means) in this battle, and any ZFT followers are actually intended to fight against the bioterror attacks that make up The Pattern. Although I don’t quite know the full text of the manuscript and its implications, it seems as through ZFT followers are generally fearful about the destruction of mankind at the hands of technology, and their chief means of fighting that seems to be, for lack of a better term, building a better man. I could be entirely wrong about this, but it starts to explain why Walter knows so much about all the weird shit they’re seeing. But who knows – maybe Loeb’s warning from “Bound” is right, and Olivia has no idea what side she’s on.

The Husband:

Yeah, Idol semifinals and the first few weeks of the Top 12 are always two-hour episodes, so it’s definitely hard to have that Tuesday at 9 p.m. spot on Fox, even if it does mean a boost later on. (House has been the biggest receiver of the Idol bump.) But hey, there are only so many episodes of Fringe, and I don’t really care when I get them so long as I get them.

As far this episode is concerned, I have so many more questions than answers that I may even rewatch this on Hulu, but I am very elated that Olivia has finally become part of the big picture and not just hanging out on the outside of everything, only occasionally using her telepathic-esque connection to John Scott to come up with answers. I’m glad that this is one of the few shows where I can say that the main female character is actually the muscle of the group, but revealing that she was part of the Cortexafam trial is just great.

And for once, I actually loved the fact that Walter was so directly involved in the central mystery because of his past work, because this time it wasn’t just an excuse to cover a few plot holes but in fact a true item of forward momentum to the show’s mytharc. The moment Walter hits the “Y” key may be the best scene this show has ever had, and it involved zero special effects and zero craziness.

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.

The Wife:

I can’t possibly be the only person who found the butterfly attack in this episode’s cold opening to be extremely funny, right? While I’m sure getting attacked by hundreds of butterflies with razor-sharp wings would actually be quite terrifying to experience, watching it happen to someone just looks funny. All I could think of is that the lacerations from razor-sharp butterflies must be akin to being covered in thousands of tiny papercuts. This scene stopped being funny, of course, when the victim, Mark Young, threw himself out the window of Massive Dynamic’s New York high rise and fell down to his doom in a state of suspended animation through a rain of glass and butterflies. This shot was so powerful, so beautiful, that it made me feel really terrible for laughing about the butterfly attack as Young drifts down before plummeting full force into a car.

This accident interrupts Olivia’s plans to go to a surprise party with her friends, whom we didn’t know she had at all. As she wipes off her lipgloss to return to work, I wondered about how out of character this attempt to humanize Olivia seemed. I know that she needs this breath of life, and that we do need to see her as someone outside of the cold-hearted bitch FBI suit she puts on every day. But this scene didn’t really tell me much about her other than that she seems to constantly have to put her social life on hold to do her work, which we already know from hundreds of other FBI shows is just an occupational hazard. I suppose the one insight it did give us is that Olivia is the kind of person who feels that she can’t wear lipgloss to the field. I’m not sure why, but I’ll assume that this detail combined with her earlier story about her drunken stepfather means that she thinks showing any signs of femininity equates a visible weakness in her work. If I knew more about Olivia, this scene would have made more sense overall as an illustration of the kinds of sacrifices she makes for her job and her country, but as she’s not the most fully-realized character on the show, it seemed a bit clunky to me.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter, as Olivia has to give up her plans in order to go to NYC and investigate. When surveying the accident site, she sees John Scott in the crowd, which jolts her. Walter notices that there are two kinds of lacerations on Mark Young’s corpse: deep cuts from the glass, and some other, shallower cuts that appear to have happened from the inside out. Walter takes the body back to the lab, and Olivia goes to discuss the accident with Nina Sharp, who doesn’t seem to have much information for Olivia other than to simply state that working on crazy science sometimes makes people go crazy. When Olivia and Charlie Francis search the victim’s house, they notice that he had recently booked a flight to Kansas on Oceanic airlines (which I can’t believe flies to Kansas – I thought they only flew the Pacific Coast route), indicating that his apparent suicide was not a planned event. Olivia is struck by Young’s butterfly collection, which appears to move before her very eyes, and notices the word “MONARCH” written in Young’s day planner.

Please get me some coffee yogurt so I can examine this mans numerous tiny papercuts.

Please get me some coffee yogurt so I can examine this man's numerous tiny papercuts.

Back at the lab, Walter determines that the shallower lacerations were indeed made from the inside of the body when he finds a synthetic psychotropic compound present in Mark Young’s brain. However, he has no idea what this means until John Scott ghost hacks Olivia’s computer as she researches the meaning of the term “MONARCH” (pulling up various images from California’s state butterfly to Queen Elizabeth – sadly, The Monarch from The Venture Brothers was not present in her search results). Scott sends her an email with the address 1312 Labrador Lane, which she immediately heads off to. The building is yet another of Scott’s dingy basement haunts in which Olivia finds some thumping containers of . . . frogs, another one of our Fringe symbols. After this discovery, she goes to Francis to ask for a bereavement leave, telling him that he was right all along about how Scott’s death would affect her, admitting that she’s still seeing him. Francis is about to grant her request when Astrid calls to tell her that Walter may have found a link between the frogs and Mark Young’s death.

Meanwhile, Peter gets a call from an old flame, Tess, who has heard that he’s back in town and says she urgently needs to meet with him. He meets her at a cafe and urges him to get out of town because if she can find him, then the wrong people certainly can find him. As he takes her hand, he realizes her wrist has been badly bruised. Michael is beating her again, which makes Peter incredibly angry.

I was thrown off by the presence of actress Susan Misner in this role, as I know her best from Gossip Girl where she plays estranged wife and mother Alison Humphrey. I now envision an alternate storyline for Alison where she leaves Rufus not to paint and fall in love with an artist in upstate New York, but to go to Boston and become Peter Bishop’s lover and partner-in-crime, which is a lot seedier. But I just realized now in looking her up on IMDB that I know her from one other show: the failed immortal cop drama New Amsterdam, which didn’t suck nearly as much as I thought it would. Misner played Amsterdam’s boss, Sergeant Callie Burnett, and she was basically a hard-ass every week. Misner is a beautiful woman, but I was shocked to see how old the makeup folks on Fringe made her look. The actress herself is only 37, and I had guessed last night that her character Tess might have been a hard-looking 38, which is to say she looked more like she was 48. Either way, I’m assuming that both Olivia and Peter are in their early 30s, so I was really thrown off to see Peter involved with a much older-looking woman. Even if Tess is also in her early 30s, she certainly doesn’t look it. I hope it was their intention to take a lovely woman and make her look way too old for her character, because otherwise, that’s just a really weird choice.

The substance found in Mark Young’s brain is the same substance found in the skin of the toads Agent Scott led Olivia to. Walter had (naturally) previously experimented with this substance, which causes people to experience hallucinations so vivid that their minds actually create the damage to their bodies that they think they are experiencing. So, if Mark Young hallucinated butterflies lacerating his flesh, his body manifested the lacerations. Moreover, the amount of this substance found in Young’s body was 30 times the normal amount a person would take, leading Walter to believe that this is a clear case of murder.

Olivia: You have to put me back in the tank.

Walter: You’re asking me to push the boundaries of all that is real and possible. Like roasting a turkey.

Olivia asks Walter to go back in the tank to help her purge John Scott’s memories from her mind and, also, to help her uncover anything Scott may have known about the substance he led her to. Walter is a bit reluctant to do so, fearing the damage he could cause to Olivia, but he goes ahead with the procedure. In the chamber, hopped up on LSD, Olivia goes through the door of a restaurant and sees herself and John Scott on their first date. (A scene which told me more about her character than the earlier scene of her on the phone with her friend did.) When her memory self leaves the table, she sits down and tries to talk to John, who she believes can see her, even though Walter assures her he cannot. She then finds John with Mark Young and two other men having a secret conference. Once the deal has been made, she watches John shank one of the guys as Young and a Latino man walk away. This scene disturbs her so much that Peter has to bust in and drag her out of the tank.

Olivia gets Astrid to digitally render a sketch of the Latino man she saw in John’s memory and asks Broyles to help her get full disclosure from Nina Sharp about every project Mark Young ever worked on at Massive Dynamic. Thinking about how to reach this man, whose name, by the way, is George, Olivia tries dialing the digits that correspond with the word “MONARCH.” When she does, she reaches George, whose cell phone is traced to the Lincoln Tunnel. Dunham and Francis immediately head to New York where they chase George through NYC traffic until he gets hit by a cab. Olivia grills him in his hospital bed, where he demands complete protection from Massive Dynamic in exchange for his cooperation, claiming that if they killed Mark Young, they’d kill him, too. He suggests that MD offed Young as a warning to other employees and tells Olivia that The Pattern is just a smokescreen created by Massive Dynamic so that they can do whatever they want and get away with it. (Honestly, The Pattern being a giant corporate conspiracy was not news to us, right? We all saw that answer coming together pretty neatly, right?)

With this news, Olivia heads off to MD headquarters to question Nina Sharp about everything she isn’t telling Olivia and Agent Broyles about the goings on at MD. She accuses Nina of protecting the shadowy William Bell, MD’s CEO, by killing off employees who threaten to expose his dealings. Meanwhile, in George’s hospital room, John Scott appears, his skin glittering like Edward Cullen’s vampire skin in the sunlight. Scott wordlessly and violently kills George by slitting his throat. After her uninformative interrogation of Nina Sharp, Olivia calls Broyles to tell him that she’s being suspiciously obsfucative, to which he responds that she needs to lay off Massive Dynamic because a nurse just saw George’s throat slit itself from the inside-out.

Peter has been off continuing his own misadventures throughout all of this, beating the shit out of Michael, who later reports to his cronies that Peter Bishop is back in town. Other than the gambling debts we do know about, I’m interested to find out more about Peter’s checkered past. I’m also pretty sure that Tess getting in touch with him may have been a set-up to expose him, because until now, he’s done a pretty good job of laying low and keeping away from the folks he’s on the bad side of. I’ll see you again, Alison Humphrey, I’m sure.

Olivia begs Walter to put her back in the tank so she can further access John Scott’s memories, but Walter refuses, fearing the worst if Olivia tries the procedure again so soon after completing it. That night, as she struggles to sleep, John Scott ghost hacks her computer again to email:


This leads me to believe that the clone/android John Scott Nina Sharp has in her big ol’ basement back at Massive Dynamic might have a fully-working consciousness that is able to do any number of awesome technokinetic things. I also think that his actual consciousness can interact with his memories, although I’ll leave that up to Walter to explain if it turns out to be true.

Finally, the Massive Dynamic phone number (1-877-8-MSSDYN) is a real number, according to the Fringe boards, although I’ve not yet called it myself. Nor have I tried calling MONARCH, because I don’t know what area code I should append to it and I don’t want to accidentally piss someone off.

Also: Six-Fingered Hand, Butterfly, Daisy, Apple, Apple

The Husband:

Here’s the big section of the George/Olivia hospital-set conversation. I post it because not only it is important to get every word to sink in, I just also think it’s very cool and represents a major turning point in the series.

George: I didn’t kill anybody. Why would I? That guy was a treasure trove of unbelievable things. Massive Dynamic killed him.

Olivia: Massive Dynamic killed Mark Young?

George: That’s right.

Olivia: Why would they?

George: Maybe as a warning to any employee who’s thinking of doing the same thing.

Olivia: Maybe? I think it’s easy to invent a story that you think I want to hear.

George: Really? Did I invent ZFT? Flight 627? The Northwoods Group? John Scott? The Pattern? The whole thing is a hoax. It’s all a smokescreen so Massive Dynamic can do whatever it wants to whoever it wants. Do you understand that? Massive Dynamic is hell, and its founder, William Bell, is the devil. And I can prove all of it, but only if I get protection.

Olivia: So why me? Why do I get the privilege of your cooperation?

George: Because I know I can trust you.

Olivia: You don’t even know me.

George: John Scott told me about you. Immunity and complete protection, and I will tell you everything I know.

This conversation helps further along what I suggested last week in our Fringe write-up, that more of the show’s various elements needed to tie together. I’m happy that they may be going the route of a more serialized structure, having used the first handful of episodes to set up singular crises, and now we’re watching them connect right before our eyes.

As for it being obvious that The Pattern is just a big smokescreen, technically there could have been alternative suggestions, that maybe Massive Dynamic simply noticed something akin to The Pattern and used it to their advantage, as opposed to fabricating it entirely. So no, it was not new news per se, but it was definitely enlightening.

And the fact that Olivia can now harness John Scott’s memories that are hidden somewhere in her brain due to the activity in the show’s pilot? That’s extremely helpful, to say that least.

Quick note: If you, like us, had the episode of Fringe cut off at 10 p.m. due to a combination of House running long (as planned) and Fox not communicating to our collective DVRs and TiVos that Fringe was going to run over as a result, it’s easily accessible at Hulu. Just click at minute 42 and it’s a nice lead-up to those seven minutes that you actually did miss had you Tivo’ed/DVRed it.

Here’s the link.

The Wife:

In this episode of Fringe, poor Joseph Meegar (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), an aptly named man of limited means and even more limited confidence, became a conduit for electromagnetic energy exhibiting injurious and potentially lethal consequences to those around him. My hat is off to the writers this week for working in some very subtle and very smart hints about Meegar’s character development even before we as an audience really come to know for sure that he is imbued with this uncontrollable energy. Meegar’s name is often mispronounced as “meager” by his boss and associates at BiCoastal Parcel, suggesting an inherent smallness of character. He’s viewed as meek, small and lacking in inherent value. We see this in the way his boss treats him, in the way his mother (obviously a special kind of crazy) berates and badgers her “worthless” son and in the way that he goes completely unnoticed in his attempts to flirt with the receptionist he admires (and kind of stalks), who turns her attention away from his gaze every chance she gets. He even pursues the classifieds in his local paper for confidence-building courses. Meegar is a powerless individual, which is perhaps what makes his sudden influx of electrical power so completely erratic in him: he can barely control his life, so how could he possibly hope to control such incredible energy?

Furthermore, discussions of Meegar and his work are peppered with little metaphors about electricity: his boss explaining that the shipping company he runs must always run “on the grid,” the FBI finding that Meegar lives somewhat “off the grid,” as it were. The look on his face when he accidentally overrides the elevator and the object of his affection catches the phone photos that he’s taken of her is truly sad, as is Meegar’s desperate attempt to wake her lifeless body when the elevator crashes to the basement floor. All of these little touches made for what I believe is the most interesting character piece we’ve seen on this show so far. I love The Observer and all and I do hope he returns simply because there is so much I do not know about him, but I hope we get to see a few more of these sympathetic victims of The Pattern if they’re as well constructed as Joseph Meegar.

Meegar’s elevator crash leads our agents to believe that there may be some sort of weapon responsible for these massive power surges, the most recent of which derailed several trains in Tokyo six moths ago. Thinking this may be part of The Pattern, Broyles sends Dunham and the Bishops out to investigate. At the site, Walter discovers that every body in the elevator died not from injuries resulting from the fall, but from electrocution. Walter tests the residual hyper electromagnetic energy in the elevator car by making Olivia’s gold necklace float. At the lab, Walter suggests that perhaps it was a person hypercharged with electromagnetic energy that caused the surge, rather than a weapon. In a previous experiment, he and his colleagues had electromagnetically charged some test subjects in an attempt to make humans traceable by homing pigeons. One of the patients in his study, Walter notes, had so much electromagnetic energy that whenever she sneezed, the lights around her would dim. Street lamps have an uncanny way of turning on or off around me, so I often wonder if I possess some kind of heightened electromagnetic field. Maybe I should buy some Tesla coils and do some home experiments? No? Bad idea? Anyway, Walter pulls one of the hearts out of the deceased elevator victims and, much to Astrid and Olivia’s shock, the residual electromagnetic energy makes the heart reanimate. Then, over at BiCoastal Parcel, Joseph Meegar accidentally surges a machine in the warehouse and maims his bosses hand, only seconds after being fired.

Royles suspects that, if a person was responsible for the surges, he was most likely genetically altered as a result of operations performed by one Dr. Jacob Fischer, whom the FBI has been tracking for duping folks into participating in non-sanctioned clinical trials, of a sort. Fischer’s experiments basically involve surging electromagnetic energy into patients’ brains for unknown, nefarious purposes.

Olivia, I'm concerned. You've got to eat more than Scotch, soda and cereal.

Olivia, I'm concerned. You must eat more than Scotch, soda and cheerios.

In the meantime, Agent Scott once again sneaks up on Dunham in the dark, a habit which he has got to break otherwise that girl is never going to be able to eat or drink in peace. Scott appears to be on the side of helping Olivia now, despite the fact that he betrayed both her and his country before his death. Acting almost like a conscience, Scott pops up to reposition Olivia’s thoughts on The Patten and her involvement in the FBI. She follows Scott into an elevator where she realizes that the maximum capacity in most elevators is 2,200 pounds. The math from the accident site isn’t right. 165 pounds of weight is unaccounted for, therefore Walter’s test subject hypothesis must be correct. Walter postulates that the mystery man might have escaped the accident alive because he was able to momentarily electromagnetically levitate himself, just like Olvia’s gold necklace. Delighted at the thought of electromagnetic energy, Walter shuffles his feet on the floor and zaps his son with static. You know, for funzies.

Back at his apartment, a terrified Joseph Meegar, who has killed seven people and maimed another, tries to explain what’s happening to his mother. He answered an ad, someone did tests of some kind and now electronic things respond to him. As his fear crests, the lights in his apartment begin to flicker wildly and his mother falls to the ground, clutching her chest. He has killed her, either by sheer electrocution or, possibly, by inadvertently manipulating the function of her pacemaker. Could be either.

Agents Dunham and Francis begin to look for small incidents of electromagnetic charges and locate Joseph Meegar’s name on the sign-in sheet at the elevator site, cross-referencing it with the maiming at BiCoastal Parcel. Bryoles warns that the team needs to find Meegar before Fischer does, as Fischer seems to want to use his uncontrollable test subjects as some kind of anarchic weaponry. Walter takes a cassette tape from Meegar’s home and strips it of the music to obtain Meegar’s personal electromagnetic signature, thus enabling Dr. Bishop to fully realize his old experiment: tracking humans by carrier pigeon. Of course, Fischer finds Meegar first and the team and their league of birds must race against time to save Meegar’s life and the lives of countless others.

I'm sorry. Did you say you needed pigeons, a Tesla coil and a death ray? No? I misheard the death ray part?

I'm sorry. Did you say you needed pigeons, a Tesla coil and a death ray? No? I misheard the part about the death ray?

Dr. Bishop busts out some fantastic Tesla coils to encode the GPS on the birdies with Meegar’s electromagnetic signature. I was so excited by the presence of Tesla coils that I actually wrote down: “Tesla coils! Tesla coils! Yes! Y-E-S!” and sang a little song to myself as I jotted that down. My love of Nicola Tesla will have to be written about another day, but sufficient to say that anyone who invents alternating current AND a death ray is a winner in my book. (And Mythbusters tested Tesla’s earthquake machine on a condemned bridge in my hometown, which practically makes me and Tesla besties.)

The Little Ice Cube Michael Giacchino wrote an amazing adventure theme for the homing pigeon chase through the streets of Boston, wherein Peter and Olivia along with Francis and other agents track down Meegar at Fischer’s lab and apprehend the mad doctor. Unfortunately, they have to chase down a terrified Meegar, ending in a chase through the construction docks in Boston Harbor where Peter takes him down with a crowbar. Olivia assures Meegar that everything will be set right, but on her way home she spies Agent Scott walking down the street. She follows him into a secret basement where Scott has been keeping boxes and boxes of files on The Pattern, proving that what he said earlier was true: he didn’t betray Olivia. It was all a set-up.

Walter, who pasteurizes his own milk from his lab cow, knows that Olivia has been seeing Agent Scott. He assures here that these are not hallucinations. However, Scott has not been reanimated either. In the first episode’s fused consciousness LSD trip, a part of Olivia’s consciousness became fused with Agent Scott’s. His mind is communicating with hers and, eventually, Walter posits, her mind will exercise his thoughts. At which point, I suspect Nina Sharp will release her John Scott clone and really fuck with Dunham’s mind. Broyles brings Olivia news of Scott’s files and, among them, a box of his personal affects, some of which were intended for her. Among them, pictures of him as a boy and an engagement ring, engraved with the word “ALWAYS,” echoing his earlier sentiments when he said he would prove this very thing to her.

All in all, I really liked this episode. At first I thought it was going to be like the Giovanni Ribisi The X-Files Episode “D.P.O.” about yet another electrical conduit combined with the arc of Mr. Nuclear from Heroes season one, but “Power Hungry” surpassed both of those, and Joseph Meegar himself was certainly the reason why.

Also: Six-Fingered Hand, Six-Fingered Hand, Frog, Leaf, Leaf.

The Husband:

Just when I was getting really bored by the weekly cases on this show – separate from the overarcing Massive Dynamics story and the Bishop Boys’ relationship, which I am still really into – along comes this episode, by far the best of the season, that shows that Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman finally may have some original ways of presenting admittedly old ideas. For once it felt like Fringe was being its own show and using more organic ideas, epitomized in the entire search-pigeon sequence (one of the best sequences of any new show this year without question). I no longer have to underhandedly mock the show with silly haikus and may start getting into the action of The Pattern more deeply. (Really, that’s my wife’s job as the resident procedural aficionado. After all, I have to keep room in my head for what Addison Montgomery’s current ethical crises are during each week of Private Practice.)

Meegar was a great subject/villain/victim, a sympathetic monster who couldn’t control his own powers and yet wasn’t a nice enough person to be pitied but a creepy stalker with mommy issues. I like grey areas – all the best procedurals deal in them – and this one had them in spades. All the best procedurals also have great cop work, and this one utilized everybody’s skills (plus a heretofore unknown bit that Peter is quite good smacking people with crowbars).

I am a little too amused, though, that Walter Bishop always seems to have a relation to whatever experiment is causing whatever chaos in whatever perpetrator. To save time, he should probably just make a list of all the fringe experiments he did on unsuspecting victims and get to them ahead of time before they kill anybody, sort of like the Pre-Crime Unit in Minority Report. It seems that anyone he touches ends up killing somebody, so it’s a thought. For once I’d like to see him completely baffled by something and have to do more research than simply saying, “Oh yeah, I remember doing that thing to that person that made them all crazy-like.”

The Wife:

This was definitely one unsettling cold open. The narrative is split between an obviously disturbed man at confession who hears voices that could belong to either God or Satan, and an ordinary bus ride that becomes not so ordinary when a man takes a gas mask out of his briefcase and releases a mysterious toxin upon the unsuspecting passengers. As panic ensues, he takes a blue backpack from a woman in a trenchcoat. The toxin ultimately encases the passengers in a resin-like substance, trapping them like “mosquitoes in amber.” This image of the passengers is chillingly reinforced when the man in the confessional runs out of the church and drops a crumpled paper on the ground, which the priest opens to reveal a charcoal drawing of people, frozen in fear on a bus.

Can I take them home and play with them now?

Can I take them home and play with them now?

Dunham is called away from Agent Scott’s funeral to investigate the case and employs the Bishop boys to analyze the resin-like substance encasing the bus passengers. Among the dead, Dunham discovers DEA Agent Mendoza, the woman from whom the backpack was taken, who we learn was investigating a Nicaraguan drug cartel that claimed to know something about The Pattern. The Bishop Boys learn that the substance was released as a gas, which turns into a resin when it mixes with the nitrogen in the atmosphere, and that the only company that could manufacture something of that nature would be – of course – Massive Dynamic.

Dunham interrogates Nina Sharp, who posits that any implications made about her company in this incident are silly because “everything in science and technology has a link back to Massive Dynamic.” She also reveals that the resin was used once before in an attack in Prague. Agent Francis then brings our psychic, Roy, into the mix. Francis and Dunham search Roy’s apartment to find numerous drawings and models of incidents like the one on the bus that have taken place all over the world, including the plane from Hamburg from the pilot.

Roy admits that he must purge his psychic energy physically, by drawing or making models, to keep himself from going insane by hearing about the terrible things people are plotting. Dr. Bishop postulates that Roy is psychically linked with those who directly control the events within The Pattern and wants to do fancy brain experiments, asking: “Am I required to keep him alive?”

Turns out, Roy was one of Bishop’s test subjects for an experiment that tested a uridium-based compound, which has multiplied over the years and left Roy with metallic blood that tries to pop out of his veins in an MRI scan and has also given him the neat-o ability to act as something like a radio transmitter for the “ghost network” Bishop and Massive Dynamic’s Bell had created for secret government information to pass through. This revelation greatly upsets Peter, who seems to believe that his father’s work has caused more harm than good. Dr. Bishop wants to rewire Roy’s brain to tune it fully into the ghost network in order to catch the culprit from the bus incident. He sends Peter and Dunham to his old house in Cambridge to fetch a homemade brain re-wiring machine from the secret dumbwaiter inside the wall. That scene really, really made me want to move to Boston because, if anything, I need a dumbwaiter in my house. That just sounds so fantastic.

Things I want aside, we learn from this visit to Peter’s childhood home that, in addition to being tailed for his outstanding gambling debts and roughing up PIs, Peter is also really good at picking locks. He does, it seems, have a human mother but won’t tell Dunham anything about her because “that’s a story for another day.” At this point, I’m betting Peter’s human mother in Nina Sharp. Imagine it: Bell, the head of Massive Dynamic, institutionalizes his partner and long-time friend before taking their mutual ideas into action and then steals his wife and converts her into similar evil(ish)-doing. Poor Peter gets thrown into foster care, because Mrs. Bishop fakes her death in order to leave all ties to the family and becomes Nina Sharp. Hence Peter’s long spiral into crime and poker playing, much to the chagrin of his father. (Seriously, did you see the look on Walter’s face when Peter talked about reading poker tells?)

The Bishop Boys and Farnsworth wire up Roy with the homemade brain-a-majigger, prompting Dr. Bishop to ask: “Take any drugs? In fact, if the answer is no, I may encourage some drug use.”

During the procedure, Roy is tuned in to the ghost network fully, where it appears that the bad guys are about to make an exchange at the train station of an item stolen from Mendoza’s person, which Dunham realizes Mendoza’a ex-partner (and terrorist traitor) had extracted from her body when he went to ID it. Dunham, at the time, thought that Mendoza and her partner were like Agent Scott and herself, as she saw the man gently run his hand down Mendoza’s arm. The information about the exchange is communicated over the ghost network in Latin and translated thanks to the handiness of Astrid Farnsworth, who majored in linguistics before she joined the FBI. Once again, a linguist saves the day. I should note, though, that if you’re going to communicate in a dead language for extra security over a ghost network, maybe you should pick something other than Latin. Sure, its dead, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who study it in school. I would have picked Aramaic. Or, maybe a dead Native American language. There are literally thousands of those with no speakers left, which means absolutely no chance of being inadvertently deciphered by a hotshot Jr. FBI Agent and former linguist.

Dunham and Francis have a showdown with the terrorist operative, who decides to avoid arrest by jumping in front of a bus. (Good idea.) The stolen chips are recovered and turned over to Broyles, and Roy is freed from his connection to the ghost network and given massive amounts of homemade drugs by Dr. Bishop. Ominously, Broyles turns the stolen resin-like discs over to Massive Dynamic’s Nina Sharp who takes them down to the lab to complete the reanimation of  (or clone of). . .  Agent John Scott!

I especially liked that framing device of John Scott’s burial and reanimation. Absolutely lovely. And for the record, this week’s commercial cards were: leaf, apple, leaf, apple, frog. I still don’t know what that means.

The Husband:

One ore haiku:


Kurtzman and Orci
Wrote The Legend of Zorro.
They can’t be trusted.

I like Fringe. I really do. I think it’s very competently made, and I think Dr. Bishop is one of the best original characters on television in a few seasons.

But it ends there as far as originality goes. So far, almost every episode has had its ideas cribbed from other shows and movies with nary a change, and I have to blame long-time J.J. Abrams friends Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. As my haiku says, it’s hard to trust the people who wrote the godawful The Legend of Zorro. Sure, their other work like Transformers is kind of fun, but I’m not going to be studying their scripts anytime soon.

This week, the Zak Orth character was entirely a combination of Isaac from Heroes – the ability to paint the future – and the 1995 film Hideaway, a supernatural thriller based on the Dean Koontz novel – his psychic connection to a killer. I’m not claiming plagiarism or anything, but all I could think about during the episode was how much cooler it was that Hideaway involved Satanism and the afterlife, had Jeremy Sisto sacrificing himself with a very sweet-looking knife, and that Jeff Goldblum’s vision of hell is alternately terrifying and hilarious.

I don’t think that’s what Kurtzman and Orci had in mind when they put together this episode. I doubt they said, “Hey, let’s remind them of that 1995 movie that kind of bombed in its release,” when they put “The Ghost Network” up on the big white board in the writers’ room.

I know there are only so many ideas in the world, but does it have to be so transparent?

Remember the old writer adage: creativity is the art of concealing your sources. If you’re going to rip something off, do some research to see if it already exists, and if it does, do a better job of hiding it. Just because it’s TV doesn’t mean you can do shit like that.

Let’s say you want to make the claim that Journeyman was too much like the book The Time Traveler’s Wife. Point. But it made its own tone, its own voice. Taking ideas and putting an X-Files spin on them just simply isn’t enough

I leave you with this, the best line from Hideaway.

“Even as a child, Jeremy was psychotic. But he was my son!”  — Alfred Molina