Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fringe recap S1E2 (09/16/08)

In Boston, it’s the aftermath of more motel sex, this time with a guy who picked up a girl in a bar (not with FBI agents). Oh dear: the guy’s got a whole bunch of knives and cutting tools in his bag, plus a syringe. Before he can do whatever horribleness he’s got planned, the girl starts grunting and shrieking in the other room - something is scurrying around inside her belly like an alien. The guy packs up his knives and drives the girl to the ER. She is SCREAMING. He drops her at the entrance to the hospital and drives away, not looking back. In the ER, the doctors think the girl is pregnant even though she insists she isn’t and also wasn’t, back at the motel. Suddenly there’s a terrible ripping sound and the girl dies. The docs cut into her swollen abdomen and pull out … something. Some of the doctors vomit, the nurses scream and scream. That ain’t no regular baby.

Broyles calls a meeting with some muckety-mucks, including Ms. Sharp (is that her name?), the Massive Dynamic executive with the attitude and the fake arm, to introduce his new team in the face of this latest anomaly: Dr. Walter Bishop, Peter Bishop (a/k/a Pacey), and Olivia Dunham. In case we completely forgot the main characters from the series premiere last week, I guess. Ms. Sharp has objections to each member of this new team but Broyles stands behind them. Methinks the executive doth protest too much.

Cut to Olivia, fretting over the files on the last episode. Broyles calls her and tells her to retrieve the Bishop boys and meet him at the hospital. Wherever they're staying, Walter is sleeping in the closet instead of his bed– must feel safer there or something. Peter doesn’t have much patience for his dad’s insanity. Broyles brings the Fringe Team up to speed: at 12:24 a.m., the girl did in fact give birth, just before she died, to a baby that grew visibly in front of the doctors’ eyes. It lived for 30 minutes, grew to adult size and then died of old age. Walter has a theory about cell mitosis or something.

While Walter takes the aged dead baby back to his lab for tests, Peter wants to know what’s going on. Broyles sits him and Olivia down to discuss the Pattern: a series of anomalous and unnatural events that may suggest a larger strategy. Right – you told us all that in the last episode. A tip comes in about the motel and Peter and Olivia go to check it out. Peter scoops up some sort of orange gel from the bathroom sink; Olivia notes that the girl’s things were left behind but not the man’s. She also notes that there are medical-grade (non-motel) sheets on the bed and has a eureka moment: she recognizes the profile of the man as a serial killer from NJ and NY, and is outraged because she and John had worked on that serial killer case together. Now she realizes got to go back and reexamine every one of their cases to see what John might have hidden from her. As she and Peter drive off, she recounts the nasty habits of that serial killer: kills five girls in a stretch, uses an orange colored muscle relaxant, goes in through his victims’ mouths and takes a piece of brain as a trophy.

Meanwhile, Serial Killer has picked up another girl at another bar/club. He takes her to a workshop of some sort in Stoughton, Massachusetts, and when she moves in for a kiss, he injects her in the back of the neck with the muscle relaxant.

Peter goes to his dad’s lab to find Walter milking the cow. Peter is not interested in fresh milk: he wants to know about their “80-year old man-baby.” Walter confirms that related rapid-growth experiments were performed in his lab seventeen years ago. He’s also remembered where he left his car seventeen years ago and makes Peter take him to find it. The car is full of specimen jars and boxes of files; Peter notes that while his father may be able to reanimate dead tissue, he can bring any car back from the dead and they drive the beater back to Harvard. Back at the lab, they search through Walter’s files for … something about the pituitary gland (which is what the serial killer removes from his victims). Fortuitously, a former colleague of Walter’s who did rapid-growth research is currently a professor at Boston College, and off they go to find him.

The serial killer’s victim has awakened in time to watch him advance towards her face with a scalpel. Yikes.

Olivia and Peter meet up with the Boston College professor, Claus Penrose, and show him a photo of the dead old man-baby. Penrose vaguely alludes to having been involved with such research but stresses that the work he had done with Walter was wrong. He was actually glad when Bishop went crazy and got locked up: “No one in power should ever learn what [Bishop] knows.” Olivia and Peter take their leave, realizing Penrose is not interested in helping. Meanwhile, Charlie has found a dead Jane Doe with both a gum line incision and a missing pituitary gland, and sends the cadaver to the lab.

After Walter does some more lab work, he tells his son and Olivia that his former research was on growing soldiers for the military, but the problem was they were unable to stop the rapid aging that accompanied the accelerated growth. Walter then makes a huge leap and theorizes that the serial killer is actually one of these rapidly-grown humans who needs to ingest the pituitary glands of his victims to keep the accelerated aging in check; the birth of the man-baby was a mistake as the quik-gro killer inadvertently impregnated his victim and passed his rapid growth/aging propensity onto his offspring.

O-ho! Professor Penrose has arrived at the serial killer’s workshop and called him “son” – not only does he know about this guy, he knows all about the killings and has figured out the mistake with the pregnancy! The killer’s name is Christopher. Apparently Penrose doesn’t think the research was completely evil if he went and grew himself a child.

Walter is raving about how Jules Verne wrote something about the last image a dead person saw being imprinted in their neural pathways at the moment of death. Peter decides to play along, despite his protestations that Jules Verne wrote FICTION, and they rig up some ridiculous whoozit to recapture the last thing Jane Doe saw, borrowing a piece of fancy equipment from Massive Dynamic to finish it. The image-capturing gadget retrieves an image of the bridge in Stoughton and Olivia recalls a warehouse district over there in Stoughton where the victims just MUST have been taken. She and Peter are hot on the trail while Walter waxes ecstatic about his gadget’s success.

While they’ve been working, Christopher has found yet another pituitary gland donor at another bar; this time, Daddy Penrose is there at the workshop to help him with the gland extraction.

Incredibly, Olivia and Peter discover the right warehouse on their very first try. The victim is still alive. They hold Penrose at gunpoint; Christopher makes a lot of noise running away; Olivia chases after Christopher. Penrose sneakily cranks up the anesthesia to try to kill the victim and then scurries off. Peter calls his dad to figure out how to restart the victim’s heart without a defibrillator, managing to do so with some jumper cables and a couple of phone books. Don’t ask. Makes McGyver look like an amateur.

Olivia finally catches up to Christopher who has aged about sixty years in fifteen minutes. He says he wishes Penrose had let him die years ago. Then he dies. Olivia looks flummoxed. Penrose gets away. It’s all very anticlimactic.

Olivia returns the expensive equipment to Sharp at Massive Dynamic. The executive offers her a job, saying that a woman like her isn’t suited to public service. Blah blah blah – Sharp goes on about how Massive Dynamic owns international armies, arms, etc., while Olivia goggles. Plus, Sharp points out, Massive Dynamic could help Olivia in her quest for the Pattern. Olivia goes back to her job in Boston, telling Broyles about the job offer and her response to it: “I told her you were going to give me a raise.” Broyles smiles just a little.

At the lab, Peter is grousing about some disclaimer the government is asking him to sign and eventually storms off; Walter says he’ll sign it. He mutters about understanding Penrose’s love for his son and the blurry line between being a scientist and playing God. Then he asks Olivia if she would mind keeping Peter’s medical history a secret. She’s utterly confused, saying she doesn’t know anything about a particular medical condition. Oh, that’s good then, says the crazy doctor, and now Olivia looks concerned. Ooh: did Walter grow his son in a Petrie dish too? The last shot of the episode – of Peter, or possibly multiple Peters, lying in what might be incubators - shows that scenario might not be too far off.


  1. I'm still not sold on this show. These first two eps have been, meh.

    Although if Walter gets to say dialog like this every week:

    "It warms your ass. It's marvelous!"

    Well, I will just have to keep tuning in for the funny freak comment amid the pseudo-technobabble.

  2. I completely agree with you: Fringe has not, thus far, lived up to its anticipatory hype. I'm a big X-Files fan and Fringe has yet to engage me the way X-Files did right from the start. I feel as tho' Fringe tries to cram too much into an episode and then the resolution feels rushed. Walter's awesome, however.