Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fringe recap S1E4 (09/30/08)

Brooklyn: A bald guy orders a roast beef sandwich in a deli, with eleven jalapeno peppers on the side and room temperature water. He’s weird. He watches some construction across the street through fancy binoculars, and takes notes in some sort of hieroglyphics, then douses his sandwich in black pepper and half a bottle of Tabasco, in addition to the peppers. He’s really weird (although Mr. Mouse would totally dig a sandwich like that). After eating his sandwich, he looks at the construction site again and then there’s an earthquake and an explosion in the job site. Weird guy drinks his water; a crater emerges in the construction site; weird guy pays his tab and leaves the deli, heading into the demolished site. He makes a call: “It has arrived.”

Boston: Walter is once again keeping his son awake by reciting chemical formulae (for root beer) in the middle of the night. The next morning, Peter goes to see Olivia, bitching about having to live with his father. Peter wants out, not just because he’s sick of his dad but also because he doesn’t like to stay in one place too long. Olivia says that Peter must stay because Walter has stated he will return to the mental hospital if his son leaves.

Chelsea, Massachusetts: The FBI has collected something from the explosion in Brooklyn. They don’t know what it is. It looks like an egg-shaped warhead with flashing blue lights spiraling around it. Apparently, this cylinder tunneled up from the earth to the surface. Another one of these things showed up in 1987 and Olivia is sent to meet with the military guy who was in charge of the situation back then. As she heads out, Peter tells her he’s leaving after this one. Walter wants the cylinder taken to his lab and throws a hissy fit when the FBI hesitates. He needs his equipment, damnit!

The military guy tells Olivia that in 1987 the cylinder that emerged from the ground at Quantico transmitted something they couldn’t decode and then, after several hours, exploded downwards, into the ground, and disappeared. He thinks she should stay as far away as she can from this cylinder.

A tough-looking guy in a watch cap takes a machine gun – that fires blue sparks - and shoots up all the soldiers guarding the Chelsea installation. He asks the remaining scientist where the cylinder is. We know it’s at Walter’s lab where he’s shaking a tuning fork at it. Watch-cap goes to see Olivia’s military guy and zaps him with his special gun.

That night, Olivia gets a phone call from … dead agent John Scott, she thinks. She has the FBI trace the call but they have no record of any calls coming in to her cell at all. She is weirded out by that. Speaking of weird, Walter is still frigging around with the cylinder. It might be a subterranean torpedo that he worked on some time ago, but he’s not saying for sure.

Meanwhile, Olivia recognizes the bald guy (caught in a photo at the Brooklyn explosion) as someone she saw at the hospital two weeks ago (when John was there). She’s got a surveillance photo from the hospital to prove it. She brings this to Broyles’s attention and he takes her to a room filled with surveillance photos of the bald guy. They’ve recorded him at over three dozen scenes connected with the Pattern but they have no idea who he is. They call him “the Observer.”

Olivia gets notification about the attack on the Chelsea facility and warns Peter. Peter tells his dad that someone is after the cylinder and Walter says they must protect it. He needs aluminum foil. This will contain the cylinder’s transmissions. Peter grumpily goes out to fetch some. While he’s gone, Walter injects Astrid (Olivia’s FBI assistant who is fortunate enough to have been assigned to hang out with Walter in the lab) in the neck with something and she collapses. When Peter comes back, Walter and the cylinder are gone.

During this time, Watch-cap has strapped Military Guy down and inserted a bunch of probes up his nose and possibly into his brain. He wants Military Guy to think about the FBI agent who visited him. After some electroshock (?) encouragement, Military Guy does what he is told and Watch-cap captures his thoughts via the iPod earpiece he’s wearing. Don’t ask – because I certainly can’t explain it better than that. Then, having gotten what he was after, he shoots Military Guy with that machine gun.

Walter has gone out for a root beer float when the Observer joins him. He offers some of his drink to the Observer who politely declines, saying he wouldn’t taste much anyway. Because of all the damage the hot peppers and hot sauce have done to his taste buds. The Observer then thanks Walter for hiding the “beacon” since he can’t touch it himself; he tells the mad scientist that soon he will have answers to many of his questions. Back at the lab, everyone is very flustered about Walter’s disappearance – until the cops pick him up, walking on the median of I-95.

Olivia and Peter catch up to Walter at a holding cell. He won’t tell them where the cylinder is, but admits that he is hiding it from whoever is coming for it. He has a theory that he only has to hide the cylinder for another four hours – the Observer told him so. Peter thinks his dad made up this bald man and Walter gets very angry with his son for treating him like a child.

After his dad’s outburst, Peter walks out. He goes to his dad’s lab and packs up some stuff, making some phone calls in the meantime, looking for work anywhere out of Boston. He doesn’t see Watch-cap lurking in the shadows. Some time later, Astrid calls in to report signs of a struggle in Walter’s lab. Watch-cap has taken Peter and hooked him up to the probes. I don’t want anyone shoving anything up my nose like that, thank you very much. Watch-cap gives Peter a charge to let him know what he’s in for.

Olivia obtains a surveillance photo from outside Walter’s lab – showing Watch-cap entering – and shows it to Walter, saying that she thinks Peter’s been kidnapped. Walter is very worried that Peter will lead Watch-cap to the beacon. Even though he doesn’t know where it is. Back at the torture chamber, Walter’s fears are realized as Watch-cap seems to be getting all the information he needs from Peter’s brain.

Watch-cap puts Peter in the trunk of his car and drives out to an old cemetery. Peter’s grandfather (?) is buried there. Peter doesn’t look so good but Watch-cap makes him start digging. Olivia drives up, somehow not alerting Watch-cap with her headlights or the slam of her door. She does manage to step on a twig, however, so he bolts, dug-up cylinder in hand. She chases him, shooting him many times and finally bringing him down.

Just then the fallen cylinder explodes, downward, and tunnels into the earth. Olivia thinks: “That was weird.” Also weird: the Observer watching from the shadows and phoning in his report of “Departure on schedule.” He is interrupted as Peter tackles him, knocking him to the ground. Peter demands to know what the cylinder is, but the Observer reads his mind and speaks the words simultaneously as Peter is speaking them. Peter thinks this is quite disturbing. And then the Observer shoots Peter with some sort of non-bulleted gun that just knocks him out so the Observer can get away.

Charlie fetches Walter out of the holding cell to take him back to his hotel. First, however, Walter wants to apologize to Astrid. He offers to let her inject him to even up the score. Astrid won’t even look at him and he looks sad as he leaves. Olivia and Broyles meet up at the hospital where Peter is being treated. Broyles tells her that the cylinder got away. He seems to be warming to Olivia more and more with each case.

As Peter and Olivia walk out of the hospital, Peter tells her about his experience with the Observer. “What if Walter is right?” he says, “what if this is just the beginning?” When Olivia doesn’t hear him, prattling on that he should be able to leave if he wants to, Peter insists that he is not leaving until he gets some answers to the weirdness that surrounds them.

Later, back at the hotel with his dad, Peter wants to know how Watch-cap got the location of the cylinder out of his head when he didn’t know where it was. Walter tells him that he must reconsider his concept of communication - that Peter knew where the cylinder was because Walter knew where it was. Walter relates a story about a car crash many years ago, when Walter and Peter fell through the November ice and would have died, except that the Observer somehow rescued them from certain death. (Peter only remembered this crash as Walter saving them both.) Today Walter protected the cylinder for the Observer out of his debt of gratitude to him.

That night, Olivia goes home after work, pours herself some cereal and some scotch. Well-balanced dinner – my kind of girl! Someone moves in the doorway: “Hello, Olivia.” It’s Dead John Scott. Olivia at least has the presence of mind to drop the bowl of cereal and not her drink.

You know, I liked this episode MUCH better than the first three because they’re not trying to explain via weird science WHY things are happening (like why Watch-cap is able to extract the information from these people’s brains, for instance). They’re just showing it to us and letting our imaginations fill in the gaps. Isn’t that a rule in television: Show, don’t tell? It might should be, if it isn’t already.

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