Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fringe recap: S1E19 "The Road Not Taken"

At FBI HQ, Broyles flashes photos from the recent Fringe cases and hands out information packets.  He tells the assembled agents about ZFT and their manifesto, Destruction Through Technological Progress.  The bizarre acts perpetrated by ZFT appear to be increasing in frequency but are completely unpredictable.  Plus, they think that Massive Dynamic's William Bell is funding the techno-terrorists.  To prove it, the FBI needs to find the connection.

In NYC, a young woman, Sara, runs for the bus.  She's panting and seems very nervous.  As she leans her head against the bus window, it steams up; when she grasps the metal handrail, it glows red.  She stumbles off the bus, crying that she can't breathe.  As passersby watch helplessly, Sara catches fire and explodes right there on the street.

At the Harvard lab, Walter drags out that old typewriter and shows Peter and Astrid the Y that skips, just like in the manifesto manuscript.  The typewriter was Bell's.  But, Walter insists, Bell wasn't a madman: if Bell wrote the manifesto, it's been tampered with since the author refers throughout to the "ethics chapter" and there's no chapter on ethics in the manuscript.  Walter says they need to find the original manuscript to deduce Bell's actual intent.

Meanwhile, the whole Fringe team travels to the NYC sidewalk where Sara (they don't know her name yet but it's easier for me to type "Sara" instead of "the red-headed girl who spontaneously combusted until they learn her identity in a couple of paragraphs) exploded.  Strangely, when Olivia looks at the charred body, she sees two crispy corpses while everyone else only sees one.  After a weird shimmer, the second body disappears from Olivia's sight.  She doesn't know what to think about that.

Nina Sharp pays Broyles a visit - they are so in cahoots but we still don't know exactly how - since Massive Dynamic's counterintelligence has picked up on the FBI's Bell investigation.  "William Bell is not the enemy," she says.  Broyles says he would like to hear that from the man himself but Nina says Bell isn't available as "[h]e's travelling."  Broyles gives Nina a knowing look at that but doesn't press.

During the autopsy, Walter is annoyed that Peter has dismantled the electron microscope for a special project.  He's taken apart the Geiger counter too.

Olivia stops by Broyles's office to give him an update and comments on how he's redecorated.  Broyles: WTF are you talking about?  She tells him that they're working on an ID for the dead girl.  He asks, "What about the other victim?" and hands her a crime scene photograph with those two charred bodies.  Olivia turns around, confused, and that weird shimmer happens again, and suddenly Broyles is behind her, entering his office, and his office furniture is back to normal.  This time Olivia's like, WTF?  Then Harris bursts in, ranting and raving and ordering them to cease and desist with the Bell investigation.  After he leaves, Broyles assures Olivia that the investigation will continue, but she needs to get more evidence.

Walter and Astrid identify Sara from dental records.  Olivia and Charlie go back to NYC [because it's just across the river from Boston, really, so easy to get to and from] and check out Sara's apartment: no roommates, hardly any personal effects, gray and black clothing in the closet.  Olivia finds a $30,000 check from an "Isaac Winters" while Charlie finds the bathroom, completely scorched.  "What the hell happened to her?" breathes Olivia.

When she reports back to Walter and Peter, that they found evidence of other fires, Walter says it obviously isn't a case of spontaneous human combustion then, since that sort of thing really only happens once to a person.  It may have been pyrokinesis instead.  Peter scoffs - A firestarter?  Really?  So why'd she blow up? - and his dad posits that the pyrokinesis may be a new development and Sara hadn't gained the skill to control it yet.

Charlie interrupts to say that they've tracked "Isaac Winters" to a law office in Charlestown.  Olivia meets him there and they find nothing but an empty office with several panicked messages from Sara on the answering machine.  One of the messages relays that after she took the "test" Winters left for her, "something strange" started to happen to her.  At the word "test," Olivia twitches.  She heads outside and is stunned to see the Boston skyline in ruins and flames, with the military shouting commands over unseen loudspeakers.  Charlie touches her shoulder and she shudders, and the skyline is back to normal, no flames.

Walter checks her out, asking wistfully if she's sure she hasn't had any LSD, or acid, or 'shrooms lately.  She confirms that it wasn't a drug trip but she feels like she's losing her mind.  He gently says that if that were the case, she wouldn't realize it was happening.  He thinks that what's happening to her might be prolonged deja vu, going on to explain that there are alternate universes made up of all the choices that might have been made.  Deja vu is just a momentary glimpse at the alt-verse but perhaps Olivia's visions are more extended looks into that world.  She asks if maybe the cortexyphan she was subjected to as a child might have had something to do with it.  Maybe, says Walter.  Astrid interruptst to say that she's found an online photo of a similar pyrokinetic death in Budapest - the guy who runs the web site lives over in Malden.

Olivia and Peter go to meet the guy, played by Clint Howard.  He's a total X Files-level paranoid.  At first he says things that sort of make sense to them (or at least Olivia), about Massive Dynamic being behind the weird occurances, and doing secret testing on children to make them into supersoldiers for the upcoming war ... against the Romulans.  And he thinks he's Spock.  Peter gives him a "live long and prosper" and they get the hell out of there.

Nina Sharp gets an alarming phone call - "don't do anything until I get there" - and tells her driver to get her to the helicopter ASAP.

Back at FBI HQ, Olivia works through the case with Pete, saying that maybe she's missing something: in her visions, she always sees two bodies, so maybe there's another victim somewhere.  If she could get back to the alt-verse, maybe she could gather some additional information.  Harris interrupts and gives her a new assignment: psych evaluation.  They get into a huge yelling match out in the hallway.

When Olivia stalks back to her office, she slips into the alt-verse.  There, the FBI agents are stressed and frantic, and Charlie has a big scar on his face.  She asks him if she can take another look at the firestarter file.  Charlie: "You have half of Boston on quarantine lock-down and you're worried about burned twins?" but he gives her the file.  She gets a quick look before slipping back into her reality.

They find Sara's twin, Nancy, via face-recognition software, but Isaac Winters gets to her first.  By the time Olivia and Peter get to Nancy's apartment, it's empty and there are signs of a struggle.  Olivia calls for forensics; Peter notices that a window pane is slightly melted - he's got an idea.  He cuts a circle of glass out of the window just as Walter and Astrid arrive with Peter's special project.  The project is an audio-reconstructor gizmo so Walter can digitize all his old records - the machine might be able to read the grooves in the melted glass and play back the sound captured there, whatever was going on when Nancy was attacked.  After a few false starts, they hear this: screams and pleading on Nancy's part, a phone being dialed, and Winters's voice saying, "I have her."  They replay the phone being dialed and Olivia uses an app on her cell to dial the number from the tones.  Who answers?  Harris.

When Harris leaves FBI HQ, Charlie, Olivia and a small team follow him to a warehouse.  Inside, Harris tells Winters to hurry up and activate Nancy as "he" (presumably their boss) is getting impatient.  Winters prepares a syringe.  As the FBI team makes their way further in, Olivia sees a cork board with photos of the activated subjects: Sara, Nancy, Nick Lane and Olivia among them.  Shots are fired and Winters, a security guard and one of the FBI fodder go down.

Olivia finds Nancy, strapped to a table, and runs into the room to free her.  Harris locks the door on her and taunts her as she fires her gun at the bullet-proof glass, saying that Nancy will take care of everything for him since once she explodes, she'll take Olivia with her.  Nancy is panicking, finding it hard to breathe.  Olivia tries to calm her, saying that this was done to her when she was young, but now she needs to focus the heat building inside to an external object.  Nancy doesn't think she can do it but then, awesomely, she sees Harris watching them through the window.  He stares at her, horrified, as he starts to cough and sweat, and then he bursts into flames and explodes.  Oliva knocks Nancy to the floor, out of the flames, then hugs her and tells her that everything is going to be okay now.  She doesn't sound the least bit upset that Harris just popped like a firecracker.

Sometime later, Olivia finds Walter sitting alone at an ice cream parlor when Peter goes off to the restroom.  "What the hell did you people do to us?" she snarls, "You and William Bell - what did you do to me?  You were there, you knew what was going on! Why did you do it?"  Walter fumbles, tearing up, saying that they were trying to prepare the children for something, something that's coming.  "What?" hisses Olivia, "What's coming?"  But poor Walter doesn't remember, or can't, and he breaks down, crying.  Olivia gives him a look of disgust and leaves.  When Peter returns, Walter is a wreck and he clutches at his son's hand.

Nina Sharp rings a doorbell; Broyles answers.  She has a stack of photographs of the Bald Man, all taken very recently.  She tells Broyles that he knows as well as she does what happened the last time this guy came around.  They need to talk.

Walter is back at his lab, playing some of his old records.  He finds the original of Bell's manuscript stuck down amongst the albums, complete with the ethics chapter which says things like "the children will save us."  He hears someone come in behind him and turns, excited to share his discovery.  It's the Bald Man who greets him, however, and tells him it's time to go.  Walter: "Is it time?"  He replaces the manuscript and gets his coat, and follows the Bald Man out.

Nina Sharp has returned to her NYC apartment but when the elevator doors open, masked men are there and they shoot her, point-blank.

Previously on Fringe / next time on Fringe

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