Episode 18: Toll of Belief in the Soul

FROM ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER KIMBERLY ROOTS: We open on a sketchy-looking, smooth-talking British guy getting ready to go out for the night. A TV news report in the background alerts us to a murder that seemed to have been committed with a knife. Just then, we see the Brit pick up a folding knife and put it in his pocket. So he’s the killer! He goes to a nightclub and calls his girlfriend, who’s traveling, before going in. He lies about spending a quiet night alone, then steals into the club and unsuccessfully puts the moves on one woman before hitting it big with another. They go back to his apartment … where she kisses him and then breaks his neck in one quick movement. Later we see him with his spinal column sliced open. So she’s the killer—nice fake-out, Fringe.
Charlie, Olivia, and the Bishops arrive on the scene the next morning. The murder method matches the one on the news the night before, but the stymied Boston police are handing it over to the FBI. Walter says the wound was made by human teeth and later deduces that the killer nabbed the victim’s spinal fluid. To rachet up the ick factor, lab tests from the wound show that the killer had traces of an extinct kind of syphilis in his or her saliva. The Centers for Disease Control are the only ones who have samples of the virus, and the CDC points Olivia in the direction of Luboff Pharmaceuticals: Luboff has received several samples that could be used in bioweapons. Olivia and a strike team storm the lab and find a wheelchair-bound man poking around a dead animal’s spinal column. They bring the man, Nicholas Boone, in for questioning and ask how long he’s been a follower of ZFT. Boone looks surprised for a minute, but then says he will help them if they will find his wife. He worked for the people they’re looking for, he continues, but when he realized what “they”—presumably those perpetrating the “pattern”—were up to, he tried to pull out. That’s when they kidnapped his wife, Valerie. Boone also lets Olivia and company know that he created the skin-growth virus that killed an FBI agent a few episodes back.
Boone sends Olivia and a team on a raid of another secret lab, where they don’t find his wife, but do locate some vials of a substance called XT43. “The person who’s killing has been dosed with this,” he says, adding that he needs it to make an antidote. Then he comes clean: “They didn’t kidnap my wife. They infected her.” Elsewhere, we see his wife making eyes at the bouncer at a club. They go back to his car, where he touches her face and notices that she’s burning up. She mutters, “I’m sorry,” before rearing back, baring rows of razor-like teeth and then launching herself at his neck.
Boone’s wife is now feeding off spinal fluid; it’s why she kills, and his attempts to keep her satiated by drinking his left him paralyzed. He asks for a lab to synthesize the antidote and winds up at Walter’s. Boone eventually realizes that even more of his spinal fluid is necessary to make the cure, so he lies to Walter about having enough to spare. Meanwhile, ultraviolet stamps on several victims’ hands lead Olivia and Peter to the club where Valerie’s been hunting her prey. They tranquilize her and transport her back to the lab, where Boone is not doing well. They inject Valerie with the antidote just as her husband dies on the stretcher next to her.
Later, Walter hands Olivia a videotape Boone left for her. Making good on his promise, he leaves a message that says he doesn’t know much about ZFT except this: The man bankrolling the movement is Massive Dynamics chief—and Walter’s former lab partner—William Bell.
THE BOTTOM LINE: During a quiet moment in the lab, Walter and Nicholas Boone have this telling exchange, with echoes of one of science-and-religion’s central conflicts:

WALTER: A little memory loss is often kind to the soul.

NICHOLAS: A figure of speech, or do you believe there is such a thing? The soul?

WALTER: There are days when I wish I did. There are days when I wish I didn’t.

NICHOLAS: I often wake up at night, frightened, with the understanding that there are things man shouldn’t know. That the scientific trespasses I’ve committed —

WALTER: — will one day be judged. Bellie and I would often debate this kind of thing. William Bell. You’ve heard of him?

Episode 17: Notion of Shared Emotion

FROM ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER KIMBERLY ROOTS: A mother pushes her daughter’s stroller in a deserted subway station and just misses the train as it pulls away from the platform. The little girl’s balloon comes loose from her stroller and flies up toward the ceiling. The mom reaches for it as the next subway rolls in … and then all of a sudden, Olivia’s behind her, pushing her into the path of the train! In Boston, Olivia wakes up from the nightmare and can’t get back to sleep. Imagine her surprise when she sees a news report of the young mom’s suicide on the morning news.
After asking permission to travel to New York, Olivia and the Bishops examine the crime scene and talk to the victim’s husband. She had no reason to kill herself, he asserts. But security camera videotape shows only the mom and her baby on the platform before she takes a header into the tracks. Still, when Peter, Walter and Olivia return to Cambridge, she’s still convinced that she responsible for the death. Walter posits that Olivia’s able to influence people with her mind, and when Peter objects, his dad says they’ll know for sure if it happens again.
Which, of course, it does. Olivia pops some caffeine pills and sits down at a restaurant, watching a loving couple a few tables away. All of a sudden, the woman accuses the man of flirting with the waitress and picks up a knife from the table. As he begs her to calm down, Olivia walks over. We think she’s going to intervene, but she grabs the woman’s wrist and helps her plunge the knife into the man’s stomach. Olivia wakes up with a shock on her couch in Boston and calls Charlie: There’s been another murder.
Olivia and Peter go back to New York, where they find out that the man didn’t die, though he’s not in good shape. His flummoxed wife tells them she has no idea why she sliced her husband up. The restaurant owner has never seen Olivia before, but he can describe the man who was sitting in “her” seat the night prior, and Olivia realizes that the man, who has a scar on his temple, was also in the subway security footage. Walter thinks maybe Olivia has some connection with the man, who Charlie identifies as former mental patient Nick Lane, that allows her to see things through his eyes.
The asylum director says that a solicitor showed up months before to tell Nick he’d inherited a windfall, prompting the voluntarily committed Nick to check himself out. Why was Nick there in the first place? He had a crazy story about being recruited as a child by a secret group and “being prepared to serve as a soldier in the coming war against a parallel universe,” the doctor relates, inadvertently quoting the ZFT Manifesto. Olivia realizes that Nick’s backstory is sickeningly close to hers, right down to his age and hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.
Olivia demands that Walter tell her what he knows about cortexiphan, the drug that Olivia learned she’d been dosed with as a kid. Walter confesses that his lab partner, William Bell, thought it might “enhance certain abilities in predisposed children.” It’s possible, he continues, that Olivia and Nick were paired during the experiments, giving them an intense bond that would allow her to read his emotions. It’s also possible that Nick is unable to control his emotions from affecting other people like a virus, leading the mom to jump and the wife to stab.
At Nick’s apartment, Charlie, Olivia and the Bishops find his giant shrine to “pattern”-esque happenings; if you look closely, you can see an article mentioning a government shut-down of last episode’s Kelvin Genetics. A security guard calls the police to tell them that Nick and a band of people are poised to jump off the top of a downtown building. Olivia goes up, and Nick is happy to see her. He calls her Olive. “You heard me. You came,” he says, adding that the “man with the glasses” came to see him and told him “What was written will come to pass.” Though Olivia has no idea what he’s talking about, she snaps to it when he hands her a gun and begs her to kill him so he’ll stop hurting people. She hesitates, and a man falls from the roof to his death. She shoots Nick twice in the leg, making him—and everyone else—collapse on the roof. “You’ll wish you’d killed me,” he tells her sadly.
Later, in Cambridge, Walter finds an old videotape and watches it with a sinking feeling. We see a little girl crouched in a corner while William Bell’s voice asks if “the incident” has been contained. A younger-sounding Walter assures him it has, and, as the camera gets closer to the girl, he assures her that everything is fine. “It’s all right, Olive,” he says softly. “Everything is going to be OK.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: Before Walter cobbles together the made-for-TV reason that Olivia and Nick are bonded, he says astral projection may be responsible for Olivia’s nocturnal journeys. Though there’s little scientific backup for the idea, astral projection was popular with the ancient Egyptians, who saw it as the soul hovering outside the physical body.

Episode 16: Mixing Genes & the Unseen

FROM ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER KIMBERLY ROOTS: A group of college students trash Swift Research, an animal testing facility, and then all but one makes a run for it. A girl implores the straggler, Jonathan, to hurry up, but he heads for a big metal vault with a red light flashing over it. Opening the door triggers a silent alarm that registers on the Blackberry of a man sleeping in his home; he panics and jumps in his car, speeding to the research facility. Shortly after reaching Swift, the man—and Jonathan—are killed in hideous fashion by something large, powerful, and unseen in the vault. The other protesters get out as quickly as they can, but their car comes under attack by what seems to be the same thing that killed Jonathan and the man. We don’t see it, but from the look of horror on the girl’s face the moment before she dies, it seems pretty horrible.
Phillip Broyles, Peter and Walter Bishop, Charlie, and Olivia survey the crash scene the next morning. Charlie notices that there’s fast food in the car: four drinks, but only three clawed-up bodies—someone’s missing. Peter IDs the food as coming from a dive near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Because none of the victims are carrying identification, Olivia says she’ll start with the MIT student database. While she learns that one of the victims was part of an animal rights group called Animals First, Astrid and the Bishops examine one of the bodies at the lab and find that, in addition to giant claws, the deadly creature had massive fangs. Walter looks troubled.
After another big animal attack in Newton, Charlie arrives on the scene first and finds two animal control officers dead with the same kind of wounds as the protesters … then a giant tentacle-looking tail drops down behind him from the tree above. Olivia and the Bishops arrive just in time to hear gunshots from the woods. When they find Charlie, he’s hurt, but alive. He gets patched up by EMTs and released. A troubled Walter theorizes that the animal is made up of the genes of multiple species—“the best of the best, as it were,” he says. “Accelerated Darwinism.” Just then, Astrid calls: Her research shows that the Swift lab was the closest to the original crime scene.
At the facility, Dr. Swift stonewalls Olivia’s questions, so she returns to Walter’s lab. Walter is agitated and finally admits that he thinks that he created the giant hybrid creature 20 years before. But he’s confused: His experiments, done in concert with Kelvin Genetics, didn’t work. Astrid then notices one of the victims is moving in its body bag. Thinking the victim is still alive, they rush to unzip the bag … and find larvae crawling around on the dead guy’s chest. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get more gross, the man’s chest cavity bursts open and hundreds of larvae spill out. Walter deduces that the creature’s eggs are in its stinger. Olivia looks slightly ill. “Charlie,” she whispers.
At home, Charlie and his wife watch news reports of more animal attacks while they get ready for bed. (Geek note: If you look really closely, you can see The Observer in the background of the news report. Apparently, he’s in every episode!) Olivia shows up to tell him he’s not OK and accompany him to Walter’s lab, where an ultrasound shows that he has larvae swimming around inside him. Walter is going to try a poison to kill the larvae. He hopes it won’t kill Charlie. When it almost does, he says he needs some of the mother’s blood; he’ll inject it into Charlie’s blood in an attempt to fool the wee beasties into thinking he’s one of their own and not a source of food.
Olivia gets word that one of the MIT students’ last name was Swift. She confronts Dr. Swift about his missing son, Jonathan, and he breaks down while admitting everything. The creature came from his lab, a collaboration between him and a geneticist named Cameron Dagelman—the man killed alongside Jonathan. Dagelman was a pioneer in hybridization who inspired Walter’s work, but the beast had nothing to do with Walter’s former experiments. Oh, and by the way, the beast is part gila monster, part parasitic wasp, and part bat. Pretty.
After realizing that the creature is using the sewers to get around, Olivia and the Bishops go down to lure it out and procure its blood. Walter, still racked with guilt over being an “evil” scientist all those years ago, takes it upon himself to be live bait. It works; though the creature gets a good swipe at him, he shoots it dead. Back at the lab, the team gives Charlie the antidote and restores him to health in time to return him safely home without his wife any wiser. As Walter admits to Peter that he rarely considers consequences, Olivia goes home and sleeps with the lights on to keep the monsters away.
THE BOTTOM LINE: For the first time, Walter seems to realize that his playing God back in the day has really hurt people—so it’s ironic that this time, the mistake wasn’t his. In his lab notes, though, he seems, at turns, to hold himself responsible, writing:

I knew what I wanted. To turn Greek myth into modern reality. To create life like no one had seen before. To play at God.
As though that were a crime. God created more than a few monsters himself. Without men playing at God, we would still be huddled in caves with only skins to cover us. We have always bred beasts to make them useful to us—wild dogs into loyal pets, nomadic ungulates into dairy cows. Modern transgenics differs only in degree, not in kind, and
And in purpose? I didn’t seek medical cures or better food or safer energy. I sought only to prove that I could, to find the limits of the possible—
To gain knowledge. The pursuit of truth, as noble a goal as any.

Episode 15: Empathy & Neurology

FROM ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER KIMBERLY ROOTS: Two construction workers are leaving a building about to be demolished and talking about lunch plans when one suddenly stops and looks back at the structure. Telling his pal he has a “weird feeling,” he insists that they sweep the place one more time. Inside, he accidentally puts his foot through a hollow floor and finds a huge series of tunnels that weren’t on the building’s blueprints. As the team searches the tunnels by flashlight, they find a bald, naked young boy crouching in the corner and panting like a feral cat. I’m guessing that wasn’t on the blueprints, either.
At the Boston FBI headquarters, Charlie receives a fax featuring a disturbing photo of dismembered doll parts. “You are invited to the showing of a brand new work. Time: Today. Place: Boston,” it reads. He calls Olivia, who’s hanging out with her sister and niece at home. “The Artist is back,” he informs her. She starts to tell Rachel and Ella that she has to go into work, but then the phone rings again and it’s Phillip Broyles, who tells her to collect the Bishops and meet him at Children’s Hospital—The Artist can wait.
At the hospital, Broyles informs the group about the tunnels and the boy. The tunnels had been sealed for 70 years, Broyles says, and no one has any idea how the boy got down there. Dr. Winick, the boy’s pediatrician, says the super-pale kid hasn’t eaten or spoken since he arrived, but they’re fairly sure he can hear because he responds to sound.
The boy seems to like Olivia, though he doesn’t smile or react like a normal kid would. She pulls out a pad to write down some info when Charlie calls again, and the kid grabs her pen and writes “Sam Gilmore” upside down.
Olivia meets Charlie at a crime scene, where The Artist has killed a girl, dressed her in a gown, bleached off her tattoos, dyed her hair, and arranged her like a mannequin. Her name is Samantha Gilmore, Charlie says, which startles Olivia. At the FBI, Broyles tells Olivia that none of Samantha’s family or friends know who the boy is, so what’s the connection?
Back at the hospital, Olivia introduces the boy to M&Ms but is interrupted when a social services rep who identifies himself as Eliot Michaels enters the room. He tells Olivia that he’s planning to have the boy moved the next day. Then Michaels steps into the hallway and makes a call. “I’m at the hospital. I think we may have found another one,” he says ominously. Back in the room, the boy writes “547 Marlborough” upside down on Olivia’s pad.
Turns out that The Artist is holding his latest victim in a van very near that address, but Olivia and Charlie don’t find him when they poke around the neighborhood. Later, they find the woman dead and trussed up outside a church, and Charlie says her dog was tied up outside 547 Marlborough. Upset that The Artist slipped through their hands, Olivia visits the Bishops at their hotel. Walter posits that years in isolation have made the boy hypersensitive to people’s emotions the same way that he’s hypersensitive to light and sound. The good news? Walter thinks he knows how to hear the kid’s thoughts.
The next morning, Olivia enters the boy’s room to see that he’s arranged the yellow M&Ms in a tree formation. Strange. She signs his discharge papers and brings him to the lab, where Walter plans to use his neural stimulator on the boy. They put the wired-up helmet on his head—but then Michaels (who, it turns out, is from the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology) enters the lab, Broyles in tow, demanding that they hand the boy over to him. When Astrid says Charlie called and there’s been another invite from The Artist, Olivia gets Michaels to agree to one more day before she has to turn the boy over to him.
The boy helps Olivia one more time by writing “York/Glenway” on her pad. She and Charlie set up a checkpoint at that intersection, and when The Artist happens by, Olivia’s tipped off by the yellow pine tree air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror—it’s what the boy made out of M&Ms at the hospital. The killer knows the gig is up, so he guns it out of the checkpoint and then takes off on foot after crashing his van. As Charlie finds the latest victim alive in the back, Olivia gets into a fight with The Artist in a graveyard and eventually winds up stabbing him with his own knife.
But she just doesn’t feel right about leaving the boy with Michaels, so she enlists Broyles’ and Winick’s help to place him with a foster family. As Broyles tells a disbelieving Michaels that the boy just went missing, we see a much healthier-looking boy happily riding in the backseat of a car on his way to his new home. But all of a sudden his face falls as he sees The Observer, bald and menacing, watching him from the sidewalk. The Observer continues to watch as the car speeds by.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Nothing here about Walter’s seeming link to the manuscript uncovered in the previous episode, nor is it discussed how the boy understands language if he’s been sequestered for his entire life. “Perhaps,” writes Walter in his lab notes, “his empathetic ability enabled him to be exposed to language at a distance: learning via clairaudience.” It might’ve been nice for the show to allude to Heidegger’s idea of language as central to an understanding of being.

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