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Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Better Human Being - Fringe Recap, Season 4 Episode 13

Tonight's Fringe was epically mind-blowing as usual.
This week's episode picks up right after the kiss heard around the world happened. Peter sits down with Olivia to try to figure out why she has gone from saying things like "I'm not her, you know that don't you?" to laying a big 'ol smackeroo on him.
She's says her actions just felt right, like something that would normally happen between them. But, then she chalks them up to leftover effects of that whole Westfield debacle. Peter tries to get her to talk to Walter about it and she refuses, saying she just needs to sleep. Peter offers to stick around awhile, just to make sure she is okay, but she sends him on his merry little way, telling him she thinks another migraine is coming. I think she's just afraid she might jump him if he's in close proximity for too long.
He leaves after she assures him that if she continues to have weird feelings she will discuss it with Walter. After she shuts the door and she's alone in her apartment again she has a flashback to "Jacksonville" when Peter let her in their house and she sees him glimmering the first time.
At Deerfield Mental Hospital we are introduced to our case of the week. A young man is walking cautiously around in a darkened cafeteria area as he whispers to himself, "We're almost there. It's time."
Now we are in Douglastown, New York and three young men enter a house. The scene switches back and forth between the house and the guy in Deerfield. It's almost as though the boy in Deerfield is narrating the activities taking place in the house. He remarks that "He's in the kitchen," and we see a middle aged man taking some popcorn out of the microwave. Then when DeerfieldBoy says "You two fan out," two of the trio in the house start to move away from one another.
A woman named Bernadette enters the cafeteria at Deerfield and walks up the trancelike boy, calling him Shawn. She leads him down a hallway as she tells him the voices he's hearing in his head are not real. He doesn't acknowledge her and continues to mumble to himself.
In the house the boys confront the man in his kitchen, causing him to fling his popcorn in the air, which may've been comical had the situation not been so dire. One of them is wielding a very large knife and the man starts to slink backwards up the stairs in an effort to get away. Two of the boys just keep trudging silently up the stairs towards him. Suddenly a plastic bag is jerked down over the man's face from behind and tightened. It is the third young man. There is a struggle during which someone crashes through some kind of glass door.
During this time Shawn has started to fight in the hallway yelling out "Damn it, I'm cut! I'm bleeding." and Bernadette manages to drag him into his room and get him lying on his bed. Another worker there comes in to help her hold him down while she prepares a sedative and injects it into him. As Shawn calms down he says, "He's dead, it's over" which was confirmed a few seconds before his statement as the man being attacked in the house falls to the ground and lays there motionless.
[Insert Fringe Opening Credits here]
The Fringe Division (minus Peter) is called to Deerfield the next morning because they have received a report that a patient there with schizophrenia gave a real time account of the murder that went down in Douglastown. Lincoln says, "There really aren't any normal days in this job, are there?" "Nope," Olivia answers.
Walter is having a one sided conversation with a resident of the hospital about LSD when Astrid walks up to let him know that Olivia and Lincoln have arrived. The nurse informs Walter that his new friend's daily planner says this is the time of the day when he circles Venus. Walter just smiles, acknowledging that Venus is indeed a lovely planet.
As the group walks down the hall towards Shawn's room, Walter asks Bernadette clinical questions about his supposed schizophrenia. Olivia keeps getting distracted by flashbacks she is having of she and Peter being accompanied by guards walking down a corridor.
They meet up with Shawn and show him a picture of the man who was killed the night before. The victim's name is Daniel Greene. Shawn says he doesn't know who he is. Walter asks him specific questions about the voices that he hears in his head, whether he hears them from inanimate objects. Shawn says no. He confirms that has heard up to 9 voices before and last night he could hear three voices.
According to what Shawn heard, one of the voices from last night belonged to someone who had gotten hurt. He also overheard that they were going to the subway station, but since one of them was injured they had to split up. Lincoln goes off to follow up on that lead.
Based on Shawn's symptoms Walter thinks that he has been misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and Shawn agrees to go off of his medication in an effort to help get to the bottom of this murder. Instead of being delusional Walter believes that Shawn is actually hearing other peoples' voices somehow.
Olivia goes off with Bernadette to help her explain to his doctor why it is that Shawn will be going off his meds and leaving with her. While she walks down the hall she has more flashbacks which turn out to be her and Peter walking through Saint Claire's to meet Walter (scenes from the Pilot episode).
Later that night Olivia shows up on Peter's doorstep asking if she can just come in and look around. Peter let's her in and inquires about how she is. She doesn't answer as she looks around taking everything in. Then she starts to spout off things that she really should not know, such as where Walter used to sleep, about how she came over after the 6B case with Mrs. Merchant and what happened after she came over after the 6B case (complete with helpful flashbacks for us, although speaking entirely for myself I believe those moments have been burned forever into my brain, but I don't mind see it again) . She smiles almost shyly to herself every so often as she recounts this information saying "I came back here, and we went upstairs." She even remembers William Bell and going to get Peter from the Other Side and Peter going into the machine.
Now here I have a question/observation. She says she remembers "Jacksonville and seeing you shimmer the first time we kissed." Maybe I'm being nitpicky, but technically when they kissed in the bar and he shimmered that was not the first time they kissed. The first time they kissed was Over There after the heartfelt "You Belong With Me" speech.
She tells him, "I remember it. I remember us, I remember everything." Peter looks stunned and really doesn't understand how this Olivia suddenly knows all this stuff.
Next Walter has Olivia sitting under what looks like one of those dryers at beauty salons, except this one is clear and instead of curlers Olivia has electrodes and wires coming off of her head. Peter looks on as Walter asks her innocuous questions like what her name and address is. When Olivia says she knows who she is and says "Walter, I'm not scared, I keep telling you both." Peter says, "Good ,that makes one of us."
Walter gets frustrated at the chit-chat and tells them to shush. He gets Olivia to tell him about when she came to get him out of St. Claire's. Olivia explains she came to get him because she needed his help because her partner had been injured. She says Peter came with because a family member was needed to get Walter out. Peter corrects her, saying "No, no that was in my timeline."
She does remember when she went to get Walter out without Peter, but the memory of that doesn't seem real and the Peter one is clearer. Peter confirms that her brain scan looks normal. He has been looking understandably shaken since Olivia started this whole trip down a memory lane that isn't hers.
Walter thinks that since one of Olivia's superpowers is the ability to empathize with people that perhaps she is trying to fill the void Peter has because he is not able to be with his Olivia. Peter argues that it would still not be possible for this Olivia to have his Olivia's memories. (I swear, you need a Rolodex to keep up with this show between all the alternates of themselves and timelines. I think it was Joshua Jackson who said once that he had a flow chart on his wall to keep it straight, I'm sure he was joking but something like that could definitely be an asset.) Walter throws out a couple theories, like it could possibly be thought transference between Peter and Olivia or maybe Olivia is channeling Peter's memories. Then he excitedly says, "Or ..." but trails off without further comment. When Peter questions him he admits, "I don't know. I lost the thought. Too many drugs of my own, it happens."
He takes a sample of Olivia's hair and Peter goes off to prepare it for testing. Peter and Olivia do quite a bit of thoughtful staring at one another during this lab scene.
Lincoln comes in and Olivia assures him she is okay. Lincoln says some bloody paper towels were found in the subway station bathroom. DNA tests point to that the owner of the blood is a white male. Walter looks at the DNA and recognizes it. He says that this new DNA sample matches closely to Shawn's. So closely in fact that it shows they are half-brothers.
Walter thinks that maybe this is a clue as to why Shawn was able to hear thoughts of the other young man. Lincoln points out though that Shawn was hearing all three of the assailants voices. When Olivia suggests that maybe they are all related Walter agrees that is a viable possibility. However, all their records indicate that Shawn did not have any siblings.
Sidestepping Lincoln's concern that maybe she shouldn't leave the lab Olivia does just that and they go to talk to Shawn's mother. Once they have left the lab Walter turns to Peter and says, "I know what you're doing." Peter just looks at him blankly so he continues, "I know what it's like to want something back that you love. I've succumbed to that temptation myself." Peter assures Walter that he doesn't have anything to do with what's going on with Olivia. Walter says he thinks he does, "even without meaning to, and it's wrong Peter."
Through their conversation with Shawn's mother they find out that Shawn was actually conceived through InVitro Fertilization using donor sperm. The doctor's name who supervised the pregnancy was Dr. Owen Frank. Shawn's mom also says that a reporter had contacted her a few days ago with questions on IVF because he was going to do a story, but she never actually spoke to him yet. His name was Daniel Greene.
In a assisted living facility a man is watching television from his wheelchair. A report comes on giving details on the murder of Daniel Greene. An attendant walks up to the man and recognizes Daniel as being a reporter who had come to the facility the other day. He remarks to the wheelchair bound man, "You were a doctor, how long does it take someone to suffocate?" The older man responds with, "I want to go back to my room."
At Deerfield Astrid is having lunch with Shawn in the cafeteria. He is detoxing from his regime of meds and she tells him to let her know when the voices start again. He informs her that he is already hearing the voices again, but he can't make out what they are saying because there are too many.
Back at the lab Walter is testing the strands of hair he took from Olivia while she is busy on the phone trying to track down Dr. Frank. She's not having much luck though. Peter comes into her office and brings her a drink and she asks him to look through some files for her. As he is thumbing through them she reaches out and grabs his hand to turn it over, palm up in hers. She looks closely at it for a moment and then comments that she doesn't remember a scar that he had on it. He says she wouldn't because he only got it since being in this timeline. Olivia slides her hand a little further up towards his palm and clasps his fingers a little as he runs his thumb over the back of her hand.

They look at each other for a moment that seems like forever and Olivia has such a look of hope on her face, then Peter shakes his head a little and starts to say, "Olivia, I--"
He is interrupted by the sound of Walter clearing his throat in the doorway of Olivia's office. Their hands pull apart like teenagers who have just been caught making out. I am all for Polivia steamy sexy scenes like we had at the beginning of last week's episode, but I must admit, although this scene lacked any between the sheets time, it was pretty damn sexy. Walter announces that he thinks he had a breakthrough.
As a side note -- I looked up the song that was playing during the lab scene through into the Peter/Olivia in her office scene because it sounded interesting. It is The Ghost Who Walks by Karen Elson. The gist of the song seems to be about a man taking his lover out to the lake to look at the full moon, then he kills her. So, um, not quite what I thought it was going to be about.
Walter uses the example of bees to explain how the boys might be communicating with one another. He says that communicate using pheromones (what a coincidence, I think Peter and Olivia were just doing that very same thing) and although he's not sure if that's how the boys are communicating he thinks it is somewhat similar. He also mentions that like the bees, if they have truly formed a collective identity the boys will stop at nothing to ensure their survival.
When Olivia takes a moment to answer her phone Walter uses this opportunity to glare harshly at Peter. Olivia ends her phone call and tells them that she has found out that Dr. Frank has been located. He lives in an assisted living home.
She starts walking immediately towards the door and after a few steps turns back to Peter to ask him if he's coming. He doesn't say anything and he and Walter look at each other warily.
At the Assisted Living home Olivia and Peter talk to Dr. Frank. He says that he did talk to Daniel Greene a few days ago, he also mentions that some years ago he spoke to another writer because he wanted to have a record of his work before it was too late. The journalist though, was murdered before they could ever get around to recording anything. Hmm, that seems to be a troubling coincidence.
Dr. Frank goes on to say that he was doing a little more than just helping woman become pregnant. He would alter the DNA of embryos that were implanted in his patients. He says he thought he was building a better human being.
He explains that he used recombinant DNA or a DNA sequence that he created in his lab using the DNA of different species. (Thank you Peter for the easy to understand explanation.) He was trying to introduce some of the animalistic instincts that humans have lost through evolution. Some of which includes telepathy and a protective instinct. With the case du jour it is not that much of a surprise to learn that.
Between the three of them they come to the conclusion that the babies that were born with manipulated DNA are now destroying anyone who is trying to bring their origins to light. If that were to happen then the children would be sought out and made guinea pigs.
The rough number of babies he created this way totals around two hundred. He would periodically alter his processes which would result in slightly different DNA. This is why Shawn was only hearing about 8 or 9 other voices instead of all 200 of Frank's creations.
It turns out that the sperm donor in all 200-ish of his experiments was himself. He says to Peter and Olivia, "Can you imagine, the hubris of trying to approve upon God?" I'm sure both Peter and Olivia can imagine that quite easily.
At Deerfield Shawn is up and pacing while Astrid takes notes on what he is telling her. He informs her that the voices are scared and feel threatened. He intercepts the thoughts of the boy who was cut by the glass in the break-in. He is telling the others that he is coming.
At the lab a printer spits out the results of the tests Walter conducted on Olivia's hair. He skims over the paper and mumbles, "Good God." At about that time Lincoln comes walking in announcing that Olivia and Peter are going to get Frank's files he kept on his experiments. Walter brushes that comment off saying, "That's not important now. I need you to take me to the bridge. I need to see Nina Sharp, I know what's happening to Olivia."
At about this point my mind backpedaled to Nina being behind that whole shady injecting-Olivia-with-strange-substances deal. Uh-huh, Viper. Walter's coming for your ass.
Walter and Lincoln meet with Nina in the bridge room, to which Nina declares, "Walter, Agent Lee. What a surprise," in a voice that doesn't sound surprised at all. Walter gets right to the point and proclaims that Olivia has Cortexiphan in her system. Through the results of Walter's tests he has come to the irrefutable conclusion that Olivia has been being given Cortexiphan recently and in repeated doses.
The concern Nina expresses over Olivia's well-being holds slightly more water than her mono-toned "surprise" at Walter and Lincoln's arrival. I can give her that, not saying that I think in any way, shape or form that she isn't mustering up that concern because it's convenient at the moment.
Although Nina claims that the leftover Cortexiphan from the Walter/Belly days are kept under unbreakable biometric lock and at Massive Dynamic. Oh, yeah, and get this icing on the cake -- the proverbial key to that biometric lock is none other than Nina herself. Nina honey, it's really not looking good for you at the moment.
Lincoln wants Nina to take them to the samples. Walter expresses that if the samples have been interfered with he will be able to tell. Nina concedes but claims she has to make some phone calls first. Lincoln puts the kibosh on that idea and while he fixes her with a piercing stare says "less people that know about this the better." Not given much of a choice Nina replies, "Let's go."
In Back Bay, Boston Olivia and Peter walk down a row of store areas. Now, I have a bit of a love affair with the 3-D location markers so I want to point out here that Back Bay, Boston is actually casting a shadow the ground. I don't remember that happening before in any of the episodes. Not important, but interesting.
As they are walking Peter is studying Olivia, which he has been doing a lot of this entire episode, with one of those deep soul searching looks, trying to discern if this is truly his Olivia coming back to him. When she glances over at him he looks away quickly, but she caught him staring. She says, "Look, in case you were wondering, it's hard for me too. I keep expecting to see that look in your eye and it isn't there, or it is and you're pulling back." Peter tells her he's confused and quietly says, "Olivia, I don't know what you want from me." She says, "I want you to behave naturally, I want you to treat me like you know me better than anyone in the world too, because you do."
They find the storage area that they are looking for and Olivia mentions that last time she was in the situation of opening up a storage shed was when it triggered the Simtex (I don't know how you spell it) explosion in the John Scott days. Peter realizes that he never knew that it was Simtex that was in the storage shed, which disproves Walter's assumption that he was somehow feeding his memories to Olivia. Ding, ding! Whoo-hoo! I'm wanting to jump up and down and yell it is her, it really is! But, I shall contain myself for the moment.
And what's with Olivia having all her heart-to-hearts at storage facilities? That's where she and John had their I love you conversation in the first episode. Maybe there's something special about storage places that I just don't know about. Note to self: Go to a storage area to see if it makes me want to profess deep, warm and fuzzy feelings.
When Olivia squats down to pick the lock she finds that it is already open. This can be nothing but a bad sign, which is confirmed when the scene switches back to Deerfield and Shawn dictating to Astrid, "They feel threatened, they need to stop someone ... they're going to kill her." While Astrid questions him as to who 'She' is Olivia and Peter are now standing in front of open storage shed starting at it's wrecked contents. The interior is a mangled mess of crushed computer towers and wires.
Olivia's phone rings and it's Astrid on the other end telling her that 'They' know she's there. A car that has been creeping up unobtrusively behind Olivia and Peter suddenly accelerates and rockets towards them. Peter shoves Olivia out of the way as the vehicle buries itself in the open storage shed. Someone comes leaping out of the shadows wielding what might be a baseball bat or a pipe and starts taking swings at our heroes. Another person joins the fray, but Olivia and Peter manage to get the situation under control pretty quickly.
At the assisted living center two police officers go to the information desk asking to speak to Dr. Frank. She offers to take them to him. Frank is watching TV in his room when two people walk in. It is not the police officers though, it's two young men, so you can guess where this is going. To hell in a hand basket of course. "You're mine," Frank says hesitantly. They just look back at him, one reflexively blinks and then the other one blinks. Something about that is so incredibly creepy to me. It might be that they just stand there, not saying anything with these blank faces, like pod people on a mission. I don't know.
One of them grabs a pillow and hands it to the other. Franks says, "No." The police and attendant are heading down the hallway and stop at Frank's door. They knock but get no response. After identifying himself the cop opens the door to find Frank dead and staring sightlessly towards the ceiling. The boys are now long gone.
At Deerfield, Shawn is in his room, watching television at an extremely high volume. His mother turns the TV off and refuses to turn it back on when he asks then orders her to. Astrid comes in asking him what's wrong? He explains that he is now subjected to silence in his head, whereas before even if he couldn't hear his internal social media network at least he knew they were still there. Astrid is just so awesome. She comforts him and assures him that although this is new territory for him it is actually more on the normal side than having your own thoughts compete with the thoughts of others in your own mind.
Peter and Olivia pull up at a gas station with Peter discussing the outcome of the case. Olivia seems distracted and Peter says, "You think that this job just can't get any weirder?"
"Yeah," Olivia answers, then after a pause, "No, that's not what I was thinking. It's just that now the case is over, we would go back to one of each other's houses. I know that that's what we would do. That was one of the things that we would do. I know that." Peter grins at this and rubs his forehead. She continues, "So now I don't know if I'm just supposed to ignore that, or what you want and I guess I just, I--- Peter, how do you want to play this? You don't have to answer now, I just want you to think about it.
He gently stops her semi-rambling by saying, "Olivia, I'm thinking about it. It's all I've been thinking about. And I'm afraid. I'm afraid because I've made this mistake before. I betrayed the Olivia that I love. What I'm really afraid of is when I look into your eyes I know it's you. I know it's you." The entire time he is speaking he doesn't lose eye contact with her. And then he KISSES her! A sweet, tender, loving kiss. I'm melting into a puddle in my chair, my shipper side is sooooo happy. Writing it out does not do it justice so you must actually see this scene. It's beautiful.
Olivia is kind of giddy and overwhelmed at this point and she eventually stammers out that she has to go pee. Which made me laugh. She kisses Peter again and then hops out of the car while he watches her, looking more content than he has in a while.
At Massive Dynamic Nina takes Walter and Lincoln to the vault that houses the Cortexiphan. She enters in a code and then scans her left hand. A compartment slides out of the wall ahead of them with vials of red liquid in it. The right number of vials are in place as they should be. As Nina talks to Lincoln about wanting to see Olivia, Walter is examining a vial of the liquid. He takes the top off of it, smells it, then takes a sip. Then he announces that what is in the vial is not Cortexiphan at all but Potassium Iodide with Red Food coloring number 4. Nina looks shocked as Walter and Lincoln stare at her.
Peter walks into the convenience store and goes back to check the bathroom, finding it empty. He asks the clerk where the tall blond went that just came in a few minutes ago. The clerk says he didn't see her. Peter leaves the store again and looks out over the parking lot.
Then the scene switches to a dimly lit room with Olivia sitting in a chair. A few seconds later it is revealed she is actually tied to the chair. Her hair is disheveled and she looks worn out. Olivia's head droops towards her chest as though she has passed out. Then there is a shot of someone that looks like Nina Sharp she looks bad, worse than Olivia by far. The camera angle widens out to show that Nina is also tied down in a chair. Then, the screen goes black. Bad Whoa-bot pops up.

OMG. Fringe almost always throws me a curve ball at the end of the episode and makes me say WTF? But this episode ... I don't know what the hell is going on. I am so confused. I don't even have a theory to go with. I mean, this ending rivals Peter blinking out of existence at the end of Season 3.
So, lingering questions/observations about this episode:
Wasn't Deerfield Mental Hospital featured in one of the earlier episodes? I searched for it but couldn't find anything.
Why did Walter and Lincoln have to meet in the bridge room with Nina? Does she work there when she's not at MD? Why wouldn't they have gone to talk to her at MD itself?
That question spun me off to another question that has nothing to do with this episode. Who owns MD now in this timeline?
Does Olivia now remember about what happened with Peter and Fauxlivia? Because when he said that he had betrayed his Olivia before she didn't really give any indication one way or the other. Maybe she's just getting back her memories little by little and that one hasn't been triggered yet? Of all the ones not to remember that would probably be mentally better if she doesn't have to revisit that anguish.
I read online that the glyph spelled H-E-N-R-Y. Is that in reference to the cabbie that helped Olivia escape from the Other Side or to Henry Faux's non-love child with Peter? And for either one what significance does it have.
Above all -- what in the bloody hell was going on at the end?
I'm always happy to get comments, whether you have answers to any of my questions or just want to talk about the show.

Next Fringe recap:  Episode 4x14 - "The End of All Things"

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