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Friday, April 6, 2012

Fringe Recap - Nothing As It Seems (4x16)

Fringe ... Season 4 Episode 16 ... Nothing As It Seems
This episode is a throwback to Season One's episode The Transformation. (Episode 1x13) The beginning has some differences. The pilot advises them that they will remain in flight a bit longer as they are trying to avoid turbulent weather. An announcement says the staff will be coming around to offer snacks for $5.00 a pop and advising that if you left home without your American Express your screwed because they don't accept cash.
A man scribbles notes onto a sheet of paper. His nose starts to bleed, dripping tiny scarlet puddles on his handiwork. The older lady beside him tells him about an old wives tale to stop bloody noses that had to do with putting keys on your back. I don't even understand what that means truthfully. Which I guess doesn't matter because she says after testing it herself she can tell him it doesn't work. He excuses himself off to the restroom.
In the bathroom he pulls out a vial of liquid that he had concealed in a small zippered case. He runs a cotton swab along his tongue and the inside of his cheeks, then dips it into the liquid and swirls it around. The contents inside begin to turn red.
He leaves the restroom and finds a flight attendant, interrupting her while she is helping someone else. When she doesn't respond quickly enough to his polite request of her attention, he snaps, "No, now!" But then he tacks on a quiet, "Please," at the end, so it's all good again.
She talks with him in the back and he says he's got some problems that he can't explain, due to both time and authority. He says he needs as many sedatives and tranquilizers from the other passengers as possible. Thinking he is on the edge of a panic attack the flight attendant tries to get him to take a deep breath. The man replies with, "This isn't a panic attack. This is real. We will die, all of us, if you don't do what I say." The other flight attendant reminds him that it's a no-no to talk about such things while in flight.
His nose starts to bleed again and he sequesters himself to the bathroom. Before doing so he tells the male flight attendant to get the drugs, bring them back there and knock. However, if there is no response, or if there is a response but he no longer looks like himself the door is to be kept closed.
The female flight attendant gets the captain on the phone with her portion of the conversation being, "Yes sir, but I think forty minutes is too long." From the lavatory there are loud thumping and rattling sounds interspersed with cries of anguish that echo around the plane.
The female flight attendant announces to the cabin, "Ladies and Gentleman, we have a passenger that's having a hard time." Sounds like the understatement of the century. I'm sure they are all hoping that they didn't have the same in-flight meal as he did.
The Air Marshal goes to the door of the bathroom and advises the man that he will have to come in. The noises on the other side of the door stop and the occupied sign flips over to vacant. The door opens and the man peeps out, no worse for wear than when he originally went in.
The next scene has him in some kind of conference room speaking to TSA officials at an airport. The man explains his behavior on the plane as a panic attack because he is terrified of flying. One of the officials starts to search his luggage which makes him uncomfortable and he says, "Don't you have to ask permission before you do that?" The other man replies, "Not since Bush 2."
As they begin searching his bag he doubles over and his nose starts bleeding again. He once again retires to the nearby bathroom. The search of his suitcase turns up a black zippered pouch full of vials with solutions and syringes. The two TSA officers conclude that it is drugs and their boy in the bathroom is going through withdrawal.
In the bathroom, the type of withdrawal this man is going through consists of his teeth falling out and plinking down into the sink along with drooling blood from his mouth. Then as he hunches over to the floor numerous quills sprout out from his back tearing holes in his sensible button down shirt. Drycleaners going to have a hell of a time fixing that.
The teeth falling out part skeeved me out more than the spikes shooting up. I didn't even see any teeth, it was just the noise they made. Heebie Jeebies.
One of the officers gets on the phone to call the police, telling the person on the other end that these drugs were none like he's seen before. At right about that time the bathroom door comes exploding outward, with splintered pieces flying everywhere. In the doorway stands a creature that looks like something that escaped from a radioactive lagoon. That scene actually made me jump, it was perfectly timed.
Now for the opening credits. I saw on Twitter that some people speculated that the credits might be back to blue this week, but they are not. I personally think that even though Peter is "home" that it's still an altered timeline so they do deserve their own background color.

Next we see that Olivia is being required to meet with a psychiatrist. Olivia is frustrated at being taken off active duty while the Powers-that-Be attempt to come up with a reasonable explanation as to what is going on with her and whether she can or cannot handle going back to work. The psychiatrist leans forward to assume an unthreatening posture towards Olivia and says, "You have to admit, it's a little weird, what's happened to you." Olivia tells her, "I work in Fringe Division. Weird is a matter of degrees."
The shrink asks Olivia about Rachel and Olivia tells her although she feels they are close they don't talk very often due to the nature of Olivia's work and distance. Olivia says Rachel moved herself and Ella out to Chicago to be closer her ex-husband for Ella's sake. Olivia doesn't hesitate to say that she doesn't like the ex. The doctor says that she only has a few more questions.
Later, Olivia meets with Broyles where she tells him she doesn't see why not being able to remember every single detail of every single past case should keep her from investigating with the team. Broyles stops her, saying "Your sister is still married. Rachel is still married. She and her husband have two children, Ella and a younger brother, Eddie." According to the session that Olivia had with the doctor, Olivia is remembering forty percent of the details of her life incorrectly. Because of this Olivia is not allowed to return to active duty.
Olivia goes home to her apartment to find Peter, wine in hand. She lets him in on the outcome of her meeting with Broyles. She says that Broyles told her she should think of it as an "overdue vacation." Peter tries to make her feel better, talking about going to Vermont and enjoying some time together. Then of course, as in all things set to Fringe time, his phone rings and it's Lincoln telling him about a case. Olivia half-heartedly jokes, "Well, one of us is still on the team." He steps toward her and says, "Liv ..." but she assures him that she is okay and he should go. I think this is the first time he's called her 'Liv'. I see it all the time in Fanfiction but I don't remember it before on the show.
Peter meets up with Lincoln and Astrid at the lab. They ask about Olivia and Peter says although she's frustrated she's doing okay. Lincoln lets him know that while Olivia is out Broyles has asked that Lincoln take the lead on investigations. He seems a little concerned that this might bother Peter, but Peter is fine with it. When Walter finds out that Peter has arrived he yells from the back for him to stay put. Meanwhile, Lincoln tells Peter that there was an incident on a Vertus Air Flight 718. This rings a bell for Peter and he starts to explain to Lincoln that in his timeline there was a case with the same flight and number.
In the middle of all this Walter has entered the room carrying a large file box. He puts it on the table in front of him and blows dust off the lid. While Peter is in mid-explanation Walter pops the lid off the box and shouts out, "Happy Birthday!" and starts pulling wrapped presents from the box. Walter knows it's not Peter's real birthday, but says "I've been saving these up. I bought one every year on your birthday to help me deal with the loss." Walter knows that this Peter is not truly his Peter, but he does know that this is as close as he'll get to having his son back.
Peter is clearly touched by this and envelopes Walter in a hug. Walter seems a little surprised but offers a "You're welcome," to Peter's heartfelt thanks One of the presents was a bottle of beer that Walter bought for Peter's 21st birthday. He advises Peter against actually drinking it though. I so love Peter/Walter emotional gushiness, even when they are not gushy.
Peter turns back to the case at hand and tells them the details from the case he remembers. He says there was an undercover cop named Marshall Bowman who was given a designer virus that caused his DNA to mutate. Lincoln wants to know what he mutated into and Peter tells him a giant porcupine. But, the plane crashed and Bowman was killed during it, with his body being burned severely. Walter pipes up, as he unwraps a present saying, "I like porcupines. It shows that God has a sense of humor."
Astrid confirms that the suspect in their new case does match the name Marshall Bowman, however the flight landed safely. Walter shows Peter a magazine named 'Hump', and tells him, "16, by then I figured you'd be all about girls."
Astrid pulls up the footage of the attack on the TSA agents. When the creature comes roaring out of the bathroom Peter says that is what the one he knew of looked like too. They head off to the scene of the crime.
While Walter looks over the creatures body Peter is talking to a young woman in another room. She is the victim's sister. Peter shows her the recovered note that Marshall was writing on the plane. There is a phrase at the bottom, "Once we get started there will be no turning back." Peter asks if she knows anything about that. She says she doesn't, but does say that in the recent times she had talked to her brother he seemed different, not like himself.
When Peter goes back out to talk with Lincoln he finds out that this Marshall Bowman had a similar history to the one from before. Peter recalls that in the other case there was another person who was working with Bowman. This person had the Giant Porcupine Syndrome as well. Peter can't recall the name of his partner but is sure that Olivia would remember it.
After calling Olivia, Peter and Lincoln head to the home of Daniel Hicks. On the way Peter brings up the subject of Olivia with Lincoln, knowing that it is bothering him. Lincoln is having a little difficulty coming to terms with having known Olivia as one way for so many months and now it's like she's a different person. He tells Peter about how his deceased partner Robert had an incredible relationship with his wife, Julie. He says that the way Olivia looks at Peter is how Robert's wife would look at him. This obviously bothers Lincoln although he doesn't actually come out and say it in so many words.
They pull up to Hicks' house to find one Ms. Olivia Dunham standing on the doorstep. Peter just accepts the fact that nothing will keep Olivia from a case if she really wants to be there. Lincoln says, "Olivia, you are not authorized to be here. If Broyles gets wind of this ..." She just looks back at him and he knows short of physically making her leave she's not going anywhere.
Lincoln knocks, but no one answers. . He pulls out a lock picking kit and gets them in the door. It's dark in the house and the electricity isn't working. There is medical waste laying around the kitchen, which Olivia does not recall being in the case before. Lincoln says, "Remember you said eventually all of this would stop getting strange? In case you were wondering, it still hasn't." When Olivia doesn't comment Lincoln realizes that she doesn't remember saying that to him, or spending time at the late night diner with him.
Peter is going around the house with a flashlight, looking for clues. He hears a squeaking noise behind him and turns quickly but doesn't see anything. Then Lincoln walks by a doorway and there is a ghastly roar as something jumps out of it. This scared the hell out of me just now. I saw it earlier, but this time I literally jumped. Lincoln falls down and grips his shoulder in pain, but tells Olivia and Peter that he is okay.
At the lab, Walter is stitching up a gash on the back of Lincoln's shoulder while he hums the "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron" song. Lincoln wants to know if he can quit it with the humming and Walter explains that it's supposed to be "an auditory distraction, dulls the peripheral senses, allowing for more focus, which is why surgeons play classical music in the OR." I don't know how many times I had to rewind that to get that quote. I finally had to look away from the TV because I kept getting distracted by the face Peter made when he peeked under the sheet to look at the Porcupine man. Peter had interesting facial expressions throughout this whole episode. It seemed like it was even more so than usual.
Olivia comes in and goes over to talk to Peter. The creature that got away after attacking Lincoln has not been spotted since. The one they have at the lab, Marshall Bowman, may have died when his DNA mutated so quickly that it caused organ failure. They are running tests on the pouch o' meds that they found with Bowman. Peter points out to Olivia that one of the creature's arms has what looks like track marks. While she is looking at that Olivia notices a dark marking on it's skin. Peter, thinking it may be a tattoo, calls Walter over to check out the marking.
Walter hands Lincoln his suturing tweezers to hang on to until he gets back, advising Lincoln not to move. Walter was in mid stitch so Lincoln's got a line of suture coming from his shoulder. As he walks over Walter says to Peter, "Did you find his genitals, son?" While Walter looks over the marking, Olivia goes to talk to Lincoln. Olivia feels responsible that Lincoln was hurt because if she hadn't been there Lincoln would've called for back-up. Lincoln assures her not to worry about it.
Astrid comes over to tell them that when she ran the name Conrad Moreau, per Olivia's request, it showed that he was a scientist but he was killed five years ago during a car accident. Now there is some confusion because the case facts between the timelines are not matching up. In Peter's old timeline Bowman's plane crashed and he died and Moreau was alive and was the one that was behind the deal trying to get the virus out.
Walter determines that the tattoo on Bowman's corpse is Sumerian. Peter and Olivia leave a half-patched up Lincoln at the lab and go to the used bookstore that Peter had way-back-when in a timeline-maybe-not-far-far away sold Walter's books to. They talk to the owner, Ed, using the ruse of looking for books by another author and then not so discreetly talk among themselves, with Olivia saying "Do you think maybe he could help?" Peter answers, "No, I doubt it." Olivia finishes, "It's probably a little too obscure."
Naturally this piques Ed's curiosity and he turns back to them to find out what it is that he probably can't help with. They explain they have a symbol that's Cuneiform. He, of course, is knowledgeable in such things, which is the entire reason Peter wanted to go there. When Olivia hands him a picture of the marking Ed asks, "Are you one of them?"
In the lab Lincoln has redressed himself and is walking towards the door when Walter comes tromping out of his office with a plate of sandwiches. Walter confuses Lincoln by telling him in Yiddish, "May I be excused from the table?" Then answering his own question by saying, "No, you may not." Thusly damping Lincoln's attempt to leave. The plate that Walter has is filled with bacon and peanut butter sandwiches, and Walter digs into one as he calmly tells Lincoln the real reason he can't leave the lab, and that's because he is possibly infected with the virus.
Walter rather cheerfully relays to Lincoln that he can't do anything during the intermediate stage of the virus, but once it fully matures he is eighty percent sure he will be able to make Lincoln all better again. Lincoln is not exactly happy with this news and when he questions Walter what happens if he is part of the other twenty percent, Walter says, "Let's take it one step at a time," and walks away still chewing his sandwich.
At the bookshop Ed finds the symbol online and gives Olivia and Peter some back story. The marking means renewal or rebirth. He says on various cult-like Doomsday type websites he has heard about some people who are wanting to try to make a new species. One that is better, he mentions that they talk about "mutation by design." Peter slides a look at Olivia.
A woman comes into her home turning on lights and thumbing through her mail. There is something creeping around her house and the outline shows that it has porcupine spikes. She hears the floor creak and goes to investigate and the creature, still in shadow, peeps around a corner. She sees it and it moans at the same time. With concern she says, "Oh baby, you're hurting." She goes over and hugs the creature.
Moments later they are sitting around her table and she is injecting something into its arm. The creature howls again. After telling it that the shot should be the last one, she adds, "Just think how special you're gonna be, how special we're both gonna be. Like Adam and Eve."
Peter, Olivia and Astrid have joined Walter and Lincoln back at the lab. The first three are currently poking some tongue in cheek fun at far-fetched sounding ancient Mayan prophecies. Careful Fringe Team, what was that Olivia said earlier? Weird is just a matter of degrees? With all the shit this group has seen, I wouldn't exclude the possibility of nothin'.
While Lincoln is anxiously waiting for his test results to come back, Walter chooses then to be sentimental about realizing he missed being a family-unit and he feels it rekindling as he watches Peter, Olivia and Astrid. Between Olivia suddenly being head over heels in love with Peter and his impending foray into the world of human porcupine Lincoln is feeling a little left out in the cold. Walter picks up on it though and includes him in his Walter-way, saying, "And you too, of course. It's not every day that a perfectly suited chess partner comes along." Walter also tries to make him feel better about his non-results by saying, "No news is good news."
Astrid does some searching and finds information that appears to be describing aspects related to the case they are working on. What she finds has to do with manipulating DNA and things like guided mutation. (That is the short, sweet, and possibly not thoroughly correct sum-up of what she found translated by me.)
Walter notices that the File number is 816TPT618, a palindrome. He explains unnecessarily to Lincoln that a palindrome are words that read the same backwards and forwards, using "boob" as one example. This reminds Walter of back in the days when he and Belly were tripping they decided to create a filing system using palindromes. So the next obvious conclusion is the information comes from Massive Dynamic. As if there were any doubt.
Olivia and Peter go to Massive Dynamic to pick Nina's brain about the information they have found. While she checks their computer systems to see what comes up she remarks to Olivia that she know she is supposed to be on leave. Then Nina gives a quick smile and says, "I suppose every version of you is stubborn."
With the magic of technology Nina finds out that the file number they brought her belongs to an old project from long ago. However, the information on the project has been erased. They figure it had to be an inside job because MD's security is too tight for hackers to get in. Nina checks her screen again and confirms that it was David Robert Jones who was heading up the project.
Back at the lab, Lincoln is now dismantling Walters bacon and peanut butter sandwiches and hungrily eating the bacon. Between chews he tells Walter that usually he's not a big fan of pork. Walter calls out, "Aford, could we get Agent Lee some more -" I'm assuming that was another new twist on Astrid's name. He cuts himself off and turns back to Lincoln, wanting to know what else it is that he has a craving for. Lincoln says, "I don't know. Onion rings would be nice, maybe some cheesecake." At this point I was starting to think maybe Lincoln crossed paths with some of Walter's Brown Betty. Then Lincoln looks at Walter's left rib area like a lion would eye it's prey. Walter follows his gaze and grabs his side pinching a tiny love handle through his lab coat.
This is the a-ha moment for Walter and he has Olivia and Peter come back to the lab. When Lincoln told Walter what it was that he was craving Walter realized that in order to help them metamorphosize the creatures need lipids. He holds up one of the bags of human fat that they found earlier. Since facilities that do liposuction discard the fat they have sucked out every three months the team now needs to find out if any of those places had medical waste stolen. One of the lingering questions is how it is that the creatures haven't been spotted as they moved around town.

Ask and thou shall receive. The scene changes to a rooftop with the woman and the revitalized creature standing along the edge. The creature gathers the woman into his arms and wings unfurl from it's back as it hops off the roof and then flaps away into the night. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a giant mutant hybrid porcupine.
Walter is now able to cure Lincoln and blends up a lovely green concoction for him to drink. Walter says it's a "blend of wheat grass, penicillin, some mild laxatives and I put in some mint to kill the aftertaste." Lincoln takes a swig and let's Walter know the mint didn't help.
When Peter comes in Walter says that he now knows that the medicine that Bowman was carrying was to slow down the progression of the mutation. When he was unable to get to it in time the process of the change went too quickly and that's why it killed him. Using Lincoln's blood sample Walter has the computer creating a simulation of the steps of what the metamorphosis looks like at its various stages and it only has a few more to go through.
Astrid and Olivia come in with Astrid asking them if they want their bad or good news first. At the same time Walter says, "Bad." Peter says, "Good." Peter grins a little at this. They've found out that there was a robbery at a clinic a few days ago and the gone missing list does include bags of human fat. Two guards were killed in the process so the facility has been on lockdown since, so if the creatures need more fat they'll have to find it elsewhere. Since there are 45 other places that could be possible targets within 10 miles then it is going to be difficult to nail down which one will be hit next.
Walter takes it all in but then says, "But I'm unclear, which was the good news?" Peter calls Walter's attention over to the computer monitor. The model is now showing that the creature has sprouted wings. This is the clue they needed to help narrow down the search and Astrid goes off to see which of the clinics were in tall buildings. The scientist in Walter appears to be impressed with the evolution that has been achieved.
Astrid finds out that LDP Institute in Beacon Hill has a clinic on their 12th floor. Lincoln says that he is going to have to bring Broyles in on it this time. When Peter gets concerned about Broyles finding out that Olivia's been working the case, Olivia informs them both that she already made the call to Broyles herself and he will be dealing with her later. Back-up will be waiting for them at the clinic.
Lincoln and his back up team exit the elevator on the 12th floor of LDP Institute and switch to radio silence and night vision. They begin their search through the various rooms.
At the lab Olivia is leaning up against a desk when Walter comes out of the bathroom carrying the 'Hump' magazine. To Olivia he says, "Have you heard anything?" She shakes her head no. Walter responds, "I don't know about you, but this tension's killing me." Poor Olivia, probably not exactly what you want to hear from your boyfriends pseudo-dad while he's carrying around a porn mag.
Walter hovers over the chess board for a bit, analyzing Lincoln's latest move and debating how he should counter. Something he mumbles makes Olivia snap to attention. I'm pretty sure it was the word "knight" because Olivia says, "Porcupines are nocturnal, they sleep during the day." Walter points out that vampires are nocturnal as well.
Astrid tries to make contact with Lincoln but since his radio is off she cannot. In the clinic, Lincoln is still searching the area and unbeknownst to him he has been spotted by one of the creatures. They get a call through to Peter on his cell, and just as the creature attacks Lincoln the lights come blazing on causing the creature to yell and cringe back. This gives Lincoln enough time to get his gun up and shoot it several times.
The creature falls to the floor, admitting out a Chewbaccaesque howl and Lincoln slumps weakly backwards, trying to regain his breath and composure. Before he gets a chance the Lois Lane of the Porcupine Guy kicks his gun out of his hand and starts to punch him about the head.
A shot rings out and she flies off of Lincoln gripping her shoulder. It is Peter holding the not so metaphorical smoking gun and Lincoln compliments him with, "Nice shot." Peter says, "I was aiming for her leg." The woman watches as the creatures eyes slowly close and she cries out in protest. Lincoln who has managed to get his ass kicked quite a bit this season looks like he could use a nice long vay-cay.
At Harvard, Walter is gleefully opening Peter's stored up birthday presents and leaving a trail of trash for Astrid to have to clean up. He is playing with a toy that has a spinning wheel that can be directed around a curving bar. It was to illustrate magnetism and centrifugal force. (I had one of those ... I'm sure I never knew that was the theory at work behind it, it was just fun to watch it spin back and forth.) Walter thinks that Peter will be excited about this particular toy. A few seconds later Peter walks in and Walter holds it up for him to see. Peter takes it from Walter and says, "I loved these things," and takes over playing with it.
Olivia reports to the others that the injured woman is going to be okay and with the cure Walter synthesized she will be free of the virus. However, they still don't know who created the serum. Also they still don't know if and why David Robert Jones is behind this, how he gets people to be his guinea pigs -- or rather guinea porcupines.
Walter's theory is "He has a God complex. Well, the fact that we're here at all, that humanity evolved from slugs in the ocean, depending on who you talk to, is either a miracle or an accident. Maybe Jones is trying to take control of the situation."
Then Broyles arrives and has Olivia go with him so he can speak to her privately. She starts talking before he can and in typical Olivia/Broyles fashion spits out what she has to say without giving him a chance to say his piece. At the end of her apology after Broyles makes sure she's through he says that after speaking to the 10th floor, "If you're sixty percent of the Olivia I knew, you're still better than ninety percent of the agents I've ever worked with and a Fringe Division with an Olivia Dunham is better than a Fringe Division without her."
The scene changes to show Bowman's sister talking someone else into taking the serum. She tells him "We can be children of the new world." She injects him.
This scene fades into a warehouse room housing cages upon cages of mutant creatures. We see some of the porcupine creatures but there are also other types that we do not get a close look at. A man leaves the area and locks the door behind him. The door bears the same symbol that was tattooed on both Bowman's arm and the latest person who was just injected. As the camera pulls back the "warehouse" is shown to be located on a boat.
Other Questions about this episode:
Lincoln mentioned him and Olivia talking at the diner. Wasn't the night she was going to meet him there the night she got jacked with the Cortexiphan in her apartment? I guess he could've been referring to another day but that's the one I thought of.
Was it ever revealed who the woman was that attacked Lincoln and Peter shot? I thought for awhile that she and Bowman's sister were one and the same, but it didn't appear that they were.
What were your thoughts on this episode?

Next Fringe recap:  Episode 4x17 - "Everything In Its Right Place"

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