Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fringe “Unleashed” A Monster

All photos from Fox

Yesterday’s episode of Fringe (Fox) “Unleashed” brought out the stereotypical scary monster episode. It was complete with all the typical mistakes one expected people to make in horror stories, for example, like opening a door that one knows should not be opened, and not climbing back into your car when you see an abandoned animal control truck and hear strange animal noises.

The episode opens with a few activists who broke into a animal lab, and they set the animals free. But one of them goes behind a locked door and unleashes an animal that was a genetic mutation. Meanwhile, the scientist who created the mutant is killed as he moves to secure the door. Likewise, the son of another scientists running the lab – the son also being one of the activists – is killed as the group tries to escape the lab. The monster, now free, manages to catch up to their fleeing car and, causing an accident, kills the remaining activists after their car crashes.

Things get dicey when the monster decides to run around the neighborhood, being spotted by others. As animal control is called out, they later find themselves added to the list of victims. When Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) is called out to investigate, he sees the abandoned animal control vehicle and, upon finding a bloody body inside, decides to go into the woods further instead of retreating to the protection of his car while waiting for backup. He’s injured, but not killed. He decides to go home to his wife without getting checked out at the hospital.

Meanwhile, back at the lab of Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), Walter and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson), Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and lab assistant Astrid (Jasika Nicole) try to find out what kind of monster they are dealing with. Walter believes that the monster is based on something he tried to create years ago, and he shows Peter the information he had from his records. Peter is incensed that his father withheld this information. While they continue to discuss the matter, Astrid notices that the body of one of the activists seems to be moving inside the body bag. When they open the bag, they find the body itself is not moving; it’s larvae from the monster, which has taken over the body and is reproducing.

They immediately contact Charlie, and bring him into the lab to find if he also contains the larvae. He does, and they are growing at a fast clip. Walter becomes very concerned, as he is not sure he can halt the progression and save Charlie. After much thinking and some testing, he realizes that only the blood from the mother injected into Charlie will deter the larvae, as they will stop feeding on him if they sense their own mother’s blood in his system, and starve to death.

Walter’s guilt over what he sees as a monster possibly created from his own research, he decides to make a personal sacrifice. When he, Peter, and Olivia realize that the monster is moving through the sewer system, they use some of the larvae from the dead body to attract the mother to its brood. Walter locks himself in one of the sewer tunnels and decides that he will be there to bait and help bring down the monster. He also drank poison, so that if the monster should decide to take a bite, it will kill the monster as well. Peter and Olivia frantically break open the locked door, just in time to see Walter shoot the hideous-looking monster.

Lucky for Walter he made sure he had an antidote for the poison, so once he got back to the lab, the antidote could be administered and he could go on to save Charlie. Of course, the larvae inside Charlie die, and when he asks what happens now, Walter replies, “Now you crap ‘em out!”

At the end of the episode, when Olivia returns home and gets in bed and turns off the light, she hears the wind coming through the window. Here eyes growing wide, she shows a twinge of fear as she turns the light back on and goes back to bed.

While the episode had its stereotypical scary story scenarios, it also added in the question of a deepening relationship between Peter and Olivia’s sister, Rachel (Ari Graynor). When Peter calls Olivia’s house, she seems stunned that he was really calling for Rachel. We see a twinge of hurt and maybe even jealousy in Olivia’s face as Rachel walks away with the phone, clearly in an engaging conversation with Peter. Olivia does bring the call up to Peter later, and Peter seems intrigued that she seems curious about the relationship, maybe even jealous.

All in all, a solid episode despite the predictability. Walter Bishop is such an entertaining character, full of quirks and oddities, that it is fun to watch him as he tries to understand the mystery of the day. He’s what you would expect from a mad scientist, but with the added blunt commentary thrown in. It’s that bluntness that makes Walter so different from everyone else in television. He says exactly what is on his mind, and John Noble seems to enjoy it. Walter can get away with it because everyone knows he’s just a little nutty. But there are glimmers of a Walter Bishop who seems to have second thoughts about the research he’s done in the past. If anything has been unleashed on the world, it’s Walter Bishop. Maybe what is in his sometimes fragmented mind means even scarier things to come for Fringe.

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