Friday, October 2, 2009

Fringe “ Fracture” A Fractured Fairy Tale

Photo from Fox

Things were certainly explosive on last night’s Fringe (Fox) episode titled “Fracture.” It seems that someone can make human bombs without the traditional explosives. The Evildoer Of The Week has found a way to crystallize a person’s body and then cause it to explode – the human shrapnel killing anyone nearby. The first victim is an Officer Gillespie, who blows up in a train station in Philadelphia. The Fringe team is called in, but they don’t know that’s the source of the explosive until Walter Bishop (John Noble) finds a crystallized ear. There is a problem, though; something interfered with the recording of the event on the security tapes so they can't see the event.

Walter Bishop decided that he is going to get as many pieces as he can to attempt to reassemble the body. (By the way, I think that Walter Bishop is one of the most enjoyable characters on television today – he seems to be going through life as part genius scientist and part child. It’s that childlike side of Walter that is so much fun to watch and John Noble is perfect for the role.) I admit that I was a little worried when Walter asked his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) if he recalls putting puzzles together as a child, because we don’t know if who we believe to be an “alternate universe” Peter will have the same memories than Walter thinks. Peter does eventually remember putting puzzled together with Walter when he realizes it was a puzzle of a Playboy centerfold. Walter must have been one wacky dad.

Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is still trying to recover her memories of what happened that led up to her car accident. She knows she was somewhere else and was supposed to come back and do something important, but it’s just not coming to her. Nina Sharp referred her to Sam Weiss (Kevin Corrigan), who starts off helping by having her remember how to do mundane tasks like tie her shoes and keeping bowling scores for a kids bowling league, the latter to teach her some patience. She is getting very frustrated that he doesn’t seem to be directly helping her with her memories. He asks her if the headaches have started, and while they haven’t he knows they will. Illness strikes Olivia while she and Peter are questioning Office Gillespie’s wife, and Olivia’s hands shake and she rushes to the bathroom to throw up. It must be fate, because when she picks her head up from the toilet, she sees a tile that appears to be loosened, and finds what looks like kits for injection of some chemicals. Gillespie’s wife has no idea what they are, so they take the kits to Walter.

Walter has already noticed many needle marks on the part of Gillespie’s foot that he’s reassembled, and determines that this chemical appears to be part of a regimen which turns the person into a bomb. Astrid (Jasika Nicole) finds Gillespie's military record and finds a mention of a chemical weapon that his whole unit was exposed to, and it should have killed them. The classified project was called Tin Man. The also have discovered that whatever interfered with the security cameras may have actually been the trigger.

Meanwhile, there is a woman who seems to have the same kit and is also injecting herself. It looks like it’s another human bomb in the making, and a man approaches her later and tells her she’s moving to active status, telling her that the "Tin Man parameters are in effect."

While Walter experiments on a watermelon and finds the frequency to make it explode,
Olivia and Peter head to Iraq, where Gillespie had done two tours. Peter has a connection that he thinks can help. The connection arranges them to meet a doctor, now working in a kitchen, and he tells them they developed a treatment that is injected daily to counteract the chemical weapon. Only four people in the program survived, and one of them was Diane Burgess – this is the woman who is currently injecting herself. He also says that an unintentional byproduct of the serum was that it turned people into bombs. He tips them off about a Colonel Raymond Gordon (Stephen McHattie) who wanted to continue the program, and Gordon is one nasty guy.

Lucky for the team, they are able to track down Diane Burgess in Washington DC and catch Gordon in the act by triangulating his signal and then jamming it just in the nick of time. He tries to flee, but Peter knocks him to the ground.

Afterwards, back at the lab, Walter brings Peter a newspaper ad for another apartment, as at the beginning of the show, Peter was having a hard time getting Walter to move into sharing a two bedroom apartment. Astrid had later helped Walter to realize that he can’t find new things unless he learns to widen his scope. Finally, it seems, Peter may hav a chance ro get a good night’s sleep.

Olivia is back at the bowling alley, and Weiss measures her hand, telling her he wants to find her the perfect bowling ball, and tells her to go home. But her patience runs out and we see her pointing a gun right at his head. But he’s happy to see this, because she is standing on her own two feet without the use of a cane, and she seems to be back as Agent Olivia Dunham. He tells her he’ll see her tomorrow.

Elsewhere, though, Gordon tells Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) that the end is coming and they had to take matters into their own hands. He adds "they" are here, collecting data, making observations. That's what's in the briefcase that was being passed to the people that were exploding. While he is talking to Broyles, we see the man Burgess tried to stop at the train station bringing his briefcase to someone at a diner of sorts, who dumps tons of pepper on his food. Gordon tells Broyles whatever is in the briefcase is going to destroy us all. But as the camera pulls back, we see the man who now has the briefcase eating all that peppered food is the “Observer” (Michael Cerveris) and he is leafing through many pictures of Walter that had been in the briefcase.

One flaw with Fringe is that they seem to move about the country and the globe with lightning speed. It is almost as if they blinked and they went to Iraq and back. But you can’t just beat the humor. The scene where Peter eats a hamburger in the lab and the cow moos in objection – on cue no less – and seeing Peter’s reaction - was hilarious.

The questions we are left with are: Is what Gordon says true and are we being led to believe that Walter – whose pictures are in the briefcase – will destroy us all? Are the Observers here to help us or to hurt us? Since Walter was able to successfully bring an “alternate” Peter over from the other universe or time line, will this action later prove to cause larger problems for the time in which Peter currently exists? What is it that Olivia was sent back to this time to do – and is this really the same Olivia that left? Her memories seem the same, but so do many of Peter’s from his own alternate childhood. One thing is for certain, the Observer may have taken on a new meaning for viewers, since now we are led to believe that they are here to do more than just observe – they are here to possibly affect an outcome. Maybe the child like side of Walter is just lulling viewers into a false sense of security, and it’s Walter’s genius that spells trouble?

The preview for next week featured Leonard Nimoy, so you know it will be good. It sounds too good to miss!

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