Friday, January 29, 2010

Fringe “The Bishop Revival” Revives a Family Secret

Photos from Fox

Walter Bishop’s past – actually, his father’s past – comes back to haunt him in Fringe “The Bishop Revival.” It seems that Walter’s father worked in Nazi Germany as a spy for the Allies, and one of the secret experiments he was involved in at the time is resurrected for use in the present. Someone is using a formula that allows him to target people for death by their specific genetic traits, and Walter also finds himself in the crosshairs.

The killer tries his experiment first at a wedding by releasing the toxin targeting the groom’s Jewish family, and before doing so, is recognized by the groom’s grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. But the man in question is young, not someone she should recognize from her days in the camps. The killer later tries the experiment at a coffee shop, targeting people who only have brown eyes.

When the Fringe team is called in on both cases, they realize that the toxin was delivered via heat sources: a candle in the first incident, and hot tea in the second. They are able to get a photo of the man in question from the wedding video. Walter Bishop (John Noble) also recognizes the work as something that his father, Robert Bishop, was involved in long ago when working as a spy scientist in Nazi Germany, even seeing his father’s signature “seahorse” in the pattern of the toxin. Walter is concerned his father’s work has fallen into the wrong hands. While he begins to dig through some of his belongings looking for his father’s books, his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) tells Walter he sold the books 10 years ago because he needed the money. Walter is crushed at this news and angry with Peter, to the point of refusing Peter’s apology. Peter later is able to trace back who bought his books, finding that an “artist” was using them in some of his work, which has never been seen by anyone else. Walter then suspects,maybe hopes, that the formula for the toxin did not come from his father’s work. Walter is also able to get DNA off the fingerprint on the tea cup that the killer used at the coffee shop, Peter later saying it has degraded and appears to belong to someone who would be over 100 years old.

It also seems that the killer is familiar with Walter Bishop, and even gets into Walter’s home. We later find he’s taken a sweater of Walter’s. When the team gets a list of one of the main components of the toxin, they are able to target a residential address, working under the name Hoffman Pharmaceuticals, to where the chemicals were shipped. The killer is working in his hidden basement, and manages to escape before the FBI arrives and Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) finds the hidden entrance. When Olivia, Peter, and Walter enter the hidden lab, Walter spots his sweater, and then begins to have trouble breathing. Olivia destroys a beaker which is being heated to release the toxin, apparently targeted for Walter alone, and she gets Walter out of the area and to additional oxygen. Olivia also finds remnant of an ID card; it appears the killer created a fake ID to give him access to the "World Tolerance Initiative” conference, where people of many cultures would be attending.

While Olivia and Peter race to the event and try to get Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) to find a way to evacuate the facility, Walter seems to be hard at work at something in the killer’s basement lab. While Peter and Olivia are at the conference looking for the heat source that will trigger the release of the toxin, Walter enters the facility with Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and heads to an area overlooking the event. When Peter, at the last second, prevents a worker from igniting the sterno-like containers (which the killer replaced with the toxin) under the chafing dishes for the food serving area, they also hear someone choking for air. As Peter and Olivia race to the source, concerned that the toxin had been released, they find the man choking is none other than the killer himself. He is looking above Peter and Olivia to the area high above and yells up to Walter, calling him “Bischoff” and calling him a traitor as he dies. Walter is standing there with a device which is releasing Walter’s own toxic concoction which has only targeted the killer. Later, when Boyles reviews Walter’s actions with him, Walter explains he killed the killer using the killer’s own toxic formula, targeted only for him and he is unapologetic. Broyles somewhat reluctantly lets Walter off the hook, but Olivia looks at Walter with surprise and disappointment.

Later, Peter returns to Walter all the books he could recover that belonged to Walter’s father. Walter leafs through them and finds a group photo which includes Robert Bishop, and Peter notices the name is Robert Bischoff. Walter indicates that his father changed his name when he came to this country in the 1940s. Peter also wonders how the killer could have made the toxin without using Robert Bischoff’s notes, and Walter replies somberly, "Perhaps there are some mysteries that are destined to remain unsolved." But the camera zooms in on other photo of Robert Bischoff and a man standing in the background – it’s the current killed, looking exactly the same then as he did in the present.

There were a few amusing tidbits interspersed in the show, the first being Walter’s suggestion to Peter that he should marry Olivia. Since the two only have a very low-key chemistry on screen right now, I would say that the show has a long way to go before a romance would be truly believable between Peter and Olivia. Peter also seems to have allowed Walter the opportunity to drive, something for which Walter clearly needs additional training, especially in the art of parking the car. Walter also seems to sometimes play games with Astrid’s name – is it on purpose or by accident that he appeared to call her “Ostrich?” But there are serious questions that arise from this episode – how had the killer managed to stay young, and why? Why did he target Walter? And, did the killer have the ability to create a toxin that could target one specific person such as Walter, yet leave his son Peter untouched? I suppose that since the killer had Walter’s DNA from his sweater it would be possible, but I wondered why it never occurred to Peter to ask why he wasn’t affected. Since Peter seems to be from the other time, does that mean his DNA may also not share many of the same traits as Walter? What other secrets does the Bishop/Bischoff family hold? “The Bishop Revival” may have been subtle in its raising of new questions, but that’s what I like about “Fringe.” It always keeps viewers guessing. I suspect, though, that Walter's hopes that some mysteries remain unsolved will not be the case for his secret about Peter.

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