Monday, October 12, 2009

Fringe 2.04: "Momentum Deferred"

“Excuse me? Can I see the body that’s bleeding silver now?”


Thursday’s episode of Fringe was more mythology-centric, which thankfully made the story of the creepy happenings of the week and Olivia’s connection to the Other Side a little more connected than they have been for the past few weeks. There were also plenty of entertaining Walter and Peter moments, which are really the reason why I watch this show. This episode even has a zany Walter experiment and a rehash of Olivia’s season one finale trip to the Other Side thrown in for good measure.

The episode begins with one of Fringe’s trademark creepy visuals. This time? Frozen heads. There’s some action going down at a cryogenics facility. Like in Futurama. Both the cryogenics part and the saving only the heads part (I do miss the fun heads in jars from Futurama). Two men appear to be loading frozen heads up in a truck. An interloper approaches, asking for directions. Soon enough, instead of getting directions, he’s shooting. The two original guys from the truck both wind up dead. One seems to be human, while the other is most definitely not. Oozing mercury instead of blood is a pretty good sign that one is not human, I think.

Meanwhile, Walter has a theory on how to jump start Olivia’s memories of her time on the Other Side. It involves drinking pureed flatworms. I don’t quite understand the theory behind why this was supposed to work, but it had something to do with flatworms transferring their own memories via ingestion. Olivia drinks the vile concoction before Walter can even finish his explanation, and she has some trouble keeping it down (which, I would think, is to be expected). Walter is just his typical adorable self, telling Olivia “We were going to mix it with strawberries!”

By investigating the cryogenics lab incident, the Fringe team makes two important discoveries. First is that the soldiers from the Other Side use mercury to retain their shape. This is especially important because the last soldier suspect they autopsied, Olivia’s nurse from the season premiere, definitely did not have mercury coursing through her veins. She was plain old flesh and blood. The second important discovery is that they now have a working model of the device the soldiers use to change shape. In a kind of cute scene where Olivia and Peter bond over their mutual love for “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (suitably creepy since the Peter we know is technically a replacement for the Peter that originally existed in our universe), Peter discovers that the shape changing device is actually sending out a large amount of data.

Olivia takes the device to Massive Dynamics, and a too-earnest (and not in a good way) technician says that because he now has a working model as an example, he can repair the broken shape changing device that the team found in the season premiere. Once the broken device is repaired, the technician can run a program that will tell them the identity of the last person whose form the soldier took. The team figures the soldier must still be in the same body that he was in after that scuffle in the season premiere, because the device must be specifically calibrated to the soldier using it. Without his specific device, the soldier can’t body jump again.

Walter has another plan for identifying soldiers. He wants to find Rebecca, the woman he pumped full of psychedelic drugs back in the 60’s. The drugs gave her the ability to see when people didn’t belong in our dimension. Peter and Walter take a trip to Rebecca’s house, and the result is equal parts cute and awkward. Walter clearly had feelings for Rebecca, even though she was essentially his test subject. He wants Peter to talk when Rebecca opens the door, because he is too nervous to do it himself. Rebecca, surprisingly, is elated to see Walter. Instead of feeling violated, Rebecca feels like Walter gave her a gift. Unfortunately, that gift comes and goes, and it doesn’t appear very often anymore. Walter hypothesizes that a repeat of the old experiment might restore Rebecca’s ability. Before he can finish rattling off potential side effects, Rebecca agrees.

Back at the lab, Walter starts his experiment with Rebecca. He has her strapped onto this board so he can flip her over on her stomach when the drugs start. He thinks this will make the drugs work more quickly than they did the last time. Walter’s hunch is right. Rebecca starts acting strangely almost immediately, and Walter has to work hard to keep her calm. He describes to her in detail what it’s like to walk around the Harvard campus, and it seems to keep her from going completely crazy. I liked this scene because it is rare that we get a chance to see Walter take charge. It’s sort of a glimpse of what Walter must have been like in his heyday, but with the arrogance toned down a few notches.

Part of the procedure Walter is performing on Rebecca involves ringing a nautical bell. When Olivia hears the bell ring, she collapses to the floor, and it looks like she is having a seizure. All of her memories of her visit to the Other Side come flooding back. William Bell yanked her over there out of a moving car to give her a warning. The soldiers are looking for their leader, and that leader has the power to open a door between the two universes. Olivia is the only one who can stop them, because she’s the strongest of all the kids Bell and Walter experimented on. The leader has a symbol that looks similar to an omega tattooed on his head. This would be what the soldiers have been looking for at cryogenics facilities.

After recovering from a rather rude reawakening (a shot of adrenaline to the heart, delivered by a frantic Peter), Olivia hurries off to grill Nina Sharp about what she just learned. Nina says that William Bell often mentioned a “storm,” his word for the catastrophe that would occur if the two dimensions ever came together. In the immortal words of Ghostbusters “Don’t cross the streams!” The conversation is interrupted when Olivia receives a text from Soldier!Charlie, telling her that Nina is the shifter they’ve been looking for. Charlie had stopped by the lab and saw that his identity was about to be revealed, and he was in damage control mode.

Olivia hightails it out of Nina Sharp’s office, but it doesn’t take long after she meets up with “Charlie” outside to realize she’s been duped. One cell phone confirmation and knock-down-drag-out fight between Olivia and “Charlie” later, Soldier!Charlie is dead. Because Olivia shot him. I am very anxious to see how Olivia deals with this in the coming weeks. Sure this wasn’t the real Charlie, but it must have been an extremely difficult thing to do.

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