Monday, November 9, 2009

Fringe 2.06: "Earthling"

“He thinks it may describe some sort of organism, and, as of a couple hours ago, he started referring to it as a ‘she.’”


Just an advanced warning, this recap may be a bit scatterbrained since I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry in the wake of tonight’s HIMYM episode. More on that tomorrow (probably). It doesn’t really help that I didn’t especially love “Earthling.” I only really half-watched it when it was originally broadcast last Thursday, and it took all my willpower to pay attention to enough of it when I rewatched it today so that I could write about it. I can’t quite put my finger on why- maybe because it’s once again an episode that doesn’t appear to be at all connected to the show’s mythology. Not a great way to start off the post-Baseball hiatus (a moment of silence for my beloved NL Champion Phillies) string of episodes.

Fringe, like FlashForward, usually gives good creepy opening scene. The creepy opening scenes on FlashForward are usually a little more artistic and beautiful, though. Fringe is usually just gross. And the opening of “Earthling” wasn’t really an exception. A man is planning to surprise his wife for their anniversary. He makes her think he’s going to be away on a business trip, but he’s actually prepared a romantic evening at home. We’re transported into the stuff of horror movies as the television blinks in and out and the lights begin to switch on and off. There’s something that can only be described as a shadow being following the guy. When his wife gets home, excited by all the decoration, she sees her husband sitting in a chair, perfectly still. She touches him, and he crumbles to dust, his head tumbling to the floor before crumbling as well.

It’s almost as creepy watching Broyles play menu peek-a-boo with a little kid at a restaurant before he gets the call about this case. The scene was probably meant to be cute, but Lance Reddick kind of has a creepy smile. This case is actually familiar to Broyles. Four years ago in DC, Broyles investigated the deaths of several similar victims, each of whom had recently visited the same hospital. He had been contacted by a guy from eastern Europe who knew specific details and offered to turn himself in if the FBI could decipher a complex formula. Now Walter is on the case of figuring out what this “molecular model for a complex organic compound” really is. Meanwhile, the shadow is on the prowl at another hospital.

Walter has his first breakthrough while investigating the remains of dust guy. He’s looking for radiation, but surprisingly, there is none. The one thing I really enjoyed about this episode was how enthusiastic Walter was about solving the formula. He’s really into it, saying stuff like, “Titanium tetrachloride- you sly temptress!”

Broyles and Olivia are at the hospital dust guy visited recently, and they discuss the original DC case while waiting for some information from HR. Broyles thought the killer called him because he couldn’t control something and wanted it to end. Their conversation is interrupted by the shadow, which attacks a patient this time. A nurse freaks, everybody comes running, Olivia and Broyles follow the commotion. They finally get some useful information, too- the name of somebody who worked at both hospitals. He’s a night nurse, and he didn’t show up for shift. The FBI promptly raids his apartment, but there’s nothing there except some random scraps of electronic components strewn about. Some of the components had Russian writing on them, though, and good fingerprints, too.

Broyles receives a surprise call from a Senator friend. It turns out the fingerprint raised a lot of red flags. Their suspect is the center of an ongoing international investigation led by the Russian government. He illegally removed property belonging to Russian Federation. Broyles calls Olivia to say the CIA is taking over, but he’s ignoring that directive. Olivia is to keep investigating, but not document it. Olivia is looking at security footage while talking to Broyles and sees a shadowy figure with no face.

The Senator, who actually isn’t useless, sends Broyles a top secret file about a cosmonaut. It wasn’t technology that their suspect stole (as Walter suspected), it was his brother. The cosmonaut was in a Russian facility being studied after an incident, and his brother got him out. Ever since, the brother has been moving the comatose cosmonaut from hospital to hospital, hiding him. Walter thinks it’s the radiation the entity is after. The victims were mostly on radiation therapy. Another had just been on a long flight and had extra radiation from the altitude.

Meanwhile, it’s lights out at the hospital’s coma ward. The brother appears in the darkness- it’s time for him to steal his brother back again. Maxine, a nurse who had been looking over the coma patients, is clearly in danger. By the time the FBI could get to the hospital, she was missing. They end up finding her in a hospital bed, sedated. The brother has escaped with the cosmonaut.

Back at the lab, Walter is deep in research and has a theory. He thinks the cosmonaut picked up something on a space walk. This organism is able to project itself out into the world while remaining inside the host. Walter says Broyles can call the brother and say he knows the formula. “I can dominate her,” is his exact terminology. Silly Walter! The brother gets Broyles’ voicemail, and he starts shooting electricity through the cosmonaut. The shadow comes out and seems to not be at all happy. It’s bad for cosmonaut’s body, too. Then everything goes quiet, and the cosmonaut flatlines. After a few tense seconds, his heartbeat comes back

Walter is back home, looking for something- a tool for the job. Tinker toys, oddly enough. He uses them to make a physical representation of the formula. He gets a good look at it and sees something troubling. Meanwhile, Astird setting it up so they can trace it when the brother returns Broyles’ call. Olivia talks with Broyles, and she wants to know why this case is important. It turns out that Broyles got especially obsessed with solving this case, and that made it the case that was the straw that broke his marriage.

The brother tells the unconscious cosmonaut that he’s tired of waiting and calls the FBI. He gets a little testy waiting for Broyles to talk to Walter. Walter thinks not possible to remove organism- they’re bonded at molecular level. You can’t kill one without killing the other. Broyles relays the message and tries to soften it with “if anyone can help your brother they can.” Broyles isn’t getting any answer back, though. The brother has been dusted!

The Fringe team uses the phone call to find the cosmonaut and his dead brother. Walter has theory on how to contain the organism, but they have a more pressing problem. The shadow is not in cosmonaut at the moment. Peter suggests they try drawing the shadow back by distressing cosmonaut. Walter is irritated at Peter for pushing him to try and fix the problem. He doesn’t seem to want to do it for some reason. The shadow is about to get little kid, but she is saved just in time. Because Broyles shoots the cosmonaut in the head.

People arrive in scary biohazard suits- Russians I guess- they’ve got a case with Russian writing on it. Broyles decides to go tell his ex-wife he solved the case. She’s glad for him, but the whole thing is kinda awkward. Her new significant other is there. I will say that I was glad for the development of Broyles’ character in this episode. He’s sort of just been a mildly sinister presence overseeing everything, but now we got to see what motivates him. A CIA guy confronts Broyles in the dark street outside his ex-wife’s house. Broyles wants to know what happened to the cosmonaut, but the CIA guy is shifty and evasive. It looks like they shot him into space.

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