Monday, December 27, 2010

Fringe 3.07: "The Abducted"

“We’re going to pull her out of the field tomorrow morning. I don’t believe we’ll be needing her anymore.”

“The Abducted” was one of the more disturbing episodes the “Fringe” producers have cooked up. It was, however, fascinating to get another look into how the Other Side Fringe Division works a case. They have an array of technology not available to our Fringe team, and they make good use of it. The technology isn’t enough, though. To truly solve this particular case, they require the intuition of one Olivia Dunham. This episode provided yet more wonderful character development opportunities and one new important ally for Olivia. It was fascinating to watch Olivia continue to work within the Other Side system while desperately plotting her escape. And there was one much-welcome twist at the end that will certainly have Peter feeling like quite the idiot.

The episode opens with a classic “Fringe” scene of creepiness. An elderly man is using a razor to scrape something off of a belt. He then starts using the razor to shave his head. He pours liquid into a bowl while chanting a prayer, then he begins to wash himself with the liquid. When he is cleansed, he holds up a stark, metal mask. Elsewhere in New York, a little boy, Max, is in his bed at night, looking very scared. He finally musters up the courage to run to his mom’s room, where he tells here there’s a monster in his bedroom. His mom doesn’t believe him, as moms do, and she makes a show of doing a search through his room for the monster. She looks in the closet, and she looks under the bed. She reminds Max that when he sees monsters, he should be a big boy, count to three, and the monster will go away. She heads back to bed, leaving Max to try to get some monster-free sleep. At that moment, something moves from behind Max’s previously-opened door. Max closes his eyes and counts to three, but it’s too late. He’s kidnapped by the man in the metal mask, who jumps out the window holding Max.

Fringe Division has been called to investigate the kidnapping, even though they can’t find anything especially strange about it. The “Peter Bishop Act” mandates that every kidnapping be treated as a possible Fringe event until proven otherwise. It turns out to be a good thing that the Fringe team was there. While analyzing some fingerprints collected by the local police, Lincoln finds traces of sucrose. This means something very ominous to the Fringe team. A serial kidnapper they call “The Candyman” is back. He hasn’t kidnapped anyone in two years, but the sucrose in the fingerprints is his calling card.

Walternate stops by Broyles’ office to have a serious chat. It turns out that Broyles’ son, Christopher, was a victim of the Candyman. Christopher is still alive, but his health was seriously compromised by the experience. Walternate wants to know that if Broyles feels like he would get too emotionally involved in the Candyman investigation, he’s welcome to turn the investigation over to someone else. Broyles doesn’t want to give up the case, and he tells Walternate that because he’s so determined to catch the person who destroyed his family, he’s the best man for the job. There’s only one thing that makes him hesitate. He wants his proper Olivia back. He feels like he needs his real team all together to do the job. Walternate reassures him that our Olivia will be gotten rid of and Alt-livia will be back very soon.

Even though she knows her time on the Other Side is winding down, Olivia is always the professional. She wants to help her new, temporary colleagues catch the Candyman. Luckily, Alt-livia wasn’t with Fringe Division the last time the Candyman struck (she joined after), so when Olivia starts asking a lot of questions about the case, it doesn’t seem odd. Olivia notices that two children, one of which was Christopher, told Fringe Division that they were held captive by two men, one old and one young. Because his story is unusual, Olivia wants to interview Christopher again. Charlie and Lincoln think this is a bad idea, warning Olivia that Broyles is extremely protective of his son. They turn out to be right. Broyles hates the idea and pretty much kicks Olivia out of his office when she suggests it. The act break that follows is one of the most horrifying the show has done to date. We see the apartment where Max is being held captive, and we see the masked old man approaching, saying his prayer. Max begs to be left alone because he doesn’t feel well. The camera pans to show machinery integrated into the back of Max’s neck.

The next act begins with Broyles arriving home to his son and wife. Christopher is just watching TV. You can tell his experience with the Candyman took a serious toll on his health. Mrs. Broyles is worried that the Candyman might attack their family again, and she’s wondering if the police cruiser parked outside is meant to validate her fears. Broyles says he’s just being overly cautious. He also mentions that Olivia asked to interview Christopher. Surprisingly, Mrs. Broyles thinks this is a good idea. She thinks Christopher might tell Olivia things he’s too afraid to tell his dad. Meanwhile, Olivia just keeps on being awesome. She has a theory about what’s been going on, and she runs it by Lincoln. She thinks that the Candyman has been stealing “youth” from his victims by stealing chemicals from their pituitary glands. It takes Lincoln a few minutes, but he starts to buy the theory. I was surprised that nobody on the Other Side thought of this before. It was one of the first things I thought of when I saw an old guy kidnapping a kid.

Olivia and Lincoln’s confab is interrupted when Olivia gets a phone call. Broyles has given his permission for Olivia to question Christopher about his kidnapping. Olivia thinks the interview will go better if Christopher is as comfortable as possible, so he asks him about his very favorite place to go. The interview ends up taking place at a beach that Christopher loves. As Olivia and Christopher talk, Broyles takes a disturbing phone call from Walternate. Olivia is going to be pulled out of the field the next day because she isn’t needed anymore. Olivia, meanwhile, is doing an amazing job talking to Christopher. Christopher reveals that the Candyman threatened to hurt the Broyles family if Christopher says too much. Olivia reassures Christopher and gets him to recite a phrase of the Candyman’s prayer.

The prayer ends up being a major break in the case. The Fringe crew traces the phrase to a church in Queens. Olivia and Broyles make a trip to speak to the pastor of the church. The pastor mentions how many members of his congregation have been healed. He is reluctant to give up the names of any of his parishioners, but after some convincing, he offers to give the roster of the church’s men’s group. Broyles mentions that his son will be able to identify the voice of the Candyman. The Fringe team are soon visiting the homes of everybody on the roster. Olivia, naturally, is the person to finally hit pay dirt. She arrives at the apartment of Wyatt Toomy, who looks to be about thirty-years-old. She sees a random doll in his apartment, which is just plain creepy and clues her into the fact that this is probably where Max is being held. Wyatt sees Olivia’s look of realization and goes to attack Olivia, but Olivia stops him with an awesome move that involves smashing his head with the door to his apartment. She finds Max in the next room, and when the rest of the team looks at the lab Wyatt had constructed, Lincoln is able to confirm that Olivia’s pituitary gland theory was right.

Now that the Candyman has been caught, Olivia turns back to executing her escape from the Other Side. Early in the episode, she had met with our pal Bubbles (actually called Henry on this show…sorry, I’m an adopted Baltimorean…I can’t let “The Wire” go…). Over breakfast, Olivia asked Bubbles if he had a boat that could assist her in sneaking on to Liberty Island, where the DoD lab is located. Now, Olivia shows up at the boat, which belongs to Bubbs’ brother. It turns out Bubbs’ brother only just taught him the basics of boating. This forces Olivia to make a rather disturbing realization. Somebody had to teach Toomy, a blue collar guy, how to do all the very technical work to harvest the pituitary gland hormones, just like somebody had to teach Bubbles how to use the boat. The most logical suspect is the Reverend.

Olivia makes a frantic phone call to Broyles, who is pretty freaked out because he stupidly mentioned to the Reverend that his son could ID the voice(s) of the Candyman. To make matters worse, his wife hasn’t been picking up her phone. Olivia leaves poor Bubbles to watch the boat while she rushes off to help Broyles one last time. Olivia and Broyles arrive not a moment too soon. The Reverend has already knocked out Mrs. Broyles and has begun to terrorize Christopher when Broyles shoots him dead without hesitating. The Broyles family and Olivia all wind up at the hospital (Christopher and Mrs. Broyles are fine aside from a few bumps and bruises), and Olivia comes across Max’s mom. She tells Olivia that Max wants to see her, and Olivia happily obliges. Max asks Olivia what the FBI is. When Olivia rescued Max, she told him not to worry because she was with the FBI. I knew that was a slip-up at the time, and it looks like it’s about to bite Olivia, because Broyles is listening to this whole conversation. He calls out Olivia on the fact that in this universe, the FBI hasn’t existed for quite a while. He’s not going to do anything about it, though, presumably because he’s grateful for what Olivia has done. He says he’s just going to go home.

Olivia does eventually rejoin Bubbles on the boat, and he takes her over to Liberty Island. Olivia tells him to just follow the exact same bearings on the way out to avoid security patrols. I loved this because it felt like a little shout-out to the Island on “Lost,” another Bad Robot show. Olivia breaks into the lab because she wants to use it to jump back to our universe, and Walternate is alerted to the security breach. Olivia barely has time to give a few instructions to a very confused custodian in our universe’s Statue of Liberty gift shop before Walternate’s goons yank her bank out of the tank. It was enough time to make a difference, though. Peter’s curing up with Alt-livia for the night after watching “Casablanca” when he gets a call from the custodian saying that Olivia is trapped on the Other Side. I can’t wait to find out his reaction to that little gem.

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