Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fringe 3.09: "Marionette"

“You’re a good man, Peter. She knows that.”

As I expected, “Marionette” was an extremely painful episode of “Fringe.” It had to happen, though, after everything else that has gone down this half-season. It was painful in the sense that it left Olivia utterly devastated, and it was also kind of painful in the sense that we’re back to the classic really gross and disturbing Fringe Division investigations. There was a real sense of the show settling back in now that everybody is back where they were belong, and that brought a feeling of comfort to this episode, despite the especially disturbing case and Olivia’s pain. It feels like the show has somewhat returned to its old formula, but with more depth thanks to what these characters have just been through.

The episode opens with two men bumping into each other as they get off a train. One is touched by the umbrella of the other. The man with the umbrella follows the first man home. In his front yard, the first man suddenly experiences shortness of breath and collapses. Next thing we know, the first man is strapped down in a plastic enshrouded torture chamber all “Dexter”-style, and the man with the umbrella is sticking a nasty looking needle in his neck. My reaction? Ewww! I absolutely hate needles. EMTs arrive at the house, at first not able to figure out why they were called. Then they see the plastic drape set-up. And they find the first guy has had his heart cut out. If that wasn’t strange enough, he manages to open his eyes and beg for help despite having no working cardiovascular system.

In Boston, Olivia is in a meeting with Broyles. She wants to be allowed to go back to work. Broyles is a bit skeptical, considering what Olivia has just been through. And he’s probably right. Olivia mentions something about a friend on the Other Side, and Broyles correctly infers she’s talking about his own doppelganger. He gets Olivia to tell him a bit about the Colonel, and he’s very surprised to learn that the Colonel was still married. Olivia assures Broyles that his doppelganger was a good man. Similarly, Walter is assuring Peter that he’s a good man. They’ve been told they have a case, and as they are heading from their house to the crime scene, Walter starts nagging Peter that he needs to tell Olivia the truth about what happened with Alt-livia. Peter assures Walter that he intends to do just that, even though it will probably fundamentally alter their relationship.

When they get to the crime scene, Walter is overly enthusiastic about the case, as he generally is. Actually, he hasn’t really gone to that place this season, and I didn’t realize I missed it until now. I wonder if on a subconscious level, he knew Olivia was still missing and therefore couldn’t take joy in the usual things…like an especially gross case. Now that she’s back, Walter is back to his usual goofy self. While looking at the victim’s body, which amazingly still has not succumbed to rigor mortis, Walter notices scar tissue where the victim’s heart had been. The victim has had heart surgery before. A little research turns up the fact that the victim also had a ton of medicines usually prescribed to transplant patients, and those medicines were prescribed by a Dr. Ross.

Olivia and Peter pay a visit to Dr. Ross, and while they’re waiting in the hospital cafeteria for her to be available, Peter decides to unload the truth on Olivia. They had just been eating and chatting, and Olivia was grinning ear to ear, going on about how she’s happy to be back and with Peter again. She also says that being back is a little disconcerting because of how Alt-livia has been through all her stuff. Before Olivia can go on too long about how happy she is, Peter gets the truth out. It’s heart breaking to watch Anna Torv play that moment. Olivia’s expression just falls instantly. It doesn’t help that Peter doesn’t get the confession out all that well. He starts talking about differences between Olivia and Alt-livia, stupidly mentioning that Alt-livia was “much quicker with a smile.” Olivia tries to brush it off, telling Peter it’s okay, and she understands how he could have been fooled by someone trained to impersonate her, but below the surface, it’s obvious Olivia is struggling with this news. They do eventually speak to Dr. Ross, who tells them that the victim had a heart transplant.

Back at the lab, Walter finds a serum in the victim’s blood. It’s some sort of preservative, and it reminds him on an experiment he and William Bell did long ago. They were trying to figure out how to talk to people after they were dead, naturally. While they’re working, Peter brings up how well Olivia seemed to take the news about Alt-livia. Walter rather astutely (and hilariously- oh how I missed Walter in the Other Side episodes) wonders if Walternate replaced Olivia with a robot before sending her back over. Olivia is not at all a robot, though. As she’s in her apartment looking through her closet, it all starts to hit her. She has a complete breakdown, pulling all the clothes out of the closet and all the sheets off the bed. Things go from bad to worse when she opens the washer to throw the sheets in and finds Peter’s clothes.

Meanwhile, Broyles has discovered more organ theft victims. All of the victims received organs from the same donor. The body was also sent to an eye bank, and the Fringe team thinks that whoever received her corneas could be the next target. And boy howdy are they right. We see the man with the umbrella start the surgery that will remove the new victim’s eyes. Not long after the sadistic surgery, the Fringe team pulls up to the restaurant where the donor used to work. Clearly, they’re way too late. The plastic sheets have already been set up and used. While they’re investigating, the Fringe folks hear a noise. They split up to try and find the source of the noise, and Olivia runs into the poor guy who was just operated on and is now eyeless. For the second time in this episode, my reaction could be summed up as “Ewww!” There really isn’t a more eloquent way to put it.

Walter thinks he’s on a verge of a breakthrough in the investigation, especially when Astird finally brings him the files on that project he and Bell had been working on. Walter wants the organ donor’s body to confirm his theory. Olivia and Peter in just the right place to make this happen. They are talking to the donor’s mom, who says that all her daughter, Amanda, cared about was ballet, and that she didn’t have any friends. Amanda was also very depressed, and her death was due to suicide. While the mom is revealing this very painful information, Olivia gets a phone call from Astrid to ask for the body of the donor. There’s just one small hitch. Peter brings back Amanda’s ashes to the lab- not an intact body. Walter tastes the ashes to confirm they aren’t human remains. The tasting kind of grossed me out. Who does Walter think he is? The Tenth Doctor?

Anyway, in what is probably the most disturbing scene of this episode (yes, even more disturbing than the surgeries), we see just what exactly has been done with the Amanda’s body. The thief has just finished reattaching her eyes, and we can see that she’s hooked up to an elaborate system of pulleys and ropes. She’s also dressed in a ballet costume. He turns on some music and begins to move the ropes. Amanda begins a halting dance, guided by the ropes. She has truly become a human puppet, and it’s rather horrifying to watch.

Amanda had been in a variety of support groups for her depression, and Peter and Olivia decide to look among the group members for possible suspects. This really just results in a whole lot of awkwardness, mostly due to Olivia now knowing Peter’s secret. They argue about instinct and their different approaches to solving cases. Peter eventually makes a breakthrough. He finds a guy whose background leads Peter to believe that he could potentially reanimate the dead. It turns out Peter is right. The thief reanimates Amanda just as the FBI arrives. He is troubled by something, and he tries to leave just as agents are swarming the house.

Olivia finds the thief and immediately tackles him. He tells her that although he brought Amanda’s body back to life, it’s not really her. He looked into her eyes, and he just didn’t see the person he loved anymore. This hits more than a little close to home for Olivia, and she has yet another breakdown. She finally ends up telling Peter that she doesn’t want to be with him anymore. It’s not okay that, even though he’s supposed to love her, he didn’t recognize Alt-livia was an imposter when he looked in her eyes. I say good for Olivia. I hope they’ll eventually be able to heal from this and find their way back to each other, but for now, Peter needs to understand his mistake.

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