Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fringe 4.13: "A Better Human Being"

“I'm afraid because I've made this mistake before. I betrayed the Olivia that I love. But what I'm really afraid of is that when I look into your eyes, I know it's you.”

I’ll just be straight with you. I didn’t really like “A Better Human Being.” The creepy/strange/gross happening of the week was pretty much second fiddle to Peter and Olivia drama and crazy conspiracy mythology stuff. Normally I love me some Peter and Olivia romance, but as long as the title sequence is still amber, this feels wrong. As Peter himself basically says in this episode, we’ve been down this road before. I could maybe forgive him for getting together with one wrong Olivia, but two? If Peter ever does get back to Blue Olivia, I’d think this would be absolutely unforgivable. What is also unforgivable is that by this point in the season, it looks like we will be spending an entire season without two of the show’s main characters: Original Recipe Walter and Olivia. This plotline (or at least the aspect of it that involves the Amber universe) should have wrapped up after just a few episodes, like the Red and Blue Olivia switch arc in season 3. The continuation of this insult to the fans is tainting my love for the show overall. That being said, I guess I’d better get the recap part of these proceedings over with.

We pick up in this episode pretty soon after we left off with the last one. Peter and Olivia just kissed, and now things are all kinds of awkward between them. Olivia thinks it’s residual effects from being in Westfield, and she wants Peter to leave so she can get herself back together. As soon as he does leave, she has a strange sort of flash to her Blue universe life. She sees it play out before her kind of like a grainy movie. Meanwhile, our introduction to the case of the week begins with a guy in a mental institution named Sean. He has a psychic connection with a home invasion and murder that three guys are committing in a completely different town. His handlers at the institution see how agitated he is becoming, and they are quick to restrain and sedate him.

A guy seeing a murder happen in another town is strange Fringe Division territory for sure, so Olivia, Lincoln, and Walter are on the case. They start by talking to Sean, who has a diagnosis of Schizophrenia. He says he hears voice talking, but never directly to him. This leads Walter to believe that the Schizophrenia diagnosis is incorrect. He asks Sean if he’d be willing to go off his meds temporarily so he can hear the voices again and relay more information to the team. Sean agrees, and Olivia has a heck of a time explaining the situation to Sean’s nurse. As she works and walks through the institution, she keeps seeing the sort-of grainy images of Peter following her. I think it was supposed to be a recreation of when Olivia and Peter went to get Walter out of St. Claire’s back in the series pilot. After work, Olivia shows up at Peter’s house. She starts telling him all the things she remembers about Blue Olivia’s life, including how they got together after the events in “6B.” Peter is more than a little freaked out about this. I guess there’s part of him that hoping his Olivia might actually be back, but another part of him realizes that this means something is very wrong with Amber Olivia.

Peter brings Olivia to the lab, and Walter starts running some tests. She can recall Blue Olivia’s memories of events clearly (she tells the whole story of fetching Walter from St. Claire’s for instance), but her own, Amber Olivia memories are hazy. Walter hypothesizes that this is because Olivia is very empathetic. He thinks she has latched on to the fact that Peter desperately wants his Olivia back, and she’s trying to give him what he wants. Lincoln interrupts this conversation with DNA test results from a bloody towel Sean told them would be at the crime scene. Walter can see that the killer and Sean are half-brothers, and he suspects the other men who partook in the home invasion were half-brothers too. They have an unusual spur on one of their chromosomes, and Walter thinks all of this could explain the telepathy. Olivia and Lincoln head out to talk to Sean’s mother, and Walter decides to have a serious chat with Peter. Walter blames Peter for what is happening to Olivia. He thinks Peter is projecting memories of his Olivia onto Amber Olivia, and he thinks it’s a horribly wrong thing to do.

Olivia and Lincoln have a very productive chat with Sean’s mom. They ask if it’s possible he could have any half-siblings, and she says that it definitely is. She got pregnant via IVF, and his dad was a sperm donor. The doctor who performed the procedure was Dr. Frank, and he was known for his unusually good pregnancy results. She tells Lincoln and Olivia that the murder victim was a journalist who was trying to do a story on IVF. She has medical files from the procedure, so she’s going to provide those to the team. Elsewhere at an assisted living facility, an older man who used to be a doctor (Dr. Frank, obviously) watches a television news story about the death of the journalist and looks kind of sad about it. Meanwhile, at the mental institution, Astrid and Sean are eating a meal when Sean starts to hear the voices again. This time, however, there are too many of them speaking at once for him to understand what they’re saying.

Back at the lab, Walter is making himself a cup of tea (with a Bunsen burner, of course), and pouring honey into the tea gives him an idea about the case. He interrupts Peter and Olivia having a bit of a moment (of which he clearly disapproves) to share his newest theory. He thinks the brothers are like bees, using some sort of non-verbal communication with each other. Bees use pheromones to communicate, but Walter thinks the brothers could be using one of many different methods. Olivia gets a call that Dr. Frank has been found at his assisted living facility, so she has to go talk to him. Peter tags along as Walter looks on disapprovingly. Dr. Frank tells Peter and Olivia that this wasn’t the first murder related to his work. An author he hired to write about his work was killed as well. It turns out he wasn’t just a fertility doctor- Dr. Frank experimented on embryos, too. He tried to reintroduce traits from other species, and he did this for 200 embryos total. And, to make it even more skeevy, he was the sperm donor. Dr. Frank tells Olivia and Peter where to find his files.

At the lab, Walter prints out some test results about Olivia, and he gets very upset. He tells Lincoln that he needs to see Nina right away. In typical Fringe fashion, they are able to travel from Boston to New York faster than the speed of light. Walter’s upset because he has discovered that Olivia has been dosed with Cortexaphan recently and often, and in the big confrontation with Nina, Lincoln is rather badass. It was kind of nice to see Blue Lincoln stand up for himself a bit. Nina agrees to take Walter and Lincoln to the vault where the Cortexaphan samples Walter and William Bell had left over are being stored.

Meanwhile, Peter and Olivia are at the storage facility where Dr. Frank’s files are being kept. Olivia is really frustrated with Peter for not treating her like Blue Olivia. Peter’s opinion of Olivia starts to change a bit when Olivia starts talking about how the storage unit door from the original case in the pilot episode was rigged with a particular type of explosive. This is something Peter never knew before, so it can’t be Peter projecting his memories that is causing Olivia’s transformation. This moment is interrupted, though, because Sean tells Astrid that the killers are after Olivia next. Astrid warns Peter and Olivia just in time, and they are able to fight back and take out some of the killers. Two of the other bee guys go to the assisted living facility, however, and they suffocate Dr. Frank. Boston PD officers find him dead, sitting in his chair.

After everything is over, Sean is very agitated because he can’t hear the voices anymore. I guess Dr. Frank was the link that allowed all his kids to talk to each other. Astrid gives Sean a really sweet pep talk, though, all about how now Sean can hear himself think, and he has great thoughts. Elsewhere, Olivia and Peter stop at a gas station and talk about how the case wrapped up. Then the conversation turns to their relationship. Olivia says she knows what they would usually do next in the Blue Universe (go to one of their houses), but it’s still all awkward because she knows she isn’t actually Blue Olivia. Peter (rightfully) says he’s scared because he has betrayed Olivia before, but when he looks in Olivia’s eyes, he knows it’s his Olivia. They briefly make out, but then Olivia says she has to pee and runs off. It was abrupt and rather odd.

Walter, Lincoln, and Nina go to the vault where the Cortexaphan is stored. The vials all seem to be in place, but then Walter tastes one (who does he think he is, the Tenth Doctor?) and announces that the Cortexaphan has been replaced with another chemical. At the gas station, Peter goes looking for Olivia, and he can’t find her. We soon find out that she’s been abducted. She’s tied up in a cell of some sort, and she seems really out of it. The big shocker, though, is that Nina is tied up in that room too. So the question now is whether or not the Nina who was with Walter and Lincoln was the real Nina. All these multiple universes are getting to be too much for my brain!

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