Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fringe 4.21: "Brave New World (Part 1)"

“Don’t confuse a winning move with a winning game.”
-William Bell

The penultimate episode of the penultimate season of “Fringe” wasn’t one of my very favorite episodes, but it was intriguing. I’ll give it that much. We got to see more of Leonard Nimoy as William Bell, which was a lot of fun. I’m glad Nimoy agreed to do a couple more episodes of “Fringe.” It was like seeing an old friend, especially since I’ve been on a bit of a “Star Trek” in general kick since we’re in those doldrums between the end of the regular season and the beginning of interesting summer shows like “The Newsroom,” “Leverage,” “Warehouse 13” and “Alphas.” There was also a fun, albeit short (thus far, at least) guest appearance from Rebecca Mader (“Lost”). In fact, Mader’s appearance was short enough that I figure she must play a part in “Part 2” of this episode. Why would they get a recognizable (in the geek community, at least) actor if they weren’t going to really use her? Anyway, while this episode had its flaws, it definitely left me wanting to see what’s going to happen next.

The episode opens with (not unsurprisingly) the gross happening of the week. We’re at the “Cline Center,” which looks like a convention center of some sort. I’m thinking it’s supposed to be like Prudential Center and its accompanying convention center is the real life Boston. Anyway, as people walk out of the center, they start sort of smoking around their face, and, as you do when such things happen, end up collapsing to the ground, dead. One woman who hasn’t started smoking yet realizes that people seem to die when they move. Everyone stands perfectly still, and the deaths temporarily stop. While all this death is happening, Peter and Olivia are looking at real estate ads. Presumably they’re looking for a house together. Peter smiles an adorable smile when Olivia mentions wanting a house with room for a nursery, but the happy baby thoughts are interrupted when both their phones start ringing about the gross happening of the week.

The team starts investigating the scene, and we get stupidly obvious product placement for Sprint and Peter examines and a smart phone and then explains to Walter how the late owner of the phone was able to use it to pay for his coffee. He claims “that’s how people pay for things now,” although I’ve never paid for anything with my smart phone. Anyway, Walter runs into Mader’s character, named Jessica, as he’s investigating. She agrees to let him take a blood sample in the hopes of finding a cure. Astrid confirms there’s definitely something strange in her blood. Then another FBI agent finds a device under an escalator that played a part in the incident. It is a device that distributes nanites. When people who were infected with the nanites moved too much, it caused the nanites to overload. After she hears this news, Jessica offers to be transported (very carefully) back to the lab so Walter can continue his investigation of the nanites.

At the lab, in what is probably meant as an attempt to deepen Jessica’s character, we see Jessica make a rather desperate phone call to her ex, begging him to pick up their daughter from school. She starts getting stressed, and that stress causes her to seriously overheat. It looks like Walter and Peter won’t be able to make the nanite antidote in time. Olivia ends up using her Cortexaphan superpowers to slow down Jessica’s molecules. This makes Jessica cool back down. Jessica stays alive long enough for Walter and Peter to finish their antidote, and she is cured. After she’s had a little time to recover, Olivia drops Jessica off at a police car near what I think was meant to be Old North Church. Presumably the police officer is going to give Jessica a ride home, and Jessica gives Olivia her contact info before leaving. Which I guess almost guarantees she’ll be back in the next episode.

Meanwhile, the FBI had been looking into who placed the nanites in the first place, and some security footage shows that the answer to that question is David Robert Jones. There seems to be more to the story, though. Walter is examining the nanites, and he says that only one person he knows would design nanites in this very particular way. We soon learn just who that someone is. Jones enters an office, and he has a conversation with none other than William Bell. They have a bit of an Evil Conversation of Evil using chess metaphors. Bell assures Jones that even if this particular mission didn’t succeed, they’re still in good position to win the overall war. In order to win, however, Bell says that “The Bishop must be sacrificed.” On its face, this seems to mean either Walter or Peter.

Olivia and Walter have a talk with Nina, and we discover that there’s a bit of a discrepancy over when exactly Bell died. Nina says he died on Christmas, but Walter insists it was New Year’s Day. Walter claims that Bell came to visit him on New Year’s Eve. Nina then reveals that Bell’s car accident in this timeline wasn’t actually an accident. He had lymphoma and couldn’t live with the pain anymore. The mystery over Bell’s alleged death leads the team, including Walter, to St. Claire’s, which naturally unnerves Walter quite a bit. Once he calms down a little, Peter and Olivia help him to obtain entry/exit logs from an administrator. There is no mention of Bell in the log. Walter, acting strangely again, sniffs and licks the paper from the log, then asks to take the log with him.

Later, we see Peter and Olivia cooking dinner, and Olivia accidentally cuts her finger while chopping vegetables. She tells Peter that she’s worried they are living on borrowed time. Meeting Jessica and experiencing how Jessica’s child almost became an orphan has made her start to do some thinking. Peter’s about to try to console her when there’s a sort of glowy light outside. Elsewhere in the city, Broyles is kind of shadily walking on a rooftop (which made me wonder if he’s evil) when he sees a column of light. Soon after the light appears, the building across the street from where he is located implodes. As Peter and Olivia drive towards the scene, Walter hypothesizes that Jones has a device that acts like a magnifying glass focusing the sun. The device is trained on Beacon Hill, which apparently has a big oil reserve underground. If the device runs for too long, it could ignite the oil, and all of Boston would be on fire. Then Walter figures out that the device functioning as a magnifying glass is actually two satellites. He is able to triangulate the location of the satellites, and Peter and Olivia soon arrive at the location of the satellites’ antenna. Peter sees the antenna and says that he and Olivia need to turn it off. This will happen by Peter climbing up one building and Olivia climbing up the other. Jones is watching them from a car, and he gets out of the car when he sees Peter and Olivia go into their respective buildings.

Back at the lab, Walter is doing an experiment involving lemon cake and Cortexaphan. He heses the lessons from this experiment to expose the fingerprints on the logbook page he got from St. Claire’s. The cut Walter made in the lemon cake also teaches an interesting lesson. The cake heals itself from the cut. Walter doesn’t seem to really care about this, though. He’s too distracted by the fact that he has found a smudge of almond oil on the log book paper. This is a big sign of Bell’s presence, so Walter wants to go to the seaport and talk to almost importers.

In Beacon Hill, Peter and Olivia succeed in turning off the satellite death ray, but as soon as that’s done, Jones attacks Peter. To make things even more complicated, rent-a-cops arrive on Olivia’s roof and make her drop her gun (she was trying to get a good shot at Jones). With no other options left, she starts using her Cortexaphan-enhanced mind. She is somehow able to control Peter’s movements to enable him to win the fight. As he dies, Jones says he must have been mistaken. He must be the Bishop who needed to be sacrificed, not one of the actual Bishops (unless Jones is actually a secret Bishop…I guess we can’t rule that one out).

Walter and Astrid arrive at an old import/export company Walter says Bell used to use to obtain his favorite almonds. They rather stupidly barge into the place, and they’re confronted by a rather menacing security dude. He tells them that the location is no longer home to an import/export company. Walter and Astrid start to leave, but then they hear a noise that makes them want to investigate further. Don’t they watch horror movies? You never, ever go investigate the strange sound without lots and lots of back-up. While they’re snooping, they find what appears to be Jones’ version of Noah’s Ark. There are lots of animals crated up, presumably to populate the new universe. Guards discover Walter and Astrid, and the guards start shooting. Walter and Astrid try to run at first, but Astrid is shot and falls to the ground. Then, much to our (sort-of surprise), William Bell appears to survey the damage.

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