The promo monkeys over at FOX promised us “the most awesome amazing OMG reveal EVER” in last week’s preview. (I’m paraphrasing, of course. Sorta.) Did the show deliver? Not really. The supposedly shocking ending wasn’t all that shocking to the trained viewer. Then again, it’s hard to be shocked about someone you’ve never met. After the mythological majesty of last week’s episode, this week of “Fringe” felt like a missed opportunity.
I perked up at first mention of the ZFT this week, glad to once again to be delving into the group at the heart of the events on the show. “Weird thing of the week” eps are fine and dandy, but they’re best served with a heaping help of continuity. And as the show set up scientist Nicholas Boone with the same beats reserved for Mr. Jones, I was even more excited to see how things played out. Putting Boone in the room with Walter Bishop pushed things further towards the edge for me. And yet, the show left us dangling a few feet from said edge, content to wait until another week to completely send us over.
After a series of gruesome murders (like “Fringe” does any other kind), Dunham and Co. determine a connection to a “Lubov Pharmaceuticals” in Brighton, MA. Like most “pharmaceutical” establishments in Brighton, this one was less than on the up and up. But instead of being run by a few dropouts with a penchant for chemistry and the Chemical Brothers, this shop was run by a former ZFT scientist punished for trying to leave the sect. Punished how? By having his wife infected with the very concoction he was working on for them.
This serum turns his wife Valerie into…well, a vampire, essentially. Walter might not believe in vampires, but Mrs. Boone likes to expose her fangs and drink deep. However, instead of drinking blood, she drinks spinal fluid to counteract the contagion’s effect upon her. Seems the ZFT are interested in bioweapon cocktails delivered via extinct strains of syphilis. But then again, who isn’t?
Boone agrees to give Dunham answers on ZFT in exchange for her help in bringing Valerie back alive. While she and Peter scour the city in search of a pattern of her attacks, Nicholas and Walter share the laboratory in search of a cure for the contagion. Nicholas clearly looks at Walter as a god-like figure, not only for his scientific life but also as potential crafter of the ZFT manifesto itself. But the two never deal directly with this connection, instead opting to opine about the intersection of the thirst for knowledge and morality. Here’s a hint: these men have probably passed the latter long ago, but both hold onto a glimmer of hope that redemption isn’t too far past them just yet.
In fact, everything Boone does is towards said redemption. He doesn’t double-cross the agents in service of a higher purpose; instead, he intentionally sacrifices himself to allow Valerie to ultimately live. Before giving an overdose of spinal fluid for the antidote, he also films a confessional in which he names…wait for it…William Bell as the primary funding source for the ZFT. Maybe I’m generally more excited by asking questions than getting answers, but doesn’t that answer sound…obvious? Bell’s whereabouts and motivations have always been in question since the pilot episode, and while Walter’s past is morally murky at best, he’s not our Big Bad. The Big Bad is Bell, plain and simple.
Other odds and ends from tonight’s episode…
- If there’s been a funnier exchange in the show’s history than the one between Peter Bishop and the girl in The Cavern, I haven’t heard it. “You’re hot. But I’m looking for someone with syphilis.” “Okaaaaaaay.” FTW.
- “How far would you go for someone you love?” Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? And something tells me Walter and the Observer (seen early on in the club) once made a bargain for Peter’s life centered around this very question.
- For the love of God, “Fringe,” connect Rachel and Ella to the main storyline in some meaningful way. I’ll do the dishes for like, a week, if you do this for me.
- “Two Singles, Together” sounds like just about the worst dating site ever. OK, maybe “One Schizophrenic, Alone” is worse.
All in all a decent episode; a let down after last week’s episode, but miles better than LizardWaspBat from a few weeks ago. With William Bell finally on Dunham’s radar, I’m hoping this is just a minor dip before a stellar run into the season finale.
Is there truly redemption for Walter? Do you think Rachel ultimately serves a purpose when all is said and done? And how long before someone close to Walter recognizes his connection to the ZFT?
Ryan uses less amusing pickup lines than Peter over at Boob Tube Dude.