Monday’s hourlong, which was originally an unaired Season 1 episode, kept in line with “Fringe’s” procedural template and even revisited some of last year’s storylines, but the decision to advertise what was an “old” episode as a new one didn’t help the cohesiveness of the serialized show.
The Case: A dying girl, Lisa Donovan, is taken off life support, and while the doctors prep her for her post-death organ donor procedure, she dramatically comes back to life, reciting a series of numbers (which end up being classified military information) and exercising her new fluency in the Russian language.
While Olivia and Peter investigate further into her “connection” with a missing soldier Andrew Rusk who had knowledge of those codes, Walter posits that Lisa may be channeling Rusk and that she may in fact be psychic after her sudden resurrection. Apparently, a person suffering a near-death experience has the ability to connect with those who have already passed on. Not as crazy as a six-feet worm coming out of your body without warning.
In the midst of their investigation, Olivia and Peter meet Lisa at a dark car lot after she frantically phones Olivia saying she has visions of Rusk there with his killer. While Peter stays with Lisa after she begins to feel pain, Charlie (but isn’t he dead?) and Olivia find Rusk’s body in a car trunk.
Later, Walter puts two and two together. After all, he is the smart one. When Rusk died around 5-6 a.m., which was about the same time Lisa “died” and came back to life, Walter hypothesizes that Rusk’s death prompted Lisa’s subsequent rebirth. But of course, everything in the “Fringe” world is interwoven! Lisa’s desperate mom pleads with Walter to have Rusk’s memories taken out of her. The only way to do such a thing? Conduct an exorcism Walter-style and a heavy dosage of drugs.
Rusk, in Lisa’s body, recounts what happened leading up to his death (and to who his killer is) — and if the awkward “man” voice isn’t enough to disturb, then I don’t know what is. Charlie calls Olivia about a man who checked into a hospital with an injured left arm, a clue Rusk gave that leads Olivia and company to capturing his killer. To complicate matters, Olivia and Charlie find out a wrinkle into Rusk’s plans before he died. Rusk’s killer, a fellow navy man, was hired by Rusk’s wife to terminate him and of course, Rusk finds out. Lisa, believed to be back in original form after the exorcism, turns out to be Rusk still in control of her body. She, or rather Rusk, ventures all the way to his house with one goal in mind: “Kill my wife.”
Peter gets to the Rusks’ house first with Olivia and Charlie minutes away, and boldly tries to connect with Lisa/Rusk but it’s good ol’ Charlie who saves the day. But, just when you think Rusk is dead and gone, he comes back in the form of a young man who just suffered a car wreck in the middle of Times Square. And it begins all over again!
Conclusion: A heavy procedural episode that was better left unseen. It didn’t add anything to the “Fringe” world and confused more people than it should have. Had it aired as intended in Season 1, the timeline wouldn’t feel as choppy as it does by episode’s end. With that said, it had its moments and even some enjoyable one-liners, mostly by Walter and Peter. Let’s also hope Astrid has more to do in Thursday’s episode, which will continue the Season 2 arc.
Back to the Future: While the episode wasn’t heavy on mythology, some of Season 1’s storylines surfaced, one of which was Peter and Olivia’s relationship. In a scene between Lisa and Peter, she asked if Olivia was his girlfriend. If one remembers correctly, that potential arc, however brief it was, did span a few episodes during the latter part of Season 1.
And of course the unique reincarnation of Charlie, who we all know fell victim to the shapeshifter, in his “good cop” role. If this episode revealed anything about Charlie, it was how much his dynamic with Olivia worked and how much he is missed.
Continuity is a huge factor with a show like “Fringe,” which begs the question: Is “Unearthed” technically part of Season 2 or is it considered a special stand-alone episode? Should this have never aired? What are your thoughts on Charlie’s “return” from the grave (or pit of fire)?