Welcome back to the Fringe Recap! This week’s episode, entitled ‘The Transformation’, moved back into what I would consider to be the normal Fringe domain. The very first image we see is a jet flying over the cotton batting of cumulus clouds, back lit from the setting sun. I am beginning to think that J.J. Abrams has something against the air travel industry as a whole. I guess it is a viable fear for most of us – to be completely out of control in an enclosed environment surrounded by people we don’t know. Entirely dependent on the skills of someone we have never even seen for our immediate survival, and all while cruising 50,000 feet in the air without anything more that a flatulence filled cushion to use as a flotation device. That assumes you survive hitting the water in the first place. Yeah, could be a tiny bit scary. Anyway, this is Fringe. You might as well fasten your seat belt and find your emergency exits now.
On the plane the movie is about to start and they are charging four dollars for the headsets! Now that is a disaster. Maybe we can lip-read our way through it and save the four bucks. Amongst the rest of the PDA toting, laptop wielding business class we find one gentleman journaling away in his business class journal. We can make out the words, ‘advance technology’, ‘avoid capture’and ‘seems dangerous’before he commences to bleed all over the paper. He takes his bloody nose to the flight attendants and in his best, ‘I am not a lunatic’voice tells them that they need to tranquilize him and lock him in the john or they are all doing to die. This is not a drill; I repeat this is not a drill. Mr. ‘Seems Dangerous’locks himself in the loo and proceeds to do the best imitation of An American Werewolf in London that I have ever seen! After a few minutes of fram-banging around in the bathroom, the flight attendants try to decide if their weirdo passenger has knocked himself out. All of the sudden, a really pissed off giant porcupine erupts from the tiny latrine! Ok, J.J. we get it. You really hate standing in those airport security lines don’t you?
The airplane comes to earth in Scarsdale, NY, barely missing a field full of kids and soccer moms. Fringe Division is called to investigate the crash because someone discovered the remains of the fried giant porcupine and decided it was out of the norm. Liv is at home in an entirely superfluous but cute scene when she gets the call about the crash. Emma is playing dress up and looks kind of like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show. Naturally, she has found Aunt Liv’s engagement ring and now Liv has to explain it to Rachel. ‘John gave it to me, but he is a lying sack of traitor, etc…’Anyway, Liv has to rush off to Scarsdale with Walter, Peter, et al, to bring Porcupine Man back to the lab. Charlie gives Liv a copy of the manifest and she recognizes one of the passengers from one of John’s memories still stored in her brain. His name is Marshall Bowman and she tells Charlie to find out what ever he can about Mr. Bowman. Charlie is suspicious about why Liv is so sure Bowman is the guy, but he keeps his questions to himself.
After getting the now mutated and fried Mr. Bowman back to the lab, Walter, Astrid and Peter begin an autopsy on him. Once again, it is Walter that brings out the best conversation in the whole episode: The Â½ Nipple Rule. Apparently, Mr. Bowman has grown extra nipples in his transformation. Walter tells us that most mammals have an even number of nipples and that their usual litters are equal to one half of the number of nipples. ‘In humans,’Walter, while improvising breast shapes on his chest says, ‘One is the norm and the maximum would be twins.’I am guess that the mother of the Octuplets born in California last week has never heard of the Â½ Nipple Rule! After five or six more uttering of ‘Nipples’, Peter says what I am thinking, ‘God, I hope I never have to hear him say the word nipple again.’During the autopsy, Walter finds a glass disk buried under the skin of Porcupine Man’s hand. It is similar to one found in a dead DEA Agent.
Back at the ranch, Liv identifies Daniel Hicks, one of Marshall Bowman’s known associates, also through one of John’s embedded memories. Liv tells Charlie that Hicks is the link. Charlie has decided that this is more than just Liv’s physic uterus at work and wants to know how Liv is getting her information. Liv tells him that John is sort of still living in her head. Charlie lets her slide. I guess liquid brains, giant cold viruses and fried porcupine men might make one a little more open to other crazy things. He goes to pick up Hicks.
Hicks is less than thrilled about sitting in FBI headquarters. Picking at his nails and looking rather smug, he only becomes intimidated when Liv shows him a picture of Marshall Bowman/ Porcupine Man in his full glory. I swear the picture looks like something out of a Tim Burton version of The Muppet Movie! All of the sudden, blood begins to pour out of his nose. Walter, who is watching through the two way mirror, knows that tissues are not going to be the answer and bursts into the room, calling for sedation. Peter goes to knock him out, but Olivia wont let him until Hicks gives her a name. A bloody mess of Hicks shouts, ‘Conrad!’
Walter and Peter take the unconscious Hicks back to the lab and strap him to the stretcher. Walter has Hicks in an induced coma to slow down his transformation and is working on an antidote. He is testing it on tissue samples and a watermelon. I am assuming that if the watermelon grows spikes and starts to bleed it is not a success. Olivia remembers the chips in the hands of Bowman and the DEA Agent and asks Walter to cut open Hicks’hand. Walter, who is now eating the watermelon, likes cutting. No Problem! Lo and behold, another disk appears.
Liv takes the chips to Broyles and asks about the chip they found on the DEA agent and sent to the NSA. Liv wants to dig up John Scott to find out if he has a chip as well. Broyles is forced to tell her that neither the chips nor John’s body are where she thinks they are. Enter Massive Dynamic and Nina Sharp.
Now, I have to confess that I love Nina Sharp. She has that whole ‘I know more than you and therefore am holier than you’look down to a science. Nina tells Liv that it was not her decision to hide from her what she is about to see and looks tentatively at Broyles. The glass slides open to reveal John Scott in a state of suspended death — which I am assuming is something like suspended animation, only you are well, dead. MD did apparently find a disk in his hand as well, but have not been able to get all the information off it. Although, they did find the name, ‘Conrad’who they think is a bio-chemist selling weapons on the black market. Liv calls Peter at the lab. Warm up the hot tub, it is time for another visit to John’s brain!
Olivia gets into the tank and is taken back, not to the place where John met Hicks, but to the cheap motel room where she and John would meet for ‘˜afternoon delight.’John and Memory Olivia come through the door and Real Olivia is watching them on the bed. Memory Olivia leaves to use the bathroom and John sees Real Olivia in the mirror. Even though Walter assures Liv that John can’t see her, he does. She grabs his gun from the bed and tells him to back off. Liv asks John about Conrad and tells him what she knows about Hicks and Bowman. John takes one too many steps toward her and she shoots him in the chest. I wonder if dying in your memories kills you when you are already dead. That sounds like a LOST question!
Peter wants to pull Liv out of the tank, but Walter tells him they have to reconnect with her first. Walter tries to talk to Liv, but John takes her to another of his memories. This is a memory of him trying to kill Conrad the evil bio-terrorist and failing. It is one of John’s greatest regrets. John tells Olivia that he, Hicks and Bowman were all Black Ops NSA agents trying to stop Conrad. He tells her to trust Hicks and then disappears. Peter pulls Liv out of the tank. The problem now is that she doesn’t trust John.
As Walter eats Chinese and yells for Peter to bring him another bag of Midazolam (which by the way is the generic name for Versed *insert smilie face here*), Astrid tells Liv that she is one of the best judges of character she has ever met. If Liv believed John when he was alive, why doesn’t she believe him now? Liv decides that Astrid is right even if Peter thinks she has lost it. So, waking up Hicks and giving him the antidote is the only answer.
Cut to a bug eyed, adrenaline filled Hicks, gasping for breath. According to Walter, there is nothing worse that adrenaline, except maybe lice, or a virus that turns you into a giant porcupine. Liv is going undercover to try act as a buyer for the virus with Daniel Hicks’help through the use of an implanted two way radio. She will give the go signal of ‘Christmas’to bring on the cavalry. Peter accompanies Olivia to the hotel, meeting seedy guys in seedy hotels is more in line with his area of expertise.
The seller and two thick necked guards enter the hotel. Hicks gives her information to use to gain their trust and they go up to the room. They scan Liv for metal, but find only her earrings. The money is exchanged and counted. A game of intelligence cat and mouse is played until the brief case with two blue vials and a single test tube packed inside appears. The test tube is an antidote. Apparently, the virus is deceptively complex to reverse. Uh oh.
The seller’s phone rings and it is Conrad. He wants to meet Liv and Peter so she holds off on the raid. Just then, Hicks begins to re-porcupine, screaming in Liv’s ear. He is no help anymore. Peter jumps to the rescue. He is an excellent liar! The FBI agents are still awaiting the signal when Conrad finally walks in. She gives the signal and the agents storm the room. Bye, bye Conrad!
Olivia returns to the lab and tells Walter that she wants to go back to talk to John one more time. Walter tells Liv that her brain waves are returning to normal — her brain is kicking out John’s memories. Walter tells her that if she can connect with John again, it may only be for seconds or minutes. She decides that mean she has no choice, but to do it immediately. Back in the hot tub she goes.
The final scene takes place on a dock overlooking a scenic ice filled lake. Olivia is standing alone when John appears. Liv tells John that they caught Conrad and that she is sorry she doubted him. John tells her that it is not her fault. He places the engagement ring on her finger. He tells her that he knows they can’t ever really be together, but that maybe he won’t know the difference. They kiss and he tells her he loves her. As he disappears, the scene cuts back to a serene looking Olivia in the tank, ‘I love you, too.’
What Works: I am very happy that Fringe ‘transformed’itself back more to what I expected to see with the return of John Scott and Massive Dynamic with its lean, mean leading lady, Nina Sharp. The interactions between Olivia and John are intense. Not only are the emotions between John Scott and Olivia Dunham exquisitely real — the actors, Anna Torv and Mark Valley were married in December of 2008, but the writers of the show actually found a way to continue to use his character and fade him out without violating the rules. The entire Dunham/Scott story line was wound back up into a neat package with an ending. Nice and tidy. And speaking of nice and tidy — there was nothing vaguely resembling vomit in this episode which is always a plus in my book!
What Doesn’t Work: I honestly can’t say I have found anything in this episode that was incongruent or out of place. The one thing that I can mention is that I am seriously considering driving cross country from now on!
Next week, join me for another trip to the Fringe with, ‘Ability’, the return of David Robert Jones and the ‘Oops! Lose your face, find a bomb game!’