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Fringe: Unleashed

“Monsters aren’t real, right?”

Sometimes, watching Fringe, I go momentarily crazy and start seeing allusions and connections everywhere. In this episode, it started off with Olivia reading the book to her niece, just like Willow reading Jack London in…some episode of Buffy (‘Beauty and the Beasts’?). Then it was onto every horror movie ever made with the security guard getting sucked back into the room, and every suspense film ever made with the upside-down shots of the car crash—the girl yelled, “We have to go back!” and you know where that’s from. Even the first-person camera angle was reminiscent of the first Halloween (and Doom, if you play shoot ‘em up video games). And animal liberation? Yeah. Walter’s reference to a hell-beast woman in Cleveland sealed the deal on my insanity, and I vowed to quit seeing allusions in every shadowy corner. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Stephen King said recently in an Entertainment Weekly column that “Villains are always scarier in the shadows.” That’s why the Halloween-style shots are so effective, and why cheesy CGI tails dropping out of trees onto unwitting FBI agents…not so much. The Chekov Shotgun law, which translates from props to characters as well, also does something to decrease the mystery: of course Dr. Swift is tangentially involved—we don’t meet irrelevant people, even in these extended episodes with limited commercials. So the horror didn’t quite do it for me, the suspense wasn’t heart-stopping, and the mystery wasn’t mysterious.

But the magical text of infinite possibilities (ZFT) did pop up again, and it turns out that Walter’s nearly unfinished work has been finished and turned into non-cannibalistic hybridized animals that plant eggs through their stingers. (Nope, that didn’t remind me of anything.) Walter was in rare form before he realized his unwitting complicity in the potential loss of a co-star; in the second half of the episode, he seemed to have lost his pep.

The Walter-Peter interchanges were the most interesting part of this episode. As in ‘The No-Brainer,’ the nagging conflicts weren’t just for comic relief: there’s real tension there, between both Walter and Peter, and Olivia and Peter. The joke that Agent Francis’s wife told him really emphasized finding the joy in life, and I think that’s our Theme of the Week: Walter wants peace, quiet, and redemption; Olivia doesn’t know how to react to Peter finding some joy with her sister; and Peter must be wondering why he’s stuck knee-deep in sewage babysitting his father. The threat of joylessness is the real monster that keeps Olivia up at night. Or maybe she’s just worried about having to get back in the tank next week.

Rarae Aves, on this show at least:

• The undergrad: “Can I get you something? Orange juice? Candy?”
Olivia: “How ‘bout some pants?”

• Peter: “Walter, did you take something?”
Walter: “Psychedelics? Not since Thursday.”

• Olivia: “Walter, I need you to tell me what exactly you need to create a genetic hybrid. Like, specific items.”
Walter: “Some sodium bicarbonate and a house in the country.”

• Walter: “When I mentioned that the poison would kill me within the hour, did either of you happen to notice the time?”

The penultimate allusion: Dr. Swift’s son was named Jonathan.

And the ultimate: that dragon sewer creature was pure Buffy and the Mayor, wasn’t it? Then again, St. George’s Day is next week…

Three out of four Irish Babies (so tasty!).

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. After watching this episode, I will never make the mistake of eating while watching Fringe. GROSS.

  2. I wish I'd read Serena's comment first because I just watched this episode while eating dinner. At least we got to know agent Francis a bit better.


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