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Fringe: Night of Desirable Objects

Walter: “We’re all mutants. What’s remarkable is how many of us appear to be normal.”

Bucolic Lansdale, Pennsylvania has experienced a rash of disappearances lately. Peter discovers the case in a routine trawl of the FBI database, and hopes it might shed light on Olivia’s late arrival on the scene of her car accident last week. Walter, meanwhile, hopes that frogs are the answer. Because aren’t they, always?

Peter really took the lead this week. He reported to Broyles, and was tasked with keeping an eye on Olivia. He masterminded the exhumation, and even Sheriff Golightly seemed to acknowledge his authority. He figured out some major plot twists. But he’s also stuck with figuring out what to do with Olivia’s possible instability: the look on his face after Olivia shot at him was angry more than scared. He may be a reluctant leader, but he’s quite good at it, and it shows his continuing investment in the work the Fringe team is doing.

A few scenes were handled in an interesting way. Olivia’s discovery of Mr. Hughes’s body was completely without dialogue, and her flickering super-hearing was mostly handled with strange camera angles (and, in places, just shots of her ear, which is a cliché). Her physical weakness, her unwillingness to take charge, and even the ease with which she was captured by Scorpion/Mole-Rat Man, show her at her lowest ebb. I hope she comes back to full Olivia strength soon, as long as Peter gets to stay strong, too.

The gross-out of the week didn’t really do it for me, but I understand that they have to prolong Olivia’s discovery of the truth so it doesn’t seem like they’re selling it short. I’m also wondering, though, if we’re really in the “real world” with the past two episodes. Olivia is weakened, and Peter is strong (and open to being emotional with his father). Walter is back from wherever he went with the Observer (whom I didn’t see this week), Broyles is getting it on with Nina Sharp…it’s like a low-key bizarre world. This theory is probably ruined by Pseudo-Charlie’s note, which called Leonard Nimoy World ‘The Other Side.’ I guess things are just changing.

Changes, by the way, is our Theme of the Week. Changes as betrayals, as Nina Sharp said, and as mutations, as Walter did.

I felt really bad for Mr. Hughes: his son’s gravestone had just one date on it, and that date was his son’s entire life. The realization that his son had lived on as an underground monster who eats people couldn’t have been easy. There’s a Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novel with a very similar plot: Still Life with Crows. Which, come to think of it, perfectly describes the crow on the scarecrow that lured the utility man victim in.

The Good:

• Walter: “We are all products of our gene pool. Someone must have peed in yours.”

• Walter: “Science is patience.”
“It’s also slimy.”

The Bad:

• “Night of Desirable Objects” was the final album by the band Snakefinger (thank you, Google). It also has something to do with…night fishing?

• Scorpion babies? I have spider fear.

I Don’t Understand (as Mr. Hughes said):

• How does the guy with the typewriter shop support himself? The bodysnatchers don’t appear to be paying him, and there’s not a huge market for old-but-not-antique typewriters these days. Maybe he repairs vacuum cleaners in his spare time—you don’t see many vacuum cleaner repairmen these days. More’s the pity.

• Boston and Pennsylvania are awfully far apart. Were they flying back and forth?

• Peter digging through the dirt with his bare hands when he knew there was a possible paralytic agent at work.

I’m having a hard time rating this episode, as I’m excited by the mythology possibilities, but underwhelmed by the stand-alone elements. They’re doing really interesting things with the characters, but nothing is really jelling yet (and I haven’t even mentioned Agent Jessup and Sam Weiss). I think the next two or three episodes will be good, and that I’ll look back on this arc happily while forgetting the Case of the Week elements.

Two and a half out of four Non-disappearing Frogs.

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

5 comments:

  1. I was wondering if anyone else made that connection about 'borrowed' plot points from Lincoln/Child.

    Remember S1E2 - A monster was killing for pituitary glands? That was straight out of another Lincoln/Child book called "Relic".

    I think it's a little much to be consequence. Jeff Pinkner seems to be involved with both of those episodes, among others.

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  2. Great review, Josie. You pretty much summed up how I felt about this episode. I liked a lot of the character development going on but the main mystery plot was ripped from about a dozen different X-Files episodes.

    I like the idea of Olivia taking a wrong turn though the windshield and ended up in the wrong universe. Would make for a good mind frak later on and an effective way to retcon the Charlie situation.

    Also love Nina Sharpe’s idea of therapy; bowling. The Dude would approve.

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  3. I was also intriegued by Peter's memory of his father being too busy to go fishing with him - who I suspect was really his father-from-another-universe and not Walter?

    What a lovely name for a fishing lure!

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  4. The derivative monster plot was gagworthy, and I kept thinking (as you said, Josie) that Boston and Lansdale were way too far apart for all that back and forthing. The best part of it was Peter taking charge. And his face when Olivia almost shot him.

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  5. I agree that the monster-of-the-week was very, very X-Files. But I still found myself getting fairly tense throughout. Especially after Olivia almost blew off Peter's head. That really set me on edge for the rest of the episode.

    I also think that having a general sense of where the larger mythology is headed is making these early episodes much more gripping for me to watch. It gives me a certain peace of mind and, for the most part, let's me enjoy the ride a lot more. Especially all the little character reactions and moments along the way.

    This week my favorite little moment was Walter asking if he could join Peter's fishing trip. Such a nice father-son beat.

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