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Fringe: The Same Old Story

“These events appear to be scientific in nature, and suggest a larger strategy—a coordinated effort. It’s been referred to as The Pattern.”

As Olivia struggles with John Scott’s betrayal, she’s faced with a case from the past: a serial killer who removes the pituitary gland from his victims while they’re paralyzed but conscious. Can our plucky heroine handle re-visiting the past, now that she sees it through the prism of betrayal and lies?

Meanwhile, Peter is stuck with a similar problem: the revelation that Walter’s own research lead to these killings has got to be tough to grapple with. Peter, however, doesn’t seem to be a “let’s talk it out” kind of guy, although he does do a great job of getting Olivia to open up. And Walter seems concerned about some sort of past history with Peter, as well as his own complicity in the pituitary murders.

The second victim, too, had a story from the past to tell (well, her eyeball did). I think the Theme of the Week isn’t that life is just the same old story, but rather that we have Second Chances. Olivia is trying to fix what she didn’t know was broken with John Scott, and Peter has the chance to atone for his own and his father’s past sins. On the other hand, the German doctor misplayed his second chance, and encouraged his son’s killing.

Olivia felt rather paralyzed, when faced with John Scott’s betrayal, but she managed to shake it off and find solace in action. She connected with the victims, even dreaming that she was one of them when waiting for Nina Sharp. It’s tempting to say there’s a mini-theme of the harm that men do women, and the extreme sadness between betrayals that center around sex, pregnancy, and love, but I think that might be overreaching.

Nina Sharp acted as the voice of irony here, noting that many of Olivia’s male colleagues would most likely assume she was sleeping with her partner. I wonder if this was a nod to the show being created by three men, but centering on a sort-of complex female character.

The episode was nicely bookended with two character statements: Broyles defended Olivia to Nina Sharp (at the beginning), and Nina Sharp defended Broyles to Olivia near the end.

The Good:

• The helicopter shot of whatever is standing in for the Boston Federal Building was neatly reminiscent of The Dark Knight.

• Walter: “You underestimate me, which I suppose I deserve.” The line isn’t hilarious, but the low-key delivery was.

• Peter (looking at severed hand in a jar): “Friend of yours?”
Walter: “I certainly hope not.”

• Peter’s discomfort when Walter started to give him the sex ed. talk.

The Bad:

• Walter on the “ass-warming” function on modern car seats.

• Tantalizing non-hints about Peter’s medical history…what can it all mean?

I Consider Myself a Fairly Intelligent Guy, But I’m Not Following You Here:

• How gross was the baby, that the doctors has such a strong reaction—and why was it so gross as an infant, but so person-shaped as an adult?

• The dancer was oddly unconcerned about being taken to an abandoned warehouse.

• People-growing.

• The idea that investigators could see the last image a victim saw has had moderate scientific currency since the 1700s, at least. It has never been true.

• Private citizens having top-secret clearance.

It isn’t a bad episode, but it’s not great. The stakes don’t feel particularly high, because the show is obviously a procedural at this point.

Two out of four severed hands.

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


  1. i just started watching fringe and enjoy your reviews. I wanted to respond to the doc's revulsion at the birth of the baby. I think the female doc started screaming, not because baby was gross, but because it was *growing* as she watched.

  2. I liked it better than the premiere for the little moments it had. Walter sadly asking Peter what happened to his imagination when he's playing skeptic. Walter's "I thought you had a way with women.." when he made Olivia storm off with his empty assurances. lol.

    There's a scene in the last third of the ep which begins with Olivia sitting on a park bench watching some dad with his kid and an RC toy boat AND SHE LOOKED SO YOUNG AND VULNERABLE, I'm being weird but I couldn't stop staring at that first shot of her lol. Then Peter arrives and she looks like a normal woman again.


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