Fringe S1E2: "All of this connects to the magical man-baby how?"

“The Same Old Story”

People seem to be giving up on this show quickly – at least, people I know. I found this episode entertaining, but did notice a drop in quality from the pilot. “The Same Old Story” was all over the place, lacking a specific focus and under-developing several main characters. The best part of the show, so far, is the fractured relationship between Walter and Peter. When Peter sang his dad to sleep at the end … oh my.

We open on a guy and a hooker lounging in bed. The guy is creepy and steals off to the bathroom with a set of surgical tools. Suddenly, the hooker starts screaming bloody murder as her stomach ripples grotesquely. Creepy Guy drives her to the hospital and abandons her. The doctors ask how long she’s been pregnant, she insists she isn’t, there is a huge ripping noise, and she dies. The doctors cut out the baby and look horrified. By the time our intrepid team shows up, the baby has aged into an old man and died.

Frankly, this episode did not go the way I anticipated, which is good as far as the surprise factor but I liked my way better. After John Scott’s betrayal, Olivia is conflicted. She doubts her intuition, and she doubts the outcome of every case she and John worked on together. She becomes obsessed with the idea that Creepy Guy is a serial killer that she and John hunted. Since the killer’s MO didn’t match the first scene, I figured Olivia was just wrestling with her own personal demons to the detriment of her work. Alas, it turns out that she is correct.

After less research than I would have liked, the team learns that an old colleague of Walter’s named Penrose had engineered a “son” by tinkering with human growth hormone. Government experiments in the seventies attempted to grow an army of young men that would rapidly age to 21 years and then stop. However, the “stopping” proved to be a problem. Creepy Guy has to use other people’s pituitary glands to keep himself young. In the end, they vanquish him simply by interrupting his attempts to extract a victim’s gland, and he ages and dies in front of Olivia. The whole thing was a little blah. Much more interesting were the small, suggestive moments throughout.

Peter is an interesting character. There have been several hints about his weird past, but seeing as he is basically supposed to be a regular guy (albeit a genius) I find it interesting (if somewhat unbelievable) that he can collect evidence at a crime scene, shoot a gun at another human being with no hesitation, and rig a makeshift defibrillator in less than a minute. In this episode Walter casually says to Olivia, “If you’ve read my file, then you know the truth about Peter’s medical history.” She looks blank, and Walter quickly backtracks. There is much buzz in the blogosphere that Peter was “engineered” much like Creepy Guy. Walter’s comment, combined with the throwaway line earlier in the episode when he says, “95% of babies are born with blue eyes. Yours were green,” lends some credence to that, though I have my doubts.

Walter was underused in this episode, which meant it was less humorous than the pilot, but there were some interesting bits I’m not ready to speculate on yet: Walter had no memory of them re-opening his Harvard lab, yet he remembered where he hid his car 17 years earlier. Penrose saying that Walter “knows things no one in power should know,” and Walter’s subsequent comment that “the pitfall of a scientist is differentiating between god’s domain and our own.” And JJ Abrams sure does love shows that revolve around father issues, so I’m curious to see how the Walter/Peter relationship will develop.

Also learned in this episode: Bionic Arm Woman (Nina) is connected with Broyles in what looks like some sort of board-member capacity. She offers Olivia a job at Massive Dynamic, which O. refuses. Broyles then tells Olivia that though Nina knows about the pattern, certain knowledge is classified beyond her level.

Finally, we come to the end. While Peter is singing Walter to sleep, there is a shutter-flash image of three bodies lying on what look like hospital beds. Unable to rewind and pause live TV, I don’t have much to go on here. More engineered human beings? A Walter flashback, or real-time? I’ll just have to wait and see. If you have any speculation, please leave my poor TiVo-less self a comment!

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