Two nights back, while working on my ‘Heroes’ review, I switched the framework for the blog. Tonight, I am getting rid of the ‘Fringe’ format. Hopefully, this won’t be very jarring. I want to break away from being formulaic, especially since I am writing about a very formulaic show.
Episode 7, “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones” showed the Fringe crew being divided, at least in location. Olivia spent half of the episode in Germany, while Walter, Peter and (don’t forget) Astrid stayed back in the Harvard area. What was the cause of the global trot? Olivia needed to interogate the titular character, David Robert Jones, a biotechnology expert who also happens to traffic genetic weapons.
The episode begins with Broyles having a discussion with his friend, Agent Loeb, going over the details of a botched raid, when all of a sudden Loeb falls to the floor and it seems like he is having a heart attack. This would make sense, since coiled around his heart is an organism that looks like a metalic version of the plant from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. After the nasty critter is discovered, the Fringe team is called in.
Walter figures out that the creature is a man made parasite.Soon, the race is on to find the person who might have infected Loeb, and with luck, Olivia and co. can learn the means to save Loeb’s life. One thing the Fringe crew has as an advantage are the notes that Loeb left hidden away, after his recent trip abroad. Loeb’s wife Samantha gives, the notes over to Broyles, and after a quick lookover, Astrid is able to discern that the notes are all part of a cypher, or coded message. The key to the coded message are the letters ZFT. ZFT just so happens to be the codename for the David Jones File.
We learn all of this before the halfway point of the show. Solving this case should be easy, right? Go interrogate Jones, and get the cure for Loeb. Well, it turns out that Jones is being held prisoner in Frankfurt, Germany. Olivia volunteers to travel to Germany. We later learn why she is so eager to take the trip. It turns out an ex-beau of hers named Lucas lives there. Lucas is Olivia’s key to getting into the prison and interrogating Jones.
While this is going on, Broyles discovers that there maybe a mole in the department, Joseph Smith, and Smith just might be working with Jones. I wonder why this episode wasn’t entitled ‘Smith and Jones’ like the season 3 premiere of ‘Doctor Who’ (sorry, I let my inner dork out). Broyles sends a team to bring Smith in. Smith tries to escape, but is shot in the head.
In a nice twist of irony, one of Jones’ demands, if he decides to speak with Olivia, is that he must make contact with Smith first. Jones is completely unaware that Smith has a bullet in his brain at this point. Walter, as always, has a solution. He is going to connect Peter with Smith’s dead body, and use and electromagnetic current to transfer information from Smith’s brain into Peter’s. While this experiment is going down, Peter mentions that Walter has done something simmilar to him in the past. He would shock Peter with a car battery, in the hopes of making his mind more active. It is little disturbing bits like that, taken from Walter’s past, that make this show interesting to watch.
Olivia tells Jones that she will be the intermediary between him and Smith. Jones then asks “ Where does the gentleman live?” After a few tense moments of Peter getting shocked by his father, he is able to get the answer from Smith’s mind- “Little Hill”. Olivia gives Jones the answer. He then gives Oivia the formula to kill the parasite.
The show ends on what we should think of as a high note. The parasite is safely removed from Agent Loeb, who is last seen, by the Fringe crew, embracing his wife. After everyone leaves, we see a different side to Broyles’ friend. It turns out he set the whole nightmarish scenario up, just so he could learn the answer to the “Where does the gentleman live?” question.
Does the twist at the end make up for a rather formulaic episode? Not really. If anything, it makes the mythology of the show a little more confusing. It is obvious that Loeb is connected to the Pattern in some way, but it is such a vague reveal that we don’t know who he might actually be working for. The overarching plotline for this show really lacks any sort of suspense, since we don’t even know who the true bad guys are. Yes, from the horrific things that happen in the begining of each episode, we know that those who are connected to the Pattern are evil, but with the exception of the death of Olivia’s partner, the Pattern really hasn’t affected any of the main characters. When we know the show is going to follow a “twisted experiment of the week” formula, we can never really become concerned with the Pattern’s victims, because, at this point, if you remove the innocent victims, you remove the driving force of the show.
How about letting us know a little more about the big picture? I know how much the guys on this site, that watch Fringe, get grossed out when they see Olivia's face. I could just imagine the squirming during the scene when she almost slept with Lucas. How about instead of scenes showcasing Olivia's past, we learn more about the ultimate goals of the Pattern? Here's hoping they don't wait until the season finale to give us some explanations.