In the much-hyped
Fringe debut, we met Agent Olivia Dunham (
Anna Torv), who, along with mad scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (
John Noble) and his genius son Peter (
Joshua Jackson), desperately try to uncover the origins of a biological agent that killed an entire jetliner full of passengers from Hamburg, and endangers the life of a government investigator. Who is behind this top secret compound? Is it the mysterious Steig? Is it the corporation Massive Dynamic and its leaders William Bell and Nina Sharp? Read this week's recap and weigh in with your theories.
The Teaser: We open on a large plane hurling through an electrical storm. We hear passengers speaking in German and English. Then, the camera focuses on a man who is sweating profusely, leaning forward in his seat as if he's either terrified of the turbulence or sick... or is it both? He opens a syringe frantically and injects himself with something. He unbuckles his seat belt and heads for the front of the plane. A flight attendant springs from her seat to stop the man, speaking in German, which roughly translates to "Sir, sit the hell down!" The man turns around, covered in melting flesh and boils and then - one of the most disgusting things seen on TV: He vomits on her, some of it going straight into her mouth. Holy nastiness, Batman! Suddenly, we notice that the entire flight is filled with terrified passengers, and their flesh is melting from their faces and bodies. One of the crew comes out of the cockpit, and in a terrifying moment, his lower jaw and face melt from his head. You may need a cocktail or perhaps a Xanax after that.
After the opening credits, we meet an attractive couple post-coitus in a motel room. It's Agent Olivia Dunham and Agent John Scott, who work together in the FBI. Olivia gets a call about the plane, and leaves for the airport. Olivia arrives at Logan International Airport, where the mystery melting-flesh plane has landed. She meets Agent Charlie Francis, who updates her on the sitch: A flight out of Hamburg carrying 147 passengers landed itself using auto-pilot after an incident on board left no signs of life.
A man in a van pulls up at the security booth asking about the hubbub. His head pops into the light: WTF! It's Barf Guy! How did he get out there? Mystery No. 2 has arrived (No. 1 being what the heck happened on the plane, of course).
Special Agent in Charge Phillip Broyles (played by the awesome
Lance Reddick from
The Wire and
Lost) arrives and taps Charlie and John (but not Olivia) to suit up and go in. Olivia follows Broyles and tells him she's the Interoffice Liaison, and he basically doesn't give a crap. OK.... Clearly, they have history, since he tells her, "I know exactly who you are." He tells her if she wants in, she should go suit up. Wonder what changed his mind so quickly?
Now suited up, the team enters the dark plane to some classic J.J. Abrams
Alias-type foreboding music. The interior is pitch-black and then flashlights illuminate the smoky air and translucent corpses littering the seats.
Back at the Federal Building in Boston, Charlie gets a call saying a guy at a storage facility saw two suspicious Middle Eastern men hand off a suitcase to a white man. Broyles tells Olivia, who he calls "Liaison," to go check it out.
Olivia and John break into a bunch of storage units until they find one filled with creepy monkeys and experimental-looking stuff. As they call in backup, another storage unit opens, and holy crap, it's Barf Guy again! He takes off running and John follows with Olivia far behind. Barf Guy (B.G. for short) runs for his life, then stops and presses a cell number just as Olivia screams "John!" The units explode, knocking Olivia several feet back. It looks like John didn't survive.
John did survive, but was exposed to a synthetic chemical compound that isn't contagious. They have no idea what it is. When Olivia sees him, she's shocked to find that he looks like a burn victim with see-through skin.
Olivia researches tissue damage, hardening, etc. She keeps coming across articles written by Dr. Walter Bishop. The problem: He's been institutionalized for 17 years and no one has access to him except family. Olivia gets Broyles to sign off on finding his son... in Iraq.
Olivia takes off to find Peter Bishop, a genius with an IQ of 190. Clearly, he has daddy issues and doesn't want to help. But he reluctantly agrees to return to the United States with her after she threatens to reveal his location to people looking for him. On the plane, Olivia admits they need Walter because he used to work for a classified U.S. Army project called Kelvin Genetics. They gave him the resources to work on Fringe science: Mind control, teleportation, astral projection, invisibility, genetic mutation and reanimation.
At St. Claire's mental hospital, we hear tortured screams as Olivia and Peter walk down the dilapidated hallway. Peter stays behind, obviously not ready for a reunion just yet, and Olivia meets Walter. It's very
Silence of the Lambs, and I almost wish he'd said, "I smelled you coming, Olivia." But, alas, Walter only says, "I knew someone would come eventually."
Walter babbles about John's condition, and says he must see him in person. The only way that will happen is if Peter signs him out as his legal guardian. Olivia threatens Peter again and he reluctantly goes along with it. He warns her to be careful what she wishes for.
Peter signs out the old man, and in the car ride home Olivia asks who else had access to Walter's research... he says just "Belly" or William Bell. Peter freaks out because Bell is the head of a multi-billion dollar corporation called Massive Dynamic.
Olivia speaks to Charlie about setting up some time to question Bell about sharing a lab with Walter once upon a time. Then Olivia, Peter and Walter examine John's gross body. Walter takes a tissue sample and wants to take it to Harvard to study... but his lab is gone now, and Walter freaks out. So, Olivia asks Broyles to get the lab back. (When it's reconstructed it includes a cow, apparently there because of its genetic similarity to humans.)
Walter tells the gang that back in Vietnam, the Department of Defense was developing a biological weapon and that it's possible that whatever was on the plane was derived from that research. John was only exposed to raw lab ingredients in the blast. There may be hope for him if they can detail for Walter all the components that were in the storage facility. Olivia says that's impossible, and Walter says that in that case, John has 24 hours to live. Unless... (insert twisting mustache) they do a procedure called synaptic brain transfer. Which means John's brain could be hooked up to Olivia's brain (while John's still in a coma) so he can tell her what the suspect looks like. This should be interesting. Hilariously nonchalant, Walter tells Olivia that it could work if she had something drilled into the base of her skull, while naked in some liquid and heavily drugged. Sounds like good times! Olivia says, "Sign me up!" Peter thinks everyone belongs in the loony bin.
Time to go into the dunk tank. Olivia strips to her undies and Walter opens the rusty hatch to the vat o' liquid that Olivia will be immersed in. (At this point viewers are wondering if John is worth all the trouble and so is Peter.) Then, Walter drugs Olivia and lowers her into the Gatorade-colored water. He starts all the brain monitors and says, "Now, we wait."
The camera lingers on floating, peaceful Olivia until she twitches. We cut away to Olivia in some sort of dream place (in a halter dress, no less). John is there, and she asks him to remember the man's face at the storage unit. Suddenly, a surge of electricity moves Olivia, and we can see the B.G.'s face. She starts to convulse and they pull her out of the tank. She grabs Walter and insists that she saw John and the baddie's face.
Back at the Bureau, Olivia has created a CGI portrait of the suspect and tells everyone to send it out. But, another agent says they already have the man, and he was a passenger on the flight. His name is Morgan Steig, and he has a twin, Richard. His last employer... Massive Dynamic!
At the Massive Dynamic building, Olivia meets with Executive Director Nina Sharp (
Blair Brown). She tells Sharp that Steig may have used information from their company to kill his own brother and unleash the self-eradicating toxin on the flight. Sharp gets Steig's records and also reveals and I mean,
reveals how she owes the company her life. She whips off her very real-looking arm skin like a glove to reveal a complex and impressive metallic and plastic artificial arm. She lost hers to cancer, caught by one of Bell's scanning machines. Creepy! She asks Olivia if Steig is part of "the pattern," but Olivia is lost. Apparently, Nina assumed she had "clearance," but then realizes Olivia is in over her head. Sharp warns her to be careful about going down this uncharted and extremely advanced scientific road.
Using the info from Sharp, the FBI finds Steig, but he escapes and a very long chase scene ensues, where limbs should be shattered and bodies should be badly bruised, but everyone is OK enough to nail Steig at the end.
In an interrogation room, Olivia gives Steig a laundry list of the charges pending against him, but offers him a deal if he can give a detailed account of the synthetic chemicals in the storage facility. Peter tries a more violent approach. It works because suddenly, Walter, Peter and Olivia are back in the lab. Peter and Walter figure out that whatever antidote they make can be diluted and transfused back into his body using his FBI backup blood supply (how convenient).
After giving Olivia the cold shoulder all episode, Broyles finally gives her some props. He thinks Olivia has the chops to take on paranormal investigations... cases that cannot be explained. She balks and wants no part of it. She just wants her old job and partner back. He says that this "pattern" that Sharp spoke of could be evidence of a greater force at work around the world. (Dare I utter the word, "conspiracy?")
Later, Olivia finds Steig at the hospital to ask him why he killed his brother and who he was selling his work to... but Steig says he can prove that he wasn't selling anything. That, in fact, someone from Olivia's office was in on it (and he has the tape to prove it). Uh-oh.
Olivia finds Steig's recorder and plays the tape, and it's John's voice we hear. Back at the hospital, John is well enough to visit Steig - and kill him!
Olivia realizes what's going on too late. She (conveniently) spots John trying to make a getaway out of the hospital and chases after him. He tries to run her off the road, and ends up flipping his car several times. His dying words are, "Ask yourself why Broyles sent you to the storage facility. Why you?" She asks who he's working for, but he dies before he can answer. After bawling her eyes out, Olivia and Charlie talk about how the job isn't what it used to be. Charlie says they can't protect people if corporations have higher clearance than the FBI. Olivia just wants to go back to the lab. Once there, she asks - well, more like insists - that Peter and Walter stay in Boston. She and Peter exchange enigmatic glances, which means, of course, he's staying.
In what looks like a morgue, John's body is wheeled down a hall, but is stopped by Nina Sharp! She asks how long he's been dead. The orderly says five hours, and she says, "Question him." Whaaa? His body is then wheeled into a super-secret room, and we fade to black.
It's hard to make a good pilot. I think the best one I've ever seen was Abrams'
Lost because I could barely breathe for the whole hour.
Fringe is slower, darker in some ways, and tackling some pretty heady stuff. A lot was wrapped up too quickly. I'm not quite sure I buy the characters' motivations (except for Olivia's), and I hope they'll step away from conspiracies to focus on some really cool paranormal cases. I'm intrigued by the scary-arm lady, and the crazy doctor... not so interested in the cow.
What did you think of the premiere? -
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In the much-hyped Fringe debut we met Agent Olivia Dunham Anna Torv who along with mad scientist Dr Walter Bishop John Noble and his genius son Peter Joshua Jackson desperately try to uncover the origins of a biological agent that killed an entire jetliner full of passengers from Hamburg and endangers the life of a government investigator Who is behind this top secret compound Is it the mysterious Steig Is it the corporation Massive Dynamic and its leaders William Bell and Nina Sharp Read this weeks recap and weigh in with your theoriesThe Teaser We open on a large plane hurling through an electrical storm We hear passengers speaking in German and English Then the camera focuses on a man who is sweating profusely leaning forward in his seat as if hes either terrified of the turbulence or sick or is it both He opens a syringe frantically and injects himself with something He unbuckles his seat belt and heads for the front of the plane A flight attendant