Fringe

2008, TV Show

Fringe Episode: "Snakehead"

Season 2, Episode 9
Episode Synopsis: When a Chinese cargo ship runs aground, an investigation reveals it was carrying human freight that served as hosts for a squid-like parasite, but time becomes an issue as the case unfolds with increasingly sinister implications.
Original Air Date: Dec 3, 2009
Guest Cast Tzi Ma: Ming Che Ingrid Torrance: Elizabeth Jarvis Jack Yang
Full Episode
click to playclick to play
Season 2, Episode 9
Subscription | Netflix
Length: 43:25
Aired: 12/3/2009
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Prime and VUDU
play more info

Fringe Episode Recap: "Snakehead" Season 2, Episode 9

"Did you eat?"

"Yeah"

"Well, that's unfortunate."

Fringe has never shied away from the viscera and gore that the sci-fi genre so often demands, but "Snakehead" was an especially stomach-churning addition to the series. The team investigates a case involving large parasitic worms that are growing inside groups of Chinese nationals, and while this was a great freak-of-the-week, it was Walter's search for independence that gave the episode its beating heart.

A few weeks ago, I was frustrated with the show's crop of self-contained episodes this season. I stated that a freak-of-the-week episode needs to have a truly bizarre monster or it had to reveal or deepen the characters to be truly successful. Thankfully, this episode went two for two. It opened with an Asian man desperately searching for Ping-On Street, only there's no help to be found there; the man we'd come to know as Min Che eagerly extracts a hideous, tentacle-covered worm as it crawled from the victim's nose and mouth. And just when I thought that wasn't bad enough, not 5 minutes later the Fringe Division shows the parasitic worm in all its glory as they take it out of a beached dead woman's severed mouth. Now I am quite the gore-hound; I am an avid horror aficionado and love all the blood and guts the genre entails, but even I squealed and turned from the screen. It was not a proud moment — something about these creatures just gave me the willies.

Olivia and Peter talk to Mai Lin, the one surviving Chinese national from a tanker crash that killed all others, and discover that the nationals were given a "sea-sickness" medicine that contained the worms. They also discover another tanker full of infected Chinese isn't far behind. Walter posits that the nationals were being used as incubators for the parasitic worms until they could be extracted. Peter, Olivia and Broyles trace the money paying for the tankers to the triads (after all in popular fiction, if it's Asian and evil, it's triad) and to a waspy family in the suburbs. The waspy mom feigns innocence but we know better, and soon we discover that the worms' lymph gland is a powerful immune booster and that the waspy son has an immune disorder. The team eventually traces it back to Ming Che and Peter is placed in mortal danger right before Olivia bursts in to save the day.

None of this was as weakly written as I described it, and the large parasitic worms were enough to send chills down my spine throughout the episode, but it was Walter's storyline that gave the episode its real power. Walter has always been the wondrous, child-like figure that so much of the show's emotional weight relies on. But it's always been a little hard to accept that he was ever in control of himself enough to be married and have a child; we simply have not seen that Walter in the show, outside of a glimpse here and there. However, this episode hinted that there was once an independent, self-reliant version of Walter and the Walter we know now wants to go back to being that person. He insists on being able to go to Chinatown himself to investigate the shops that sell the hookworm that the giant worm was engineered from. John Noble had many stellar moments this episode but my favorite was our first glimpse of him walking around Chinatown; he looked excited and joyful, not necessarily at his surroundings but at being able to pretend to be normal, if only for a little while.

His mood is slightly spoiled when he notices Astrid spying on him (and doing a pretty crappy job of it for being an FBI agent) but he accepts her company as long as it's as a friend and not a supervisor. Astrid eventually loses Walter and gets beat up when she encounters some triad members stealing their giant worms. This led to a season-best scene where Walter sees Astrid's wounds and apologizes for his part he played in her receiving them. The change in Astrid from Walter's exasperated assistant to his loving friend (and assistant) was really cemented in this episode, and it was pretty rewarding stuff. She's been making the transition all season long but this episode really gave their relationship a new dimension (and gave something for Jasika Nicole to play besides second fiddle to everyone else).

At the episode's end, Walter wakes Peter and lets him know that he implanted a tracking device in his neck because even though he wants to be independent, "there are still times when I will get lost."

What do you think readers? This episode may not have been big on plot revelations but it sure was emotionally satisfying, wasn't it? Or am I just big marshmallow? Post your thoughts below.

Random Thought

- The one strike against it is Olivia is once again pushed toward the background. I'd like to see a stand-alone that revealed more about her because the big mythology-heavy episodes tend to focus on her without revealing a whole lot of what's going on inside.

- The scene where Walter was trying to call Peter was also beautifully done; heartbreaking stuff.

- Peter and Olivia did get in some nice banter, from the quote that starts this article to Peter's Howard Hughes comparison.

- Next week is the big winter finale and it looks like it'll be revelations galore. Can't wait.

show less

"Did you eat?"

"Yeah"

"Well, that's unfortunate."

Fringe has never shied away from the viscera and gore that the sci-fi genre so often demands, but "Snakehead" was an especially stomach-churning addition to the series. The team investigates a case involving large parasitic worms that are growing inside groups of Chinese nationals, and while this was a great freak-of-the-week, it was Walter's search for independence that gave the episode its beating heart.

read more

Related Links

Other Links:
Fringe
Tags:
TV Recaps, FOX

Are You Watching?

Loading ...
Premiered: September 09, 2008, on FOX
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (5,420 ratings)
Add Your Rating: 1 stars2 stars3 stars4 stars5 stars
Premise: A drama with sci-fi elements following the FBI probe of mysterious deaths aboard an airplane that landed at Boston's Logan Airport. But the deaths aboard Flight 627 are only the beginning of the story. Executive producers include J.J. Abrams ('Lost') and his 'Mission: Impossible III' co-screenwriters, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

Cast

Shop

Fringe: The Complete Series
Buy Fringe: The Complete Series from Amazon.com
From Warner Home Video (DVD)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $109.96 (as of 04/18/14 10:10 PM EST - more info)
Fringe: Season 3
Buy Fringe: Season 3 from Amazon.com
From Warner Home Video (DVD)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $19.07 (as of 04/18/14 10:10 PM EST - more info)

More Products

TV GUIDE Users' Most Popular