Television Tourniquet: We Get Freaky with 'Fringe': Episode 11!



Episode 11

Written By: J.J. Abrams, Jeff Pinkner, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci
Directed By: Frederick E.O. Toye
Original Airdate: January 20, 2009

In This Episode…

Many, many moons (aka: two months) ago, Olivia was abducted.  The first episode of the new year opens with Olivia bound to a medical gurney.  A guy wearing a creepy old man mask flips her over and prepares to anally probe her – er, I mean, give her a spinal tap.  Tap done, lackeys left to clean up, and Olivia escapes – but not before grabbing a fistful of sample vials.


She buries the vials a few miles away while calling for backup.  When her backup arrives, instead of helping out, they tranquilize her.  Olivia wakes up in the hospital, handcuffed to the bed.  Agent Harris has taken her into custody.  He is from Internal Affairs, and has been "sent" to investigate the Fringe division and Olivia's performance.  It's mostly a revenge exercise – Olivia helped get Harris convicted of sexual assault, but the sentence was later overturned.  After a heated sparring match that serves as a recap, Harris releases Olivia from her cuffs.

Meanwhile,  an immunologist, Dr. Kimbrough, drops dead in the middle of a lecture.  An enormous – and very, very speedy – slug slimes its way out of the professor's mouth and runs amuck in the lecture hall.  Turns out that the professor had been tapped by the CDC for a top-secret project.  One other immunologist had also been tapped, so the FBI picks him up to question him and keep him in protective custody.  That doesn't really help any, for before they get any info from him, this guy suffers the same fate as his colleague. 

Anyone remember Agent Mitchell Loeb? Yeah, I didn't either, but he was apparently a major story point in "In Which We Meet Mr. Jones."  Anyway, Olivia notices that he has the same white splotch on his black loafers as her captor in the creepy mask.  She heads out to the Loeb residence, but his wife Samantha interrupts Olivia as she tries to break in.  Samantha is wary – she is obviously aware of her husband's double-agentiness – but invites Olivia in for tea.  Olivia snoops around while Sam calls Mitchell for help (his advice: "kill her").  A catfight ensues, and Olivia shoots Sam dead between the eyes.

Olivia and her crew arrest Mitchell and bring him in for questioning.  Olivia breaks him, sort of. "Do you not know who the two sides are?" Mitchell implores.  "We saved you!  You have no idea what you've done."

Dig It or Bury It?

Jury is still out for me.  On the one hand, I hate all these really convoluted, conspiracy-theory-driven, more-questions-than-answers-given episodes.  But on the other hand, that giant spiky slug was pretty friggin' bad-ass.  Plus this episode had a full-on catfight.  But Walter and Peter were hardly in this episode at all – and their witty-weirdness is desperately needed to temper Olivia's super-serious demeanor.  On a scale of one to ten, I am giving this episode a "meh."


Walter did not get enough screen time in this episode.  He does open the show by dosing a caterpillar with LSD.  And he is totally trying to play matchmaker between Peter and Olivia.  But in that weird, half-assed Walter way.  When Olivia leaves the lab, as Peter watches her go, Walter says, "She's beautiful isn't she?"  Peter, half guiltily, half-casually, asks "Who?"  As if Peter should have known, Walter answers "The slug."  Later on, Walter makes a point of telling Olivia – several times – how worried they were when she was missing.  Especially Peter.  It's really quite endearing.


I'm certain The X-Files had a few monster-mutant-slugs in their time.  Remember the Fluke Man, that half-man, half-flukeworm monster?  Ok, that is virtually nothing like this thing.

But seriously, the whole conspiracy theory structure of this episode was very X-Filesy.  And that sexual tension is giving me hardcore Mulder/Scully flashbacks.


Love this one.  So that giant slug thing?  Walter says it's a single-cell organism: a supersized cold virus.  Yup, the common cold is ravaging people from the inside out.  But the delivery system is wicked: the "eggs" are a dehydrated yellow powder – that was what was in the sample vials Olivia buried.  The catalyst that "hatches" those eggs is stomach acid.  So someone just dissolves some of the powdered eggs into some water, makes the victim drink it, and waits for the fun to begin.  I totally buy it – it's basically sea monkeys done right. 


I've given up trying to second guess where this conspiracy crap is going.  I'm guessing the "two sides" Loeb spoke about are not the Crips and the Bloods.

Next week, there's a computer virus that's liquefying brains.  This could go one of two ways.  It could be pretty awesome, with deliciously gooey brains oozing out all over the place.  Or it could be preachy anti-technology propaganda: "Get off the computer already or your brains will turn to mush!  Come back to the safe alternative – traditional television."  I'm gonna put my money on the former.