Fringe Episode 413
"A Better Human Being"
Story By: Robert Chiappetta & Glen Whitman
Teleplay By: Monica Owusu-Breen & Alison Schapker
Directed By: Joe Chappelle
Original Airdate: 17 February 2012
In This Episode...
A kid named Shawn is in a mental hospital, being treated for schizophrenia. Shawn hears voices, and these voices belong to a trio of kids who are in the process of murdering a reporter in New York. The doctors just assume this is a side effect of his disease and sedate him. But when the details of the murder surface the next morning, Fringe division is called in to figure out why Shawn knows every detail of the murder. It is Walter who first discovers that Shawn is not schizophrenic - the voices don't talk to him, they just kind of exist in his head. Shawn agrees to go off his meds in the hopes of hearing the murderers again and being able to help track them down.
While they are waiting for Shawn to detox, he does remember something: after the journalist was attacked, one of the killers was injured and stopped at a train station restroom to clean up. This tip led the FBI to a blood sample. The kid is not in the system, but there is an anomaly with his DNA, a mutation with one of his chromosomes that is identical to Shawn's DNA. Though Shawn is an only child, he has the same father as the perp. Olivia visits Shawn's mother, and she reveals that they had Shawn using in vitro fertilization. So it is likely that he has half-siblings out there.
Walter theorizes - and the doctor later confirms this - that Dr. Frank was manipulating the DNA that he implanted into these women. When Olivia finds him in a retirement home, Dr. Frank explains that he was trying to engineer a better human being. The primal instincts that evolved out of humans, he was trying to put back in. Two of these traits were a kind of telekinetic communication, and enhanced protectiveness. Every child created for this experiment came from Frank's seed. The journalist who was killed had been hired by Frank to compile his research into a memoir of sorts. The same fate befell the first writer he hired for the job a few years ago. These siblings (all boys, apparently) had a "hive mind" and were determined to eliminate anyone they perceived as a threat, including Frank - and including Olivia.
They know Olivia is on to them, so when she and Peter go to Frank's storage unit for his research, they discover everything destroyed, and some of the guys waiting for them. A couple drones try to hit them with a car; they end up crashing. Another one jumps out of the shadows with a pipe; Peter stops him easily. Meanwhile, a couple of the boys have gone to see Frank - and suffocated him. This seems to have neutralized the hive mind and all is quiet in Shawn's head - something he has never experienced.
But let's be honest: all this science stuff is merely a backdrop for the real story: Olivia and Peter. After her impulsive kiss last week, Peter is troubled. Liv is embarrassed but says she did it because it just felt normal. Throughout the episode, she has flashbacks or visions of "our" timeline, and tells Peter she remembers everything. Peter is deeply disturbed by this, and Walter puts her through a number of tests. He cannot find anything wrong with her physically or neurologically, but supposes that she is highly empathetic, and that Peter wants her to be his Olivia so desperately, he is projecting. She assures him it is weird for her too - she keeps looking at him, expecting to see him look at her like he knows her better than anyone else. He doesn't, or is holding that back. Things start to change when Olivia references an early case with a fact that Peter did not know until this very moment, proving that he wasn't projecting on to her.
The case is over, and the two stop at a gas station. Olivia feels weird - normally after a case, they would be deciding whose house to stay at. She is nervous; he is still scared. Peter has betrayed his Olivia once before, and doesn't want to do that again. He gives in and admits that he is really afraid because when he looks in her eyes, he knows she is "his" Olivia. They kiss passionately, and both look extremely happy - which is never a good sign.
When Walter had been running tests on Olivia, he tested a lock of her hair and discovered she had recently been dosed with Cortexiphan. He has Lincoln set up a meet with Nina Sharp, as Massive Dynamic has the only supply of Cortexiphan, and Walter wants to make sure it hasn't been used or tampered with. Nina begrudgingly takes them to see the Cortexiphan vials, all carefully numbered by Walter, and all accounted for. Not convinced, Walter takes a swig of one of the vials - and finds it filled with iodine.
Back to that gas station. Olivia interrupts her reunion with Peter because she "really has to pee." She goes inside, and after a few minutes, Peter gets worried and goes in looking for her. She is not in the restroom, and the clerk hasn't seen her.
Somehow, Olivia has ended up in a small, dark cell, tied to a chair and looking battered. Nina is sitting across from her in the same state.
Dig It or Bury It?
Okay, I've got to admit: I am so glad to finally see Peter and Olivia reconnect. This whole season has been working towards that, and done a damn good job of it. But it is so satisfying to see them finally get back together. If you have read any of my other TV recaps (or damn near any other article I have written here) you will know that I am about the least sentimental person on the planet. But I'll be damned if I don't just love Peter and Olivia as a couple.
What was up with that last scene? It was so sudden; painfully so. I am sure that there is a very good reason (one involving the Observers, I assume) but it was still just an awkward transition.
In general, I was really intrigued by the idea of a "hive mind," but I really felt that it wasn't explored very well in this episode. Fringe generally has the sciencey Fringe event as the "A" story, and gives it 85% of the screen time, with all the interpersonal relationships filling out the rest. But tonight, I felt like it was a good 60/40 split, favoring the Peter/Olivia plot.
Walter was shockingly on-track tonight, but when he drank down that vial of "Cortexiphan" he was immediately able to identify the solution as potassium iodine mixed with red dye #4.
Next week, we finally, finally, finally learn who or what The Observers are! I am dying for the next episode...