TV Recap: 'Fringe' Episode 415 - 'A Short Story About Love'


Fringe Episode 415

"A Short Story About Love"

Written By: Joel Wyman and Graham Roland

Directed By: Joel Wyman

Original Airdate: 23 March 2012

In This Episode...

This week's case involves love and death. A woman is murdered after returning home from her husband's funeral. He had been murdered too. He died of dehydration, literally - he was like a stick of beef jerky. This is the second couple to be killed in this manner, but what was odd was that each woman had a swab of her dead husband's DNA on her.

Walter discovers that it wasn't just DNA; it was a concentrated pheromone. It would seem that the perp was trying to make his own perfume, something that distilled pure love down to its chemical essence. Further analysis leads Walter to discover that the suspect is using a very rare malodorous extract called castorium in his perfumes, an extract that is almost never used in modern perfumeries. Only five companies still use castorium, and only one recently fired an employee named Anson Carr for stealing huge amount of castorium. The FBI raids his lab, and just miss him - but they find his most recent victim already dead. They go straight to the wife and wait with her, expecting Carr to show up for the second half of the kill. But Carr is a no-show, and after talking to the wife, Olivia figures out why: they were best friends, but try as she might, she couldn't love him. Olivia asks the wife if her husband could have been having an affair. He was, and the team heads to the mistress's house, where they arrest Carr as he is trying to suffocate the mistress. In the back of the police car, the only explanation Carr offers is that it is the "right of all human beings to experience true love."

This has special resonance with Olivia, as she is completely in love with Peter. Her memories of this life (for example, being raised by Nina) were slowly starting to fade. At first she didn't care, but without Peter, she wanted to try to regain her "normal" life. Peter, meanwhile, has decided to leave for New York, following Walter's advice that it wasn't fair to Olivia for Peter to project his feelings onto her. Walter has just gotten in some very high-tech equipment that can slow video down enough to actually see light particles, and sees something in the video from when the Observer blinked out of existence. Walter is hurt that Peter was going to leave without saying goodbye, but proud that he took his advice. Peter agrees to come back when Walter says he thinks the Observer did something to Peter's eye. Sure enough, Walter extracts a tiny black dot with writing on it from Peter's pupil. When enlarged, an address is written on it. Walter surmises that the Observer meant for this address to implant itself on Peter's psyche so that, eventually, he would be compelled to seek out the address. So Walter saved them considerable time.

While Peter is out looking for this address, Olivia finds out that Peter had nearly left town, and she decides that she wants Walter to try to restore her memories. But towards the end of the episode, Olivia changes her mind and decides that she would rather have the memories of a lost love than no love at all. She tells Nina that she is going to let this memory thing run its course, but if she forgets Nina, she begs her to try to rebuild a relationship.

Peter seeks out the address from his eye, and discovers a small studio apartment, frozen in time from the 1940s. Hats in the closet suggest this was the Observer's abode. A beeping noise sends Peter searching through the sparse space until he finds a hidden briefcase. Inside are some futuristic goodies, including a kind of GPS - the source of the beeps. Peter takes the briefcase and follows the GPS into the woods of Foxboro. When he comes to the right spot, a large metal egg-shape drills up from underground. Naturally, my first thought is that the Mole People made contact. Peter takes the egg home and alas, no Mole People. It is a beacon that summons forth September. The Observers hid him away in time, and he needed Peter to activate the beacon so he could find his way home. Now that Peter has helped September, he needs some help: he wants to go back to his own timeline. "Peter, you have been home this whole time." With no scientific explanation, September theorizes that, though Peter was erased from time, the people who loved him wouldn't let go, and vice versa. Hence his reappearance. Peter goes straight to Olivia. They see each other on the street and, without a word, rush to each other and embrace and spin and kiss in one of those stereotypical romantic moments that, in any other context, would have made me vomit. But here, it was sweet. Finally, a happy ending. And we have seven episodes left in this season.

Dig It or Bury It?

Normally, any other TV show dealing with the topic of soulmates and true love would have me bored, nauseated, and trying not to laugh. But that is the magic of Fringe. They can tackle sappy subject matter without ever once feeling sappy. And for once, I was pleased with a happy ending (plus I am tired of Peter thinking that this isn't his "timeline"). 

I do get the feeling that there was a lot missing in this episode. For example, why did Carr have significant burns over his entire face? Did it have anything to do with his firing? You don't just do a massive makeup appliance like that if there isn't a reason for it. For another, Carr had a photo stashed away that he looked at lovingly - obviously his true love. What happened there? Was it related to his face? Was it related to his firing? Obviously these questions don't really affect the enjoyability of the episode. I just over think things.

Walter Babble

Walter uses Astrid as a test nose, trying to identify the missing ingredient in the pheromone mixture. One of the samples was a bit of beaver roadkill, which launches Walter into memories of the 1970s: "I went beaver hunting in Canada in the 1970s. It was then that beaver meant something completely different."


So now it seems that Fringe division has to go back and redo some of the cases that hadn't happened while Peter was erased. Chaos theory and all that. First up is that virus that turned people into giant beasties. Finally, some monsters.