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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Episode 3: Many More Die & an MRI

FROM ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER KIMBERLY ROOTS: We get just a little closer to a discussion of theology when this episode of Fringe opens in a church, where a priest tells a man that the "Lord speaks to all those who are willing to listen." The upset man responds back: "What about the devil, then? I see things.”
Quick flashes show us his current vision: A man boards a bus full of people, eyes a woman sitting by the window, dons a gas mask, takes the woman’s backpack, and then opens a canister of gas before making a hasty exit. As the vehicle swerves out of control, we come back to the church, where the prescient man bolts before the priest can stop him. “Roy, I know it’s you!” the priest calls after him, stooping to pick up a sketch Roy dropped—it’s of the bus disaster victims.
Meanwhile, we’re back to the vision… except it actually just happened and the bus is stopped in a tunnel. Gas Mask Man drives off in a getaway car. Curious cops approach the bus and find everyone inside dead and suspended in some sort of rock-hard material. It’s nowhere near as disgusting as the goo-filled flight, but no peaceful-passing-in-their-sleep, either.
Phillip Broyles takes Olivia to the bus scene. Peter and Walter show up later, just after Peter roughs up a man who’s been tailing him and taking photos. “You were supposed to check in before you came home,” the man admonishes Peter, who confiscates his camera’s memory card. Thank goodness there’s finally a bit of intrigue on this show that doesn’t involve liquefying body parts… yet. In the tunnel, Walter hypothesizes that the solid mass surrounding the bodies was released as a gas, while elsewhere, Gas Mask Man and a pal realize that what they’re looking for isn’t in the backpack.
Olivia surveys the dead bodies and their effects at a storage facility and realizes that the backpack is missing. She learns it belonged to Evalina Mendoza, who was an undercover agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Her handler, an agent named Graham Davidson, comes to ID her body and says that she’d asked for an extraction after getting spooked by something called “the pattern.” He asks for a moment alone with her body and, while Olivia watches, he strokes Evalina’s cold hand.
The priest alerts police to Roy’s odd behavior, which leads Olivia and FBI co-worker Charlie to his apartment. There they find sketches of several "pattern"-related incidents, including the ill-fated flight, all dated before the events took place. In custody, Roy tells the group that he has no idea where the drawings come from—like his most recent, which has a woman bleeding from her palms, they just come to him.
Walter thinks that Roy is psychically linked to someone involved with the case, and says he can prove it with an MRI. But when Roy is in the machine, his veins begin to bulge out of his skin: Because an MRI machine is basically a giant magnet, this reaction means Roy must have metal in his blood. And of course, this leads to some experiments Walter conducted back when Roy was a college sophomore volunteering in the psych lab. The metal in his blood multiplied, turning him into a receiver for the kind of “ghost net” transmissions that Walter and William Bell, the founder of Massive Dynamics, had been commissioned to create back in the day.
Olivia and Peter retrieve Walter’s “magnetic neural stimulator” so everyone can be privy to what Roy’s hearing… after a little light brain surgery. The gang knows the procedure is a success when Roy begins speaking in Latin, and they translate the phrase, “She had it the whole time.” Olivia races to the morgue to find Evalina’s palm sliced open like the bleeding woman in Roy’s drawing—turns out that instead of grieving, Graham was actually cutting a small disc out of her skin. Roy also clues the team in to an exchange that’s going to happen at Boston’s South Station. Olivia tracks Graham there, but he’s already been shot and the exchange has been made! And it’s to Gas Mask Man! Olivia and Charlie chase him down and retrieve the disc, but Gas Mask Man jumps in front of a bus before he can be taken in. At the office, Olivia bemoans their failure, but Broyles reminds her that they know the man was connected to "the pattern," and now they know how members of the pattern were communicating.
Broyles brings the disc to Nina, who takes it into a Massive Dynamics lab and instructs scientists to use it to break an encryption. We see a screen full of unintelligible code, and as the camera pans left… it’s hooked up to John’s body.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Faith is little more than set dressing in this episode, but the script does play with the question of whether the mind is little more than a glut of circuitry that can be manipulated at will. Also a nice touch: Peter takes Walter to task for his loose research ethics, of which Roy is a living, breathing reminder.