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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Episode 7: Foul Play & DNA

FROM ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER KIMBERLY ROOTS: When a raid on a Weymouth, Massachusetts, warehouse turns up a truckload of innocuous stuffed pandas instead of a bad guy named Joseph Smith, the FBI realizes that someone on the inside must’ve tipped Smith off. But before Mitchell Loeb, an experienced agent and friend of Phillip Broyles, can figure out who’s the mole, he begins convulsing in Broyles' office. At the hospital, doctors crack his chest open and can’t believe what’s inside: A venus-fly-trap-looking living organism—complete with teeth—is putting the squeeze on Loeb’s heart.
When Olivia and the Bishops arrive at the hospital a few hours later, Broyles informs them that Loeb was on a mission in Frankfurt a few weeks before. (This proves important later.) Peter, Walter, and Olivia don gowns and take a gander at Loeb for all of 10 seconds before Walter decides that he can help the patient, but only if he’s moved to the Harvard lab. The heart monster, Walter adds, is likely an organic, hybridized result of genetic manipulation—in other words, a giant, man-made parasite. While the Bishops get to work at the lab, Loeb’s wife, Samantha, tearfully begs Olivia for information. Olivia imparts absolutely no comfort whatsoever when she monotones that they’re doing their best.
After Walter analyzes a piece of the parasite’s tissue, he notices that a certain code is repeated throughout its DNA sequence and theorizes that it’s the creator’s calling card. Using a cipher, Astrid, the FBI agent assigned to assist him, works up a few possible translations of the code. Olivia recognizes one of them, ZFT, as a series of letters present in John’s secret files about "the pattern." When she shares this with Broyles, he drops yet another bomb: "The pattern" is made up of privately funded cells, and ZFT is the name of one of them. They traffic in scientific progress, and he’s beginning to think that incidents like the plane of goo and the weaponization of Emily Kramer are the cells’ way of testing this bad, bad stuff.
Eventually, Olivia realizes that Robert Jones—someone connected to ZFT who’s being held in a Frankfurt jail—is also connected to the Joseph Smith that Loeb was investigating. She travels to Germany, connects with a former flame, Lucas, and interrogates Jones with the promise that he can ask Smith one question via phone in exchange for giving them the antidote to Loeb’s parasite. Problem is, the FBI has found Smith and shot him in the head … so Walter and Peter hook him up to some electrodes and shock his brain so it momentarily thinks it’s alive. Jones cryptically asks, “Where does the gentleman live?” Smith—via Peter, wearing a metal helmet—coughs up the answer: “Little Hill.” Jones provides the antidote recipe, Walter mixes it, and Loeb is saved.
Broyles later tells Olivia that the FBI mole who tipped off Smith had higher security clearance than John did … leaving the possibility for more turncoat reveals in the future. Olivia and Peter watch from a distance as Loeb and Samantha have a tearful reunion by his hospital bed. But as they walk away, Samantha leans in and says, “They’re gone.” “So, did it work, what we did?” he asks. “Yes, it lead them back to Mr. Jones.” Loeb looks intrigued at his “wife’s” answer. “Did he ask the question? Did we get the answer?” he asks. She merely leans close and whispers what he wants to hear: “Little Hill.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: With the organism inside Loeb, the episode touches on life "created by man not god!" as Walter writes in his lab notes. He calls this organism the "offspring of unconscious evolution and conscious design, marvelous yet dreadful—the very model of a Hegelian synthesis." Also, Fringe once more reduces consciousness and the brain’s relay of information to a series of electrical impulses. It would be interesting to see the show, through Walter’s work, try to recreate emotion and belief with similar methods.