Monday, February 01, 2010

No Air

Thursday must have been my lucky day because Fox gave me two back-to-back shows with links to the past.  And being the history nerd that I am, I LOVED them both!  What Bones may have lacked in historical themes (beyond the opening bit), Fringe certainly made up for with an intriguing mystery that took us back to WWII and Nazi Germany.  But before we traveled through history, this one started in the present at a very happy event that suddenly turned very tragic.  When most people worry about something going wrong at their wedding, they envision the wrong flowers or a cake mishap or even the unpredictable weather.  For this bride and groom, all of those options would have been welcomed over what transpired right before the bride was about to walk down the aisle.

Most wedding crashers are annoying and their presence means setting an extra plate, but the gentleman who crashed this wedding was far, far worse.  The groom's family was Jewish -- all descendants of a Holocaust survivor on his father's side.  That connection caused all of them to suffocate from the inside out in, to quote Walter, "a room full of air."  But only the groom's paternal family perished, meaning someone had specifically targeted them with a very specific toxin.  As the case progressed, and another group was targeted (this time those with brown eyes), Walter recognized the signature on the deadly formula: his father's!  Apparently, Grandpa Bishop was a Nazi scientist who fled Germany and spied for the Allies.  In his research, he hypothesized a formula in which certain traits or types of people could be singled out and killed (think how dangerously effective something like that could have been to Hitler and his army and their quest to form an Aryan race).  But who was using it with modern science and how did he get it?

After a non-starter lead involving Peter selling his grandfather's old books (P.S. I totally fell for that Nazi-decked apartment and thought Peter and Olivia had stumbled upon the real killer's place), the team found the evil mastermind behind the experiments.  Walter almost succumbed to the toxin, but thankfully, Olivia's quick thinking saved his life.  So, he did something that is probably going to land him in some serious hot water: he engineered the formula to kill only the killer and then executed the plan.  Truth be told, he had to for several reasons: 1) The killer was going to kill who knows how many people at the cultural summit, 2) He had twisted Walter's father's formula and used it for evil, and 3) He was creeping me out.  OK, so the third one doesn't justify what Walter did, but you get the point.  Not everything was wrapped up at the end of this one, though.  We were left with one very fascinating mystery: Who exactly was the killer?  The Holocaust survivor recognized him at the wedding even uttering, "It can't be!"  And at the end of the hour, we saw him in one of Walter's old photos of his father and the man looked the exact same age he did present day.  Definitely more to this story.

RANDOM OBSERVATION:  Did anyone else notice that the center where they were holding the cultural summit looked a lot like the 4400 Center on The 4400?  Both shows are/were filmed in Vancouver, so I suspect that the same building was used as a shooting location.  It was all I could think about during those scenes!  EDIT: Confirmed that The 4400 filmed at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia, and looking at the photos on the center's official site, makes a pretty compelling argument for this episode of Fringe as well.

Fringe airs Thursday nights on Fox. If you missed this week's episode, you can watch it for free at

1 comment:

John said...

> “(think how dangerously effective something like that could have been to Hitler and his army and their quest to form an Aryan race)”

It wouldn’t have been helpful. The human genome study shows that there is no genetic basis for “races” – there is no “Aryan” gene or a non-Aryan gene either – or group of genes.

Even the Nazi “experiment” at the wedding was nonsensical. A person only receives half their genes from either parent and each child would receive a different mix of half the genetic material. By the time of grandchildren the familial link is even smaller. What gene or group of genes did the killer link to that were infallible passed on to all offspring? Even if it was aiming at mitochondrial DNA (and nothing Walter said or that was shown implied that), then the grandchildren, who had a different maternal mitochondria source, would be spared.

I realize that SciFi shows can (and should) do “what if” scenarios where new scientific developments allow for things that we can’t do now. However, even SciFi has to recognize what is known and if you are going to get around that (say have a FTL drive) then you must offer some explanation, even a feeble one.

I like “Fringe”, mainly for the characters and performances. I can accept (for the purposes of the show) most of the “fringe” science. But Aryan racial purity isn’t one of them.