Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cancer Stricken

Things were back to normal this week on Fringe. Well, as normal as things can be on this show. The gang was back together and they were investigating a fascinating case involving a cancer-stricken man who was able to transfer the disease to others and temporarily heal himself via an exchange of "chi" or energy between himself and the other person. In other words, great for him and not so great for the other person. It looked like a typical "freak-of-the-week" outing until a not-so-coincidental connection linked the strange cancer deaths to Olivia's classroom in Jacksonville. Suddenly, the crazy cancer tranfer didn't seem so crazy anymore. In fact, believe it or not, it all started to make perfect sense.

Everything started out fine. A young, pretty lawyer (National Treasure's Diane Kruger, who just happens to be star Joshua Jackson's real-life love) met with a man claiming someone or something had made him sick. He touched her arm in what seemed to be a gesture of gratitude for her help. Unfortunately, he was transfering the cancer from himself to her. He got a temporary reprieve from the deadly disease and she got a sudden onset of nasty sarcomas on the surface of her skin followed by what seemed to be an unpleasant death. No good deed goes unpunshed, I suppose. After a few more victims appeared and a link was made to prior deaths in other cities, Olivia and co began to look for some sort of connection between them. Olivia finally found it when she discovered that the victims' names matched those on a list she made off of a wall in one of the classrooms in Jacksonville. Her list only included first names and last initials, but the lead seemed solid. She didn't have too much time to ponder it, though, because her former classmate and current cancer-spreader was outside her door. She was able to use her FBI training to subdue him and keep herself from contracting it.

So, why was this guy targeting his former classmates? Apparently, Walter and Bell's experiments made these kids susceptible to contracting cancer through an exchange of energy. The scary part is, at the end Nina and Broyles were talking about the dangers that may lie ahead if others figure out who's on that list and use the trials and their long-term results against them. Olivia may be in even graver danger than we thought. This, of course, once again calls into question the ethical ramifications of Walter and William Bell's tests. Were they doing something wrong, but the ends will justify the means? Or was what they did solely for their own gain and they worried little about the effects on those tested? I'm still unsure, but I do know that I don't feel good about what they did in Jacksonville.

I'm glad they cleared the air between Olivia and Peter. Things were getting awkward with her avoiding him after that almost-kiss. He thought she was uncomfortable with what almost happened and how that could change things between them and the rest of the team. In reality, she was uncomfortable with the fact that she knows the truth about him and he doesn't. They shared a nice scene in the car when Peter decided to address the elephant in the room (of course, it was the wrong elephant). The only problem with this scene was the unfortunate coincidence that it followed Bones and one of the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful scenes I've ever seen. Obviously, different situation, but a similiar theme. And by the way, the show hasn't convinced me yet that Olivia and Peter should be together. I'm open to the possibility, but I'm not there yet. Anybody else with me?

Things are going to get more interesting now that Walter has decided to tell Peter the truth. It's the right decision, but it's going to be tough.  Fringe airs Thursday nights on Fox. If you missed this week's episode, you can watch it for free at


John said...

Do we know if the Jacksonville experiments took place before or after AltPeter's kidnapping?

Either way, I think the only relationship that Bell and Walter had to ethics, was knowing the definition.

I am betting (and I am not spoiled on this) that Walter will delay quite a while on telling Peter the truth. It will be a very tough conversation and it is human nature to postpone the unpleasant.

I didn’t know at the time that the woman attorney was JJ’s girlfriend. It was smart to not have them do a scene together (unless that was still her under makeup back in the lab). There is always a temptation in that situation to wink at the real world relationship and the rarely works out.

Olivia’s rationale for not telling (it would cause more hurt and have little benefit) was really a way of protecting herself and not Peter. Suppose Olivia never found out about her being an involuntary test subject as a child. Not knowing wouldn’t make her safer, just more ignorant.

This was a good episode. I didn’t buy trying to make the killer semi-sympathetic. The first death or two were accidents after that he deliberately hunted other Jacksonville subjects to kill them and extend his own life.

TVFan said...

Excellent question about the timeline regarding AltPeter and Jacksonville. Judging by the ages of Olivia and Peter when both events occurred, I would guess that they happened around the same time. I hope they clarify this because it seems unlikely that Walter would have been doing his work in Jacksonville while his son was sick. My best guess would be that Jacksonville happened some time after AltPeter, but I'm not sure.

I agree that the killer was not sympathetic. He was, of course, another victim of Walter and Bell's experiments, but that doesn't justify knowingly infecting others to save yourself.