“Fringe”: The Cure

Posted by SH

A woman is dumped out of a van into the street by two people wearing HAZMAT suits. She stumbles into a local diner, and her disheveled, disoriented state causes her waiter to call the local lawman. The woman gets distressed, then everyone’s eyes start bleeding and her head explodes. Just another day at the office for Olivia, Walter and Peter.

The incident is traced back to the unbelievably high amount of radiation emanating from the woman’s body. Peter likens it to everyone who was in its path being cooked in a microwave. You know, like that scene in Gremlins. Adding to the grisly scene, Olivia is in a foul mood, refusing to engage in the typical TV-show banter with Peter. Charlie ironically wishes her a happy birthday, but we’re left believing there’s more to her irritability than the idea of adding another candle to the cake. We find out just how much more later.

The deceased woman, named Emily Kramer, is found to have had a rare, fatal blood disease that has no cure. But apparently she was cured, and Walter is driven to find out how. Well, after Peter gets back with that cotton candy he asked him for. But what they have figured out is that Emily was experimented upon in order to turn her into some kind of weapon. Meanwhile, another woman with the same disease goes missing. After questioning the husband and crashing a wake, Olivia and Peter discover that Emily and missing woman, Claire Williams, knew each other and were part of a circle of people suffering from the disease who decided to try to find a cure. Which they did.

Olivia confronts the Emily’s doctor, who previously had denied giving her any special treatment. He is so flustered by what has been uncovered, and how it relates to a huge drug company that he warns Olivia to back off. It’s the whole “you don’t know who you’re dealing with” spiel. But that’s not enough to illustrate his point. He whips out a gun, gives Olivia the name “David Esterbrook,” then blows his own brains out.

Olivia confronts Esterbrook — who turns out to be an immensely powerful lobbyist for the drug giant Intrepus, and he has a clean criminal record (of all the crazy ideas given life on Fringe, this might be the craziest) — by approaching him at a convention, pretending to be someone else. She feels she must see his guilt in his eyes. No problem there. I must say the casting here is quite a coup. Chris Eigeman is known more for playing neurotic New Yorkers than sleazy bad guys, but his icy glare and well-cropped facial hair work well here. Man, what a scumbag. And I’m not using “scumbag” pejoratively. (That’s a Barcelona reference, if you’re wondering.)

Peter tells Olivia the quickest way to find out where Esterbrook is hiding the girl is by going to Intrepus’ main competitor, good old Massive Dynamic, and relying on the results of their corporate espionage. When Olivia refuses, Peter takes it upon himself to approach Nina Sharp at a horse stable. They enter into a very Godfather-esque arrangement in which Nina tells him what he wants to know and she gets to call in a favor from him sometime in the future, no questions asked. She also claims that she and Walter were once very close. Hmmm …

Olivia shares with Peter why she’s so darned cranky today with a truly horrifying story. When she was a little girl, her stepfather used to beat her mom, but Mom never called the cops. Well, one day Olivia took matters into her own hands and got the guy’s gun and shot him with it. He survived and disappeared, and is still missing. But every year on her birthday, he sends her a card, just to let her know he’s out there.

They raid the lab and are able to save the day when Olivia gives Claire the antidote that Walter cooked up for her. Then it’s back to Esterbrook, who smugly shrugs off Olivia’s threats and says his team of lawyers that, of course, make more in an hour than she does in a year, will do her in. She’s fine with that, countering that once he is seen by a glut of reporters, whom she called, walking out in handcuffs to be questioned for his involvement in a murder case, his career may already be ruined. For good measure, she slams his head on a table while cuffing him. You go, girl!

Then we seem to have our first concrete evidence that Olivia and Peter are headed for a romance. They share a tender moment outside Peter and Walter’s apartment, with her thanking him for getting the info. The lingering looks and wistful smiles signal that booty calls aren’t far in their future.

Overall, it was nice to see Peter acknowledge that all the cases they’ve covered so far involve people being experimented on, and what that might mean. And seeing Nina Sharp share something personal added a new dimension. Were she and Walter lovers? Could she be Peter’s mom? I dunno. Anything’s possible. Maybe she and Walter had a son, who then died, then Walter married Peter’s mom but they couldn’t conceive, so Walter cloned the son he had with Nina. Whatever the true scenario is, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s even nuttier than what I just described.