Fringe: The Transformation

When your hit television show starts to crash and burn, what’s the best thing to do?  Go back to when you were hot, and do what you do best, Fringe and JJ Abrams.  That means plane crashes!

Peacefully aboard Flight 718, Marshall Bowman’s nose starts to bleed.  In the lavatory, he does a quick strep test, or something, and the results come back negative.  Uh oh.  He gets pushy with the stewardess – excuse me, flight attendant – corrals her away from the passengers and demands sedatives, which she and her male coworker (steward?) understand as, drugs.  Bowman threatens violence if they don’t agree to lock him in the bathroom and keep him away from the other passengers.  Naturally, the attendants read this as a terrorist-like threat, because it’s not like the Pattern is common knowledge, right?  It’s not like just anybody has a free pass to know what’s going on with “Homeland Security,” right?  Right, Charlie Francis?

Bowman locks himself in the bathroom, as his bloody nose worsens and his teeth pop out of his mouth.  When I finally look back at the screen, Bowman writhes around on the ground, yelling in pain, and then whoosh!  Needles come shooting out of his back!  Within seconds, he becomes a…a monster!  He crashes through the lavatory door, transformed into a cross between a porcupine and Big Foot – and attacks!

A soccer mom picks up her kids, and when she looks up into the clear blue sky, the plane flies perilously close to the ground, passing over her a la A Tale of Two Cities, and crashes in the distance.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks of US Airways flight 1549.  And let that flight be a lesson to you that birds can be just as much of a threat as a giant Porcupine Big Foot.

Olivia’s recapping Episode One and John Scott for her sister, Rachel, when Broyles calls to summon her to the crash site.  Also, remember this part and this part with John Scott.  This had better mean John makes an appearance tonight, because after watching lots of teenage boys lately, I could use a little man candy.  Does that sound desperate?  Just wait for the Valentine’s week recaps, folks.  Anyway, there’s Charlie Francis!  You win, writers!  I’m just going to assume that all that cloak and dagger stuff they put Olivia through in Episode One has already happened to Francis and he’s “in.”

And for the record, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Francis turned out to be a bad guy.  He’s a little creepy with all this easy acceptance, no?

Perusing the passengers’ passports, Olivia recognizes Bowman, from a memory of John Scott’s.  Doc discerns that the monster’s corpse was previously human, and Olivia correctly deduces it was Bowman.  Further examination at the Lab leads to Doc’s discovery that Bowman suffered a bloody nose and had a disc the size of a nickel hidden beneath the skin of his palm.  The disc is eerily similar to the glass disc found on the dead agent here.  Doc says “nipples” several times and … we’re moving on!

Francis produces the results of a search for all of Bowman’s clients.  Turns out he was a banker.  Like bankers don’t have a hard enough rap sheet right now.  Olivia recognizes another of the men, Daniel Hicks, and Francis brings him in for questioning.  Hicks refuses to answer questions and is visibly shaken by the news that Bowman went all Sasquatch on the plane.  Then he starts in with the bloody nose.  Thankfully, Doc and Peter are watching, and rush in with sedatives from the First Aid Kit.  Um, really?  Ok, I guess.  Before Doc can administer the shot and slow the transformation process, Olivia stops him and demands that Hicks tell her who is responsible for this “virus.”  No help until he talks!  Peter looks shocked and appalled, which is something, coming from a guy with his history.  Desperate, Hicks reveals that he and Bowman must have been “dosed,” by someone named Conrad.  Doc’s sedative knocks Hicks out.

In the Lab, Doc manages to synthesize an early form of an antidote (naturally.  Either Doc is brilliant or all these experiments aren’t that difficult, since Doc synthesizes antidotes the way he synthesizes LSD – easily and daily).  Following Olivia’s hunch, Doc finds another disc beneath Hicks’ palm.

Olivia visits Broyles, presenting the discs and asking to exhume John Scott’s body, assuming that Scott has one in his palm as well.  We already know that’s true.  Because remember!  John Scott’s body is at Massive Dynamic, plugged to a machine!  Under no duress, other than Olivia’s yammering, Broyles gives in and explains that when they couldn’t decipher the first disc, they contacted MD for help.  Broyles brings Olivia in for a meeting with Nina Sharp and a tour of the white room / medical center.  And there’s John Scott, connected to his machine.  Well, that’s got to hurt, seeing that.  Sharp explains that John’s disc also had references to Conrad, and all signs point to his being part of a bio-terrorist cell.  Broyles further explains that their office in France picked up word that Conrad is going to sell a major bio-weapon in Chicago.  However, they don’t know the time or specific place, and still don’t know who Conrad is.

Naturally, Olivia does the only thing she can do at a time like this, and that is to rush back to the Lab to go back under Doc’s freaky-deaky machine, which lets her re-connect to Scott’s consciousness.  I’m just thrilled because here comes the Hotness!  Olivia jumps right into the motel room she and Scott were canoodling in when we met them way back when.  After watching her former self make out with Scott’s memory, the memory Olivia steps into the bathroom, and Scott turns around and starts talking to Olivia the Observer.  Only according to Doc, he’s not supposed to be aware of her.

She tries to pull answers from him, until eventually the scene shifts and she and Scott end up in an alley, where he explains that he was Black Ops, on a mission with Bowman and Hicks to hunt down and eliminate Conrad.  Unfortunately, he failed, since he could never figure out what Conrad even looked like.

Scott tells her to trust Hicks, because he was in deeper.  Olivia comes to, pulls herself together and suggests waking up Hicks from his induced coma, based on Scott’s lead.  For the record, Peter disagrees with that decision, but who cares?  Plot forward!

Hicks, now one of the good guys, agrees to help guide Olivia through her meeting with Conrad (via undetectable earpiece).  The FBI intercepted Conrad’s original buyer that morning, so Olivia and Peter go undercover as his replacements.  At the Fairmont Hotel, Olivia and Peter meet Gavin, the dealer handling the transaction.  “Gavin.”  “Conrad.”  Not the most intimidating names when it comes to bad guys.  Gavin brings our heroes up to his hotel room, conveniently located nearby where FBI backup waits, ordered to remain at bay until Olivia gives the signal.

Everything goes according to plan, with Gavin hearing all the right answers from Hicks via Olivia.  They bluff their way through the sale, with Peter answering questions he shouldn’t know the answers to.  Now that should be another interesting plot.  Eventually.  If ever.

Gavin delivers the virus, complete with antidote in case of accidental dosing, and the time comes for Olivia to call in the back up.  But wait!  Gavin mentions that Conrad’s coming, so Olivia stalls, because why save your life when you have the chance to prove that your true love wasn’t a traitor?  Gavin, always suspicious, starts in on the questions again, and this time sees through their charade because Hicks starts transforming into a Porcupine-beast.  Next thing you know, everyone’s got a gun pointed at their heads.

But wait, again!  Conrad arrives!  He immediately orders Peter and Olivia killed, but what he doesn’t know is that Olivia’s already given the signal, and the FBI busts in!  Finally, something goes right!

Olivia stops by the Lab one more time.  Only Doc is there, everyone else involved with taking Hicks to the hospital to recover after receiving the antidote.  Olivia asks Doc for a favor.  She wants to go back under again to see John Scott, and apologize for having no faith in the man she loved.  Doc warns her that Scott is fading from her consciousness, and if she even manages to find him, this will be the last time.  Warnings mean nothing to Olivia, so crank up the LSD, and in she goes!

Even if she finds him?  Of course she does!  On a little dock overlooking a pond.  It’s all very cute.  Actually, it’s really nice, and once again, this show succeeds because of the acting, not because of the writing.  Or plot.  They share their regrets and their I love you’s.  Then heartfelt good-byes.  Good-bye, John Scott.  I hope you’re not gone for good.

And P.S. – Did you see this?  Good for her!

P.P.S. – Fringe will be at the New York Comic Con this weekend.  And so will I!  Hopefully, I’ll have updates for you, and not just credit card debt from buying too many toys.

Season 1, Episode 13: The Transformation (originally aired February 3, 2009)

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For more on Fringe, click here.

Tuesdays at 9/8C, Fox

Photographs courtesy of Fox and IMDbPro

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