Fringe: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Control
At first glance of this week’s Fringe, I had to make sure that I’d changed the channel from CSI since a standard police chase hardly seems like a hotbed of weird science. But when a cornered kidnapping suspect forces a cop to stagger off a rooftop and another to kill two partners and herself, all seemingly with the power of a withering stare, looks like time to call the Fringies. A connection to the ever ominous Massive Dynamic crops up early when Olivia discovers that the boy under captivity is the son of one of Massive’s experimental aerospace engineers. Nina falls under suspicion (as she always should) but claims no connection to the kidnappers and assumes they’re out to extort trade secrets. Walter’s first visit to the opulence of MD HQ triggers a great deal of introspection as he wonders what life would have been like having stayed partners with Willaim Bell.
Back at the lab, Walter pulls out the shooter cop’s brain, revealing physical proof of psychic trauma and mind control. The engineer’s son phones dad’s office at his captors’ insistence to encourage pop’s cooperation and make a standard cash demand.
Walter tracks down a white noise generating teddy bear to counteract the potentially sound based psychic surge and adapts it into headsets for an FBI strike team before regaling them with a disconcerting “pep talk” that could only come from Walter. Perp #1 shows up to collect the cash and flees empty handed, Perp #2 blasts his own car into a barricade, and Pete gives chase to an apparent 3rd baddie who turns out to be, twist!, supposed teen victim Tyler, now revealed to be the one with powers.
Under a bit of friendly interrogation from Liv, Nina reveals that Tyler’s dad had been working on a drug to enhance pilot brain waves, which Ty found at home and started literally popping like Pez. The combination of experimental drugs, pubescent hormones, and good old fashioned Ritalin made quite the cocktail and sent the kid’s brain all “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” An on the lam Ty and Peter bond over their respective daddy issues before getting pulled over, and the little punk almost ruins the moment by making Peter execute yet another officer of the peace, but settles for a hearty pistol whipping.
Walter has a touching breakdown over the fear of losing Peter a second time, but comes around with some encouraging words from Liv and especially Nina. A quick scan of Tyler’s computer reveals that all the kid really wants is some face time with his allegedly dead but not quite so much mommy, a former junkie who turned her act around. If I was a moody psychic sociopath, I’d be a little miffed at my dad for keeping that nugget under wraps, too.
Armed with a traditional thought blocking foil hat and a makeshift brain scrambler, Walt crashes a mixed feelings reunion with Tyler, his mom, and a new stepdad who really puts a kink in the happy family mind game he’d been imagining. Broyles tries to force a takedown, but just winds up getting shot in the arm by the helpless Peter. The puppeteer and his toy hit the road once more, but the team gives chase and Walter’s radar gun-esque gizmo knocks out Ty just long enough for Peter to regain control, wreck the car, and put Tyler into a conveniently unconscious state of affairs.The thoughtful and rather good episode ends on a heartwarming note as Walter makes pancakes for his boy and reminisces about better days with Peter’s mom, who I really ought to wiki to figure out if she’s dead or just conspicuously absentee.
But wait! Is that Nina sending a message across the dimensional void to William reporting that Tyler was the successful result of a batch of clones bred to foster mind control? Sure is! Gotta love a good cliffhanger.
Season 2, Episode 7: Of Human Action (originally aired November 12, 2009)
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Thursdays at 9/8C, Fox
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