Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fringe 1.8 "The Equation"

Best Walter line: These medieval cracks are more proficient at phrenology than psychopharmacology.
Best Astrid line: What's up, Chachi?

With Fringe you never know if something just is something, or if it's something more, or something else entirely. That said, I caught the whole windshield wipers-as-metronome before the kid, Ben, mentioned the tempo of them to his father. But wipers are like that anyway, back and forth, back and forth, almost hypnotic. Not unlike the hypnotic effect of sequentially flashing red and green lights one often finds under the hood of a car when a strange woman is in distress along side a darkened country road on a rainy night. Yes, Ben's dad, whatshisname, stops to help a stranded motorist and regains his senses later only to discover that the woman and his son are gone.
When Olivia, Peter, and Walter are brought on the case we learn that this has happened three other times in the last ten years. All of the abductees were subsequently released, but were rendered totally insane!!!! The same woman was the abductor in all of the cases, and all of the previous victims were academics, geniuses. Ben was a normal kid before he and his mother were involved in a fatal (for the mom) auto accident. When Ben, after 6 days, emerged from a coma, he'd become a musical virtuoso. Initially I thought that we were going to trot down fribonacci lane with math and music, but they didn't address that at all. I was both relieved and disappointed. I didn't want the story to be that predictable, but I still thought that it would be a fun mental exercise to see where they might go with it.
Anyway, Ben's own repetitive composition is the musical equivalent of one of Walter's former mental patient friend, Dashiell's, unfinished equation. I saw this coming, and felt a little smudge over it.
So, Agent Dunham goes to talk to Dr. Sumner, head of the insane asylum, to get permission to speak to Dash. Sumner is not unlike Dr. Chilton in The Silence of the Lambs. Part meglamaniac, part asshole, he runs the place like it's his personal lab and all the men and women merely rats. He's chilling in that "I know best" kind of blind way. Sumner only will allow Walter access to Dash, which begs the question, What is this mad doctor up to? It's just so manipulative, and more than a little sadistic. Still Walter agrees to the terms and venture back into that dark place to interview Dash and hopefully gain some info that will help rescue Ben and save him from losing all of his marbles at such a tender age. Where are my aggies! I want my aggies!
Sorry for the lame ass joke.
In an effort to get Dash to reconnect to his former obsession, an unfinished equation, Walter begins scrawling the equation out on the table with a blue crayon. I mention this because...why a blue crayon? Why not red or yellow (if we have to stick to primary colors)? Dash insists that he doesn't do math anymore and becomes angry and hostile. Walter becomes mixed up in a melee and ends up sedated, at which point Dr. Sumner refuses to allow Walter to leave and Olivia has to get a court order for the following morning to get Walter out of the mental hospital.
Meanwhile, Ben is being pushed by the woman and a virtual reality version of his dead mother to finish the musical score. The kid is at a loss on how to finish it until the woman makes his mother start to degrade into a severely injured accident victim. Ouch! I loved my mom desperately when I was a kid, so I would've figured out how to finish the thing too.
Back at the asylum walter approaches Dash once more about his won kidnapping. The only thing that Dash can offer is that he was in a dungeon in a red castle.
With Olivia out in the field canvassing, Peter shows up to pick up Walter. Dr. Sumner definitely turns nasty, throwing Peter's past back up at him and threatening to petition for guardianship over Walter. Well, this dude is definitely working on some agenda. Is he on Massive Dynamic's payroll? Does he want to be? The whole thing reeks like a self serving self serve buffet left out in the noonday sun in Miami in August.
Finally, and a little conveniently, Olivia stumbles across the red castle. A former carousel of the future damned, she finds Ben...but then the woman who took him, Ritz (or some such ridiculous hotelier name...why not just go for Hilton? Marriot? Red Roof?), tries to prevent Olivia from taking him. Girl Fight! Girl Fight! Rinse, repeat. Of course once the green and red lights start blinking we know that this isn't going to go as Olivia planned. Ritz escapes, but Ben is left behind and eventually reunited with his dad, which makes Olivia smile and I just want to cuddle her, give her a cup of coco with a big shot of Jack Daniels in it, just like what my mom used to give me when I had a rough but gratifying day at the playground.
Ritz pops up in a warehouse lab with Agent Loeb. They plug in Ben's finished composition, and voila! Loeb reaches through the solid wall of a safe and extracts an apple. While he chews on that, he kills Ritz. We hardly knew ye, Ritzy! Where's Blair Brown? You just KNOW that she's got to be behind some of this crap. She's like a female Cheney, the great puppet master pulling the strings from an undisclosed bunker.
Next Up: Peter's past catches up big time and Olivia risks the Altered States isolation chamber again to get into the mind of Dead John.

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