Monday, July 29, 2013

Fringe 1x02: "The Same Old Story"

This episode opens in a hotel room where a man named Christopher and a prostitute have just finished a performance review of the World's Oldest Profession. Christopher steps into the bathroom and arranges his Not At All Horrifying collection of scalpels and syringes, but before he can do anything, the prostitute starts screaming and clutching her rapidly-swelling belly.

Christopher drives her to a hospital in a panic and dumps her, where she dies giving birth to a horrifically-growing baby that dies of old age within minutes.

Nobody can figure this out, so our brand-new Fringe Buddies (Olivia, Walter, Peter, and Olivia's junior agent assistant Astrid Farnsworth) are called to investigate. Olivia, who is already having a hard time coming to terms with discovering her boyfriend John was a traitor in the last episode, is further shaken when the clues point to a serial killer case she and John worked on. Years ago, a murderer dubbed the Brain Surgeon paralysed hookers and cut out pieces of their brains while they were still alive and conscious. He was never caught.

Walter remarks that the baby's aging reminds him of research he did with Dr. Claus Penrose on theoretically messing with the pituitary gland to make babies age faster in case the army ever wanted to cultivate crops of ready-made short-order soldiers. The only problem? How to stop the aging process once the subject reached the desired point.

While the Fringe Buddies are trying to figure out what a brain-stealing serial killer and a Benjamin Button Baby have in common, Christopher abducts and murders another girl. When they recover the body, Walter offers to directly steal a plot point from the Wild, Wild West movie and see if the girl's last moments were recorded on her optic nerve at the time of her death. Using a handy-dandy camera device provided by Massive Dynamic (in return for a blatant attempt to hire Olivia onto their team), they spot recognizable landmarks from the victim's brain.

Meanwhile, Olivia and Walter deduce that the Brain Surgeon might be a product of Walter and Claus Penrose's experiments - it turns out he's been stealing pituitary glands from his victims, most likely in order to slow down his own aging process. He screwed up with the last victim when he got her pregnant and passed his super-growing genes onto his offspring.

Olivia and Peter track him down to an abandoned warehouse, where Christopher is being helped by his father - Claus Penrose. Olivia pursues Christopher who, thanks to not getting his daily dose of Hooker Brain, ages before her eyes into an old man. As he lies dying, he confesses that his father Claus should have let him die years ago, but helped him kill hookers instead because he loved him too much. Aw, that's almost adorable.

Now that the Hooker-Brain-Eating case has been solved, Broyles congratulates Olivia, but warns her not to reveal too much about the Pattern (the theory that all of these Mad Science Outbreaks are a worldwide coordinated effort) to Nina of Massive Dynamic. While Nina definitely knows about the Pattern and advises Broyles and his Mad Science Council on occasion, Broyles clearly doesn't trust her or her Shady Conglomerate Employer.

Mad Science!
  • Mayfly Babies
  • Edible Pituitary Glands
  • Eyeball Cameras
  • DIY Defibrillators
Best Death Scene: Hmm, this is a tough one. All the hooker deaths are pretty squicky because the killer required them to be alive and conscious (but paralysed) when he cut into their brains through their mouths. However, I'm going to have to say that in terms of melodrama and the oh-shit!-factor, the prize goes to Loraine Daisy, the hooker from the cold open who went from post-coital bliss to violent mid-partum exploding-uterus death thanks to Christopher's Miracle-Gro baby. The nurse's monster-movie worthy scream of horror afterwards was just the cherry on top.

Mad Science Questions:
  • Walter mentions that something's off about Peter's medical history - is Peter an experiment, too?

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