J.J. Abrams must really hate planes - because he sure loves crashing them in every single show he makes! This crash occurs when a mild-mannered scientist named Marshall Bowman suddenly starts sprouting claws and spines in an airplane bathroom and emerges as a violent King-Kong-meets-Angry-Porcupine monster.
While investigating the crash site, Olivia has a Dead Boyfriend John Memory Flash looking over Bowman's picture on a list of passengers and realizes the two knew each other, you know, before Bowman became a giant Porcupine.
The Fringe Buddies examine the beast-ified corpse and discover Bowman was dosed with a virus that mutated his DNA - and so violently that he wouldn't have lived long even if the plane hadn't crashed. They also find a strange glass disk embedded in the palm of his hand - the same type of disk they'd found in the DEA agent's hand from "The Ghost Network" episode.
Looking into Bowman's history, Olivia finds out he's (apparently) a banker, and she recognizes another person from her Dead John Memories on his list of clients - a man named Daniel Hicks. She figures that Bowman, Hicks, and Dead Boyfriend John were in the business of selling Traitorous Mad Science Secrets and that Bowman and Hicks were scheduled to sell a weaponized version of the Porcupine Monster Virus.
The FBI rounds up Hicks who insists he's just a regular, run-of-the-mill antiques dealer, until he starts bleeding from the nose, losing his teeth, and transforming into a monster - in a regular, run-of-the-mill way. Totally. Walter is forced to put the guy under a drug-induced coma in order to slow his transformation long enough for him to concoct an antidote - but not before Olivia terrifies Hicks with the threat of non-wizard-induced transmogrification until he reveals the name of the man involved in the Porcupine Monster Virus' sale: "Conrad."
While Hicks is under, Olivia has Walter cut into Hicks' hand and discovers another glass disk. She goes to Broyles, who takes her to Massive Dynamic where she finds Dead Boyfriend John's body kept on life support. Nina Sharp finally spills the beans that John had a glass disk in his hand as well - it's a form of information and memory storage, but it's designed to self-destruct when the host person dies. John's brain is fully dead, but they hoped that by keeping his body artificially alive, they'd be able to preserve the information in his disk - to no avail. Huge chunks of information are missing. Nina agrees with Olivia's belief that Dead Boyfriend John was involved in a Mad Scientist Terrorist Cell, but believes the missing memories might still be in Olivia's head.
And you know what that means! It's back to the Hot Tub Telepathy Machine! Once there, Olivia openly confronts Memory-John, who, contrary to Walter's hypothesis, can see, hear, and speak with Olivia. He reveals that he, Hicks, and Bowman weren't terrorists, but an undercover NSA team tasked with smoking out the real people selling Mad Science Secrets on the black market - people like Conrad, who creates Mad Science Weapons and sells them just for the hell of it. It was likely Conrad who dosed Bowman and Hicks with his Porcupine Monster Virus when he found out they were NSA. Memory-John can't provide any proof that his claims are true, but he tells Olivia to trust Hicks.
Acting on Memory-John's advice, Olivia has Walter wake up Hicks. Walter thinks he's concocted an antidote that will keep Hicks from monstering-up while he helps Olivia and Peter intercept Conrad's Mad Science Weapons sale. Olivia and Peter show up at the sale in Hicks' place, carrying earpieces into which Hicks can feed them information.
Olivia and Peter meet up with and half-convince Conrad's minion they're the real deal, and he produces the Porcupine Monster Virus and the Official Antidote. Back in the lab, Walter's homemade antidote wears off and Hicks' too busy beasting out to feed Olivia and Peter any more info. Thankfully, the FBI storm in and capture Conrad and his crew before Olivia and Peter are killed.
Now that everything's tied up with a neat little bow, Olivia wants to go back into the Hot Tub Telepathy Machine. Walter warns her that her brain has almost fully cleaned out John's memories by this point, so she likely won't see him for longer than a couple of minutes. A couple of minutes is all Olivia needs - she meets Memory-John at a Memory Lake and apologizes for not trusting him. He wasn't a traitor after all. Memory-John admits he should have told Olivia the truth, but he'd never had time. He gives her his engagement ring and tells her he loves her, and then he fades away for good.
- Mutating Viruses
- Psychic Connections
Best Death Scene: Bowman's epic transformation on the plane. Sure, we don't see him actually die - but you have to admit it was pretty cool.
Mad Science Questions:
- So, just to be clear - John wasn't a traitor after all? And was that really Memory John? Or John's Ghost?