The episode opens on some construction workers inspecting a building they are about to demolish. Everything seems okey dokey until one construction worker gets a Really Weird Vibe and goes back in. Seemingly by accident, he discovers a secret compartment inside the building and busts in - and finds a pale, hairless, naked child inside.
The Fringe Buddies are called in to examine this feral child in the hospital, who miraculously survived all alone in an almost completely airless environment on only rats and insects. While they are trying to communicate with the child, Olivia gets a phone call - a serial killer named the Artist has resurfaced and killed another victim. The Artist is a killer obsessed with beauty who surgically alters the corpses of his victims to look more attractive, then faxes invitations to law enforcement to the public displays of his gruesome work. The child overhears her conversation and writes down the name "Sam Gilmore" - which Olivia later finds out is the victim's name. So how did this isolated child know it?
Olivia goes back to the child, hoping he can reveal more about who he is or who the Artist is. While there, she meets Eliot Michaels, a social worker, who hopes to take the child to a special treatment facility to care for his particular needs. The child manages to write down an address - unfortunately, the victim the address belongs to has already been captured by the Artist by the time help arrives.
Olivia tries a different tactic - she takes the child to Walter's lab to see if any of his Mad Science Doohickies can help explain how the child is capable of guessing the serial killer's next move. Unfortunately, Eliot isn't happy about it - especially since he's not a social worker, but a member of the CIA's science division who wants to study the child FOR SCIENCE! And since he apparently outranks Broyles and everyone in Fringe Division, what he says goes.
Meanwhile, Walter figures out that the child is an empath - he's capable of communicating with people through their emotions - that's how he prevented the construction worker from blowing up the building, that's how he can track the Artist, and that's how he's bonded with Olivia. Unfortunately, the child seems reluctant to give any more clues - because he's emotionally bonded to Olivia, he knows he'll be handed over to the CIA as soon as Olivia solves the case.
He eventually comes around, however, and thanks to his clues, Olivia is able to track and eventually kill the Artist before he can murder his latest victim. Olivia also squirrels the child away with a loving foster family before the CIA can get to him, allowing Broyles to spin a story about how the child's survival instincts led to his brilliant escape.
While the child is being driven away by his foster family, he seems an Observer on the side of the road - another bald, pale person with psychic abilities. Could it be?
- Feral Children
- Converting Thoughtwaves into Words
Best Death Scene: There aren't any death scenes except for the serial killer getting stabbed, but the posed corpses of the Artist sure are purdy.
Mad Science Questions:
- How did the kid wind up in the sealed bunker in the abandoned building? And how old is he really?
- The kid had a weird look on his face when he passed the Observer - is the Kid an itty-bitty Observer himself? That would explain the psychic powers, the inability to taste much (from eating, you know, bugs for most of his life).