Thursday, August 08, 2013

Fringe 1x08: "The Equation"

Andrew Stockton is driving his son, Ben, from a music recital when he comes across a broken down car by the side of the road. The driver - who's played by Britta from Community! Dun dun dunnnnn! - asks him to check under the hood. He does, and notices a strange interplay of red and green lights on the engine. Suddenly, he's jerked awake by a tow-truck driver - somehow an hour has passed, and his son and the mysterious woman are both gone.

It's up to the Fringe Buddies to solve the case and rescue the kid. All Andrew remembers is watching the red and green lights - and Walter recalls hearing a similar theory, of people using a sequence of  coloured lights to induce a hypnotic, suggestible state. Olivia remarks that the circumstances are suspiciously similar to a number of kidnappings that took place over the last couple of years - where  men (usually scientists, all experts in their field) would go missing, only to turn up weeks later, driven insane and incapable of remembering what happened to them.

In fact - Walter actually knows one of the victims from his time at St. Claire's Mental Hospital - Dashiell Kim, a mathematician who bludgeoned his wife to death after he returned from an unexplained two-week absence. He was the one who initially told Walter the story of using coloured lights to hypnotize people.

But the previous victims were all physicists and mathematicians - why take a child? Ben's father admits that his son and wife were in a car accident. His wife died, but his son emerged from his coma with an inexplicable musical talent. He was even composing his own works. Walter remembers his roomie Dashiell was obsessed with solving a particular mathematical equation, but could never finish it - music is a mathematically-based art, and when Peter converts the numbers to notes, they discover that Dashiell's unfinished equation is the same as Ben's unfinished song.

Meanwhile, in a Creepy Mad Science Basement, Evil Britta/Joanne Ostler (a neurology student who dropped off the grid 10 years ago), is trying to coerce Ben into finishing his composition by giving him hallucinations of his dead mother - and making her die all over again when he's unable to comply. Even in an entirely different show, she's still THE WORST.

Unfortunately, the Fringe Buddies still have no idea where the kid could be. The only way to find out would be to question one of the victims - so Walter, very reluctantly, volunteers to go back to St. Claire's to question Dashiell. Unfortunately, when he loses his temper with the addled Dashiell, he's sedated and put back in his cell by St. Claire's director Dr. Sumner, who believes Walter should never have been allowed to leave in the first place. However, Walter keeps it together long enough to glean enough clues from poor, tormented Dashiell to lead Olivia to the Creepy Mad Science Basement.

Olivia arrives in time to rescue Ben before he's driven crazy, but Evil Britta uses her Hypnotizing Christmas Lights and escapes with the equation, which Ben finished. She meets up with our pal Mitchell Loeb - who is now heart-parasite free - and uses the equation to finally complete a machine that allows people to pass through solid matter. He then does the entire show a solid and kills Evil Britta. Hooray!

Meanwhile, Peter springs Walter out of Crazy Claire's, and we Have A Moment where Peter tells his father how brave he was to face the mental asylum to save a child's life. Awww....

Mad Science:
  • Head-Trauma-Induced Musical Talent
  • Hypnosis with Christmas Lights
  • Music as Math
  • Mathematical Theorems
  • Phasing through Solid Matter
Best Death Scene: Evil Britta getting shot at the very end. Because she's still the worst. She almost Britta'd that little boy!

Mad Science Questions:
  • What is Mitchell Loeb up to?

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