With the World Series over, Fringe is finally back with a B-movie-inspired episode that plunges us into Russian fringe science, delves into Agent Broyles' past, turns people to ash, and has us wondering what the CIA is up to.
I suppose if Fringe has to do a relatively mythology-free episode, at least it harnesses a little B-movie magic. Last night's episode has shades of The Incredible Melting Man, in which an astronaut returns from space and becomes a monster who needs to consume human flesh to survive. But Fringe took a gory concept and made it creepier with its radiation-sucking cosmonaut turning people to ash. That opening scene was a great little nugget of horror; even though we expect it, it's chilling when the woman comes home and her excitement melts into trepidation, then frightened disbelief as her husband crumbles to ash. When Fringe does monster of the week, it does a solid job.
Scream Queens: I get that this was supposed to evoke classic horror movies, but does it only have to be the women screaming? Men are perfectly capable of emitting a nice, high-pitched wail.
Russian Fringe Science: It makes sense that the Russians would have fringe science (and that it might be even more developed than American fringe science). I hope this isn't just a throwaway mention, and that this somehow comes into play in the coming interdimensional war. And it's interesting that Walter still uses the term "pinko." Is it just because of his 17-year timeout, or does this indicate something about Walter's politics.
Whither Nina Sharp? It's also interesting that, in a Broyles-centric episode, we see neither hide nor cybernetic arm hair of Nina Sharp. Little has been made of Broyles' relationship with Sharp since it was revealed in the season premiere, and now that Broyles is returning to the case that ruined his marriage, he doesn't ask Sharp to use Massive Dynamics' resources. Perhaps he's trying to maintain some illusion that Olivia is the only one in contact with Massive Dynamics', or maybe he only turns to Nina Sharp when he knows she can help with the problem at hand.
Man in Black: As the episode went on, it began to feel less like a standalone episode, and more like we're lining up potential players for the battle ahead. The CIA is less than thrilled that the Fringe Division is poking its nose into the case of the missing cosmonaut. Does the CIA have its own Fringe Science Division? Although, at the end of the episode, a man from the CIA informs Broyles that the cosmonaut was still alive and gave a pointed look at the night sky. I wonder how often the CIA deals with problems by shooting them into space.
Astrid Action: This was a Broyles-heavy episode, so most of our regular cast took a back seat to Lance Reddick. Still, when are we going to see Astrid in the field already?
Walter Moment of the Week: Walter still got to be Walter despite the focus on Broyles. He maligned Russians, played with Tinker Toys, and shared yet another embarrassing memory from Peter's childhood (involving doodles of genitalia no less). But the most truly Walter moment was when we fully realized that Walter thinks of licorice the way some people think of tea cookies and canapes.