New York City – A mystery man regains consciousness after crashing his car and immediately abandons the vehicle . He stumbles through the streets, bleeding from a head wound. He presses all the intercom buttons until someone buzzes him in without checking to see who it is (breaking rule # 1 of the Personal Security Book) where he meets a good Samaritan inside. Mystery Man attacks the Samaritan and drags him into his apartment. Mystery Man mashes up his face like it’s made of plastercine and ends up looking like Frankenstein’s monster’s ugly brother. He pulls a device out of his pocket and shoves what looks to be a three-pronged electrical plug into the Samaritan’s upper palate. Wow, that gives the term “internal USB port” a whole new meaning. He jacks the other end of the device into the roof of his own mouth, turns it on, and his face shifts into that of the Samaritan’s. Mystery Man wipes the blood off his new, healed face. Insta-disguise activated.
A dark-haired woman in an FBI jacket examines a different crashed car that has been abandoned in the street. Oddly, it looks like a collision but there is no second vehicle. She discovers that the missing driver is none other than Special Agent Olivia Dunham.
Meanwhile, next to the dairy aisle, Peter Bishop and his father Dr. Walter Bishop are grocery shopping for the necessary ingredients to make Peter some cake and custard for his birthday. Peter insists he doesn’t like custard (that may have been Walter’s other son Peter) but Walter insists. After all, he was a sous-chef for the guy who invented ho-hos, so the man knows his desserts. Peter gets a mysterious phone call and they leave…
only to arrive at the second abandoned vehicle. The dark-haired woman is Junior FBI Agent Jessup, who wants to know who Peter and Walter are. Peter can’t find any familiar faces to get an explanation for Olivia’s absence. He brushes of Junior Jessup, telling her that if she had clearance to know who they were she wouldn’t have to ask why they were there. Junior Jessup announces that the airbag was activated and the seatbelt done up, but there is no sign that anyone was actually in the seat at the time of impact. Just as she finishes, Olivia (last seen in an alternate dimension speaking to Massive Dynamic founder William Bell) materializes in the empty vehicle and is ejected through the windshield of the parked car.
Outside the hospital, Special Agent Philip Broyles orders the junior agent to sign off that the accident was a routine traffic accident. She reluctantly does. Inside the hospital, Peter and Walter are informed that Olivia could not be resuscitated because of her massive head trauma. Because being launched through a windshield will do that.
Peter takes off to drown his sorrows, leaving Astrid to babysit a self-medicated Walter, and is joined by Broyles, who add more bad news to the party: the bigshots in Washington are shutting down Fringe Division. They toast to the demise of their department and to their down-for-the-count agent and friend.
Junior Jessup, not at all happy with the way her first assignment is going, has gotten her hands on someone’s password (this show is so not security conscious) and accesses all of the Fringe Division files from the last year.
Peter meets up with Olivia’s sister, Rachel, who is waiting till morning to pull the plug on her sister. Peter goes into Olivia’s to say goodbye. She is all machined up – perhaps taking too many style notes from Ms. Nina Sharp. Peter is too overcome to speak but still manages to say a lot (well done, Mr. Jackson.) Olivia jacknifes out of bed and starts spewing gibberish.
Give her a minute, people, she’s been mostly dead all day. Olivia realizes that she is in a hospital and is injured. However she is desperate to talk to Peter. Somebody told her something and now she has to do something. Needless to say, the fate of the world rests upon it. If only she could remember who told her and what it is she’s supposed to do.
Peter goes to the FBI building to track down Broyles and Charlie. However he can’t get through reception because his credentials have been revoked. Junior Jessup offers herself as liason. She’s been examining Olivia’s accident scene and the crash looks deliberate. She has a photo of the other driver taken from a security camera. She and Peter track down the driver and, behold, find him dead in his living room. Mystery Man’s first appearance was also stolen. Peter and Walter take the body back to Walter’s lab (which I can only assume hasn’t been dissassembled yet even though Peter’s credentials are gone).
Now for something really cool. Mystery Man enters a typewriter shop and asks for a model that was never made. The owner says that it’s been six years since someone wanted that model. Mystery Man goes into a back office and sits down at a desk that has a Selectric 251 right beside a mirror. He types his message, and the typewriter in the mirror types the response.
Mystery Man: Target terminated in fatal car crash. Meeting prevented. Request extraction.
Mirror: Negative. Mission failed. Meeting occured. Target still alive.
Mystery Man: Request orders.
Mirror: Interrogate target. Then kill her.
At the hospital, Olivia’s not doing too well. Although she says she’s fine, Special Agent Charlie Francis doesn’t believe her. She scared, she can’t remember what happened, and her hands are shaking too badly to load her gun. Poor Olivia.
Meanwhile, back at the lab, Peter tells Junior Agent Amy Jessup the history of Walter and Fringe Division. She gets a quick introduction to Special Agent Astrid Farnsworth and then a trial-by-fire initiation when Walter simultaneously performs an autopsy and instructions Astrid on how to cook a custard.
Walter finds the three holes in the roof of dead-guy’s mouth. He remembers an old experiment where a woman having some kind of vision describes this injury as well as soldiers from another dimension. Peter instructs Astrid to run a search for corpses with similar injuries
At a hearing in Washington, Broyles is passionate in his explanation on why the government would be foolish to shut down Fringe Division, which look after the X-designation cases. Unfortunately, a sympathetic senator tells him that without viable results there is no way to support the human and fiscal cost. Outside the hearing, Ms. Nina Sharp approaches Broyles and informs him that even Massive Dynamics influence can’t help. She gives him a kiss, and it’s not a peck on the cheek either. He must find a way to save the day
Peter and Jessup check out another body with similar injuries. They realize that this guy is doing whatever it takes to stay on mission, which happens to be killing Olivia. Fortunately, Olivia is under guard and only her nurse is allowed into the room. This episode is all about the security. Unfortunately, they are a few steps behind Mystery Man, who is at the hospital. He approaches Olivia’s nurse. Oh, you know this isn’t going to end well.
Olivia’s nurse (yeah, right) enters her room to check her vitals. (You still have some? Damn.) She asks Olivia if she remembers anything about the accident, or what she was doing before hand. Olivia tries but assures her that it is all a blank. That’s all the nurse needs to hear. She jumps on the bed and tries to strangle Olivia. She does a pretty good job of it too, until Jessup bursts into the room and shoots her. The nurse jumps out a window (about six stories) and runs into the basement. Jessup radios for Charlie to follow her.
Peter is torn between joining the chase and checking over Olivia, but she sends him away with instructions to “get her” In the basement, Charlie moves furtively, apparently looking for something that may be hiding near a big-ass incinerator. The not-nurse is, in fact, hidden in the overhead piping. Peter and Jessup arrive to the sounds of a fight and the nurse is killed by Charlie. Peter picks up the broken three-pronged insta-disguise machine.
After all is said and done, Peter arrives at Olivia’s room bearing flowers. Olivia wants to know who her attacker was. A shapechanging soldier from another universe. They get a smile out of the fact that they can have this conversation with a straight face. Peter tells Olivia that Walter believes that Olivia has also been to another universe; that’s where she was at the time of the accident. She can’t remember but he promises that Walter will figure it out. In other weird news, does she remember the gibberish she shouted when she came to? It was Greek for “be a better man than your father” and it was a code between him and his mother. She doesn’t know where she heard it but I’m sure we’ll hear it again. Olivia asks if they are shutting down Fringe Division. Peter gives her a decisive “no”
Peter gives Broyles the damaged device and says it is the proof they need to keep Fringe Division open, since the technology isn’t from her. Broyles is suprised that Peter would give it up. Peter says that they are done being reactive.
Junior Agent Jessup continues to review all of Fringe Divisions files, although this time she is cross-referencing the topics with a Bible.
Peter goes back to the lab where Walter, Astrid and Gene the Cow are all waiting in birthday hats. Looks like he’s getting that cake and custard after all.
And Charlie. Oh, Charlie. Charlie seems to still be doing cleanup in the basement of the hospital. He wheels a bin of dirty linen over to the incinerator, flips down a sheet and reveals… Charlie! Oh, no, you were a victim of the insta-disguise machine. Not-Charlie/Mystery Man hefts poor dead Charlie out of the basket and into the incinerator, destroying all evidence.
THOUGHTS AND THEORIES:
Sam McPherson had an interesting thought about Olivia’s accident but I respectfully disagree. I think that, in the finale, she did cross over to the other universe when she was in the elevator. I think that Mystery Man didn’t know that Olivia had completed her meeting with William Bell because he caught her/rammed her car on her way out of the meeting. It was at that point that the threshold between universes was breached.
For me, the timing was an issue because Mystery Man was already in our universe before the crash. (He stole his first victim’s identity before he crashed the car.) So was he operating in tandem with someone on the other side to ensure that Olivia didn’t make it to the meeting, unaware that they were already too late?
I’m withholding judgement on Agent Jessup’s arrival until we see a little more of her. I’m wondering how far Abrams&Co are going to go with matching Fringe events to the Bible, because Supernatural (coincidentally running in the same timeslot on the CW) is neck-deep in an angels and demons storyline, so I’m hoping that Fringe stays with the science.
Since the show is now filmed in Vancouver, I think that they got a new cow. Unlike a leopard, it looks like Gene has changed her spots.
So what did Olivia see on the other side? Who did she meet? William Bell, certainly. But perhaps Peter’s mother? What is she supposed to do? What was hidden and where? These are excellent questions to set up the second season.
And does anyone else think that Walter should put out a cookbook?