Episode Title: ‘Marionette’
Air Date: December 9th, 2010
In the last episode of the year (Fringe returns in January on a new night – Fridays!), the folks responsible for Fringe deliver an extra creepy episode full of organ & corpse stealing and a Frankenstein-esque reanimation plot.
Warning – Spoilers ahead…
This season has been a dual storyline of Olivia Dunham trapped in the Walternate universe while her alternate has been working a secret agenda in our universe. Last week, all of that came to a head as Olivia escaped and returned home forcing Alternate Olivia to flee back to the Walternate universe. Did she succeed in her mission? She seems to think she did, despite what our Fringe team thinks. Plots within plots.
This week we saw the first ramifications of what the Olivia swap has caused as tiny fractures start to spread between our Olivia and Peter Bishop. While trapped in the Walternate universe, Peter was what Olivia held onto, what she fought for and what ultimately lead to her escape and return home. Once back, she learned that he didn’t even know she’d been gone. Alternate Olivia had setup shop in her home, wore her clothes and even took the man she had come to love, Peter, to her bed and he had no clue. He does admit that any changes in her, anything different, he was able to explain away by telling himself it was their relationship changing.
All of this is tearing at Olivia throughout an episode that focuses on a strange case of organ theft. At first, they believe it to be an isolated, though odd, incident. A man stumbles home and passes out. When he comes to, a room in his house has been lined with plastic and he is taped down on a table. There is another man in the house, a man who apologizes to him while harvesting his heart. He gives the man a shot of something in his neck to keep him alive, then calls 911. When the paramedics arrive, they find what they believe to be a dead body, chest wide open, heart gone, but then the head moves and the man begs them not to let him die.
As the team digs deeper, they find that this isn’t the only time this has happened – other people have had similar experiences with the strange but polite man first drugging them (he uses the old cold war spy umbrella trick! The umbrella has a needle in the tip, you accidentally bump into someone, the needle injects a drug that causes them to pass out), then harvesting some organ from them. Later, they learn that the organs are all from the same donor and realize that whoever the man is, he is trying to reassemble the donor, a young ballerina who committed suicide.
This brings us to one of the creepiest scenes I’ve seen on tv in a long time – maybe since the incest family episode of X-Files that gave me nightmares for years.
“We must keep your muscles strong.”
Creepy polite organ harvesting guy? He has this complex pulley system setup in his basement and is using it to literally make the corpse of the ballerina dance…
I cannot describe this and do it any real justice – it is a visual moment and I suggest you go to hulu.com and watch it for yourself.
Both storylines come to a head when they catch the creepy guy and he tells Olivia that when he looked in the eyes of the girl he was trying to bring back, he just knew it wasn’t her. This is what has been bothering Olivia – that Peter didn’t know, didn’t look into into the alternate Olivia’s eyes and just know it wasn’t her.
The whole ‘look into the eyes and know’ thing has been done enough that I almost think it’s a tv trope at this point. I remember Buffy being hurt because Riley hadn’t simply ‘known’ that Faith had switched bodies with her. Worse, she’s hurt that he slept with Faith even though he didn’t know it wasn’t Buffy. Spock being expected to know which Kirk is the real Kirk in the classic episode of Star Trek Whom Gods Destroy. There’s a similar scene in one of the Terry Goodkind ‘Sword of Truth’ novels, The Stone of Tears, I believe, wherein Richard is hurt because Kahlahn doesn’t simply ‘know’ that it’s him, can’t sense it the way he can.
In this episode of Fringe, Olivia’s hurt feelings drive a wedge between them that I’m sure will be a source of friction in the second half of the season which debuts Fridays in January.
We saw nothing of the Walternate universe this episode and only a few, passing moments of Walterisms – not surprising considering the focus really was on Olivia and Peter’s relationship. I’m sure the show will return with a big bang in January, until then, we have to content ourselves with this from Walter Bishop re Olivia:
“Do you think possibly they replaced her with a robot?”
Article first published as Fringe Recap – “Marionette” on Technorati.