Recap: Fringe, Episode 4.13, “A Better Human Being”

This episode picks up right where “Welcome to Westfield” left off. I heartily approve. This is how you handle a cliffhanger. Olivia tells Peter she kissed him because it “felt normal.” He’s worried about her health and wants Walter to check her out. She’s embarrassed and insists she just needs to rest, alone. Oh, and then she starts having flashes from the first timeline, specifically when she first realized Peter was from Over There. Again, I heartily approve.

Deerfield Mental Hospital, nighttime. A young man makes his way into an empty room. It looks like he’s talking to someone who isn’t there, which is probably not that unusual in a mental hospital. “It’s starting,” he says.

Douglaston, NY, night. Three guys walk into a house. It seems like the guy in the hospital is directing them, or at the very least remotely viewing what’s happening. We hear someone say “fan out,” and the guys in the house do so. A woman named Bernadette comes to coax Sean (the guy in the hospital) back to bed. She tells him the voices he’s hearing aren’t real. He starts struggling as the men in the house attack the home owner and place a plastic bag over his head.

Bernadette and an orderly named Charles wrestle Sean into bed as he continues to thrash about. He relaxes after Bernadette sedates him, but mostly seems to calm down after the man in Douglaston is dead. “He’s dead,” Sean says. “It’s over.” Roll credits.

After the break, the Fringe team (including Lincoln, dammit) head to the hospital in Deerfield. After word of the Douglaston murder broke, people realized Sean had somehow described it as it was happening. Walter takes a break from chatting up a patient about LSD to learn that Sean’s been at Deerfield for three years, but has been hospitalized since he was 14. Meanwhile, Olivia is experiencing flashes/memories of entering another hospital, with Peter at her side. Bernadette tells the team that Sean has never spoken of violence before.

Sean doesn’t recognize the dead man, Daniel Green, from his photo. He insists he had nothing to do with Green’s death, and tells Walter that he usually hears eight or nine voices, but last night there were only three. (They’re looking for three suspects in the Douglaston murder.) Sean thinks one of the killers might have stopped at a train station to clean up, and Lincoln goes to talk to transit authorities. Good, make yourself useful. God, I am so mean to Lincoln, I know. I like the dude, but I just don’t understand why he’s still here.

Walter learns that the voices Sean heard talked to each other, but not to him. He asks Sean if he’d be willing to go off his meds to help in the investigation. Walter tells Bernadette her diagnosis of Sean is flawed because the voices he hears don’t relate to him at all. He suspects Sean is actually telepathic rather than delusional. Bernadette says she can’t make Sean take his meds as he’s in the hospital voluntarily, but she wants to run the idea past the prescribing physician first. Olivia goes with her, so she can have another vision, this time of going with Peter to retrieve Walter from St. Claire’s.

Then there’s a weird cut, to Olivia heading over to visit Peter at night. She asks if she can look around the house. She tells him she’s remembered their life together, up to and including Peter getting into the machine: “I remember everything.” She’s”¦ oddly okay with this deluge of information. Peter, not so much. He’s sure she’s somehow mistaken.

At the lab, Walter records Olivia’s brain waves while he questions her about how they came to work together. She’s sure of what she remembers now, but her memories of the second timeline, the one Walter and Peter think is real, are hazy. Walter guesses that Olivia’s innate empathy is at work, making her “pick up on” what Peter so desperately wants: for her to be his Olivia. Peter thinks that sounds like bullshit, basically. Walter can’t imagine what else could be happening. He takes a hair sample from Olivia to test.

Lincoln shows up with a lead, a DNA sample from bloody paper towels found in a train station bathroom. They’re looking for a white male, but haven’t gotten a hit so far. Walter notices something rare in the DNA that makes him believe Sean and at least one of the killers are brothers, or at least half-brothers. According to Sean’s medical records, however, he’s an only child. After Olivia and Lincoln leave to talk to Sean’s mother, Walter accuses Peter of being responsible, perhaps unintentionally, for Olivia’s recovered memories. He understands the temptation all too well, but insists that it’s wrong.

Florence, MA. From Mrs. Keenan (Sean’s mother), Olivia and Lincoln learn that Sean was conceived through in-vitro fertilization with a donor sample. (Um, wouldn’t that probably also be in his medical records?) She says the doctor they went to, an Owen Frank, used “only the best donors.” Oh, I think I’ve seen this story on Law & Order: SVU. Or maybe it was Criminal Intent. Mrs. Keenan says she got a voicemail message from a reporter named Daniel Green who was doing a story on IVF. Lincoln & Olivia suspect Green was killed so he wouldn’t write that story.

In an assisted living facility, a wheelchair-bound Dr. Frank sees a report of Green’s murder on the news. He was recently visited by Green, and seems pretty shaken up by the news of the man’s death.

At the mental hospital, Sean wolfs down lunch. Astrid, whose sole purpose in this episode is to interact with Sean, explains that his hearty appetite is a side-effect of the detox program he’s on. He tells her she’s pretty. She thanks him and reassures him that he’s in good hands with Walter. The detox is working already; Sean’s started hearing voices again, but now there are too many for him to determine what they’re saying.

After the break, Walter works with Olivia’s hair sample in the lab. Olivia, meanwhile, tries in vain to track down Dr. Frank. She asks Peter to go through some old utility bills from Frank’s clinic for a lead. She notices a scar on Peter’s hand that she doesn’t remember, but that’s because he only got it in the past month. She takes his hand and he’s about to pull away when Walter breaks it up. Well, at least it wasn’t Lincoln putting a damper on things.

Walter has reached a breakthrough, so at least he wasn’t ruining that shiptastic moment for nothing. He compares the way the killers communicate to bees, “operating as one”¦ to ensure the survival of the hive.” Olivia gets a call giving her Dr. Frank’s current address. Before she and Peter head over to talk to Frank, Walter gives Peter the stink-eye to end all stink-eyes. Aw, and they were getting along so well.

Dr. Frank says, “this isn’t the first time that they have killed.” He doesn’t know who “they” are, but a writer he hired three years ago to document his work was stabbed before they ever got started. Frank admits that his real work was in genetic manipulation. I’m pretty sure the doctor on Law & Order wasn’t messing around to that extent, but he also wasn’t nearly this forthcoming about his dirty work. Frank says that he was trying to make “a better human being.” Oh, they said it!

Frank says he was trying to reintroduce abilities humans have evolved away from, like telepathy. Also, there were about 200 subjects he experimented on. Also also, all of the samples Frank used came from him! Gross. Peter guessed it; I think he must’ve seen that episode of Law & Order too. So gross. Apparently, Dr. Frank’s killer bee sons don’t want their secret exposed. It’s never really explained how they got in contact with each other (and not with Sean), but whatever. Genetic manipulation, universe hopping, rejiggered timelines”¦ I’d feel ridiculous getting hung up on one unexplained plot point.

At the hospital, Astrid’s trying to take down whatever information Sean can give her on the hive. He can tell that they’re scared. He also knows that one of the three men who killed Green, the one who left his DNA in that bathroom, is still injured. We see him in another grody bathroom bandaging his bloody arm.

Lincoln goes to update Walter on Olivia and Peter’s progress, but Walter is preoccupied by something he’s just discovered in the lab. He wants to be taken to see Nina immediately. “I know what’s happening to Olivia.” Ooh, do tell.

Walter tells Nina that someone has been dosing Olivia, frequently and recently, with Cortexiphan. He suspects someone of reverse-engineering the formula. Nina admits she’s the only one with access to the samples left over from Walter and Bell’s testing days, so clearly no one’s gotten into the stash. Would’ve made more sense to claim the samples were stolen, but Walter will probably just take your word for it that security is super-tight, since he likes you so – oh, wait. Walter demands to see the samples. Nina’s like, oh sure, let me just “make some calls,” but Lincoln puts a halt to that sneaky shit.

Back Bay, Boston. Peter and Olivia trek to the storage unit where Frank keeps his creepy, creepy life’s work, including a list of his “patients.” Olivia tries to get Peter to open up to her. She says she wants him to behave naturally, and I know what she means, but nothing about their situation is exactly “natural.” Olivia starts reminiscing about a case, and she remembers something that Peter never knew until that moment, so he realizes he can’t be projecting his memories onto her. Olivia tells him that she’s not scared.

Olivia finds the lock to Frank’s storage unit has already been picked, and all the equipment inside smashed. Meanwhile, Sean’s telling Astrid, “They’re going to kill her,” and she’s trying to get details. Astrid calls Olivia to warn her that the killer bees know she’s there, just as a car bears down on the storage unit. Peter gets himself and Olivia clear just in time. A couple more hive guys come out of hiding and attack the pair, but they are quickly subdued. I’m sorry, there are how many of you, and you couldn’t spare more people for this mission? Also, you destroyed all the evidence, so you needed to kill an FBI agent why, exactly?

At the assisted living facility, a pair of cops show up looking for Dr. Frank. Meanwhile, two of his “sons” enter his room. He immediately knows who they are. The cops are led to Frank’s room, but they’re too late: he’s already been smothered with a pillow.

Sean sits in his room watching TV with the volume way up. His mother turns it off and tells him it’s too loud. Astrid thinks to ask him what’s wrong. He can’t hear the voices anymore and finds the silence unnerving. Astrid tells him his fear is understandable, but gently reminds him that this is normal and now he has the opportunity to hear his own thoughts. Astrid rocks. She’s superfluous here, but she rocks nonetheless.

Peter and Olivia stop at a gas station. She doesn’t know what they should do now that the case is wrapped. They used to have a routine, but now things are weird. Peter admits that he’s afraid, because of how easily he fell for Fauxlivia. He says this time, though, he realizes that it’s really his Olivia in front of him. They kiss, and then Olivia has to make a run to the bathroom. Aw, you guys. I mean, “aw” because it’s really sweet and yay they’re back together but also “aw” because you know things are totally about to go off the rails.

At Massive Dynamic, Nina takes Walter and Lincoln to the chamber where the vials of Cortexiphan are kept. Walter opens one and drinks it, then tells Nina that it’s actually potassium iodide and red food coloring. Gosh, someone must have replaced it. Nina plays dumb, but I don’t think Walter is buying it.

At the gas station, Peter gets tired of waiting and heads inside, only to find the bathroom empty. The clerk doesn’t remember seeing Olivia. Dandy. And wouldn’t you know it, she’s tied up somewhere, with Nina tied up in a chair across from her. Nina asks if “they” hurt Olivia and tries to reassure her that they’ll be okay. Oh snap, why didn’t it occur to me that that Nina had been replaced? I guess I was too busy being suspicious of Olivia. Also, Nina’s always been a little pod-like, if you know what I mean. It’s hard to tell with her. Anyway, it’s still not completely clear which Nina is which. And next time, things get even weirder! I can’t wait.

6 thoughts on “Recap: Fringe, Episode 4.13, “A Better Human Being””

  1. I didn’t get that impression about Nina at all.  Definitely didn’t think there was a double.  I thought that Nina had faked her own disheveled appearance to claim to Olivia that they had both been kidnapped.  Also, then everyone else will think that perhaps Nina and Olivia are missing together.  That way some of the suspicion is thrown off of Nina.

    But I suppose there could be two Ninas…

Leave a Reply