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Recap: Fringe, Episode 4.04, “Subject 9”

It’s early morning, and Olivia’s in bed, asleep. The clock reads 5:59. Some kind of blue energy field appears in the room, ruffling the curtains and pulling metal items off the bedside table. The clock hits 6:00 and the alarm goes off, waking Olivia. Upon seeing the whatever that’s in her room, she leaps out of bed and draws her gun. The mass of energy disappears. The clock hits 6:00 and the alarm goes off, again. Olivia is alone, but the stuff that was on the table is now on the floor.

At the lab, Walter has set up 28 cameras to try to “catch” his and Olivia’s mystery man. Walter is excited now, rather than frightened, because he watched The Matrix last night. The Matrix, Toy Story … I would love to get a look at his movie collection. Walter suspects the “apparition” is out of sync with our reality (why has no one floated the idea that it might be someone from the other universe?) and visible only from “one specific angle,” which is why only Walter can see it.

Olivia tells Walter and Astrid about the powerful “energy” that appeared in her bedroom. She takes off her jacket to show them the burn on her arm where the thing touched her. Walter instructs Astrid get to a scraping from Olivia’s arm to run DNA. While the women are busy on the other side of the room, Walter finds an letter from St. Claire’s in Olivia’s jacket pocket. Dr. Sumner wants to re-institutionalize Walter, and there’s a place on the form for Olivia to recommend – or not – hospitalization. Walter slips the envelope back into place before sending Olivia and Astrid to get atmospheric readings from Olivia’s apartment.

Via Astrid’s headset, Walter tells Olivia to get metal objects from the bathroom for testing. He starts hearing feedback, and Olivia yelling for Astrid. Astrid runs to the bathroom, and the camera shows a trapped Olivia before the door slams shut. Walter asks what’s going on, but Astrid, still in the living room, doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Then it appears to happen again – Olivia yelling, Astrid running to the bathroom, and the door slamming shut. Inside, the energy appears, pulls some stuff out of the medicine cabinet, and disappears. Astrid is finally able to get into the bathroom, where she finds Olivia crouching on the floor.

Back at the lab, Walter has determined that his equipment recorded the incident before it actually occurred. He recalls one of the Cortexiphan kids doing something similar years ago. The boy was capable of astral projection, but the side effect was a distortion in the magnetic field, which would draw metal objects to the boy. Bell thought all the kids might share a psychic link; Walter thinks the boy might be trying to reach out to Olivia, unaware of the harmful side effects. Fun fact: the other kids didn’t react well emotionally to the treatments, and they all knew Olivia was “the favorite.” Walter wants to find this guy before he does any more damage. Unfortunately, he only remembers him as “Subject 9.” Episode title shout-out!

So it’s off to Massive Dynamic. Nina is giving a speech, the basic thrust of which seems to be “Screw Ethics, Make Money.” She tells Olivia and Astrid (who’s in the field again, yay!) that the Cortexiphan files were sealed, some maybe even lost. Walter, communicating through Astrid, does not care for Nina AT ALL in this reality. He sneeringly compares her voice to razor blades rattling around his head. It’s both hilarious and intriguing.

Astrid heads into the file room. Nina, who seems rather close to Olivia in this reality, knows Olivia is the one being “visited” and asks how she can help. Olivia says she’s already helping by letting them go through the files. I wonder if any of Olivia’s family are alive in this reality.

Olivia tries to explain the Cortexiphan trials to Astrid, who’s disturbed that Walter and Bell were experimenting on children. We learn that Olivia ran away, and Bell and Walter shut the project down a few years later. Olivia and Astrid find the file on Subject 9, aka Cameron James.

Upon returning to the lab, they find Walter packed and ready to hit the road with Olivia in search of Cameron. He leaves instructions for Astrid to man the cameras, slipping up and calling her “Claire.” Astrid’s all, “DUDE. That doesn’t even start with an A.” [Ed. note: On Jasika Nicole’s Tumblr, she mentions that the writers put that in as a shout-out to her partner, whose name is Claire. Which is awesome. -PoM]

In New York, Walter pretends to be enjoying the sights and “fresh air,” but he’s obviously having a rough time of it. Olivia picks her way into Cameron’s apartment, blithely disregarding the Fourth Amendment. It looks like the tenant is named Mark Little, but Walter notices that anything made of metal has been removed from the apartment. A neighbor informs Walter and Olivia that “Mark” won’t be back from his truck-driving job until 10 the next morning.

At the $200-a-night hotel, Walter is grossed out by all the germs lurking in his room. Olivia heads next door to get some sleep. The lights in her room don’t work, and she’s calling downstairs when loud noises start coming from Walter’s room.

She rushes into Walter’s room to find him trashing the place like a rock star. He throws a mattress and everything. To be fair, though, there are apparently “chocolate stains on the desk and strawberry juice on the carpet!” Even assuming the stains are made of juice and chocolate (and I’m not, because I’m that kind of pessimist), that’s just nasty. Olivia interrupts Walter’s rant to tell him that it’s all in his mind.

He calms down enough to realize he’s cut his hands during his rampage. Olivia patches him up, marveling that after all he’s seen, it’s invisible germs that freak him out. He starts talking about his wife, and reveals that she killed herself after their son died. Olivia suggests that they go out for root beer floats, as sleep seems to be out of the question for the night.

At a diner, Walter admits that he saw the St. Claire’s form. He knows he’s “merely work” for Olivia, and has been waiting for her to chuck him back into the hospital for three years. She realizes he left the lab to prove he’s “capable.” She says she’s “only trying to do what’s best.” Walter asks, “best for whom?” but she doesn’t get to answer, as the blue magnetic field appears in the restaurant at that moment. Olivia shoots out a window so they can escape. She and Walter are separated, and Olivia is nearly hit by a car while trying to escape the entity.

After the break, it’s now morning and a Lt. Daniels (The Wire shout-out?) wants some answers. Olivia gives him a letter from Broyles (and his boss) giving her blanket authority over the scene. Walter is huddled miserably on the back of an ambulance, beating himself up for starting this mess by experimenting on children.

He’s still arguing the point when they get to Cameron’s apartment building, upset that he never bothered to check up on any of the kids. Olivia reminds him that the doses administered were so low, none of the children’s abilities lasted more than a day. Walter borrows Olivia’s phone to check in with Astrid, because of course Olivia should have no way of calling for backup when going to talk with a potentially dangerous suspect. Why don’t you just hand over your gun while you’re at it?

Inside, Cameron bolts when he hears his real name. Walter accidentally knocks him over in the downstairs hallway, and Cameron freaks out when he sees Walter, making the chandeliers swing ominously. Olivia grabs Cameron to demand answers. Walter tries to call her off, and Cameron realizes the woman in front of him is “Olive” all grown up. He seems surprised and relieved that she’s okay.

Cameron tells “Dr. Freak” that he hasn’t been able to astral project in years; all he has are the awful side effects. If he gets anxious, the side effects manifest themselves. Once, he pulled out a girl’s fillings while on a date. He tells Olivia he changed his name because he was named after his father, who took money to get high and let scientists experiment on his son.

Cameron says he’s now neither “special” nor “normal,” and asks Walter if he understands what it’s like to feel like a freak. Walter says he can, and apologizes, sort of. The mail boxes start flapping wildly, and the blue energy field appears. Cameron insists that it’s not his doing. He screams, “No!” and the entity disappears.

Olivia is anxious for Walter to figure out what’s really going on. Cameron thinks Walter might be holding out. The man in front of him is much different from the one he remembers; he wonders what happened to Walter. Olivia pushes Walter to think of something, and he theorizes that the electromagnetism is a side effect (rather than a cause) “of field distortions in time.” Basically, the entity is distorting magnetic fields rather than causing them.  He worries that the entity will grow large enough to destroy everything in its path. Come to think of it, why has no one blamed Walternate yet? This sounds like something he’d do. Anyway, Walter thinks that a large enough energy field — such as Cameron is capable of producing — can neutralize the entity.

Astrid directs them to a power grid terminal, where they wait for the entity to appear again. Cameron asks if Olivia’s heard from the other Cortexiphan kids or experienced any side effects herself; she says no. He says she’s lucky … “or something else.” He suggests Walter might not tell her if she were the one causing the magnetic disturbances.

The blue field appears again, and Olivia insists it’s not her while Walter yells for Cameron to destroy the thing. As it comes closer, Olivia sees the man from her dreams take shape within it. She fires her gun in the air to make Cameron stop whatever he’s doing, and the field disappears.

At Reiden Lake, a man and boy are fishing from a little boat. Peter appears in the water nearby, apparently naked. Is it just me, or was Joshua Jackson up in the gym over the break? An Observer stands on the shore, watching. I wonder what happens to Observers when they disobey a direct order?

At the power grid, Olivia explains what she saw to Walter. She “had a feeling” that the man didn’t mean her harm and wanted her help. As they head to the car, she asks Cameron if she can do anything for him. He asks her to make Walter forget about him. She asks Walter if he thinks they destroyed the entity. He’s not sure what happened, but points out that Olivia behaved in a seemingly irrational manner; when he does that, people say he’s crazy.

Olivia gets a call from Broyles about what happened at Reiden Lake. Walter’s all, “Oh, I had a house there.” Yeah, shouldn’t be too hard to get him to forget about Cameron. Broyles says the man who appeared in the lake has a lot of classified information in his head.

At the hospital, the doctor says the man keeps talking about someone named Olivia Dunham. Olivia goes off with the doctor and Broyles steps away to take a call. Olivia has left the letter for Walter to find, hopefully on purpose this time. He sees that she recommended against hospitalization and smiles tremulously. Aw.

Meanwhile, Olivia steps into Peter’s room. He’s standing at the window with his back to her and turns around as she enters, for the full soap opera effect. He’s all, “Thank God you’re here,” and she’s all, “Who are you?” and I’m all, “The hell is going on with your hair?”

4 replies on “Recap: Fringe, Episode 4.04, “Subject 9””

The whole point of the Observer saving Peter the first time was that he was supposed to live; he interfered by being noticed and distracting Walternate in the lab.  I hope they explain why he all of a sudden was never supposed to exist!

BTW, I’ve seen promo pics, and JJ’s hair is sexy again.

Oh, thank goodness! I was afraid it was a jacked-up haircut, but it looks like somebody on the show just doesn’t know how to comb hair. It’d be a shame for him to do all that working out and be stuck with stupid-looking hair until it grew back in.

I do wish the Observers would make up their minds already! Was Peter II supposed to live, or not? I think the whole “he never existed” thing was a screw-up on the writers’ part. They eventually clumsily corrected themselves, so we know he DID exist but died as a kid, but it was definitely bothering me.

I really hope it doesn’t end up being one of those circular time travel plots, ie Peter was saved only to create a world in which he wasn’t saved.

The hair on this show is always a mess.  It looks like their stylist is from LA and doesn’t know how to deal with northeastern humidity.  How else could you mess up Anna Torv’s hair?

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