An FBI agent and friend of Broyles gets infected with a parasite, which is kind of like saying Anne Boleyn had a headache. He's got this sucking, constricting thing around his heart, sending tendrils throughout his body. The Fringe team works to save him, and find an acronym buried in the DNA of the creature. Well, of course they did. ZTF is the name of several cells that are connected to the pattern. Olivia is, as usual, annoyed that she's getting information in bits and pieces, which you'd think she'd be used to by now.
While Broyles corners a local suspect, Joseph Smith, Olivia's off to Germany where she hooks up with a former boyfriend to gain access to another suspect, David Jones in a German prison who might have information on how to save Broyles' friend. She almost hooks up-hooks up with her old boyfriend too, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. (I mean "sex."). But the Jones wants to ask Joseph Smith a question, which would normally be fine, except Smith got shot in the head during the FBI raid and he's dead.
But, as we know, being dead can't save you from government interrogation, only the bullet to the head complicates matters, and Walter rigs up a device that'll let the dead guy speak through Peter in order to answer Jones's question and perpetuate the illusion that Smith is still alive. So it's like Weekend at Bernie's, only far more implausible.
Oh, and they save the FBI agent, who turns out to probably be evil. The FBI really needs to overhaul its recruitment program.
"Panda bears?" says Broyles, later, in his office, talking to Loeb, who says they knew the FBI were coming, and someone made a switch. "Joseph Smith," he says. The father of Mormonism? Loeb hands over an Interpol notice on Smith, who began working for the shipping company a week before the container was packed, has a science background, and has been back and forth to Budapest half a dozen times in the past year. Broyles asks if there are any other local agents working on the case. "Coscarelli and Scrim," says Loeb. "Coscarelli" would be a great name for yelling. "Coscarelli! My office! Now!"
While Broyles, puzzled, notes that the container was seven pounds heavier when it was seized than when it was in Germany, Loeb's looking very uncomfortable. "Mitchell?" says Broyles, right before Loeb pitches forward onto the floor.
At the hospital, he's still in pain, sounding like he's constantly on the verge of throwing up. Broyles is following the trauma team as they take Loeb's stretcher down the hall, when he's flagged down by a distraught woman asking Broyles (who she calls "Phillip") how he is.
In the operating room, the doctor's already whipped out the defibrillator, which doesn't seem to be having any effect except for making that strangely pleasing ka-chunk noise. They're going to have to cut him open, which they do, rather graphically, and then use what looks like the tire jack for a Hummer to pry open his stomach, which instantly seems to provide Loeb with some relief. But now the OR staff are bewildered. "What is that?" asks a nurse. "I don't know," says the doctor, and then we see what they see -- some pulsating, creepy, grey reptilian thing coiled around Loeb's heart, which is what too much Taco Bell will do to you.
After the break, Broyles leads the Fringe team in to see the poor bastard. "It's not a heart attack. At least, not in the traditional sense," he says. He also says it's been determined the thing isn't communicable. Olivia's all, "'thing'?" and Broyles says "We'll get to that later." Oh, and the episode wouldn't be complete without a quirky obsession for Walter to fixate on inappropriately. Tonight, it's asking for gum. Or mints. Neither of which Peter has. Probably in the same place he left his patience.
While the Fringe team preps, Broyles says Loeb's vital signs are weakening. He turns to Walter. "Dr. Bishop, what you're about to see, I don't know if you've seen anything like it before. But I'm hoping you have." He adds that the man in the operating room is not just a colleague, but a friend. "I see," says Walter, looking very concerned, before asking, "Do you have any mints?" Broyles just stares at him, thinking, All right. You're quirky and socially inept. I get it.
Inside the OR, Walter takes one look at the thing and declares it "spectacular," with Peter wryly noting that Loeb would likely be thrilled by his diagnosis. Olivia asks if this is another of the cases that are an extension of his own previous work, but Walter says it "couldn't be more aberrational." He was merely admiring the beauty of the design, adding this could be the hybrid result of genetic manipulation. He points out the tendrils shooting out from the ugly thing, calling it a root system, and continues to pop a boner over how "beautiful" it is. Olivia asks if he can remove it. Walter says he'd love to give it a try, just not here: "My breath is atrocious." He stomps away, snapping off his surgical gloves.
So it's back to Harvard, and I really hope the Fringe team was able to come up with a better reason than "halitosis" to move this FBI agent with the never-before-seen parasite squeezing his heart to this non-sterile, unsecure mad-scientist lab that has a COW in it.
Walter's been thinking about the thing on the ride over, and says it could be something as simple as a giardia duodenalis. "Really! As simple as that!" says Olivia, like SHUT UP, OLIVIA, THAT'S WHY HE'S HERE. Peter says that's just a simple parasite that lives in animals' intestines. Walter points out that this thing has an unusual method of attachment. "Typically, parasites use whole body insertion. This creature is unlike anything I've seen before, so we won't be able to truly examine it until it's removed," says Walter.
Astrid shows up -- yay! -- with Loeb's case files to look at. Oh, and Loeb's wife is here. Olivia says she'll go talk to her in the office. This gives Walter enough time to complain about not having any damn gum or mints, again. And Peter has some, and he manages to smile at his dad instead of sneering at him, which is a nice change.
Olivia introduces herself to Samantha, who is Mitchell Loeb's wife. Olivia introduces herself as being with "homeland security," which is probably safer than "I investigate the freaky shit." Samantha says no one's telling her anything, and asks if Olivia can at least tell her why they transferred her husband here. Olivia gives a vague answer about a doctor here who's "uniquely qualified" to save her husband's life. This doesn't really seem to satisfy Samantha, but she doesn't press at all. She does hand over a flyer for A Christmas Carol and a piece of paper with some kind of printout on it, which she says her husband brought back from Frankfurt. "I don't know if it'll help at all," she says. Olivia says it might, and thanks her. Samantha asks to see Mitchell, and Olivia says "as soon as possible."
Inside, Peter and Astrid watch while Walter sticks his arms into the sockets in Loeb's protective bubble. He touches a scalpel to that disgusting thing around Loeb's heart, and it STARTS TO CRAWL, wreaking havoc on Loeb's heartbeat. The parasite is constricting, squeezing the heart.
Peter jumps to get some cyclobenzaprine, which he says should loosen the grip. Walter calls it a gamble, but he applauds the theory, and then he's off to check out the DNA on the tissue sample he just snagged from the creepy crawly. Peter injects the cyclobenzaprine into the IV, and Loeb's heartbeat almost immediately starts going back to normal. Walter pauses a moment for a metaphorical pat on the back for Peter, saying maybe he's found his true calling: working with his old man. Oh, please. Like, who wouldn't have thought of injecting some cyclobenzaprine? Still, Walter's displaying the same kind of pride I feel when my two-year-old daughter points out an Edmonton Oilers sticker on someone else's car.
So it's ... the next day? Later that day? I don't know. Olivia wants to know if the gang has any good news, like SHE'S any help. What's she been doing all day? Peter's about to mention something he's found, when Walter interrupts them, holding some printout, saying it's fascinating. "We can assume that this growth, this parasite, is of human design, yes?" Olivia's all, uh, if you say so, and Walter says he was looking for some sort of repetition, which could be the "signature of the creator." He's completely lost Olivia, as usually happens this early on in the episode, so Peter steps in to show her what they've found. Again, Walter interrupts to show her a printout filled with text, and several parts of it are repeated over and over, too organized for it to be accidental. Olivia wants to know why someone would insert that into DNA. Walter suggests arrogance or mischief, but doesn't really know. "Your friend thinks it might be a code." Olivia looks at Peter, but he says, "The other one."
Meaning Astrid, who, in an amazing coincidence, studied cr