A New York state police officer picks up a kid wandering down a backwoods road by Edina. Seems like the kid, Teddy, is running away, but he stays mostly silent. The trooper is driving him home when suddenly the kid is no longer the cherubic youngster, but a deformed creature in his back seat. So it's off to the station they go, with the other officers talking about how this kid must be one of them. But before they can do a whole lot with the knowledge, a couple of adult freaks burst in with shotguns and kill all three officers, and take the kid away.
So the Fringe team swings in to action, even though Walter's still freaked out from previous events -- no, not seeing Charlie alive and well just a little while ago, but watching chunks of his brain die. Turns out there have been rumours of deformed people in the area going back 30 years. There's a military base nearby and a strange low humming in Edina, but those are just turbines, right? Nothing to do with anything, right? Meanwhile, Teddy's back with his parents, and he looks normal again, but the Fringe team doesn't know that yet.
So the Fringe crew gets run off the road and Peter's the only one conscious enough to return fire at the freak with the shotgun. Peter manages to wing the guy, and when reinforcements arrive and the area is searched, they find Teddy's dad, dead of a gunshot wound. Walter, however, is more interested in a pretty butterfly that he wants to bring back for Astrid, who is all of a sudden really interested in butterflies. So when Walter gives it to her and it's just an ugly moth, Walter starts recalling details about military testing (that he turns out to have been involved in, naturally) in the late '70s, a human camouflage-type project that instead just disfigured everybody. Sick with guilt, the lead researcher was able to use an electromagnetic pulse to scramble people's optic nerves slightly so that the freaks seem normal. That's what the humming is. No, it really doesn't make any kind of sense.
While Walter and Astrid find and shut down the pulse generator, Olivia and Peter get in a shootout with the previously helpful sheriff who, to the surprise of no one, is involved, but he's killed by Teddy's mom (the daughter of the scientist, whose experiment was expanded by the military without his knowledge), who's sick with guilt over the deaths of innocent people to keep the town's secret.
Walter gets his groove back by the end of the episode and pleads with Broyles to keep the investigation quiet, since the people involved with the killing of the police officers are dead now. Broyles tries to be cool about it, but since he always seems kind of pissed, Walter needs Broyles to pretty much spell it out for him that if Walter never found the generator, then there's nothing to report, is there?
He pulls up alongside the kid and rolls down the passenger window, and asks the kid what he's doing out here by himself, and if his parents know he's out here. The kid doesn't answer the first question, but answers the second question "no" and I was starting to worry that this was going to turn out to be a Bad Lieutenant-type of thing.
The kid's name is Teddy, and the cop tells him to get in the car.
Nightfall, and they're still driving. Teddy's in the backseat. The trooper asks if he was running away, and Teddy admits he was, and the cop says he took off a few times when he was Teddy's age. "But I bet there's people out there worried, looking for you. And you know what? It doesn't matter what happened. I'm sure as soon as they see you..." He trails off as he glances in the rearview mirror, because Teddy's face is now swollen, lumpy and grotesque. The cop slams on the brakes. "Oh my god!" he says, staring in the backseat.
Back at the station, another trooper says, "Oh, god, if I wasn't looking at him myself, I wouldn't believe we caught one," like HOW ELSE WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO LOOK AT ANYTHING IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE IT, and another trooper is talking about how he always thought the people who told the stories were nutjobs. Teddy sits nearby, sucking on a juicebox, the cops not particularly caring if he hears them or not. The trooper who picked Teddy up asks Teddy to put down the juicebox so he can take Teddy's picture, but he does it nicely, and not like a "that shit's going on the Internet!" kind of way. So he's the good cop. It's more the other guys forgetting that there appears to be an actual kid there. One of the other troopers suggests to "Johnny" that they call the newspapers. Because yeah, there's nothing the police love more than tipping off reporters. Johnny says Teddy's just a kid. "He's one of them. I don't care how old he is. People have a right to know," says the third trooper. Again: not buying the police as champions of an unshackled press, but this guy's clearly about getting some glory over this, because while Johnny wants to go through proper channels, Officer Right-To-Know figures someone in the "proper channels" will leak it. He doesn't get to finish the thought, because a couple of lumpy-headed dudes with shotguns burst into the station and start blasting.
Johnny's still alive, on the floor reaching for his firearm as the gunmen cross the room, take Teddy by the hand and start to leave. "I'm sorry," says an anguished Teddy as he walks by. It's the last thing anyone says to Trooper Johnny, because one of the dudes pumps his shotgun and finishes Johnny off.
Walter sits in the passenger seat, looking agitated. Peter's outside, trying to coax him out. "Why do I have to go in there?" says Walter. "Because we're out of milk. And because you haven't left the house in over a week, and you can't just stay inside watching old movies all the time," says Peter. That sounds like a wager to me! Walter can't handle all the people at Fran Drescher Market. "What if I get lost again? What if he's in there?" I suppose he's talking about the guy with pieces of his brain, but thanks to the bullshit bonus episode FOX just dumped on us, he could be talking about the Russian who possesses other people's dead bodies. Peter says the dude isn't in Fran Drescher Market (which he doesn't actually know) and promises not to let Walter get kidnapped again (I'm sure Walter's quite comforted by that). Peter tries to open the door, but Walter pulls it shut. "I'm learning to appreciate cowardice. The lion had a point," says Walter, and Peter with his massive IQ apparently doesn't catch a reference to one of the most famous movies of all time, but after Walter makes it clear what he means, Peter points out that it was just a movie. "And there's no flying monkeys inside the grocery store." That seems a somewhat safer promise to make.
Anyway, Peter's cellphone rings, and it's Olivia, busily striding down the street, asking him if they can be ready to go in half an hour. Walter's not likely to be out of the car in half an hour, but Olivia tells Peter what's up: "Three dead cops and a missing kid," which coincidentally is the really dark third part of the Three Men and a Baby trilogy. Peter says it doesn't really sound like their case. "Yeah, well, wait 'til you hear about the kid," says Olivia.
Broyles -- who would be fantastic as a Robert Stack-esque narrator of an Unsolved Mysteries-type of show -- tells the Fringe squad that John Pekarsky was the senior trooper who last night uploaded his report to the state police database sometime after 9 p.m. "According to the coroner, Pekarsky and the other two troopers on duty were dead within the hour." The kid was gone, and whoever did it didn't leave a single fingerprint or shell casing, and they took the surveillance hard drive.
Broyles shows them the picture of the kid, and then Walter excitedly says he saw a kid like this once, who played the banjo, and then he sings "Dueling Banjos" and is surprised when Peter does it too, and Peter has to break it to him that Deliverance was just a movie. "Probably not the same boy," acknowledges Walter. Broyles, with a look that clearly says, "any time you're ready, guys," glances at Olivia, who says Pekarsky's report says the kid looked normal when he was picked up. At which point an FBI agent comes out to say they found something in the file room: a few dozen reports of strange stories about deformed people.
Olivia notes that the reports go back as far as thirty years ago, and reads from one: "I saw him change in front of me. Suddenly he was hideous." Well, it's either deformed freaks or particularly acrimonious divorce court transcripts. "Misshapen and deformed. It looked like a cousin of Bigfoot," reads another. Walter snorts and says the boy bears no resemblance at all to a sasquatch or even a yeti. And Agent Frug (agent Frug?) is all, "You don't believe in those creatures," and Walter testily says "Why shouldn't I? Just because no one has documented flying monkeys or talking lions yet hardly means they don't exist," and Peter naturally feels the need to apologize for his father and calls him a "shock doc."
Olivia notes that all of the reports were dismissed due to lack of cooperation and hard evidence, but the vast majority happened in the same area: just outside Edina, where the boy was picked up. "I guess that's where we start looking," she says, and everybody gets up to go, but Broyles has a word of caution for her: "Whatever these things are, it seems like they've managed to hide themselves for a while. And from the looks of things, they'll do just about anything to keep it that way. Keep in mind." That's about as close as Broyles is going to get to being all mushy. Olivia glances at the bodies being zipped into bags in the other room, gives him a "yes, sir" and she's on her way.
So the Fringe crew pulls into Edina, with Walter still being a crybaby in the backseat. They stop the car and get out, only Walter doesn't think it's a good idea, and Peter assures him that they're just going to ask a few questions. Walter's beef? There may be werewolves in the hills. Olivia's skeptical, but Walter points to the kid changing in front of his eyes: "I believe we may be looking for some kind of therianthrope." Peter explains it for Olivia as a Greek word referring to a creature that has the metamorphic ability to shift between man and beast. Walter insists he saw one as a young man studying in London, and his indignation at not being taken entirely seriously is a little out of place given the fact that he starts talking about the "fairly potent blend of hashish" he was on at t