Fringe

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Cats in the Pharmaceutically Altered Cradle

Those two NYPD squad cars are certainly in a hurry, screaming around corners with their sirens and flashers going full blast. They enter a multi-story parking garage. On the top level is a car with three people inside. They all look at each other so we can learn their faces: a squinty guy with a goatee and a ponytail in the driver's seat, another suited guy with a thin beard, and a teenaged boy in the back. The two cop cars skid sideways into a position, sandwiching the sedan between them and all four officers hop out, guns drawn and leveled at the car. None of them notices the floaty letters overhead reading "QUEENS, NEW YORK," although this doesn't look like any part of Queens I've ever seen (and during a long, circuitous cab ride from LaGuardia, I once saw more of Queens than people who live there do). While one officer orders the men out of the car, another one named Williams radios, "Hostage appears unharmed," looking at the kid. After a pause, the two men look at each other and step out, hands raised. They comply with the order to get on their knees, but Beardo says, "You have no idea what you're dealing with." Of course not; the show's only been on a minute. Squinty squints up at the cop who ordered them out of the car, and the officer starts looking distinctly uncomfortable. And then he's slowly backing across the parking deck, dropping his gun on the way, finally toppling silently backward over the rail, clear down the center of the spiral parking ramp, his uniform fluttering softly in the breeze. Nobody reacts, until one of the cops takes a bullet in the neck -- courtesy of none other than officer Williams. Then she shoots the other cop down, and, clearly against her will, points the gun at her own head and pulls the trigger. In the back seat of the car, the kid flinches but doesn't look away. The horror!

After the titles, the Fringe Three are looking down over the same railing at what is now northing but a chalk outline below. Broyles briefs them: facial recognition should be able to do something with the clear security photos of the men within the hour, and ballistics confirmed that Officer Williams shot three cops, counting herself. "As far as we can tell, the kidnappers don't even have guns." As for the kid, Olivia's got the bullet on him: he's fifteen-year-old Tyler Carson, who disappeared 36 hours ago. "Walter, remember that conversation we had about personal space?" Peter asks his dad, who's either trying to read over Peter's shoulder or graft himself to Peter's back. Walter complains about what a boring crime scene this is: no bodies, no food. He doesn't even care that the bodies are being moved to his lab, because he's got it all figured out already: "Mesmerism. Hypnotism." Well, thanks for watching. "Walter, hypnosis can't make you do anything that you don't want to do," Peter reminds everyone, so Walter wanders off. Peter has found one possible clue: the kid's dad works for Fleming Monroe. "The aerospace division of Massive Dynamic," Broyles supplies. Of course.

So across town they go, to Massive Dynamic HQ. In the lobby, Walter takes in a giant video wall with MD logos and keywords drifting across it. You might almost call the display both massive and dynamic. Nina's leggy assistant leads them into the elevator, and as they get off at Nina's floor, Walter stops and looks all around him, but mainly up, giving us a spectacular view up his cavernous nostrils. "The screen in the elevator said there were 73 laboratories, is that right?" he asks the assistant, who proudly confirms it. Walter stands there amazed until Peter comes back to herd him along down the hall. As much as people on this show pay lip service to the difficulty of traveling between realities, Walter is clearly visiting, even if only mentally, a universe in which this all could have been his..

In Nina's headache-inducing office, which has everything but right angles, Olivia's quizzing the kid's dad, a Dr. Carson, who didn't even know Tyler was gone until the kidnappers called him. After he makes some excuses about what a lame dad he is, Peter tries to get things moving again by getting Nina to confirm that the two men in the car have nothing to do with Massive Dynamic. "According to the police, they're used car salesmen," she says. And they haven't even made any demands yet. So what the hell kind of used car salesmen could they be, then? Olivia goes out on a limb, wondering if what they want has something to do with secrets belonging to Massive Dynamic. Nina agrees that this seems likely. Peter asks her to elaborate, and she reluctantly says that Carson works in "military aircraft designs, piloting software, guidance systems." Carson says his work is his life, which might go some way toward explaining why he doesn't miss his kid when he disappears. "Tyler's mother died when he was just a boy. And now, if I lose him I don't know what I'd do." Obviously this hits Walter pretty hard, so he has to leave the room. While Peter goes after him, Olivia makes the usual promises that they'll find the kid. Even though on this show, everyone will just end up wishing they hadn't.

Peter catches up to Walter in the outer lobby, taking in the commanding view of the Chrysler Building. Walter's back to thinking about what could have been, clearly. "Did you know that I once shared a laboratory with William Bell?" he asks Peter. "Look how much he's achieved." He mentions that Bell was the one who introduced Walter to Peter's mother. And that it was her idea that "Belly and I would one day form a company together. He just couldn't wait, I suppose. But thankfully, she was still there for you while I was gone." As usual, Walter is all over the place.

That brown kidnapping-mobile is now driving down the road. In the back seat, Tyler gives himself a little treat out of a Homer Simpson Pez dispenser (something to do with that Simpsons scavenger hunt mentioned during the promos I generally skip over, I'm thinking) and says he's hungry. Squinty nods.

Next thing you know, all three of them enter a convenience store. Squinty squares off threateningly against the clerk and orders, "Give me all the cash in the register." A big, bald customer over by the coffee machine looks up. The clerk points out that Squinty doesn't have a gun, and Baldy comes over to intervene. "You really don't want to get involved in this," Squinty warns, and Baldy says he already is. He starts to take a step toward Squinty, then suddenly stops against his will, looking back at the steaming coffeepot behind him. Which, under Squinty's watchful gaze (and that of Tyler and Beardo from across the store), he picks up and empties over his bald head. Then he smashes it over same, then gets up and charges blistered-head-first into the ice cooler, where he collapses. With a disgusted look, Beardo grabs a bag of chips and starts to walk out. But the clerk is now pointing a gun at Squinty, who says, "You should have just given up the money." But since he didn't, the clerk is compelled by the now-familiar external force to put the gun down, pick up his keys, and stick one in an electrical socket. Which hurls him halfway across the room in a shower of sparks. I'm not actually sure that would; to cause a short, there needs to be a connection between both slots, plus it's better to use both hands so the current flows through the victim's heart. Not that I'm about to try it the way the clerk just demonstrated. Squinty looks at the clerk. Kid looks at Squinty. We look at commercials.

We get to see those magical moments again on the security monitors, as Peter and Olivia are now watching the tape in the crime scene that the store has now become. "Remind me to never get a job as a convenience store clerk," Peter says, as if he could ever get hired as one. Olivia exposits that the victims aren't going to be talking soon, being in intensive care and all. Peter mentions that these kidnappers don't seem to have much of a plan. Olivia sees the kid on the tape, and observes, "He looks so scared." Pretty grainy image, though. He might just be co

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Fringe

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