OK, so this is an update that I actually had to stop so I could go check on/hug my daughter. The opening features an old guy shaving his head and muttering about cleansing fire and the like, and then he puts on a silver facemask and goes and abducts a kid right out of his bedroom. Sadly, the boy's mother did a less-than-thorough job of checking for monsters.
Thanks to Walter's kidnapping of Peter all those years ago, Walternate has decreed that all kidnappings must be treated as possible Fringe events, which is how our heroes come to investigate the case, and it turns out that it's the return of a kidnapper nicknamed "the Candyman," who took alt-Broyles' son four years ago. In other words, this is personal.
The Candyman takes kids for a couple of days, and then they're returned, much the worse for wear. Weakened immune systems, cell degeneration, internal organ atrophy, in some cases cancer. Alt-Broyles stonewalls Olivia when she wants to reinterview Broyles' son, who was blinded during the abduction. Part of his unease is his knowledge that this isn't the Olivia he knows, but at the behest of his wife he consents to the interview.
Olivia has a theory that the Candyman accesses the kids' pituitary glands and steals their youth to make himself young again. That turns out to be true, and Olivia's the one who eventually tracks the guy and rescues the most recent abduction through a whackjob church that believes in the cleansing fire and whatnot. And then Olivia's the one who figures out the reverend's involved too, just in time for Broyles to save his wife and son from a revenge attack.
Unbeknownst to Olivia, Walternate's planning to have her removed the next day, since Fauxlivia's mission is almost over, but she's already trying to find her way home with the help of Henry the cab driver. A verbal slipup on Olivia's part makes alt-Broyles realize that Olivia knows who she actually is, but out of gratitude he looks the other way while she heads to Liberty Island to find her way home.
Olivia breaks into the lab and sends herself home, just for a few moments until Walternate has her yanked out of the tank. But Olivia gets a message to Peter -- through a freaked-out cleaning woman at the gift shop -- telling him that she's trapped in the other universe.
AND WE HAVE TO WAIT TWO WEEKS TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
Then he starts using the straight razor to shave his head, thereby upping the crazy quotient. Once he's done, he pours some liquid from a vial into a wash basin and starts running it over his bald head, which has some kind of oddly shaped birthmark or something on it. As he does so, he starts talking to himself, so there's no doubt he's a wacko: "Through suffering comes redemption. Through sorrow comes exaltation. Through pitch dark comes a cleansing fire. Through the fire, we shall find a spring of new life."
Then he holds up a silver face mask, the kind a really posh hockey goalie from the '70s might have worn.
And it's over to New Yonkers ... is that an alternate-universe thing? "New" Yonkers? I suppose I could look it up ... nah. Anyway, it's night, and there's a scared little kid in bed with the covers pulled up to his face, looking at his open closet door. He gets up and goes down the hall to his mom's bedroom, and wakes her to tell her there's a monster in the closet.
Geez, talk about a cheery mom. Despite being woken up in the middle of the night, she clearly enjoys the whole checking-the-closet-for-monsters thing. She also checks under Max's bed. "Looks like your room is officially monster-free tonight, kiddo," she says. Since my daughter isn't as old as this kid yet, maybe I don't know, but if he's young enough to still be worried about monsters under his bed, does he really need a computer on his desk? Anyway, they go over the procedure for what "big boys" do when they see monsters, which, oddly, is not "grow up" but close their eyes, count to three, and when they open their eyes, the monster is gone.
Max feels immensely better as his mom leaves the room and turns off his light. He stares at the closet. Nothing. And then, almost heart-stoppingly, the door swings shut because the man in the silver mask is behind it. Max covers his eyes and counts to three, but when he opens them, Silver Facemask Man is still all up in his grill. He doesn't get to contemplate the shittiness of his mom's advice for too long, because Silver Facemask Man covers Max's mouth with a cloth, and it's not too long before Max is knocked out. Facemask Man gathers Max up in his arms and leaps out the bedroom window.
After the credits, we're back at the taxi spot in Manhatan where 'Enry 'Iggins the cab driver is parked in the same spot where Olivia hijacked him. He's listening to the radio, which is talking about the proposed two-children-per-family law, which is opposed by most people but backed by "two of the three major parties."
He's quite surprised to see Olivia pop into the back of his cab again, but when she asks if she can buy him dinner, he has to think about it ... for about a microsecond.
So during breakfast, Olivia tells him that she needs to get to the Department of Defense facility on Liberty Island. She can steal a boat, but she can't leave it docked, otherwise the security patrol will find it. "I just need you to get me across the water," she says. Oh, is that all. Henry points out that she's with Fringe Division: "Don't you have super-secret clearance or something? Why you breaking into a government building?" he asks, and she says she has to go home. You know, if she needs help breaking into the super-defended military facility, she could at least give answers that make sense. "Oh, so home is on Liberty Island now," says Henry, all super-sarcastic.
Olivia starts laying it on thick, telling him that she's in trouble and her time is running out, and he's the only person she trusts, and she needs his help. Well, what's a guy supposed to do? Henry sighs and tells her that she doesn't need to steal a boat because his cousin has one.
Then she gets paged -- 400 Terry Ave, New Yonkers -- so she gives him her number and gets up to go. He asks if the people she's running away from are still after her.
"Not if they keep believing that I'm somebody else," she says.
Over at Max's house in New Yonkers, Olivia comes in as alt-Charlie is telling a cop that he'll let them know if Fringe Division officially assumes the case. Charlie gives her the quick brief: a kid was abducted from his bedroom last night. Lee comes in letting everyone know that molecular cohesion is intact and atmosphere readings are solid, so Charlie starts bitching about how kidnappings are tragic, but ninety-nine percent of them have nothing to do with Fringe. And Lee explains something that I'm sure Charlie already knows, that the Secretary's "Peter Bishop Act of '91" says every kidnapping gets treated like a possible Fringe event. Good god, Peter has legislation named after him? And not legislation that has something to do with stubble-related crimes? Charlie's not finished, though, and goes on to say that the cops don't need them to work their cases: "Waste of manpower," he concludes, not quite loudly enough to be heard by the bawling mother in the next room, who they all look at when the sobbing intensifies. "It's not a waste," says Olivia, quietly, and alt-Charlie, all "great, I guess I'm an asshole" says he'll go and get a statement.
Lee and Olivia head upstairs to the kid's bedroom, where a doctor walks them through the scene: "We found a couple of partial prints on the windowsill and in the closet, but we're still collecting evidence. We believe the suspect snatched the kid, and he fled out the window."
Based on the fact it's a long way down, especially if you're carrying a 50-pound kid, Olivia -- who notices a Burlap Bear book, which she once upon a time read to Ella -- theorizes that the guy is likely male, strong, twenty to thirty-five years old.
Meanwhile, Lee is bothering the forensics tech to let him see the fingerprints because apparently he's noticed "some kind of residue" on them. Aren't fingerprints all residue? Anyway, he runs the residue through his handy little scanner thing and determines it's sucrose. Then the detective jokingly asks if the guy was "eating cookies or something." Lee, not laughing, says, "Uh-uh. He secretes it through his sweat. It's the Candyman. He's back." I like to picture that this scene took ages to film until the actors could stop cracking up over referring to the kidnapper as "the Candyman."
Alt-Broyles is in his office appearing to review the Candyman's (snicker) young victims when Walternate comes in to gravely remind Broyles that they both know there's no crime more heinous than the theft of a child. Look, I grew up watching Beavis & Butthead and Bill & Ted, so I can't hear "heinous" without giggling. Even when I'm watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, although it seems clear that SVU is actually a comedy now. Broyles says that he'll do everything he can to find Max, and Walternate says he doesn't doubt Broyles' resolve: "Actually, that's why I'm here. There's no shame in letting it fall to another desk if it's too personal," he says, and it takes Broyles a moment before he says it's been four years since the Candyman took his son: "Four years, since I heard him laugh or watched him play outside with his sister. He had my son for two days. When I got him back, he wasn't a little boy anymore. If there's anyone you want on this case, it's me." Walternate accepts that, which is big of him, because it's pretty hard for him to suggest this might be too personal for someone else, given that Fringe is investigating under the Peter Bishop Act and all.
All Broyles is really concerned about is that he doesn't have all of his agents too help him: "How long until this is over, sir, until our Olivia comes home?"
Walternate tells him they made a breakthrough: "We found something in her brain chemistry, something unique. If it's what enables her to cross between wor