Fringe

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Dead Man Talking
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Shout-out to M. Giant for doing a M. Arvellous job of covering for me while I moved to the East Coast.

I guess there's not much point in showing "Previously on Fringe" scenes this time out, given that this is an orphan episode from last season. Some explanation, however, might have been appreciated, for anyone who might understandably be wondering why Charlie appears to be alive. Why bother showing this at all? Isn't this the kind of thing that gets dumped on a DVD? These are not the actions of a network that gives a crap about a show.

Anyway, we start in a hospital, where a tearful woman prays, rosary in hand, while a priest administers the last rites to a young woman, eyes closed, hooked up to various apparati. A doctor leans in and asks the crying woman if she's ready. The woman nods, and the doctor nods at an orderly, who turns off the life-support system. The young woman flat-lines in just a few seconds, and the doctor calls the time of death at 5:21 a.m., which at least means everybody should be able to get home in time to catch Good Morning America.

Scratch that! There's no time to waste, because they have a team assembled and waiting, says the doctor: "Ms. Donovan, I'm afraid we need to begin the procedures right away," and is it too much to hope that the procedure involves some sort of bionic something? No, probably just an organ donation. Ms. Donovan leans in, kisses the girl and says, "I love you."

Ewww! Gratuitous surgery shots! The surgeon tells the team that he's going to "begin with the kidneys" and jams his hand into the incision in the girl's torso -- at which points she sits up a little and grabs the doctor by the throat. "Oh my god, she's alive!" yells one of the nurses, who fortunately minored in Explaining Things You Observe at her nursing school. The girl starts yelling "Six-eight-three-three-nine-alpha-echo-three-five-eight!" At that very moment, an obese dude in California is using those numbers to win the lottery.

After the credits, we learn we're at Boston General Hospital, and Broyles is filling in the Fringe team on the weird case of Lisa Donovan, a high school junior who collapsed during gym class last week and slipped into a coma with a cerebral aneurysm. On the plus side, if your classmate collapses in gym class and goes into a coma, you automatically get straight A's, so that's something.

Broyles says Lisa's mother made the decision to take her off life support. "And then she woke up from the dead screaming random numbers," finishes Olivia, like let Broyles finish briefing you before you jump to conclusions already, and Broyles says the numbers weren't random (he introduces a Navy officer standing in the hallway in uniform as Lt.-Cmdr. Turlough) but were an alphanumeric code. The lead surgeon recognized the pattern as identification for sailors in the U.S. because he did two tours on an aircraft carrier. Well, of course he did. "That's when I got the call," says Turlough, all eager to jump in. He explains that the first half of the sequence is ID information for a petty officer named Andrew Rusk -- Turlough has a file and everything -- and the second half are launch codes for ICBM missiles on a nuclear submarine Rusk was stationed on, the U.S.S. Gloucester. Olivia asks how classified launch codes got into the hands of a 17-year-old girl, and Peter at least wants to dismiss the obvious right off by asking if there's some sort of relationship between Rusk and Lisa. "As far as we can tell, there's never been any contact between Lisa Donovan and Andrew Rusk," says Turlough. "I suppose that's where we come in," says Walter.

So the team goes in to interview this poor girl who is doing remarkably well for a recently comatose teen who probably still has the surgeon's fingerprints on her left kidney. She looks at a picture of Rusk and says she's never seen him before, and she doesn't know where the numbers came from (she doesn't even remember saying them).

And then Peter is practically flirting with Lisa, saying at least they got her some nice balloons, like, she's SEVENTEEN, Peter, for god's sake, and she jokes that they couldn't find ones that said, "Welcome back from the dead," and then Peter jokes about those being a special order, and thank God Olivia interrupts, because I think this inane chatter could have gone on forever, and asks if the name "Andrew Rusk" rings a bell. "Maya zvezdochka. Shto samnoy," says Lisa, freaking out her mother. "She's speaking Russian," says Peter. "But she doesn't speak Russian," says Lisa's worried mother. Then Lisa snaps out of it, and asks her mom what's happening to her, and Ms. Donovan boots the Fringe crew out of the hospital room so Lisa can rest.

In the hallway, Turlough explains that Rusk is fluent in Russian: "He would have learned it during his training." Peter asks him if "little star" means anything, because that's what "maya zvezdochka" means, and in response to a question no one asked, Peter explains that he dated a Russian girl for a while, and if I were Peter I don't know that I'd be explaining that I know the Russian word for "little" because I dated a Russian girl for a while, and then Olivia wonders where Walter has wandered off to. "Where's Walter?" she asks, which turns out to be one of the least fun children's books ever. Oh, there he is, watching an old woman sleeping in the extended-care ward.

Peter finds him, and starts to chew him out, and his dad shushes him because he's trying to listen to the sleeping woman. "These people are in comas. They can't hear you," snaps Peter.

Walter apologizes to Coma Lady on behalf of his son, and Peter asks if Walter honestly thinks he's communicating with her. "No one truly understands the nature of human consciousness, Peter," says Walter. "I've read documented cases of coma patients waking up and claiming that they had moved, spirit-like, to remote locations and witnessed events they couldn't possible have knowledge of." Which is already Walter's working theory of what happened to Lisa Donovan, naturally. Peter mocks it rather rudely, and I hope that Peter's going to shed some of his skepticism before too long, because that got old in The X-Files, where it's like Season 6 and with all Scully had seen by that point she was still constantly going, "That's ridiculous!" to Mulder's theories. Of course, I have to remember that this episode was supposed to have aired a long time ago already.

Meanwhile, Olivia is hanging out at the nurse's station when Lisa's mom wanders over, and says Lisa's running a fever and the doctors want to run some more tests. She's carrying a little bit of guilt, too, having fought with Lisa the day she collapsed, over Lisa not being allowed to take the family car to school. And then she collapsed and by the time Ms. Donovan got to the hospital, Lisa was in a coma. Well, look at the bright side: if it had happened while she was driving, you might have lost your daughter and your car.

Gripping the crucifix around her neck, she says, "You know, I never thought that I would get a chance to tell her how much I loved her again. God gave her back to me." There really is no such thing as a casual mention of faith on television shows, is there? By this point it's clear that faith vs. science is going to be a subplot on this episode, which has been done to frigging death, hasn't it (albeit not on this show)? Or maybe it's just because only a few days ago I happened to watch The X-Files: I Want to Believe, which, apart from being a complete snoozefest, featured exactly this kind of conflict.

Anyway, Olivia asks Ms. Donovan if Walter Bishop can examine Lisa. "What for?" asks Ms. Donovan. What for? Your comatose and then clinically dead daughter woke up on the operating table and now knows launch codes for nuclear submarines and speaks Russian. What for? "There's nothing more that she can tell you," says Ms. Donovan.

And then there's Lisa, hobbling into a unisex bathroom, and here's a thought: maybe DON'T let the girl who knows the nuclear launch codes out of your sight, NAVY, and when she washes her face she looks in the mirr

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