Fringe
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Darkness in the Center of Town

Olivia, meanwhile, is trying every single phone in the place and coming up empty. She asks Walter if he thinks it's got anything to do with what happened on the highway, because only a genius-level scientist could make that connection. Walter's not sure, but he's seen this once before, only he's talking about the musical Brigadoon, which apparently takes place in a magical town in the forest where no one can leave. "Of course, that quaint Scottish village was more hospitable than our present locale," he says. Maybe, but at least with the lack of cellphone reception, you're not going to be interrupted here with someone's cellphone ringing during a crucial scene.

Olivia's too freaked out to indulge Walter in his usual bullshit, so he tells her in all seriousness that he hasn't formed a hypothesis as he's currently preoccupied with keeping this dude alive. Fortunately, Walter comes back with an IV kit, and as they're getting things ready, Cliff sits up and stars hissing about how they're not safe here and how everyone in the town is crazy.

A little later, daylight having broken and Cliff no longer at death's door, he fills them in. He says the craziness started three nights ago, when his sister called, frantic, scared because a man had broken into her house. He tried calling the sheriff, but the phones were down, and when he arrived, his sister had shot her husband point-blank in the head: "She said she'd never seen him before in her life. They'd been married for eighteen years," he says. Look, if I survive through 18 years of marriage without my wife finally getting sick of MY bullshit, I'll be surprised. Peter says, so the effects are amnesic? And Cliff says not exactly; she was delusional, talking about people she'd never met, things she'd never done, children she didn't have, Farmville crops she'd never sown. He says it was like she was having memories from someone else's life. Walter, who's looking after the IV line into Cliff's arm, says the symptoms resemble schizophrenia, which he solemnly notes he knows well.

Except it wasn't just her, says Cliff -- it was everyone. Olivia wants to know how a whole town turns schizophrenic overnight, and Peter suggests a biological contagion, like a virus that affects the human brain. Except, points out Walter, that theory doesn't explain how they drove out one side of the town and right in the other. He asks Cliff what else he can tell them about the symptoms.

"Most got sick right away. Others took longer, like hours, a day. But it always started the same way. First confusion, forgetting things, tremors. Some of them became paranoid. Others turned violent," he says. Pssh. He could be describing Frosh Week at my university. Cliff explains that a few of them, who seem to be immune -- including his wife and daughter -- are holed up at the high school. They need supplies, which is what he'd gone to the diner to get. "But what they need most of all is hope," he says. No, I'd still go with "supplies" on top of the list of things they need most.

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