‘Fringe’ 4.16 Recap: “We Can Be the Children of the New World”

As anyone who read my last recap noticed, I wasn’t enamored with the previous episode of ‘Fringe’. Fortunately, the show bounced back a bit on Friday with a new episode that revisits an old case.

I have to admit that I was left terribly confused by the opening of ‘Nothing As It Seems’. The “Previously on…” montage included clips from way back to the Season 1 episode ‘The Transformation’, a fairly cheesy and easily forgotten case in which a man on an airline flight freaked out and then transformed into a giant porcupine monster. The first scene of the new episode plays out like an exact duplicate of those clips, with one major exception – the guy doesn’t turn into a monster on the plane. No, this time around, the flight lands safely and the man doesn’t porc-out until being questioned by TSA agents in the terminal. The monster then simply drops dead, its body unable to handle the rapid mutation.

While Peter remembers this case, Walter, Astrid and Lincoln have no idea what he’s talking about. Due to the changes in the timeline, it never happened here before and is all new to them. Having acquired memories from Peter’s timeline, Olivia also remembers. Unfortunately, she’s been benched from active duty due to, you know, being a whole different person than she used to be. During a psych evaluation, 40% of the details Olivia told the shrink about her life were inaccurate. She didn’t even know that she had a nephew here.

Of course, orders aren’t nearly enough to make Olivia stand down. She tags along on the case anyway, a decision that leads to Lincoln being attacked by another porcupine monster. Although not badly injured, Lincoln is infected by whatever chemical agent caused the mutation, and has to rely on Walter to come up with an antidote. In the meantime, he develops a powerful craving for bacon and other fatty foods. This triggers Walter to realize that the monsters have been stealing human fat from plastic surgery clinics. (Oh, and Walter also develops a cure, which we’re told almost incidentally.)

Peter traces the monsters to a weird cult that experiments with “mutation by design” and “guided evolution.” Followers believe that they’re bringing about the birth of a new species, something bigger, stronger and better than human beings. Also, the porcupine monsters grow wings and can fly, which is super bizarre. This somehow ties back to an old Massive Dynamic experiment run by one David Robert Jones. Uh oh.

A suspenseful night-vision raid on a surgery clinic culminates in Lincoln and Peter killing the other porcupine monster and arresting his/its wife. Broyles then reinstates Olivia, reasoning that even 60% of her is better than most other FBI agents. What none of them realizes yet is that a tanker ship in the middle of the ocean is filled up with lots of other mutated monsters in cages.

I like the idea that variations of old cases can come back around again in the new timeline. This particular storyline has also obviously been set up to return again, whenever we’re allowed to learn David Robert Jones’ master plan. On the other hand, the latex porcupine monsters were already plenty cheesy in Season 1 and haven’t much improved here. The episode tries to disguise this fact with quick cutting and dim lighting, to negligible improvement. We can brush off issues like this in a first-season show, but they’re a lot harder to forgive in Season 4.

[Banner image screen cap from grande-caps.]

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