‘Fringe’ 3.04 Recap: “Ownership Has Its Privileges”

‘Fringe’ bounced back to the main universe continuity – I think I’m going to have to start calling it the “Prime Universe” – for last week’s episode, titled ‘Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?’ Did you catch that ‘Blade Runner‘ reference there? It was real subtle.

After a Senator is injured in a car accident, the Fringe team is called in. It seems that this Senator has no pulse and yet is somehow still alive. Also, his blood appears to be mercury. That’s the sort of thing you need Fringe for. Turns out that he’s actually a shapeshifter who’s replaced the real Senator Van Horn, and no one knows for how long. Olivia (really Fauxlivia) and Peter are assigned to investigate, while Walter works on retrieving memories from the body.

This greatly concerns evil alt-universe agent Newton, because the faux-Senator has detailed files on the entire Fringe division, including the knowledge that Olivia has been replaced. So he breaks into the hospital to retrieve the body. When that plan goes south, he puts a bullet in the Senator’s eye (right in the cyborg-thing’s memory center), which he figures should tidy up that loose end.

Of course, Walter isn’t deterred. Now in charge of Massive Dynamic, he uses that firm’s resources to study the body closer. Walter’s antics trying to explain his irrational flights of fancy to a bunch of uptight Massive Dynamic engineers are rather comical. This eventually leads to the discovery that the shapeshifters have secondary brain units in their lower backs, sort of like a Stegosaurus. (As far as we know, the Stegosaurus was a real dinosaur, right? Scientists haven’t debunked that one yet, have they? It seems that all the favorite dinosaurs of my youth never really existed.)

Newton’s next plan is to activate a shapeshifter sleeper agent who’s been living a quiet domestic life with wife and kid for some time now. He’s actually made the mistake of growing emotionally attached to them, and is rather shocked when Newton shows up at his door with a mission. He’s not at all pleased when Newton tells him that he’ll have to switch bodies and leave the family. This storyline has a surprising amount of emotional resonance. It reminds us that not everyone from the other side is evil. Some of them are just people doing their jobs – jobs that they may not fully understand.

The assassin decides not to change bodies. He uses his cover as a cop to infiltrate the Massive Dynamic building, where he incapacitates (but does not kill) Walter and steals the memory chip from the Senator’s corpse. He makes his way home and hands the chip over to Newton, who is quite disappointed that the agent didn’t follow his instructions. Newton informs the cop that he has killed his family to eliminate any trail of evidence. When the cop freaks out about this, Newton shoots him too.

Peter and Fauxlivia manage to trail the cop back home, and immediately go in pursuit of Newton. Fauxlivia, of course, isn’t terribly eager to actually catch him, but has to put on a good show. They have a car chase, and force Newton into a crash. Fauxlivia tells Peter to stand back while she checks the car. She sneakily grabs the memory chip and then, because Newton survived, has to arrest him.

Later, Fauxlivia slips Newton some sort of suicide chip. Before he takes it, he plants a seed of doubt in her mind about whether she’s really capable of completing her assignment in this world, and suggests that Peter may already suspect that something is “off” about her.

Indeed, Peter has been sensing something wrong, even if he can’t quite put his finger on it. Fauxlivia figures that the best way to distract his attention is to sleep with him. She’s probably right.

I kind of feel bad for Peter. He’s had this flirtatious thing going on with Olivia for a while now. He finally gets her in bed, and it’s not even really her. That’s got to put a kink in any relationship.

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