This week, Fringe Division were assigned to investigate the murder of a man at the Empire State Building's dirigible station, after he was discovered in a toilet cubicle having been eaten from the inside-out by "skelter beetles" (a species that died out a decade ago when the world's sheep became extinct, losing the beetle their natural host.) The investigation soon led them to suspect Dr Anton Silva (Alon Aboutboul), a brilliant scientist who was close to curing avian flu using an enzyme the skelter beetle produces, who may now be trying to continuing his work by genetically-manipulating beetles to hatch within human subjects. A crime Silva's rationalizing because many other famous medical breakthroughs cost innocent human lives.
There were some good themes at play in "Immortality". Silva and Walternate are both scientists determined to help the world, but while this episode reveals that Walternate still has principles he's unwilling to break, even if it will cost him the success he craves. But how long can he put his ethics first, if experimenting on kids is the only way to protect the dimension he believes is under threat? Contrarily, Silva's not above killing a few people for the greater good of creating an enzyme that will save thousands of people from dying of avian flu. This is all well-trodden ground as a moral conundrum, but still able to inspire some debate. The fact is, many of our modern technological marvels (particularly in the field of medicine), only exist because pioneering scientists ignored their morals. Grave robbing in the 1800s to satisfy the need for fresh cadavers to dissect, the awful experiments on unwilling Jews in Nazi Germany, etc.
Overall, this was the kind of episode where I appreciated the information it delivered, but it was wrapped up in a mechanical storyline that didn't grab me. It was ultimately an hour of filler that used the time to lay some groundwork for fresh ideas the show will return to in the near-future.
What did you make of this episode, and its developments with an inter-dimensional pregnancy? The Walter's now have a grandchild to fight over! That can't be good. And how will Olivia react when she discovers Peter's got her alternate pregnant?
- Can someone clarify: is the doomsday machine created by The First People only in existence on our Earth, or is there a duplicate in the alternate-Earth? Basically, is Walternate creating his own version based on the schematic he has of the device, or is he assembling his dimension's excavated machine? I mean, Walternate does possess the power unit Fauxlivia stole from our dimension, so that suggests he has nothing on his side and has been sending soldiers to our dimension to recover the parts he needs. That's the situation, right? Or is the device's pieces split between universes?
- This show really loves Twin Peaks! Two more in-jokes this week: Walternate's mistress Reiko was played by Joan Chen (who played Josie Packard in Twin Peaks), and someone ordered "a piece of cherry pie" at a diner (which is Agent Cooper's favourite dessert). C'mon, they can get Kyle MacLachlan on this show, surely. Or Michael J. Anderson?
- Does anyone else think the show would have cast Mark Valley as Fauxlivia's boyfriend, if he wasn't (a) busy making Human Target and (b) recently divorced from Anna Torv? It would have been more fun to see Olivia's dead fiance John Scott back on the show, as an alternate-Earth counterpart, in an ideal world. I just struck me because Philip Winchester even resembles Mark Valley.
- I'm always taken by the atmosphere of Fringe Division in the alternate-Earth, as it's so fun and easygoing. This is a world where bizarre events have become so commonplace that everyone acts like they have a very normal, routine job. It's one of the key things that gives alt-Earth its off kilter weirdness.