WATF: Fringe – Episode 103: The Ghost Network

My “Well After The Fact” (or WATF) reviews are my personal analysis of content. Usually this means that I purchase wrestling dvds, graphic novels/trade paperbacks, and television episodes of genre entertainment on the cheap, through ebay or other means. And then I review them.

Well, I’ve been abandoned. You make your vows, saying that you’ll be there in sickness and in health, good times and bad, richer and poorer.  But they never make you vow, that you will watch a television show with your spouse, unless both of you agree to stop watching.  That should be in the nerdy/genre fan wedding vows. My wife, for no reason at all, has said, “she doesn’t want to watch Fringe anymore.”  So, I must tread along, in solo form.

Anyway, let me continue my review of old Fringe Episodes, and hopefully catch-up to Season 2. 

Basic Plot:

 A woman is riding a Boston Transit Bus, when a man releases gas into the bus.  He puts on a gasmask and takes the woman’s backpack and leaves the bus, as it solidifies trapping everyone immobile inside (like flies in Amber). In another part of town, Roy McComb is confessing to a Priest of having visions of horrible events (Fringe Events) happening.

Charlie and Olivia are talking at John Scott’s funeral, when they get called by Broyles to investigate the bus. Peter and Walter are eating breakfast, when Peter confronts a man following him. Following the altercation, Walter says that they’ve been called about a bus.  They investigate the crime scene where Walter deduces that the assailant released gas that solidified.

The assailant and an unknown man realize that the woman’s backpack does not contain what they are looking for. 

At the lab, Olivia identifies the woman as an undercover DEA agent, Evelina Mendoza.  When Olivia talks to her partner, Grant Davidson, who says that she was scared of something called “The Pattern”, mentioned by the drug cartel. He asks to spend time alone with the body, after identifying Evelina.

Two other developments in the case:

  • The substances identified from the bus, were created using chemicals developed by Massive Dynamic. Olivia goes to talk to Nina Sharp about the chemicals.  She informs Olivia of additional attacks using the substance, and that Massive Dynamic has already helped with the investigation.
  • The Priest who was talking to Roy in the beginning contacts the FBI, so Charlie and Olivia go to investigate. After interviewing Roy, he is placed in an MRI chamber, where his veins show metal fragments.

Walter supposes that an old experiment of his, called The Ghost Network, has been redeployed, allowing people to talk to each other mentally.  Roy was a former test subject of Walter’s, and is receiving the transmissions accidentally. Peter obtains a neural stimulator in his old house to shift the noise to his ears.  Roy is able to tell the team that the exchange is happening at the bus station, and that the object they wanted was in the hand of Evelina Mendoza all along.  So Grant Davidson is the culprit.

At the bus station, Grant Davidson is killed and the man (from the bus) takes the object.  Olivia confonts him, and throws himself in front of a train. They recover a glass disc, that is linked to The Pattern. Roy is sent home, with the Ghost Network, no longer being used for communications.  After Broyles talks to Nina Sharp giving her the glass disc, it is revealed that Massive Dynanmic was still trying to download information from John Scott’s brain.

Great Quotes (Mostly from Walter)

CHARLIE: As far as John’s mother knows, her son died a hero serving his country.

OLIVIA: A hero. He used me, Charlie. And he told me he loved me.

CHARLIE: I wasn’t gonna tell you this… but he said he loved me too.

 

BROYLES: Forgive me Doctor Bishop. I like to think I have an open mind. But I have a hard time accepting that that man is hearing another person’s thoughts.

WALTER: So do I. Which is why I would like to prove it.

PETER: And here we go.

BROYLES: And how would you do that?

WALTER: Am I required to keep him alive?

OLIVIA: That would probably be best.

 

WALTER: Taking any medications, prescribed or illicit? You can be truthful. I won’t judge. In fact, if the answer is no, I may encourage some drug use.

ROY MCCOMB: No, none.

 

PETER: When I was nine years old, I think I wanted to be a brontosaurus. (finds an old hiding space) You know, they say the psych profiles of cops and criminals are pretty much identical. Ever consider a life of crime?

OLIVIA: No dental.

 

WALTER: Oh, my god.

ROY MCCOMB: What’s wrong?

WALTER: I believe with proper demodulation, you could receive satellite television for free.

PETER: Okay, fun time’s over. Astrid, let’s get him unhooked.

Analysis

 Not quite a filler episode, but Fringe was just getting on its feet, and really needed to establish a (pardon the use of the word) “pattern” in their episodes: Crazy Phenomenon, Team Investigates; Traced back to initial work by Walter; Find Innocent Bystander; Confront Massive Dynamic; Team Does Something Fringe Sciencey; Track Down Bad Guy; More questions than Answers.

Pattern shows are fine.  CSI, House, Star Trek, X-Files, Alias, and Buffy all have patterns.  Sometimes an epsiode rises above its pattern, and sometimes its drowned in it.  This episode is closer to the second, but at only the third episode, it is very forgiveable. 

The things that work here are:

  • The team quickly analyzes the craziness of Fringe Science, and doesn’t spend too much time, saying that things are impossible.
  • The Walter drug humor is hilarious, and very apropos given the age of the character.
  • The interaction between Charlie and Olivia.  Charlie being Olivia’s rock.
  • Nina Sharp being unphased by Olivia’s suspicions.

 The main thing that doesn’t work is the side plots with Peter’s shady past.  It’s very ham-handed, and cliche.

Basic Questions

  • Mention again of Broyles having to deal with political pressure regarding Fringe division. 
  • Massive Dynamic is still trying to access John Scott’s brain.  For their own purposes?  Were they funding/controlling John Scott to begin with?
  • Is there a single entity/group trying to use these “Pattern” events, or merely groups of cells, operating similarly?
  • Nina Sharp recognizes talent in Olivia Dunham.  What does she see.  What is it about Olivia?
  • Why does Broyles give Nina the glass disc. 

Character Development

Olivia: I guess the writers find it refreshing to have a ‘dedicated’ female agent, who is never satisfied with results.  This is a part of Olivia that I never really get.  You either do your job every day, and never look for the checkered flag, or you find small accomplishments to keep you going.  They set her up to never be satisfied with her work and thereby her life.  Not her best episode.

Peter: As I said before, I don’t like Peter’s shady past coming to find him.  The whole, man on the run, people out to get him.  I mean it might as well be Boba Fett who has a contract on his head, or else they’re going to put him in carbonite.  More signs that Peter is a prodigy of some kind.  Almost makes him more boring. 

Walter: There is an interesting dynamic when they play to Walter’s impatience.  It’s something I want to see more of, but you get the impression that the impatient Walter is not pleasant to be around. And his sense of slight disappointment in his son, is interesting, but it’s very detached.  You can tell that Peter still feels it, but doesn’t want to rebel, just to rebel.

Astrid: She’s fully fluent in Latin.  Sadly still under-utilized as a character.

Broyles: A wall of professionalism and hidden emotions.  Not much more here.  He is interesting.  It’s fun that they play off that Broyles and Nina have a hidden agenda, but that the agenda is not necessarily a malevolent one, but it’s aside from the government’s agena.

Nina: Still wonderful as a woman who cannot be fazed by any words or scientific development or idea.  Always helpful, and never devious when dealing with Olivia.  She could be so sinister, but much more interesting as a betweener.

Overall Grade

A solid C+Likeable.  Laying ground work.  Interesting concept.  But adds very little to the overal show and future.  I prefer a more, embedded in show mythology.  But, served its purpose well. 

Related Links

http://fringepedia.net/wiki/The_Ghost_Network

http://fringepedia.net/wiki/The_Ghost_Network/Transcript

http://fringe.wikia.com/wiki/The_Ghost_Network

http://fringewiki.fox.com/page/Episode+1.03+The+Ghost+Network

http://www.fox.com/fringe/recaps/s1_e3.htm

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