‘Fringe’ recap: Unseen U-gene
Is that it? We don’t get another episode of "Fringe" until 2012? Season 4 has been an intriguing side step in the "Fringe" universe. The parallel time line has given us a chance to see new sides of the characters we’ve come to love over the last three years, just like the alternate universe did before that. Season 4 has also been a bit scattered. Thanks to the World Series there was a three-week gap between Episodes 4 and 5, and now we’re going to have to wait another two months before we find out what’s next for the Fringe Division. I don’t know if the schedule change forced "Fringe" to head into the hiatus one episode earlier than expected, but we didn’t get much of a cliffhanger to hold us through Christmas.
In this episode, Fringe Division investigates an invisible vampire who sucks the pigment from his victims and leaves their albino corpses for the police to find. Our invisible man is Baby Boy Bryant. He’s called Baby Boy because he never really got a name. He was born with a crazy genetic abnormality which made light deadly to him, and before he was even 3 months old, a subsidiary of Massive Dynamic faked his death and shipped him off to a research lab. The scientists there dubbed him U-gene because of his unique genetic abnormality. They were able to keep him from dying by injecting him with octopus DNA and make him invisible. Taking a child with special powers and raising him in a lab? Why won’t evil scientists learn that never works?
“Unseen U-gene” is, of course, a metaphor for Olivia. She’s feeling disconnected from her emotions. After a migraine drives her out in the middle of the night, she catches Lincoln Lee in an all-night diner. He can’t sleep because of the Fringe events they investigate, and later Astrid says that if she didn’t see a shrink, she would have snapped years go. But Olivia isn’t even fazed by their wacky adventures. Does that mean she’s disassociated? Were her emotions stunted by Walter’s experiments on her when she was a child?
Olivia goes to Nina Sharp, who raised her in this timeline. All season long, I’ve thought that Nina still seemed awfully secretive and devious in this reality. Her new history with Olivia didn’t make her much more forthcoming when it came to Massive Dynamic. Turns out that was only the tip of the iceberg.
When the FBI tracks U-gene to the apartment building he has been stalking, Olivia decides it’s a good idea that she search one floor completely alone while every other FBI agent searches the next floor up. Olivia falls through a hole in the floor, and U-gene shows up in time to point out to her how important it is to be seen. Good thing that part of the building was under construction, because U-gene was really hitting the nail on the head pretty hard.
U-gene gets away. How? By draining enough pigment out of a man to look normal and walking out the front door. That’s right: The invisible man sneaks past the FBI by becoming visible. They didn’t seem to be trying very hard. The dogs that had been tracking U-gene’s scent went crash when he walked by and the agents just looked at one another, confused. Even though it is killing him to do so, U-gene stays visible long enough to say hi to the cute girl in the elevator. Then he dies. I assume his body turned back invisible and rode the elevator until he started to smell.
Olivia follows U-gene’s lead and decides not to be invisible herself. She makes a date with Lincoln Lee for 3 a.m. at the diner. She never makes it. Nina’s goons gas her and erase the last couple hours from her memory and inject her with … something. It was all vaguely sinister. Not really much of a cliffhanger to leave us dangling until January.
The only living boy in New York — Peter didn’t play a big role in this episode. He got out to do a little shopping, only to find that his FBI handler has instructions to limit his interactions with civilians. Peter takes it all in stride. He knows this timeline isn’t his. It doesn’t bug him that Lincoln Lee is attracted to Olivia because it’s not his Olivia. I’m with Peter on this one. I’m not too terribly concerned about this Olivia’s emotional well-being. I know we’ll be back with the real Olivia soon.
Astrid Action — Astrid was a busy lady tonight. She got accused of being a boring child by Walter as he ate his double-battered onion rings (those sound delicious), she knew she’d get the blame for Walter buying an octopus, and she had a moment with Olivia about going to a psychologist. Out of the three versions of Astrid, I think this one is my favorite.
Spot the Observer — After eluding me last time, I caught a glimpse of the Observer in the crowd as they let people back into the apartment building following U-gene’s escape. I’m surprised that the Observer is still just lurking in the background. You’d think that after Peter reappeared, he’d have some explaining to do. Guess the one nice thing about being an Observer is that in order to reprimand you, your boss has to find you first.
— Andrew Hanson
Photo: Lincoln (Seth Gabel, left), Olivia (Anna Torv) and Astrid (Jasika Nicole) investigate a crime scene. Credit: Fox.