Fringe Recap: Brave New World, Part One

By Saralyn Smith | 9 years ago

Oh boy.  We knew things would get heated in these last couple of episode, but the penultimate episode of the season pulled no punches.  Nanites! Chess! Death rays! Twists! Another Lost cameo! Twists on twists!  And a shock that left this recapper gasping for breath in the last few moments…

Cold Open

Muzak plays overhead as people pass too and fro.  One man stops to get his regular from a coffee counter but, after a glaring Bones-style bit of product placement, he keels over dead with whisps of smoke coming out from between his charred lips.  Everyone else in the immediate vicinity does the same, until one observant woman tells everyone not move: “I think when they move, they die.”

Act One – Don’t. Move. A Muscle.

Liv and Peter lie in bed, debating neighborhoods in which to buy a house.  It’s very sweet and domestic (perhaps a bit too much so).  Peter smiles and gently kisses Olivia when she asks whether a particular property has a nursery, but the moment is cut short when they are called to the crime scene.

Walter and Astrid are already there, with Walter in a particularly cranky mood.  He expresses disgust with how the scene is being handled and snaps at Astrid when she buttons up his coat, asking, “Why must you always mother hen me?”  Her quick (but very motherly) reply – “Humor me – maybe I like doing it” – soothes him a bit before he is allowed in to examine the victims himself.

All the people who froze in place during the event are still standing amidst the smoking bodies, which seems like it would be utterly terrifying.  Everyone around you has gone through some kind of spontaneous combustion and the only reason you’ve survived so far is by standing as still as possible.

As Walter examines a body, a redheaded survivor (played by Lost‘s Rebecca Mader) strikes up a conversation with him.  She lets him take a blood sample, in which Walter and Astrid find “foreign invasion” at the cellular level.  Walter soon discovers that the cause is nanites (distributed by a device secreted under the escalator) that are activated by movement and become more sensitive the longer they are in the bloodstream.  Despite this dangerous development, Walter needs to take a survivor back to the lab for work.  Our brave redhead (Jessica) once again volunteers – after Astrid assures her that the Bureau would fully take care of her dependents.

Act Two – New Powers and Old Friends

Jessica makes it to the lab without going up in smoke, so Peter and Walter work on a cure for the nanite infection.  We learn that she’s so brave because she’s an ER nurse, but also that she has a daughter and a crappy ex.  Suddenly, Jessica’s internal temperature starts to spike and she goes bright red.  Just as it seems Peter and Walter won’t develop the cure in time, Olivia grabs Jessica’s hand and somehow calms and brings her temperature backdown.  Olivia sweats and shudders slightly – and all the lights and electronics falter for a moment.  Peter and Walter finish and administer the cure before the nanites are able to once again turn Jessica into a boiled lobster.

Walter isn’t sure how Olivia did…whatever it was she did, but he’s pretty sure it has something to do with the Cortexiphan.  Instead of causing combustion (which Olivia’s already demonstrated), she must have prevented or reversed it.  After walking Jessica out of the building, Olivia and Peter join up with Broyles, who has found video of David Robert Jones installing the nanite device under the escalator.  With the bridge closed, everyone wonders what Jones’s end-game is – but the bigger question no one asks is why Jones let himself get photographed.

Back at the lab, Walter examines the nanites and finds that they have a chimeric structure, which Jones couldn’t possibly have designed.  He doesn’t answer Astrid’s question about who built them because….

We cut to Jones, likely aboard his ship.  Jones informs someone that Olivia has beaten them again, and gets only a chuckle in return.  A figure informs him that that isn’t quite the case, turning around to reveal himself to be….William Bell!

Act Three – Check

Bell and Jones engage in a thinly metaphoric conversation about the art of chess and the necessity of patience.  Bell tells Jones that a “winning move & a winning game” are not always the same:

“The art of chess – the art – is knowing when a piece is most valuable and then, in that very moment, being willing to sacrifice it.  For in the vacuum created by the loss of what is most precious, opportunity abounds. Influence is maximized. And desire becomes…destiny.”

Nimoy’s delivery is rich and utterly delightful, and the speech ends with an ominous comment about needing to sacrifice the bishop.

At Massive Dynamic, William tries to convince Nina that Bell didn’t actually die on New Year’s those years ago.  She resists and tries to correct Walter – Bell died in a car crash on Christmas.  Walter insists, though, that it was New Year’s because Bell visited him at St. Claire’s on New Year’s Eve to say goodbye (although the electroshock makes him unable to remember the actual exchange).  Nina suddenly bursts out that Bell had lymphoma and the car crash wasn’t an accident, but Walter is unfazed.

In an attempt to prove that Bell’s alive, Walter, Peter, and Olivia take a trip to St. Claire’s.  In one of those signature John Noble scenes, Walter sits quietly in his old room running his eyes and fingers across the formulas and equations he carved into during his “stay”, then is unnerved by an exchange with a janitor (or fellow inmate?) who recognizes him in the hallway.  The trip seems unfruitful, as there is no security video footage or visitor logs that prove Bell visited, but the trio does leave with a visitor log book that Walter took a sudden interest in.  That is, he suddenly began to sniff and lick the book, then clutched it to his chest.

Later, Peter and Olivia are making dinner at Olivia’s apartment when they launch into one of the conversations every sci fi/fantasy/crime/spy show couple must have: will our lives ever be “normal”?  The implication, of course, going back to Olivia’s earlier comment about a nursery.  Peter promises that they will figure out her continuing Cortexiphan Crazy together and that refuses to lose her again.  The sweet moment is, once again, interrupted – this time by the night going daylight bright.  We cut to Broyles observing a diffuse beam of light radiating down from the sky, which suddenly grows dense and demolishes a building.

Act Four – Rule One: Stick Together

Walter theorizes that Jones is using satellites to reflect and focus light from the sun into a beam.  Geological data shows that there’s an oil pocket beneath Bunker Hill where the beam is focused, meaning it could bore into the earth and set all of Boston aflame.  He and Astrid also detect and triangulate the locations of two unknown radio signals Jones must be using to control the satellites.

Peter and Olivia head to the location and find they must split up to disable the radio arrays (which are on two different buildings).  Splitting up is exactly what Jones wants, though!  He follows Peter into the building as ominous music swells.

Act Five – Worst Easy Bake Recipe EVER

Walter uses an Easy Baked, Cortexiphan-infused pig brain-laced lemon cake to bring out latent fingerprints on a page from the log book.  It turns out another side-effect of Cortexiphan seems to be temporary tissue or cellular regeneration, an effect creepily driven home when the sliced up cake stitches itself back together before Astrid’s eyes.

By the taste and scent of Chilean almond oil on the page, Walter knows that Bell left the print.  Bell always loved the almonds and even had a special deal with the importers.  Walter decides that at least some clue about Bell will be found at the harbor and gives Astrid a great dramatic speech about needing to go find the truth (during which he calls her Alex).  She sighs and goes with him, seeing as he can’t drive.

Just as Peter and Olivia succeed in shutting down the radio signals, Jones ambushes Peter from the shadows!

Act Six – The Brightest Star…

Peter and Jones battle it out on the roof, with Jones’s crowbar giving him the upper hand.  Their tussling makes it difficult for Olivia to get a clear shot from her roof and then is forced to drop her weapon when building security confronts her.  It’s no matter, though, because Olivia busts out a new and completely awesome new Cortexiphan power.  She basically remotely controls Peter’s body just as it seems he’s lost the fight, using him to completely kick Jones’s ass.  Peter knocks Jones into the radio array, sending sparks flying.  Just before his face begins turning to ash and disintegrating, Jones tells Peter, ” I was wrong.  I was….the bishop.”

At the harbor, Astrid and Walter go to the importer’s warehouse but a fellow with a gun in his belt tells them it’s been closed for years.  Instead of leaving as Astrid wants, Walter follows a curious noise deeper into the warehouse.  They find it full of the shipping containers we’ve previously glimpsed and are, in turn, discovered by security.

Astrid busts out her (presumably mandatory) hand-to-hand combat training and the two try to flee, but are chased by an ever-increasing number of armed dudes.  They’ve almost shaken them when a man pops around a corner and shoots Astrid in the stomach. Let me repeat that: SOMEONE SHOOTS ASTRID.  As she lies dying in Walter’s arms, Bell saunters up and greets Walter – his old friend.

Next week: To be honest, I didn’t really take in much of the preview for next week’s finale.  All I can think of right now is that (if all that foreshadowing about tissue regeneration doesn’t go anywhere) ASTRID COULD BE DEAD.