JJ Abrams’ Fringe episode 18 review

Fringe goes looking for hot women, allegedly...

Fringe 118

The title of this Fringe story is Midnight, which doesn’t give much away about what to expect other than it might involve night photography.

The start of this story is a corny one, where we have some young guy cruising nightclubs for female company, while unusually mutilated bodies are being deposited around the city. He’s got condoms, but he’s unlikely to find safe sex.

It’s a rather obvious twist that he’s not the culprit but the next victim, although how the woman with striking blue eyes he attracts actually kills him is a little more unexpected. When he’s found the next morning with his spine hanging out, they take the choice to get Fringe involved, as presumably Ghostbusters have retired to Florida.

There are parts of this story I really liked, and others elements I didn’t appreciate in almost equal measure. There is a nice detective story about finding  Nicholas Boone, the man who made the virus that made the woman dependent on spinal fluid. He didn’t intend for this to happen, as she is actually his wife and was infected because he wouldn’t do what the nasty ZFT organisation wanted.

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He also admits to making the flesh growing bug that featured in Ability, but once in the Fringe lab he forms a bond with like-minded intellectual Walter Bishop.

In the end, together they develop an antidote using the very last of Nicholas Boone’s own spinal fluid, which causes a medical emergency for him as he’d given most of his to his wife before she got too demanding to control. Eh, is spinal fluid that special, and isn’t it replaced by the body if removed? Who knows?

The key to unravelling this case is that she’s been given a form of syphilis as a carrier for the virus, which elevates her core body temperature. So Peter and Olivia wander around a nightclub looking for ‘hot’ women, amazingly.

Eventually, they track down Mrs Boone before the next screening of Spinal Tap, and bring her back to the lab so that the antidote can be administered.

This was the worst scene of the whole show, which had been reasonably intelligent but went totally silly. They inject Valerie Boone with the antidote and she then starts writhing and convulsing in her exceptionally short and tight party outfit. Everyone looks at her to make sure she’s doing it right while nobody notices that Nicholas is expiring. Eventually, Olivia notices he’s non-conversational, after Valerie’s eyes have gone back to their normal colour and she’s stopped dribbling. Ah well, there are plenty more mad scientists out there, I guess.

What was good in Midnight was the now expectedly high quality of the dialogue between the main characters, with some exceptionally great exchanges between Peter and Walter. This is an example of what I love in this show:

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Walter: I am forming a hypothesis. Would you care to hear?Peter: Well, I don’t know. Would I ever be able to sleep at night again?Walter: Well, that depends.Peter: Depends on what?Walter: On whether the light is on or not.

There were many others as equally obtuse and irreverent as that, and I’ve noticed they’re spreading to other cast members like Charlie, who now has the ability to be as dry and witty as Water or Peter.

What I really disliked here was a subplot they’re running about Olivia’s sister which irritates the heck out of me. I wish she’d take her excessive neediness and her daughter and give poor Olivia an opportunity for a sex life, I really do. How Olivia is realistically expected to be an FBI Agent and Dr. Ruth at the same time is totally stupid, and Peter would run not walk away from Rachel Dunham.

There are only two more episodes left this season, so I’m expecting more focus on the larger story arc next week, and no more monster hunting. But Fringe isn’t a show that always does what I want or expect….

Check out our review of episode 17 here.