Monday, December 7, 2009

As the Worm Turns

Fringe – “Snakehead”

Chinese nationals are being smuggled into the U.S. and they have no idea what they are truly carrying inside themselves.

Olivia (Anna Torv) lets the Bishop boys, Walter and Peter (John Noble and Joshua Jackson), take the spotlight in this solid stand alone episode, written by David Wilcox and directed by Paul Holahan. Also, Astrid (Jasika Nicole) gets to step out of the lab for a change.

The Chinese mafia or Triad has added to their list of criminal activities; alongside the usual drugs, prostitution and human slavery they now are using human beings as hosts to a mutated worm with some miraculous healing powers. The problem is the worm has to gestate in a human body and then it grows to several feet long, killing its host (and you thought MSG was bad for you). That’s where Fringe Division steps in.

Peter has become a real take charge guy this season. Here we learn he knows Mandarin Chinese and more than the average person about the Triad (his shady past rears its head again). He even does some guy bonding with the teenage son of a suspect to gain information.

Without a doubt John Noble steals the show this time. In fact, when the network starts sending out those “For Your Consideration” clips to Emmy voters they should include several moments from this episode. Walter is trying to show his independence: he takes a cab to the crime scene instead of riding with Peter and he goes sample hunting in Chinatown. Peter asks Astrid to keep an eye on the latter expedition and after collecting his samples they become separated. Walter becomes confused and tries to call Peter from a payphone (he knows the numbers, just not their proper order). Later he breaks down at a bus bench and confesses all this to a woman who speaks no English. For anyone with an elderly parent it just tears you apart thinking that could happen to them.

Astrid can’t find Walter in Chinatown so she assumes he’ll head back to the lab. When she gets there a couple of Triad goons are stealing back their giant worm and they hurt Astrid in the process. When Walter faces Astrid at the end and he sees the blood and bruises on her face and what his little quest for independence has done, it is utterly heartbreaking. If John Noble is not at least nominated for an Emmy on the strength of such tender, moving work, then fuck the Emmys.

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