Fringe – “Johari Window”
When a young boy, whose normal appearance suddenly changes to reveal grotesque deformities, is taken by force from authorities, Fringe Division is called in to investigate a small town with a big secret.
This episode really felt like The X-Files did in its prime. It’s a solid stand alone “monster story” with a heart.
Walter (John Noble) at first theorizes “therianthropy” for the normal to grotesque transformations, sort of the Greek shape-shifting cousin to lycanthropy, but you don’t turn into a werewolf (which Walter is afraid of, btw). But his analysis of a beautiful butterfly he captures in the small town for Astrid leads him to the real cause: an old Army base whose top secret testing on electronic camouflage went awry.
We see perhaps a new side to Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) in what he does with/for the town’s inhabitants at the end of this story. Astrid (Jasika Nicole), in another rare occasion, gets out of the lab and behind the wheel of the Bishop boys’ station wagon. She also gets a nice scare at the lab when she unzips a body bag. Olivia (Anna Torv) has kept to the background so to speak, after recovering from her trip to the other universe. She's in each episode but doesn't seem to contribute much. They need to balance that out better.
John Noble once again shines as Walter. Whether he’s humming a nonsense tune “Hard artichokes rarely keep, Norwegian elephants Singapore sleep” that turns out not to be nonsense at all, or sharing a tender, revealing moment with his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) at episode’s end, you can’t take your eyes off him.
I’m exaggerating but it seems like it’s been a long while since we’ve had a story focused again on the parallel universe. After all, they’ve declared war on us, you know. As cool as these stand alones can be, they don’t really hold a candle to an inter-dimensional war.