Fringe: Tales from the Crypt

Last night's Fringe episode, "Unearthed," was actually an unaired episode from Season 1, so it didn't really contribute to the whole Massive Dynamic plot arc that's been dominating this current season. There was no William Bell (Leonard Nimoy). There was no Observer. There was no Nina Sharp (Blair Brown). Hell, Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) wasn't even on screen for more than 90 seconds.

Yet I found the experience of watching a Season 1 episode with Season 2 knowledge rather insightful. For one thing, Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) was still in the picture. It was eerie to watch him aid his then-trusting partner, Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), all while knowing that he would betray her in the future. For another, watching Peter (Joshua Jackson) weave deftly in and out of the same case without any real qualifications, all while knowing that he would rise to the occasion later, was quite comforting. Olivia and Peter's relationship began very ambiguously, as pointed out by the girl at the center of the episode's case ("Is Agent Dunham your girlfriend or something?"), but over the course of the last two seasons, they've strayed away from cliche romance and instead developed a trusted friendship and working partnership. It's refreshing, especially when network shows are so prone to creating relationships out of thin air. Fringe isn't so much about the personal lives of the characters as it is about the story, and that's a good thing, because the story is always fascinating.

The case in "Unearthed" involved Lisa (who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Brittany Murphy, I might add), a girl who was pronounced dead but woke up on the operating table while her organs were being harvested for donation. Not only was she alive again, but she also acquired the ability to speak Russian and rattle off top-secret military data. Walter (John Noble) hypothesized that the girl was possessed, causing the girl's religious mother to call in a priest, who questioned Walter's judgment and the work of the Fringe Division. But Walter was right: Another dead guy used Lisa's body to seek vengeance on the man who killed him. And so Fringe makes a statement about the validity of religion. Most Fringe cases touch on the supernatural, but this one entered spiritual territory, especially because the girl's mom attributed her daughter's resurrection to religion, and because the priest exhibited a very "un-Christian-like" closed mind. The case allowed us to understand more about Olivia and Peter's agnostic view of the world, which will only enrich future episodes.

Fringe will have plenty more opportunities to resurrect the topic of spirituality, especially once William Bell comes back into the picture and assumes the role of the obvious Christ figure. But knowing Fringe, it won't be so obvious. After all, it could be Walter, instead.

What did you think of the episode?

Follow writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom

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