Fringe: The Invisible Man

First let's get one thing out of the way: Fringe got totally hosed by the weather gods back on Wednesday, October 26. That's the day rain postponed Game 6 of the World Series, pushing the series back and pre-empting Fringe on Friday, October 28 after the heroics of David Freese forced a Game 7. As a result the show's typical fall finale will now bat lead-off for the series once January 2012 rolls around. It also means we're left with "Wallflower" as our substitute fall finale, and that's probably like having Chris Carpenter pinch hit for Albert Pujols. For you non-baseball fans out there, that means "replacing something very good with something not as good." I say probably because we haven't seen the real fall finale, "Back to Where You've Never Been," which will now air on January 13. (I think I got that right.)

So, you (and Fringe, somewhat) are forgiven if you were a bit underwhelmed with last night's episode, "Wallflower." It never delivered that "oh shniz!" moment to tide us over for the next two months while we eat turkey and open our Kwanzaa presents, because it didn't know it had to. Believe me, Fringe's producers and writers are very aware of when future episodes air and plan accordingly. As my boys Rob and Fab so eloquently put it, "Blame it on the rain."

The case-of-the-week in "Wallflower" involved a real-world case of Halo's Active Camouflage, with a man could almost completely blend into the background. In keeping with Fringe's preference for the not obvious, this man didn't want to stay invisible and hang out in the ladies' locker room; instead he wanted to know what it's like to be seen and have a normal life. Unfortunately, the only way he could do that was to suck the pigment out of perfectly visible people, killing them. As you might expect, this didn't sit well with the Fringe team.

After knocking on doors, following leads, and uncovering lots of information that people were keeping secret, the case actually took care of itself. Every time the suspect, named Eugene (U-Gene, as in Unknown Genetic Disorder), killed someone and stole their tan, he inched closer to death. After a showdown with feds and a good conversation with Olivia about recognition being the confirmation of existence, he escaped and the Fringe Division shrugged its shoulders. Hey, he was invisible. You try finding an invisible man. Eventually he did die, but before he expired, he squeezed in one authentic exchange with the hot French-Canadian tenant in his building (he shacked up in the basement) and we got the idea that he died happy. So the lesson for any lonely outsiders out there is, go out and talk to someone, because life is slipping by.

It didn't quite have the emotional impact of last week's phenomenal case (I still get misty thinking about it), but the show is making a point of resolving cases this season without a stereotypical happy ending. Invisible Man got his honest conversation but died, Raymond was able to rejoin his wife but ended up losing her forever, Cameron's life didn't get much better, and Mold Boy was eventually separated from Walter and left to fend for himself (I think). There are a lot of bittersweet endings going on, and that has to be intentional, right? Are these cases a way of showing us that this is a universe of longing? Most of them feature people with good intentions but end with resolutions that aren't ideal. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I'm always on the lookout for patterns with Fringe. I'm not crazy, you're crazy!

The case touched on a few things going on in the lives of our Fringe Division friends. Olivia felt some kinship with Eugene, as they were both experimented on as kids, and she's been feeling a bit like an outsider herself. Like Eugene, Peter obviously feels like he's invisible in this timeline. But neither notion really intertwined with the case in the same way Fringe's better mythalone episode do.

What served as our OMGosh moment as we head into eight Fringe-free weeks (EIGHT!?!?!) was seeing Nina and her team of specialists knocking out Olivia and injecting her with either super drugs or Roarin' Raspberry Cranberry Kool-Aid. I'm theory-less on this, but I'm not at all surprised Nina isn't the saint she appeared to be.

"Wallflower" was a victim of accidental scheduling, but didn't do itself any favors with its marginal case and lack of big mythology reveals. It was a perfectly fine episode of Fringe, but not the type of goodbye I wanted until the show returns in 2012.


– What was missing from this episode was more Peter. This is supposed to be Peter's season, right? And after last week's Peter-heavy episode, the show lost a lot of momentum by relegating Peter to shopping for underwear and hanging posters in his temporary home. Guess we have to wait until 2012.

– There's something more to Olivia's comment to Nina regarding Eugene. Nina said Eugene only survived because of their experimentation on him, and Olivia said he may have been better off dead, obviously referring to the murders taking place. But Nina flashed her a look that told me something interesting, and now that we know Nina has been juicing Olivia (this probably wasn't the first time, right?), perhaps Olivia would have died without her "treatments"?

– Maybe I missed something, but what were the glasses Peter gave Lincoln? Were they ones he had in the other timeline? And I don't know about you, but I'm perfectly okay with Lincoln and Olivia getting it on in this timeline.

– I love how Peter always refers to his Olivia in the present tense. It's not they "were together," it's they "are together." What a determined little p-whipped sweetheart.

– I'm sure this episode spoke to a lot of people who feel like they don't have friends or that their existence is pretty meaningless. It's not. Get out there and take control of your life. If it doesn't work the first time, try it again and again until it does. Not everyone out there sucks. There are others in your boat, and you may need to paddle a while until you find each other, but once you do, you can join forces and build a kick-ass battleship. I don't know when this became a teen hotline, but if it helps one person, I'll be happy.

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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