Season 2 Episode 7

Of Human Action

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Nov 12, 2009 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (10)

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  • Another classic scenario emerges

    One of the most popular episodes of "The X-Files" was called "Pusher". It involved a man who could use mind control, and as one would expect, this particular criminal had some serious moral deficiencies. That episode continues to be one of the most memorable for "X-Files" fans, so the writers for "Fringe" are treading on sacred ground for many.

    The writers do manage to put a spin on the formula by having the mind control agent be a teenager, and giving the kind of explanation for the ability that meshes with the "Fringe" mythos. It's been a long time since elements of The Pattern were directly linked to the activities of Massive Dynamic, so this was a welcome turn of events.

    Since the end of the first season, The Pattern has largely been attributed to the activities related to immoral and illegal experiments conducted to develop both offensive and defensive capabilities for the coming war with Alt-Fringe. The role of Massive Dynamic in that scheme has never been completely clear, and this episode doesn't necessarily change that. Instead, it adds to the evidence that Massive Dynamic was put in place to mitigate the human cost of developing an defense against Alt-Fringe.

    That does much to render William Bell a more enigmatic figure. While he may consider it important to foster Olivia's development as the most important element of Fringe Prime's defense, there's no indication of how far he's willing to go to that end. We have yet to see much advancement in Olivia's training, after all. But it makes sense that Massive Dynamic would be meant to facilitate that training, directly or indirectly.

    That said, it's hard to fathom what the current experiments in mind control are meant to achieve. Why create several versions of a single person, spread them around the country under foster care, and then conduct these experiments under those conditions? It speaks to the notion that William Bell never stopped the kind of experimentation that he and Walter started decades earlier, but it doesn't quite seem to fit in the scheme of the conflict as it has been presented.

    Having Peter be abducted and controlled made for some compelling tension, even if it was highly unlikely that he would be seriously hurt or killed. It was enough to see him try to work his way around the control and fail. Peter's resourcefulness has always been an important part of his character, so it makes sense that he would keep testing and pushing Tyler's ability.

    More than that, it applied more pressure on Walter, who is slowly but surely losing the ability to hide what he knows about Peter's unique background. Walter identified with the powerful emotions of losing a child, but at the same time, he was also reacting to the fact that he was, in truth, a child abductor. He's been on both sides of that coin, and considering that Walter is not good with complex emotions, it's hard to know how close Walter is getting to revealing the truth.

    Overall, this was another solid entry for the second season, but the writers need to start pulling the threads together a bit more. Right now, the season seems to be struggling to present a clear direction, despite some key revelations along the way. Given some of the challenges to the ratings this season, thanks to an inexplicable timeslot shift by FOX, the writers need to make sure the story doesn't get lose coherence.
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