Anyway, the opening scene is probably the grossest opening scene that I have seen yet (even though the opening of “Snakehead" comes close). In fact, if there are any Fringe fans who remember Adele, who used to host the Fringe Dwellers podcast, then you may know that she once said that this scene was edited for television in Australia. I love how Walter is humming near the beginning of the episode for no apparent reason, something that is clearly annoying Olivia. When asked to stop, he goes on to say that he didn't realize that he was doing it out loud, that he thought that it was in his head. He once again has thoughts or questions unrelated to the case (something that we see again and again throughout season one and also something that clearly annoys Olivia). This time, after saying that he has three questions and voicing only two, he says, “Oh, the third question. Could I get some of this onion soup? It looks delicious.” I love how the team is at such a horrifically gruesome scene, and he has food on his mind, and of all things, a liquid-like food. You have to love Walter and his Walterisms. Fringe simply wouldn't be Fringe without him or them, and then, you also have to love Olivia and her Oliviaisms. Walter, Peter and Astrid are examining a dead, headless body, and seemingly unaffected completely by the scene, Olivia walks into the lab and asks, “How's it coming?” As usual, she is focused on the task at hand and nothing else.
When I first watched this episode, I could immediately tell that Claire's husband is lying when shown a photograph of Emily and asked if he knew her. It's evidently clear in the way that he responds that he is hiding something, but obviously, we don't know what right away. Later, of course, we learn that his deception is because they were making their own cure, and he didn't want to tell a federal agent, because he didn't want their research to be shut down. I am really happy that Olivia is at least somewhat conscious of animal cruelty, since after Walter kills Mr. Papaya using the same method that he thinks was used to kill the people in the diner (which is that Emily was basically programmed to cook the people in the diner alive), he suggests using “some expendable gerbils in the back,” to which Olivia vehemently exclaims, “No!” Of course, later in the episode, we see what appears to be a rat being placed inside Claire's confinement, where the same thing happens to it as what happened to the people in the diner and to Mr. Papaya. That is so cruel. Whatever the reason behind these attacks may be, do these people have any regard for innocent life whatsoever? Obviously, they don't. Their goal is to accomplish their missions and nothing else; lives lost in the process, even if it is just the life of a defenseless animal, mean nothing.
Returning to what I was saying about the world being a lab for a series of experiments, however, Peter nails that with more precision than a dart hitting the direct center of the board. He says to Olivia, “If this is part of the Pattern, what if these people aren't just experiments? What if somebody is preparing for something?” This is exactly what I am saying; season one makes these conscious efforts to tie the stories together, whereas season two does not. No one questions the significance of the mole-baby (“Night of Desirable Objects”), the doctor addicted to dreams (“Dream Logic”), the cosmonaut whose body is bound with that of an unidentified foreign creature (“Earthling”), the Chinese Snakehead infecting people with worms (“Snakehead”) or the disfigured community of Edina, New York (“Johari Window”). In this episode, however, as well as many episodes of season one, ties are made, and in addition to what Peter says to Olivia, I definitely think that ZFT is behind this attack. Why? Again, we don't really know, but when confronted by Olivia about the case, Dr. Patel reveals to her that David Esterbrook is responsible and then kills himself, something that we have seen ZFT members do again and again throughout season one, and speaking of David Esterbrook, when Olivia confronts him and pretends to be a woman named Amanda Bennett who is an admirer and follower of his work, it is clear how ambitious of an agent she is, pretending (which is extravagantly convincing, I might add) to be this woman until she gets Esterbrook to say what she needs him to say, and when Broyles reprimands her for doing this, it is easy to see that there is still a great deal of tension between her and Broyles, something that is so wildly different at this point in the series.
I love the story that Olivia tells Peter about her birthday. There is something about it that is really poetic, and throughout season one and even in some episodes of season two, Olivia keeps mentioning her stepfather, which suggests, to me, that he will eventually be a key figure in the series. She says that the situation involving the shooting of her stepfather happened when she was nine years old, and in an earlier episode (I believe that it was “The Ghost Network”), she says that she pretty much had always known that she wanted to go into Law Enforcement ever since she was nine years old, which suggests a connection between the age and the situation. Another highlight of this episode is the meeting between Peter and Nina. She says to him, “I doubt you'll remember, but you and I spent a good deal of time together.” At the time, we obviously didn't realize it, but this is a hint toward Peter being from the other side, because that is precisely why Nina “doubts” that he will remember it. The scene originally caused me to speculate that Nina is Peter's mother, and I'm sure that I am not the only one. However, if you've seen the first Sneak Peek of the upcoming episode “Peter” (2.15) that was released, then you know exactly why she said that, but for those who prefer to stay completely spoiler-free, I won't say anything more than that. She makes an exchange with Peter, and although I do have an idea as to what that might be, sharing it would share those aforementioned spoilers, so I will save everything until after “Peter” is aired next week. All that I will say, however, is that despite what you tell Olivia at the end of this episode, Peter, don't be so sure that you're a big boy and that you can take care of yourself.
This episode features Walter getting Astrid's name wrong once again, calling her “Asterix,” to which Peter says, “Astrid. Her name is Astrid,” and although this isn't very important, I wonder if Olivia wears contact lenses. My brother Cody has pointed this out before, but I kind of just noticed it in this episode (near the end of the episode when Olivia tells Broyles that she is indeed emotional but that emotion is what drives her); Olivia's eyes do seem to change color every now and then. They seem to alternate between a hazel-like color and bluish-green. It is very likely, though, that she wears contact lenses, since she is sometimes seen wearing glasses when she reads. Now, about the ending of the episode, I already briefly referred to Olivia's stepfather and how that might come into play later in the series (I almost want to say that I have heard word of the producers say that, indeed, it will), but Olivia does end up receiving the birthday card, unsigned, simply saying, “thinking of you.” Obviously, I am aware that this is consistent with the story that Olivia tells Peter of her stepfather sending her a birthday card every year on her birthday, but I am wondering if it relates to this particular episode at all. Olivia says that she knows that her stepfather isn't responsible for everything bad in the world but that he is responsible for some of it, something that drives her to catch “bad guys.” Between that line and the card at the end of the episode, I can't help but think that maybe he was involved in this particular event. Anyway, I am sure that in the future, we will learn more regarding Olivia's stepfather, something to which I am looking forward. As I said, this is a pretty good episode, and I think that I'd give it seven expendable gerbils.