"Power Hungry" (1.05)

I would actually like to kick this entry off by mentioning the Observer. Obviously, this episode is by no means an Observer-centric episode, but September does make a rather obvious appearance when he walks out of the elevator at Joseph Meegar's worksite. I also initially said that it was probably my favorite episode out of the series so far, and I'm not sure why I said that. At that point, the pilot episode had definitely been the best one. “Power Hungry” is a decent episode, but it's not so phenomenal as to be called the best episode out of the first five. Indirectly, it is related to the show's mythology, which definitely causes it to earn some points in my book (seven epic pacemaker fails). How the episode plays into the show's mythology is something that will be discussed in this entry, but please be aware that this entry will contain spoilers that pertain to Fringe, so if you've never seen the show but would like to, then please, don't read any further.

This episode begins with a man named Joseph Meegar who is involved in an elevator drop that kills everyone in the elevator besides him, and this leads us to a fringe science that involves a human with a much higher than normal level of electromagnetism surrounding his body, something that was caused by a group of people who promised Joseph that they would help him “unlock his hidden potential.” It's definitely an interesting fringe science, and it's one that doesn't seem all that far-fetched to me. What if a human could possibly have elevated levels of electromagnetism and could therefore cause electric equipment to malfunction? Something that I really like about this episode is that it doesn't just entirely abandon last week's premise, as Olivia and Charlie discuss Olivia having seen John the night before, and Peter and Walter discuss his torture, and speaking of Peter, the look on his face when he comes to the door after Olivia knocks on it is simply priceless. He is completely annoyed that he has been awakened at such an early hour, which he doesn't hide.

I suppose that in opposition to what was just said about the episode basically picking up where the last episode left off, I do recall Courtney from the Fringe Podcast saying that she was annoyed by the fact that Astrid suddenly seems not to have any ill feelings toward Walter, despite the fact that he injects her with a syringe in the previous episode. However, this is not the impression that I have during this episode. For example, when Walter confesses his regrets for having to let the pigeons go due to his belief that they are “such majestic creatures,” she says to him, “They're rats with wings. You'll get over it.” For Astrid, the look on her face and her tone of voice were very sarcastic, even directed toward Walter, so I think that she is, in fact, still harboring ill feelings toward Walter, and Walter looks so defeated when she says this. Then, there's the scene in which Walter says to her, “That one can go out the back. Thank you, my dear.” Astrid replies, “What's my name?” Walter has trouble remembering but does recall that it “starts with A.” When Astrid asks him what her name is, I sensed some tension in that scene, too. However, they do not mention what Walter did at all, and that is most likely what Courtney was talking about. We do see near the end of “The Arrival” that Astrid is angry with Walter, and he does apologize to her, so perhaps she simply thought about it and decided to, more or less, accept his apology.

Something that I wonder about Joseph Meegar is whether or not he is a Cortexiphan subject. We do know from the episode that he was having illegal experiments performed on him and that the experiments were what caused his ability, but we also know that he was being injected with something, and we don't know with what he was being injected. Additionally, we know that Cortexiphan initiates very dramatic abilities, and is Cortexiphan what caused Meegar's ability? Is Jacob Fischer possibly a member of ZFT or even an employee of Massive Dynamic, and if either is true, then, as I'm sure has been discussed before in the Fringecommunity, what's the difference between the two? Are ZFT and Massive Dynamic possibly partners in “crime?” Perhaps ZFT is actually committing the “crimes,” and Massive Dynamic is supplying it with the means to do so?

The main reason why I say that Meegar could be a Cortexiphan subject is because we don't know anything whatsoever about his childhood, so the possibility that he could have been given the drug when he was a child can therefore not be ruled out. Also, we can assume that the reason why children are being given Cortexiphan is to create soldiers in the upcoming war, and as we know based on what Jones says to Olivia in episode 1.14, “Ability,” soldiers are expected to be unwilling, which Meegar most definitely is. Additionally, Fischer says to him, “Look what science has made you, Joseph. You are special.” I am therefore left to wonder how he is special. Obviously, he can harness electricity, which is undoubtedly “special,” but for what purpose can he harness electricity?

After all, it doesn't seem realistic to me that the experiment would have been conducted merely for the fun of it, especially since Fischer tells the man with whom he is working that “he's [Meegar] the priority.” That strongly suggests to me that even Fischer is taking orders from someone, someone who has expressed that Meegar is so important that if Fischer needs to surrender his life in order to preserve Meegar and his ability, then so be it, and I can't decide if that sounds more like ZFT or Massive Dynamic. In other episodes, we have seen ZFT members surrender their lives for a higher cause (i.e., 1.07, “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones”), but we have also seen Massive Dynamic perform experiments on humans (i.e., 2.07, “Of Human Action”), which serves as good support for the theory that ZFT and Massive Dynamic could be working together. After all, in episode 1.18, “Midnight,” we find out that William Bell could possibly be funding ZFT, something that he does not deny during his meeting with Olivia in the alternate reality.

I feel really terrible for Joseph Meegar whenever I watch this episode, because obviously, none of what happens is his fault. He doesn't understand his ability, and he is confused. I mean, near the end of the episode, Olivia makes the mistake of shouting “Freeze!” when she apprehends Meegar, and I call it a mistake, because how can you expect someone to comply when you shout at them like that, especially when it's someone who you should be trying to get to see you as a friend. When she shouts like that, he automatically sees her as an enemy. She should have said something like, “Joseph, listen to me. I know that you probably see me as your enemy right now, but I assure you that I am not. I'm FBI, and I'm here to help you.” Of course, there are two issues at hand as far as that is concerned. Firstly, she most likely didn't know at that point whether or not he was in control of his “ability.” Secondly, he most likely still would have ran, because he didn't trust anyone, but she still could have tried. What she does do just about guarantees that he is going to run.

Additionally, I don't really think that it was necessary for Peter to hit him so hard, especially not with whatever it was that he struck him with (it looked like a crowbar). He could have jumped on him or put his arm out to stop him or something like that. This poor guy is running because he is scared to death, so you hit him over the head with a crowbar? Then, when he begs to go home, Olivia treats him like he's a bad guy and behaves so coldly to him. It really makes me feel so sorry for him. This episode as a whole, anyway, is decent and, to me, earns those seven malfunctioned pacemakers. It has one of the top Fringe quotes to date, which is the scene in which Charlie says to Olivia, “Saying someone's doing all this, you know that's crazy right?” Her response is, “If it weren't, we wouldn't be looking for him.” Of course, we also discover in this episode why Olivia is seeing John Scott despite the fact that he is supposed to be dead, which is because when she was in the tank from the pilot episode, part of Scott's consciousness crossed over into hers, and since it's not supposed to be there, seeing him in front of her is her mind's way of coping with the issue of there being an extra voice in her head. “There's only room for one voice in your head, not two,” as Walter says. Anyway, until next time, stay on the fringe.

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