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Fringe: “Unearthed”

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I gotta be honest with you fine people: Given the problems I’ve had with Fringe’s preponderance of stand-alone episodes in Season Two, I’m having a hard time working up much enthusiasm for a leftover stand-alone that Fox didn’t deem worthy to air last season. (Especially with a legitimately new Fringe due this Thursday.) So I’m going to whip through this one fairly quickly.


Freak-meet: Brain-dead high school athlete Lisa Donovan comes back to life while her organs are being harvested, and begins shouting, “68339AE358!” The first half of those numbers? An ID code for missing Navy petty officer Andrew Rusk. The second half? Launch codes for ICBM missiles.

The reason: Lisa has developed some kind of psychic bond with Rusk, to the extent that she sees his face behind her when she looks into mirrors. She even leads the authorities to Rusk’s corpse, in the trunk of a junker car at a dump site. And Rusk’s pre-death illness—radiation posioning—seems to have been transferred to Lisa, even though she’s never been near his actual body.

The resolution: Walter performs a kind of scientific version of an exorcism on Lisa, and brings Rusk’s personality to the front in order to find out who killed him. It appears that Lisa returns when the procedure is over, but in fact Rusk remains in control, and then goes after his wife Theresa, who hired a palooka to kill him (to get revenge on him for beating her). The Fringe team stops him/her in time but… Rusk downloads his consciousness into a car accident victim in the episode’s coda.

Meanwhile: Walter tries to listen to coma patients, and drinks fresh milk. Lisa complains that she’s been shunned by her church-mates for being “different.” And Olivia and Peter have a conversation about their mutual lack of faith that ends with Olivia “waiting to see if lightning strikes you.”


Themes: Science is a kind of faith too. (Also, our bodies are but empty vessels, ready to be filled by whatever.)

Judgment: This episode was briskly paced and had a few charming and/or nostalgic moments, but it was mostly generic procedural stuff with a minimum of Fringe-ready freakiness. And some of the generic moments were embarrassingly so, like when Olivia tricks Rusk’s C.O. into revealing confidential info with that old reliable fake-out: “How come you didn’t tell me he was sick?” ("How did you know?" "You just told me." Boom! Roasted.) Also I figured out pretty early on that Theresa would be involved with Rusk’s murder due to The Law Of Economy Of Characters (though I did not predict the abused-wife twist), and I rolled my eyes at Rusk failing in his posthumous plan due to the old Fallacy Of The Talking Killer. (That the talking killer was a teenage girl speaking in a middle-aged man voice only made the scene goofier.)


So that’s that. Am I underselling this one?I think not, but I'm open to contradiction. Either way, I’m eager to get back to the real Fringe on Thursday.

Grade: C-

Stray observations:

-Test subjects 1 through 5 settled out of court.

-Nice—and odd—to see Charlie again. Also nice to see the show’s old “Boston” set, which was actually New York, but still looked more like Boston than their current location. Lastly, it was cool to see Fringe return to what used to be a common set: a maze-like lot filled with vehicles.


-Please allow me a moment to entertain my fantasies.

-Which came first: the title of this episode of Fox’s decision to dig it up and air it on an off-night?


-We don’t have a lot of Fringe to look forward to up ahead. We’re on again Thursday, and then for the next three Thursdays, and then the show goes dark until April. So maybe that’s dampening my enthusiasm a little too.

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