This week, our assignment was to watch the episode “Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver.” from Season Two of Fringe. (You can read the Television Without Pity Recap here, while the AV Club has their recap of the episode here. The post dedicated to the Season Two season premiere episode is here and the subsequent bookclub posts are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

As always, here are the ground rules: nothing that we have seen so far is considered a spoiler, anything that we have not yet seen should be considered a spoiler. Crazy nutbar speculation is *NOT* a spoiler, but confirming or denying said confirmation would be.

Here’s my idea for spoilers: please rot13 them. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them. We good? We good! Everybody who has seen the episode, see you after the cut!

The first thing I noticed was that they finally addressed one of the questions that should have been eating at me had I been thinking about this:

Why in the Sam Hill haven’t any of the other kids from the cortexiphan trials sued the ever-living crap out of Walter and/or William Bell?

Oh, we find out. One is talking to a lawyer even now in front of us. He was exposed to something when he was a kid (of course) and he’s going to start looking for the other kids who were also exposed to this stuff… oh! It seems that she was one of them. She doesn’t really remember much of anything but does remember the name “Lloyd Becker”… he thanks her, touches her hand, and we cut to her driving her car and she’s talking about going to visit the doctor… and stops at a stale yellow. In the time the light goes from red to green again, we see her wrist break out in boils and her face get all ooky and the guy in the car behind her gets out to yell at her and she is like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. “Help Me!”

Welcome to Fringe.

Olivia can’t sleep. So now what? Might as well get up and go to the bowling alley because, wouldn’t you know it, Sam can’t sleep either. Well, it’s more that he’s working on the pin setter and drinking beer. Which, for some reason, makes perfect sense. He gives her plenty of opportunity to say why she’s there but, of course, she won’t. So Sam asks and Olivia tells us that all of the stuff that Sam said would happen has started happening. Sam flips this by pointing out that what Olivia is going through has nothing to do with that whole other universe thing… it’s because she recently made a decision that she regrets having made. Olivia gives up the truth: She’s keeping a secret that she doesn’t want to. Sam gives her a positive affirmation about how she’s a good person which goes on to be interrupted by Olivia’s cell. It’s that thing that opened the show.

We have the weirdest conversation in the world between Walter and Peter involving nude skiing and, ahem, “retraction” issues. Olivia shows up just in time to catch the imagery getting *REALLY* weird. So after a moment of awkwardness that Peter doesn’t notice because, hey, testicle discussion in front of Olivia, we hammer out that there’s a body that we can take back to the lab! No testicles, though.

It’s an attorney, unmarried, dead by the time the EMTs got to the car… and the guy doing the autopsy at the morgue is a former student of Walter’s. I find myself wondering exactly *HOW* weird this is going to get in the short term but, blessedly, we just establish exactly how inspiring Walter used to be and how weird the… whatever it is… is on the poor woman. Walter hammers out that it spread like a cancer from, the UV light tells us, someone touching her with their right hand. So let’s get her back to the lab, cut off her right arm, cook her skin and see if we can lift a fingerprint, and might as well make some taffy while we’re at it. Oh, that Walter!

So we jump to Olivia and Peter doing some investigative work at the law firm. We hammer out that she specialized in stuff like, oh, kids being injected with cortexiphan. They don’t say that, though. They talk about lead and asbestos… and about how there was a trial starting next week involving 8 figures.

If I may aside, this is a perfect rabbithole to acknowledge but given that we, the home viewers, all know that the real culprit is Walter, shouldn’t this just be lampshaded before they move on? Oh, that’s what they do.

Peter makes a plausibly avoidable overture that goes on to be plausibly avoided by Olivia… man, it was, how many seasons of X-Files before they started waggling their eyebrows at each other?

Anyway, back to the lab where Walter is telling Astrid to not mix up the spoons… and Olivia asks for a moment with Walter to berate him about how she has to tell Peter The Truth and Walter begs her not to because, hey, they finally have a good relationship and Peter will never forgive him. Olivia says, no, he will but it’s not like Peter hasn’t shown a huge amount of hostility over smaller things, right? Well, Peter picks that moment to interrupt the conversation and Olivia misses a golden opportunity to yell “YOU’RE FROM ANOTHER UNIVERSE!” the way I yell at people from time to time and that missed opportunity is interrupted by a lead. We know where the last place the lawyer used her credit card was… in a diner about an hour before hitting that red light.

At the diner, we hammer out that the counter guy knew she was a lawyer who sued doctors or something and she was sitting with a guy who looked like the guy’s uncle when he was fighting cancer, you know? So we go outside to have Peter be all skeptical and say that he knows that cancer isn’t contagious but it’s not like he didn’t have a prehistoric virus that changed his freakin’ personality a mere three shows ago so you’d think he’d be a hair more open-minded to the possibility. Then again, we kind of don’t have a show if we don’t have a skeptic yelling “HEY HEY HEY SLOW DOWN THERE” at everybody else.

So we visit cancer man (I do miss the X-Files, for what it’s worth) at the supermarket buying all sorts of health foods before getting the malaise and running outside to puke… which means that we cut to him calling all of the Lloyd Beckers in the phone book… just in time for us to cut to Walter who explains to us all everything that we, at home, have put together. Cancer man touches someone and gets less sick for a little bit at the cost of killing the heck out of the other person… cut to Cancer man visiting Lloyd Becker. It’s a good thing that we established that he was a bully in the first scene…

Because we cut to the Fringe team finding his body all gross and cancery.

This gives Peter and Olivia an opportunity to hammer out that Peter knows why Olivia is acting all weird: It’s because they almost kissed. He lays down that, hey, he understands that the three of them all have a good thing going together and he doesn’t want to jeopardize that at all. So she yells “YOU’RE FROM ANOTHER UNIVERSE” and, wait, no. She says that she doesn’t want to jeopardize that either.

So Astrid is actually thinking about, you know, THE CASE and talks about finding 5 other rapid-onset cancer incidences and starts naming names and Olivia knits her brow and starts guessing the middle names of the folks… but not remembering how she knows the names of the folks in question.

So we go home and Olivia is going over the files and trying to figure stuff out and THERE’S A KNOCK AT THE DOOR and, oh, it’s Sam. He brought over Clue. You know what? I like him a lot. He and Olivia play and he gives some free psychoanalysis but hits on an interesting thing: he’s never seen Olivia in a primary color. Huh. You know what? I think he’s right. They banter back and forth and he makes a joke about how he’s taller than he looks and Olivia stands up and practically yells EUREKA as she stumbles over herself to find the names from the height chart from the Jacksonville episode. Yep. Some of them match the names Astrid rattled off. TO THE LAB!

Where Walter is pulling taffy. They hammer out that we’re just *THIS* close to being able to pull prints off of that poor woman’s skin and Walter is supremely unsurprised by the cortexiphan connection. He pulls out a theory immediately: the cortexiphan makes the energy exchange between Cancer man and his victims possible… so, once again, we establish that Walter doesn’t remember the kids, and doesn’t have a list of them, and Nina doesn’t have a list of the kids they experimented upon either (uh-huh). So Olivia is off to talk to Nina… who reminds her that she already said that she doesn’t have a list and Olivia points out that “Dude, you lie, like, all the time” and Nina is all “not this time!” and Olivia is all “You know about Peter!” and Nina is all “You know about Peter?” and in an expertly written scene, Nina susses out that Olivia wants to tell Peter, but hasn’t, and so isn’t there for the list, but is there to have Nina explain to Olivia why Olivia should not tell Peter about his origins. Dang. Nina is *GOOD*.

Cut to Cancer man making another housecall… but it turns out that it’s a nephew, not a son, of the lady he’s visiting. Dang… he’s really speeding up in his need to transfer energy at this point. I mean, it’s one thing to buy a decade or more with the transfer. If you’re only trading, what? Three days for it? You’d have to be a serious monster to keep doing that. That’s nowhere near enough time to rationalize it.

Back in the lab, we find that we have a fingerprint! We also find that it’s not in the database!

Cut to Cancer man pumping the aunt for information on the other cortexiphan kids and, wouldn’t you know it, the aunt mentions that, hey, someone was asking these questions a few months ago…

Cut to Olivia back at her apartment and, yep, this time it’s not Sam at the door. After a fairly tense fight that involved Olivia definitely *NOT* getting touched by Cancer Man, we have Cancer Man laid out on the floor and we hammer out that his name is James Heath… and he starts crying about how he never wanted this but he was recently visited by a guy who explained cortexiphan to him and what had happened in Florida and how he could help James with his problems.

Instead, everybody at home exhales at the same time and turns to their partner (or just says aloud, hey, it’s cool) that James was activated.

So we go to Nina who shows us James in a coma and we hammer out that, yep, he was activated (“I TOLD YA!”) in the same way that empathy boy and fire girl from last season were activated… and that there are still thirtyish folks out there who were cortexiphan kids. We also establish that we have to find them.

Cut to Olivia visiting Walter (Peter is out) and Olivia saying that, hey, she understands that she can’t tell Peter… and Walter saying that he’s pleased because he’s come to realize that he has to. Whew.

This was a *GREAT* episode too! Cortexiphan! Activation! Massive Dynamic lying! Taffy! If all of the one-shot episodes devoted to the monster of the week were this good, I’d have no complaints at all.

So… what thinks did you thunk?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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