Last week’s episode, “Peter,” which told us the fantastic story of why and how Walter opened the gate to the other universe and brought back Peter: A moving tale of Walter doing all he can to make sure his son would lead a full life.
There was no way this episode could really live up to last week’s, but going back to the standard police procedural with a weird science twist was a real downer. Thankfully, “Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver.,” at least has some relevance with the overall story and a direct connection with the characters, as well as a personal battle Olivia fights within herself, so that makes up for it.
The case this week revolves around a man who has a bad case of contagious cancer. If that’s not bad enough, the victims to whom he gives his cancer don’t even have a chance as they almost immediately break out with malignant tumors all over their bodies. It all begins with a noticeably sick man having lunch with a lawyer he once knew as child in school. He explains to her that the doctors want all the information they can and that he is trying to find other classmates of theirs to see if they are experiencing any of the same symptoms. Before they leave, the man touches the arm of his former schoolmate to show his gratitude. And in true “Fringe” fashion, she doesn’t make it back to her office alive.
The case itself is pretty much the worst part of the episode, and the predictable twist doesn’t help much. What makes this episode worth watching is Olivia’s conflict over whether or not to tell Peter the truth about who he is and where he comes from.
Over the course of the series, Peter has gone from a sarcastic world traveling/scam artist genius with an angry undertone to a sarcastic father sitting/FBI associate genius with a happy undertone. He’s gone from hating his father to being a loving son, forgiving Walter his past mistakes. He’s also has grown closer to Olivia, and that’s a relationship neither of them want to lose.
So her decision to tell Peter the truth or not carries a lot of weight and has a number of possible outcomes. The scenes where Olivia and Peter are alone together are excellent and the tension between the two is palpable.
This burden Olivia has brings her to a number of places, the most prominent being Sam Weiss (Kevin Corrigan, “Grounded for Life”). The man to whom Olivia was sent earlier in the season to help her heal from going to the other universe has always been a strange character, but he does say something that could be foreboding in future episodes. At one point over a game of “Clue,” hence the title of the episode (even if it’s really in her home and with candlestick), Sam alludes that he’s not who he appears to be, that he’s both older and taller. If Sam is someone else, and there is a certain actor on the show from time to time who is both old and tall, it would explain a lot. It is a little weird that some guy who owns a bowling alley would know as much about parallel universes as he does.
This was certainly one of the better procedural episodes of the season. The case was a bit weak, but everything around it was done well. Towards the end, there is a reference to one of the characters from an episode last season, so this clearly wasn’t a standalone episode.
Walter being Walter, this week’s fixation for him is taffy by the way, and some relevance to the overarching story is all you really need to make an episode of “Fringe” good, and this one certainly was.