Woo boy, there sure is a lot of “serious” acting this episode, mostly courtesy of Anna Torv, the humorless Agent Dunham. We’re supposed to learn an important element to her troubled character’s backstory, but what we realized is that when the show focuses on the blonde lady, it makes for a long hour of television.
The Evil: A disoriented woman winds up in a diner after being dumped out of a truck. Freaking out about what “they” did to her, she somehow causes all the other patrons to start bleeding from the eyes. For a grand finale, her head explodes.
The Determination: A pharmaceutical company kidnapped the woman because she suffered from a rare incurable disease that it could use to turn her into a human time bomb. Now the company, run by Whit Stillman alum Chris Eigeman, plans to continue its experiments on another kidnapped woman afflicted with the disease.
Intel on Massive Dynamic: Looking for a clue to where the pharmaceutical company’s new human guinea pig could be, Peter Bishop visits Nina Sharp, who informs him that she and his father were “quite close when we were both much younger.” So we’re now supposed to wonder if they, y’know, did it. Earlier, Peter had told Dunham that he’s worried the amount of recent cases involving the Pattern could mean that “somebody’s preparing for something.”
Wacky Factor: We learned much about Walter. He hums in a really annoying way. He still can’t remember his assistant Astrid’s name. He goes to sleep by calculating pi. He always uses Peter’s toothbrush by mistake. He farts. Gross — who uses somebody else’s toothbrush?
Paranoia Level: High. This big dramatic showcase — Dunham battling the memories of her abusive stepfather (on her birthday, even) while fighting to rescue the imprisoned woman — is an overacting nightmare as Torv shakily attempts to connect her character’s avenging-angel attitude with her step-daddy issues. Worse is the pseudo-feminist vibe when Dunham explains to her male boss that she can’t leave her emotions out of her cases because, damn it, her emotions make her a better agent. It’s sort of cute how Fringe occasionally pretends that it’s more than just a freak show. But if they’re going to focus on a character, it should be Walter — though we shudder to think how his flatulence will factor into the plot.