FRINGE “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?” Review

FRINGE (FOX) Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep? Review

FRINGE “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?” Season 3 Episode 4 – Back home to our universe for Fringe’s fourth episode of the season, “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?”, and things are going to get a little weird. A car accident involving a senator leads to the discovery of a shapeshifter with access to the government’s deepest secrets. As the Fringe team investigates, Bolivia’s alter-verse sidekick, Newton, kicks into high gear and takes matters into his own hands to prevent Bolivia’s secret from being discovered. The episode also gives us a glimpse into Walter’s new role as head of Massive Dynamics.

What happened in “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?”?

Short Answer: A lot.

Senator Van Horn, head of the Intelligence Committee, is involved in a car accident while buying lemonade at a corner stand. The Senator is a friend of Agent Broyles, who arrives at the hospital to comfort Mrs. Van Horn and see what happened. As the doctors start treating the Senator, Newton bursts in and tries to steal the body. Broyles tries to stop him, but Newton shoots the Senator and escapes by jumping down five flights of stairs. As Broyles gets to the Senator’s body, he sees that there is mercury coming out of the bullet wound, meaning Van Horn was a alter-verse shapeshifter.

At Massive Dynamics, we see Walter giving a pep talk to the head scientists that’s part Tony Robbins, part shiat-zu massage, and part acid trip. Just before the talk gets to the good part, Peter walks in to tell Walter that they have a case and to put his pants back on. Once in the hospital, Walter performs an autopsy on Van Horn’s body. During the procedure, he figures out that he could possibly access the shifter’s memories using his lab at Massive Dynamic. The shifter’s hand suddenly starts moving, which Peter informs Walter is actually happening and not a hallucination.

Meanwhile, Bolivia calls Newton to find out what the hell happened and why he took suck a risk. Newton convinces her that killing Senator Van Horn was the only option, since he was a top operative for the alter-verse who knew about Bolivia’s mission. So you could imagine she was a little surprised when she walked into the autopsy room only to hear Walter say that they could bring Van Horn back to life.

Bolivia and Peter head to the Senator’s office and search for clues to how long he’s been a shifter. During this, Bolivia gets a call from Newton and she informs him that he needs to get to Van Horn before Walter can get information from him. When she hangs up, Peter shows Bolivia a briefcase full of case files on the entire Fringe team, leading to increase concerns about how much of the government is infiltrated by the alter-verse.

In Walter’s lab, Astrid arrives with fresh supplies for Walter, which highlight some of his eccentricities, but are really to help identify the shifter’s neural pathways. These efforts come up short, but Walter thinks using Van Horn’s wife could trigger a needed emotional response. Broyles gets her to come in and talk to the shifter’s, but the only memories she triggers is the itinerary for an upcoming anniversary trip. The team is deflated, and Bolivia suggests they take a break and get dinner.

After his call from Bolivia, Newton took action and ordered a fellow shifter, Ray, to steal the body from the lab. Bolivia’s suggestion of going to dinner was their way of getting everyone away from the lab long enough for Ray to break in. Walter suddenly realizes that the shifter may have a second data recorder adn returns unexpectedly to the lab. Ray shows up and fights with Walter, escaping with the second recorder. On his way out of the building he runs into Peter and Bolivia, who recognize him as a shifter. They make it up to the lab, where Walter’s suffered some head trauma, but should be okay. Peter then uses the security system to help identify the shifter.

When Ray returns home, he finds Newton waiting for him, having made sure there were no loose ends left (like a living wife or kid). Newton kills Ray and takes the recorder, but is chased by Peter and Bolivia until he crashes his vehicle and is arrested. In jail, Bolivia visits Newton and leaves him a gift, which looks like one of those breath strips, but instead kills shapeshifters. As we see Newton dying in his cell, Bolivia booty calls Peter which he answers pretty quickly.

What I Thought About the Episode

Again the Fringe team does a great job providing an interesting case within an episode while still moving along the larger META storyline. It’s nice because not every episode is solely dedicated to the META storyline, while the individual cases can provide a little more character development. The writing was especially good at providing a good flow to the story while still hitting the sci-fi high points, especially when Walter is trying to get information out of the shapeshifter.

Speaking of Walter, John Nobel was awesome in this episode, there were plenty of moments this episode that remind you of how brilliant and weird Walter can be. I keep on thinking one day I’m going to get tired of the eccentricities, but the writers and Noble are good at keeping Walter fresh. The funniest moment tonight was the speech to the scientists, but, in my opinion, his best moment tonight was getting Astrid’s name right, she was so happy to see he remembered.

Although I didn’t mention it in the episode description, the episode had a few good scenes between Bolivia and Peter, not just the make out session at the end. Those scenes had interesting dialogue that seemed to revolve around couples and how sometimes people hide something from the other person. Newton had suggested to Bolivia that Peter is onto her, and these talks seemed to be hinting at the same. I don’t think Peter has put all the pieces together, but it’s going to be a hell of a reveal when he learns the truth. (My bet is that Walter blurts it out and is surprised that no one else noticed it earlier)

Lastly, I wanted to give kudos to Fringe for going the extra geek mile and naming the episode after the Philip K. Dick novel. I thought they would keep the ties to the novel limited to the title only, but it was very cool to see some of the concepts of the book concerning machines and human interactions were tied into the story. I especially liked how Walter needed to leverage the emotional bonds the shifter made with his wife and family to get more information, since it was a lack of human emotion that was used to identify andriods in Dick’s novel. This gave a sense that the shifters were that much more scarier than the androids, since they actually could have emotional attachments.

What did you think about the episode? Does Peter know about Bolivia? Can Walter really run Massive Dynamic? Let me know in the comments below.

Fringe takes a short break while the baseball playoffs take over Fox, but will be back with a new episode, the cryptically titled “Amber 31422”, on November 4 at 9 PM. Make sure you check it out!

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