FRINGE “Concentrate and Ask Again” Review

FRINGE “Concentrate and Ask Again” Season 3 Episode 12 – After a couple of pretty intense episodes that focused on the war of the universes, it seems like we need to take a moment to catch our breath and gather our thoughts. So will this be a great episode of FRINGE? Signs point to YES. This could be the team’s most dangerous case to date, make no bones about it (yes thats a horrible pun).

What happens during “Concentrate and Ask Again”?

The case this week starts with death of Dr. Blake, who’s bones disintegrate when he comes in contact with a blue powder. The Fringe team finds that the powder came from a mysterious (and creepy) doll that was sent to the doctor right before his death. At the lab, Walter notes that the blue powder’s makeup is similar to research he performed with William Bell in the 70’s and that the doll had a hidden military type dispersant device. Through the use of post office surveillance footage the team identifies a suspect, Aaron Downey, a former marine.

The team and the FBI search Downey’s house, and find more bioweapon containers, but not Aaron. Suddenly Peter sees Downey outside the house and gives chase, which results in Downey being hit by a car, leaving him in a coma. While at first this looks like a dead end for the investigation, Walter cryptically states that he has a way to interrogate him while in a coma. Peter and Olivia meet with Aaron’s ex-wife, where we learn of Downey’s motives. The couple had tried to have a child, but the baby died suddenly before delivery due to a lack of skeleton. Aaron believed that some testing he went through in an overseas contract job was the cause for the death and wanted to get even with those responsible for the experiments.

Walter’s method for interviewing Aaron involved driving to Vermont, but he runs out of gas in New Hampshire and asks Peter and Olivia to help him. When they meet up, Walter explains that he is going to find Simon Phillips, who was also part of the same experiments that Olivia had undergone as a child. The reason he was not brought up before was that Simon developed mind reading capabilities and Walter wanted him removed from the experiment (lest the child figure out Walter’s secrets). Walter believes the man could read Aaron’s mind and tell them of any more attacks.

At Simon’s cabin, we learn that Simon can still read minds (except Olivia’s), but that it causes pain as he wades through more and more thoughts. Olivia convinces Simon to help them, even though going into a city the size of Boston will be hell on him. At the hospital, Simon reads Aaron’s mind and comes up with a list of words and images, one of which is Project Jellyfish. Nina, via help of a CIA agent, gives Broyles a rundown on Project Jellyfish. Aaron and two other men were tested as part of the project, which left the men immune to the blue powder’s effects, but they could pass on the pathogen to their offspring. As part of payment for being in the project, Downey was given some farmland south of Boston, where they believe the co-conspirators are hiding. Time is of the essence, there was another attack that killed three executives at a defense contractor, and more attacks could come at any time.

At the barn, the Fringe team misses the bad guys, but they find the plans for their final attack, targeting the fundraiser of an ex-general now Senator who approved Project Jellyfish. The team races to the fundraiser at a museum, where Simon is pressed into service again to help them find the two suspects. Although Simon is under increasing duress throughout the party he is able to identify the terrorists and Olivia takes them down before they can attack the Senator.

After the party, Olivia takes Simon back to his cabin. He confides in her that people shouldn’t know what people think, though Olivia disagrees. As a way to prove his point to Olivia, Simon gives Olivia a note containing Peter’s thoughts, the payoff for which comes later.

Back at Massive Dynamics, Nina finally figures out who wrote the first people’s books. It’s Sam Weiss, the psychiatrist/ bowling alley operator that helped Olivia work though her issues after her first trip to the alter-verse. When Nina confronts him, Sam drops the biggest piece of knowledge for tonight’s episode. The doomsday device is specifically made for Peter and how it operates depends on Peter’s frequency. Peter’s frequency is based on whether he loves Olivia or Bolivia more, with the loser’s universe being destroyed. Nina’s confident that Peter only has feelings for Olivia, but we then cut to Olivia reading Simon’s note which tells us that Peter still has feelings for Bolivia.

What did I think about the episode?

For the first time this season, I was a little disappointed with the Fringe case this week. It was definitely “fringe-y” enough, but normally this kind of case would leave us with a few more Walter scenes in the lab or running around chasing leads before we settle on the suspects. This week the case seemed to be a means for us to meet Simon and then get the payoff of his note at the end of the episode. While I understand this is needed to move the story along at times, it seemed like we missed a chance to go through a great case with lots of twists and turns and instead got the details spoon fed to us.

While the case this week was not my favorite part, the twist at the end of the episode with Sam was awesome. First, because I really like how Kevin Corrigan plays the role of Sam. Second, because I think reintroducing his character to the storyline as some kind of First People expert (or perhaps the last first person?) really fits in well and adds another good story element for future episodes. In last week’s review, one of the commenters mentioned that Sam would be back to help Peter deal with his issues, and I hope this still happens since he has insider information on what happens if Peter loses it when it counts.

Some Cool Stuff From This Episode That I Loved:

– The peek at William Bell’s Safe, which included Bell’s copy of the First People’s book and few other items like: pictures of a young Nimoy, a napkin sketch of the Massive Dynamic logo and a small red toy car, similar to the one Walter and William crossed over in their first experiment.
– Walter explaining that he was uncomfortable working on experiments for President Nixon because Nixon’s wife kept coming on to him.
– Getting to see through Simon how crazy and scattered Walter’s mind is
– The use of Lost’s scary violin music when the defense contractors are exposed to the blue powder.

What did you think about “Concentrate and Ask Again”? Do you think there are more test subjects out there from Walter’s experiments? Will we see Simon again? Should we be worried that the universe’s existence rests on Peter picking between Olivia/Bolivia? Let me know in the comments section.

Next week we go back to the alter-verse to see what they’ve been up to since the Olivia’s made their way back to their rightful places, and what exactly is bugging them. Make sure you tune in to FOX next Friday, February 11 at 9 PM for “Immortality”.

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