Fringe Episode Review: Unleashed ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Episode Review: Unleashed

      Email Post       4/15/2009 02:04:00 PM      

Between Inner Child and Unleashed, the writers have really figured out how to make a standalone ep work. Last week's was moody and subtle. This week: full-throttled, terror-filled fun. Fringe has introduced us to supersized virus cells, porcupine men, and heart-choking parasites, but Unleashed was our first real creature-feature. I can't wait to see the accompanying concept art! And in addition to some tangible horror and suspense, there was a wellspring of great character moments as well.

"Monsters aren't real."
Unless you live in Boston, the new nexus of All Things Weird. Last week's griffin tattoo hinted at Unleashed's villain: a real-life manticore. Taking a closer look at the image above, you can really see a cornucopia of species. The bat-like head, the reptilian scales, the lionesque paws, the octopus tail with its rattlesnake terminus.

Kudos to director Brad Anderson for keeping the "Walticore" hidden until the episode's climax, a la Cloverfield. There were a few times earlier where the effects didn't quite create a tangible presence for me, not even a hidden one (in the woods, etc.), and I wanted a more distinctive sound effect, but the final reveal blew me away. Best visual effects I've ever seen on television.

"Are you trying to tell me I'm pregnant?"
I was ecstatic to see Charlie's character further developed in this episode. The scenes between Kirk Acevedo and his real-life wife, Kiersten Warren, were touching and authentic, thanks to some excellent performances and brilliant casting. Charlie's more than just a great voice - Kirk's a luminous actor, and I'm glad the writers gave him a real chance to shine. Now, let's do the same for Peter, Broyles, and Astrid!

"You were brave today."
Peter and Walter's relationship also took center stage tonight, taking one step back as they argued over Walter's culpability, and then two steps forward when Peter recognizes Walter's re-emerging humanity. Walter's selfless heroism in the sewer, combined with Peter's unchecked fear for his father, was a wonderfully moving moment. Even more incredible that the writers managed to squeeze it into such a fun, outlandish storyline about a genetically-engineered monster.

What did you think? Unleashed is now my favorite "standalone" episode of Season 1.

Stray Thoughts
  • Best Line of the Night: "I need to tinkle. Could either of you direct me to the facilities?" (Could be my favorite of the season).
  • Runner-up: "Apparently you're looking for a lion-snake named Harriet."
  • 2nd Runner-up: "I haven't felt any rhinos lately."
  • While Charlie was infected, I kept thinking, all the man needs is a BOX of TISSUES.
  • Is the cadaver-splitting larvae hatching the grossest Fringe moment yet? I put it right up there with Bound's slug vomiting and the Pilot's Captain Yawny-Face.
  • Giacchino's score was particularly riveting tonight.
  • John Noble was at his most delectable, too. Give the man an Emmy!
  • Anyone think there's more to Walter's "thinking out loud" in this ep? Like, maybe he's speaking with someone through the Ghost Network? Belly himself?
  • According to J.R. Orci, one of Unleashed's writers, the Monster is named Rufus II.
Adam Morgan is a writer for the page and screen in Chicago, and blogs daily at Mount Helicon.


Dani said...

I haven't seen it yet, but will be watching it tonight. Your 'box of TISSUES' thing makes me laugh every time :D

Anonymous said...

Rufus II ---- excellent excellent!

Sam said...

This episode was so fantastic! Walter makes me fall in love with hi in every episode haha! And it was so nice to finally have Charlie taking on a bigger part because Kirk Acevedo is such a talented actor. Nice to see him flex his acting muscles there. Speaking of which, they finally gave Peter something more to do! What a relief! Although I'm sure what brought on his drop-of-a-hat moodiness at the beginning. You'd think a little midnight chat with Rachel would cheer a man up. Sheesh! But I really hope the writers stop this Peter/Rachel business soon. I know this was the first time it was blatant and obvious, but it kinda made me cringe.

Dave said...

It was really a FANTASTIC episode! In the vein of chiller movies from the past! I loved how everything just kept creeping and creeping and creeping up!!!

Anonymous said...

The ultrasound at the end was obviously improperly researched. He was practically waving the probe over the entire abdomen, all with no change in the ultrasound image.

Dani said...

I was wondering about that, Anon.
Unleashed is now my favourite episode of anything, ever, along with Bound. Seriously, it was amazing.

Capcom said...

Haha Anon! I noticed that too, Walter's jiggling the heck out of it and the image remains stationary. X-D

Great episode!

fringeobsessed said...

Adam Morgan,
Thank you for an excellent review of "Unleashed." Rufus II was wonderfully gross, and not cheesy- looking at all as I had feared.

I thought Walter was THE stand-alone in this one. The most lucid and sober we've ever seen him. And compared to his outlandishness in episode 2 it was like he was his own doppelganger. I also agree that Peter's unmitigated fear for Walter was a brilliant moment.

A manticore? I was at the "Myths and Legends" exhibit in Boston a few weeks ago, and I sure wish I had been paying more attention! The chupacabra there bore an uncanny resemblance to Marshall Bowman's creature, but I can barely remember the manticore!
I highly recommend that exhibit if it comes to Chicago. JR Orci and company would absolutely love it too if it traveled to LA. They'd fill up many notebooks with all of the creatures presented there.

Tomatish said...

Yes, John Noble most certainly must get an Emmy. He was simply riveting last night

Anonymous said...

I loved this episode. However, my husband and I both saw similarities to this episode and the Flukeworm episode from the X-files. I love the X-Files. I think this show keeps getting better, I just hope they don't copy too much from X-files.

Andrew said...

I finally was able to watch Unleashed tonight, and I loved it. I agree with your comment about how Fringe's stand-alone episodes have gotten amazing. Both Inner Child and Unleashed were wonderful episodes, even though they were very different.

Also, I think that in your "Stray Thoughts" section from here on out, you should post the solution to the code for the episode. That way, we can each confirm it and then work together to see if it fits a sentence.

Dennis said...


Solutions to the Glyph code, and other interesting finds are posted in the screencaps / Easter eggs section.

You can also see a list of all the glyph codes together at

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