Join us for our Fringe Summer re-watch, where we review every episode of Fringe during the summer hiatus. Comments are welcome as we dig into the connections made over three seasons.
"Unleashed" is the ultimate "Monster of the Week" Fringe episode, for better and for worse. And to help you recall it, here are my Fringemunks with their 2009 recap of this episode, via a parody of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean":
Nearing the end of Season 1, Fringe's standalone format reached its formulaic zenith (or pit, depending on how you look at it) with this episode. Starting with the very next episode, "Bad Dreams," Akiva Goldsman and company would start working against this model.
The formula, already seen in numerous episodes preceding it, was as follows:
- Something strange happens in the neighborhood.
- "Who you gonna call?" The Fringe team, of course.
- Walter realizes that his previous work and research may have led to the strange occurrence.
- Peter's discontent with Walter's past work boils to the surface.
- Convenient coincidences lead to clues.
- It is discovered that Walter's previous work wasn't exactly the cause.
- The Fringe team saves the day.
This episode is fun and exciting to watch, and features some great performances by the principle actors. But the plot is inconsequential to the overall Fringe storyline. And to be quite honest, I am less interested in the plot here, and more interested in other tidbits.
BISHOP VS. BISHOP
The argument over the ear omelet is funny to watch now. At the time the episode aired, many viewers felt it was frustrating to watch (predictions were being made as to when Peter would finally call Walter "Father" or "Dad"). But by the end of the episode, Peter's triumphant smile at Walter's successful cure would signal a little growth in their relationship.
KIRK NOT IN ENTERPRISE
When over-here Charlie Francis was killed off in the Season 2 premiere, complaints about Kirk Acevedo's removal from series regular were heard from viewers to the cast themselves. The cast's discontent spilled into public knowledge via means of interviews, and perhaps the showrunners helped soften the blow (and helped mitigate the further loss of morale) by hiring Kirk to play over-there Charlie later on.
I mention this because the death of over-here Charlie brings an emotional level to this episode in retrospect. We meet his wife (played by Kirk's real-life wife, Kiersten Warren), who probably suffered the greatest sense of loss when Charlie died.
This is one of the gross-out Season 1 episodes that would continue to be referred to by the cast in later seasons, most notably by Jasika Nicole, who numerous times has discussed how she was grossed out at the larvae scene.
NO TURNING BACK
The episode ends with Olivia restless while trying to sleep - perhaps hinting at the "bad dreams" she would have in the next episode. Or perhaps it embodies where Fringe was at this point in time - restless, knowing things will change, and knowing that things will never be this way again.
IF PETER BISHOP NEVER EXISTED
Without Peter, the episode's events could have unfolded pretty much in sequence, as Peter's existence was inconsequential to what happened. Peter served as a sounding board, sarcastic commenter, comic relief, and a voice of encouragement - but not as a vital element to the standalone plot.
... So, Ella, to answer to your question: monsters aren't real, sweetheart. At least not every week. And thank goodness.