Fringe Summer Rewatch: #116 "Unleashed" ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Summer Rewatch: #116 "Unleashed"

      Email Post       8/02/2011 06:00:00 AM      

"Aunt Liv... monster-of-the-week episodes will fade away soon, right?"

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:
  1. Something strange happens in the neighborhood.
  2. "Who you gonna call?" The Fringe team, of course.
  3. Walter realizes that his previous work and research may have led to the strange occurrence.
  4. Peter's discontent with Walter's past work boils to the surface.
  5. Convenient coincidences lead to clues.
  6. It is discovered that Walter's previous work wasn't exactly the cause.
  7. The Fringe team saves the day.
... which is pretty much exactly what happens here. This is, even more than Episode 1.02, "the same old story."

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


cortexifan said...

-The Book Olivia is reading to Ella is also in Max’s room in 3.07 The Abducted.
-Ha, Olivia is jealous.
-Ella says: “Monsters aren’t real, right?” That reminded me of the conversation Ray had with his son in 3.04 DSDOES: “You know sometimes monsters aren’t all that bad. Sometimes if you get to spend time with them, they can be very surprising. They can be incredibly sweet and pure and capable of great, great love. And then, one of them might actually become your very, very best friend.”
-Charlie was invested by the monster. Alt-Charlie was invested by arachnids. At one point in Unleashed they were getting bigger. Fauxlivia asks Alt-Charlie: “So exactly how big would the worms get if you stopped dosing yourself?”
-There is a lot of red in this episode, the students apartment, the playground, the boys coat.
-When they are in the sewer, Peter says to Olivia: “Don’t say that I never take you anywhere.” He says that to her in 3.21 The Last Sam Weiss as they walk towards the machine before Olivia turns it off.
-There is red and blue medicine.
-Olivia sleeping with the lights on. That struck me because she seems to not be afraid of anything.

If Peter never existed in this episode…
-How fast would they have figured out the students went to M.I.T.?
-Would Astrid have been able to create the cure for Charlie and administer the antidote to Walter?

fringeobsessed, I'm still waiting for your email. I want to send you some stuff. I know my good friend passed it on :)

cortexifan said...

David Wu, the parodies are awesome. Where can I listen to all of them?

fringeobsessed said...

While I thoroughly enjoyed your commentary, I'm gonna disagree on one of your points.

"Peter served as a sounding board...but not as a vital element to the standalone plot."

I disagree. Walter gets very upset after seeing the larvae in Charlie's system via ultrsound. It's Peter who pulls him away from the others and tells him "he can't check out now. We can't let this man die." In my opinion,Peter was critical in advancing the plot at this point.
I have to wonder if this happened and Peter didn't exist, if maybe Walter would NOT have been able to focus on a way to cure Charlie Francis. It is possible that Charli ended up like Alt-Charlie with his perpetual bugs, or even dead.

Also, I have to bring up the Peter flirting with Rachel scene, as even 2 seasons later this still bugs me. You get the impression as Season 1 progresses that Peter never gets together with Rachel(or does he?). Joshua Jackson at the time had much to say about this, his main point being that Peter wouldn't be calling Rachel if he wasn't sleeping with her, or trying to.
I like to think after the shock of losing her in "Bound" Peter is vested in Olivia, to some degree, and that this flirting with the younger sister is manuevering on his part to try to make Olivia jealous, and possibly to get her to express that. And I believe it works, as Peter surely knows her "No," to his "Does that bother you?" is a lie.

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