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‘Fringe’ – Of Human Action

Shudder with fear if a teenager were ever to get their hands on mind control drugs, for we would be but puppets for them to play with

This review may contain spoilers.

Just when you thought the world might be a better place with corporations conducting genetic and pharmacological research, you see the dark side of what they could really be doing. They say they are looking for ways to cure diseases and overcome global warming, but what if that were just a cover for their more notorious experiments. In this episode, we got to see the darker side of Massive Dynamic and it was just as disturbing as feared all along.

Just like in the kidnapping scenario, it was not the two big scary men that were the culprits, it was the young innocent looking boy.

Mind-control; the phrase alone sends shudders up and down one’s spine. To strip a person of their free-will and force them to act as a puppet to dance for a sociopathic master is diabolical.

The entire episode was one big shell-game. Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) and Dr. Carson (Andrew Airlie) knew all along that Tyler (Cameron Monaghan) had been fed brain-wave enhancing drugs. It should have been therefore no surprise that the kid would one day make use of his special abilities and act out. Lying to him about the death of his mother only fueled his rage and sparked the out-of-control killing spree that he ultimately engaged in. How many times have we told scientists that they cannot play “god,” but they refuse to listen and we all suffer at the hands of their arrogance?

All in all, it was a highly disturbing episode: both watching Tyler strip each person of their free-will and force them to commit heinous acts of violence to others and themselves, and watching how easy it was for Massive Dynamic to sit back and simply observe it all. Do they have no conscience? No sense of accountability and responsibility?

It was horrific to play witness to this callous disregard for human life. May God forgive them all for attempting to take his job.

What Worked

It was a taut episode in pacing, storytelling, and character interaction. With the clock running down to meet the kidnapper’s demands, everyone sprung to action. Olivia’s (Anna Torv) skeptical observation, “Money, all they want is money?!” was first real clue. Why kidnap a scientist’s son if the goal is to just get money? There had to be an ulterior motive. In the end it was love. The boy simply wanted to find his mother. Anyone who got in the way was simply eliminated.

It was a gripping story with much emotional resonance. Particularly as Peter (Joshua Jackson) tried to bond with the boy and asked, “What did your dad do to you anyway?” To which Tyler replied, “He told me my mother was dead.” Even Peter could not find fault with the kid’s anger over such a cruel thing to tell a child — that his mother was dead when she wasn’t.

There was also some fun dialogue, like when Peter observed that using “white noise” to block out the mind-control influence was absurd and said, “A teddy bear versus mind-control spies, those guys don’t stand a chance.” Or when Peter sarcastically told Tyler, “You managed to kidnap yourself. Congratulations. You’re a criminal mastermind.”

By far the funniest moment was seeing Walter (John Noble) and Astrid (Jasika Nicole) at Massive Dynamic wearing the aluminum foil hats and Walter said, “I don’t trust them here. I think they’re trying to read my thoughts.” It was a funny visual, but there was also a grain of truth in it. That’s classic Walter. He may look and sound like a lunatic, but he’s usually right.

It was also cool learning a bit more about how potentially mind-control could work or be developed through pharmaceutical drug enhancement and whether there would be any way to control or combat it if it were ever achieved. The elimination of “white noise” as an effective filter and the need to upgrade to an electromagnetic pulse scrambler in order to disrupt the person’s brain waves was fascinating. Additionally, it gave us food for thought that the human brain is a computer and can be hijacked at any moment with the proper commands. Maybe Walter’s aluminum hat idea isn’t so crazy after all.

What Didn’t Work

It did seem a bit ludicrous that Tyler would simply be allowed a free-pass after all he had done. Peter said it best when he said, “Kid goes on a killing spree and all they’re going to make him do is talk it out with a bunch of shrinks?!” Surely, our government would not simply turn the kid back over to Massive Dynamic after killing so many law enforcement personnel.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“Fringe” stars Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Jasika Nicole. “Of Human Action” was written by Glen Witman and directed by Robert Chiappetta.

‘Fringe’ airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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