Fringe (2009) – Earthling, and Of Human Action

The case that cost Broyles (Lance Reddick) his marriage resurfaces in Earthling. Written by J.H. Wyman and Jeff Vlaming, this episode first debuted on 5 November, 2009.

When a strange, crumbling body draws the attention of Fringe Division, Olivia (Anna Torv), Peter (Joshua Jackson), and Walter (John Noble), Broyce has information to share about a case from four years previous, that seem to tie it to hospitals. Or perhaps a specific patient in the hospital.

The group begins to make connections, tying into radiation, and stunningly, a Russian Cosmonaut and a spacewalk countless years earlier.

Walter hypothesizes that perhaps the cosmonaut came back with an entity joined to him, an entity that takes a shadow form when it leaves the body, seeking an escape, a way home perhaps. Broyles’ original file included an incomplete chemical formula, but that sounds like it’s right up Walter’s alley.

This is the first time that the series has explored the idea of extraterrestrial intelligences, and if we’re judging on that, it’s not a very good episode, and it’s easy to see why they don’t delve deeper into that avenue (that and The X-Files already did it) and keeps to its own mythology arc.

The episode gives us a bit more of a backstory for Broyles, and gives us a bit of a break from the mythology stories (though I don’t feel we need one yet). It also features some really solid work with the effects of the disintegrating bodies.

But if it’s an alien entity, why does it resemble a human shadow? Or is that part of what happened when it joined with the cosmonaut?

The episode also sees a sinister turn by the always enjoyable JR Bourne.

Of Human Action was written by Robert Chiappetta and Glen Whitman and first aired on 12 November, 2009.

A hostage crisis and a series of deaths leads Olivia back to Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) and Massive Dynamic (again) and a strange and frightening case of mind control. One of MD’s scientists, Carson (Andrew Airlie), has been conducting experiments, and his son, Tyler (Cameron Monaghan) has been taking the drugs his father created.

Tyler has suddenly been gifted with powerful abilities, and things get a little too close to home for Walter when Peter gets abducted by Tyler.

Walter not only reevaluates his role as a parent but also as the potential partner of William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) because Bell has all of Massive Dynamic at his disposal, and Walter feels he hasn’t done enough with his life.

Peter attempts to connect with Tyler as the manhunt for him continues. What is Tyler after? How will they resolve it and what will it mean for Walter and Peter?

It’s a fast-paced chase story tinged with important character beats, and gives us a different aspect of Walter’s character. Things are really starting to cook now.

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