What's interesting is that Fringe just returned from a week-long hiatus, and is headed towards a fall hiatus after next week. One can tell the writers are holding back for a cliffhanger by this “filler” episode that didn't move anything forward in terms of a story. That isn't to say the episode isn't fun and that it had some strong character development, it just lacked any major story.
The Fringies are on the hunt for a mysterious doctor implanting Chinese immigrants with a deadly worm that has medicinal powers. In a race against time Astrid ends up being harmed by members of a Chinese triad, Olivia and Peter go on the hunt for a young girl and her father while preventing more people from dying. Walter tries to assert his independence but ends up realizing he isn't completely an adult yet.
Fringe loves to play with bugs or other slimy things growing inside people, this week focused on a type of hookworm growing in people's stomachs. Olivia was right when she mentioned eating was unfortunate as there were a squirmy moments, no pun intended. The strongest aspect of this particular episode was John Noble. Noble has proven he's perfect in the role of the absent-minded professor, but here we see he's attempting to become a man. He merely wants to be able to do things like “buy a hot dog” without having Peter or Astrid on his tail. When he realizes he's lost and not capable, yet, of being on his own you feel for him. Noble's teary plea for help was heartfelt and genuine proving the actor can steal any episode if given fantastic material. His final scene with Astrid was also wonderful as the two realized, in some way, they weren't quite able to protect themselves. Walter and Peter shared a tender moment at the end of the episode when the father implants himself with a tracking device. It's a bit extreme but it shows that Walter doesn't want his son to worry, and while he may be giving himself a bit more freedom, there's moments when he might need help finding his way home. If anything this episode was more character-driven and complex then episodes past.
On that note this episode was filler, plain and simple. We'll never hear anything about the worms and the plot was a typical “creature feature” type of episode. With all the strong acting coming from Walter, the quest to find the source of the worms fell by the wayside. It doesn't seem like audiences will need to remember anything, and by the lax emphasis on the plot line, the writers know you don't need to either. Unfortunately these filler episodes tend to show the holes in the all-plot episodes, which should be next week's if the scenes are anything to go off of. This episode also continued the trend of proving Olivia is not a strong heroine. She merely ran, screamed “FBI” and answered her phone, leaving all the hard acting work to Joshua Jackson and Noble. This series should revolve around her but really she seems to have becoming a pretty prop.
Overall this episode was fun, and Noble acted his heart out but you won't remember this episode after a week. We see to finally be returning to William Bell next week, and after that expect the series to go on another hiatus until after the holidays. Gotta love those wacky fall television schedules! This week gets a 3.5/5.