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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 16, Season 2, Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver

Posted by Karl Withakay on April 8, 2010

As usual, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

I’m Mentioning Cytotoxins Just for the Search Engine Hits

Epidermal blistering and tissue necrosis do indeed match the symptoms from cytotoxins, and so this section is designed solely to increase my search engine hits for this Deconstruction review of Fringe.

While I’m at it, I’ll just mention that  Sarcoma appears to be related to connective tissue cells and not the skin, where a cancer would be more likely to be melanoma.  UPDATE:  see Polite Scott’s comment in the comments section where he corrects me on this point.

Refraction/ Reflection/ Fluorescence/ Whatever

As he shines a black light across the first victim’s body, Walter explains what he’s looking for:

“The cells near the point of origin of the cancer should show more progression and hence refract a different color light.”

Walter appears to be a little confused about what he’s doing with the black light.  Refraction is the phenomenon of light bending (changing direction) as it travels from one medium to another, such as from air to water (rainbow) or from air to a glass or plastic lens (optics).  Reflection is what happens when light (or any wave) bounces back off of the interface between two media (mirror).   However, because Walter is using a black light that does not include all the colors of light in the visible spectrum, and is seeing colors not present in his black light source, what he is observing is actually fluorescence.

I’ll leave it to Polite Scott, MD to determine if he wants to address the idea that the more progressed cancer cells would fluoresce differently under a black light than less progressed ones.

Quote of the Week, Sort Of

By Walter:

“When you open your mind to the impossible, sometimes you find the truth.”

To which I have three replies:

“Or you find yourself knee deep in Woo-Woo.”

One should not open one’s mind so much that it falls out.”


“There’s a difference between being open minded and being credulous.”

Legal Malpractice Suit, Aisle Five!

Olivia to a partner in the Law firm where the first victim worked:

“Can we take her files on the Intrepus case?”

The partner in reply:

“Uh, of course, yeah.”

Um, those files are confidential files and subject to attorney-client privilege.  I’m not sure even a court order could get them in the FBI’s hands without the consent of the client.  By turning the files over to the FBI without either a signed client consent/ release or a court order (if Olivia could get a judge to issue one), that law firm is committing gross legal malpractice and that partner could be disbarred or at least face severe disciplinary action by the state bar association.  Additionally, since the partner mentioned that the case was worth “north of eight figures”, the firm could face a civil liability big enough to financially ruin or severely cripple most law firms in the country.

Isn’t the Fringe Unit Supposed to Be On the Lookout For Things Like This?

Five deaths over twenty months from Chicago to Hartford due to previously unheard of ultra-rapid onset of cancer, specifically sarcoma on the skin, and it never register a single blip on the Fringe unit’s radar until one happened in Providence?  Did they just get lucky to notice that one?

Didn’t We All Know That Already?

It seemed so obvious that the killer was one of the Cortexiphan subjects (once the Cortexiphan link was established) that I assumed that was everyone’s working theory, but apparently it took Olivia until 48 minutes into the episode to come to that brilliant conclusion.  I really think the Fringe unit is where the FBI hides all the Zippo lighters without any flints.

Skills and Decision Making Ability of a Ninja…Not

Confronted in the hallway outside her apartment by a man she believes can kill her with a single touch, an armed and presumably well-trained FBI agent does what?

A.)  Draws her weapon, points it at the suspect and orders him to stay back,  get on his knees, and put his hands on his head, NOW.


B.)  Turns her back on the suspect, attempts to retreat back into her apartment, and looses loses possession of her firearm attempting to close the door against the efforts of the suspect.

Guess which one Olivia did?  The wheel is turning, but there’s just no spark.

Got Cancer, How About Coma Therapy?  Maybe They’ll Find a Cure While you’re Out!

Why would a medically induced coma have any effect on the progression of the guy’s cancer?  Is it a special kind of cancer that can only grow when you’re conscious?  Does it require chemicals or hormones only produced by your body when you’re awake?


7 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 16, Season 2, Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver”

  1. Actually, I believe carcinoma (as in squamous cell, and basal cell) are more common skin cancers than melanoma, though admittedly, not as deadly.

  2. […] This week’s Fringe cipher was: ENERGY. A list of all previous Fringe reviews is available here. Karl has much more to say. […]

  3. cordialdeconstruction said

    Thanks for the info/correction, Scott. That’s one of the benefits of having an MD friend, to catch things like that for me.

  4. Tooms said

    “And that’s why they put the “I” in “FBI”. Remember this Mulder quote? Well that doesn’t apply for Olivia. She’s the worst investigator ever in fictional FBI history. It’s hard to watch Olivia in every episode.

  5. Teaflax said

    I’ll be more polite about it: loses, not looses possession of her firearm. Love these deconstructions and am going backwards through them right now.

  6. cordialdeconstruction said

    Thank-you; edit made.

  7. juan said

    I think they should hire the bartender that diagnosed a cancer patient by just looking at him.
    (Actually he just said the man reminded him of some relative with cancer, Olivia assumed he was right.)

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