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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 13, Season 3, Immortality

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 11, 2011

A Red Episode

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

Note:  I may have the occasional error regarding this episode, and I may fail to cover something I otherwise would have, but as I am out of town on vacation, I had to watch the episode live with no ability to pause or replay any scenes, and I can only take notes so fast.  P.S. Greetings from Cape Canveral.

Something For the Search Engines:

“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” –Mark Twain

Helter Skelter Beatles?

I didn’t catch the scientific name of the beetles in the show, but I couldn’t find anything on Skelter Beetles (if that was what they were called, it took a while to get closed captioning going on the hotel TV).  I found longhorn beetles, which have nothing to do with sheep; the name is related to their long antennae.  I wonder if it is supposed to be a nod to the Beatles song Helter Skelter.

I Was Worried There For a Little While…

…that the writers were trying to set the ground work for the split between Frank and Fauxlivia with the interaction between Frank and Mentat Astrid.  While they may still intend something to develop between Frank and Mentat Astrid, I’m glad that they came up with a better (and more plot related) cause for the breakup.

Get Smart is Multi-Universal

Lincoln’s comment that he was a cone of silence when it comes to secrets indicates that the TV show Get Smart must have existed in the Alterverse as well.  It also indicates that the cone of silence in the alterverse version of the show was as equally ineffective as the one in our version of the show was.

Walternate Won’t Do What Walter Once Did.

I thought that maybe Walter and Walternate’s ethics and morals might cross paths headed in different directions, but Walternate stood firm against experimenting on children.  Good for him.

49 and Still Fine

Has Joan Chen aged at all in the last 20+ years?

What’s Your Standard for Off the Wall These Days?


“His research reads a little off the wall.”

How does anything strike anyone in either universe with Fringe knowledge as off the wall?

Humans the Closest Living Relatives of Sheep?

It seems a little bit of a stretch to think humans were the next best hosts for the beetles.  The part about the compatibility being due the similarity of human and sheep DNA really seemed off base.  Cows, goats, gazelles, horses, deer, pigs, hippos, bats, whales, and hedgehogs are all closer relatives of sheep than humans and other primates.

Ever Heard of a Tactical Light?

I know there is some disagreement about the use of tactical lights mounted on hand guns, mostly about muzzle discipline and never pointing a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot, but I’m still surprised that you pretty much never see them used in TV shows.  Instead, it’s always the flashlight in one hand, with the gun in the other hand, resting on the wrist of the hand with the light.  It’s not really good for controlled fire compared to a two handed grip that a tac light allows.

Did You Get the Memo?

The closed captioning referred to Fauxlivia as Bolivia.  We confirmed Fauxlivia two episodes ago.

Frank, Stanton, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist

Good job reading the sonogram, Frank.  I’ll defer to a real MD like Polite Scott, but I would think he should have been able to tell the stomach (or other part of the GI tract) from the uterus, but I’ll defer to someone with better expertise in that area.   I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that telling a 6 week embryo from a beetle larva on a sonogram might not be so simple.  According to Wikipedia, 6 weeks is indeed when a human embryo will start to move.

Not My Area, Again

I’m curios if Scott has anything to say regarding the fall and adrenaline triggering “some kind of morning sickness”.  I figured she just got sick at the thought she had a parasitic insect growing inside her.

Why Didn’t You Say So Sooner?

I’m not sure why the bad guy let everyone think Olivia was the one that was infected for so long.  I guess he was worried they might try to save him, and felt it was better to be safe than to be sorry.


19 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 13, Season 3, Immortality”

  1. wishiwasvulcan said

    The closed captioning referred to Fauxlivia as Bolivia. We confirmed Fauxlivia two episodes ago.

    She’s only Fauxlivia when she’s in “our” world, where she’s faking it. In her world she’s just Bolivia (like Olivia A and Olivia B).

  2. Karl Withakay said

    Makes sense; Ill buy it.
    Closed Captioning provided by the Alterverse for Red episodes.

  3. jedivulcan said

    A few things I picked up on:

    -Walternate and his wife are divorced, split, or he’s not faithful at all to her.

    -Zeppelins are becoming even more ridiculous with each appearance. Lincoln came to the conclusion that there was a bomb threat when they entered the scene at the Empire State Building. Unless these things are more modernized.. a cigarette could take these things out (but who smokes in the alternate universe?). It would take a long time to get to Texas from New York on an glorified blimp.

    -CDC is still in Atlanta

    -Brandon survived getting shot by Broyles

    -The red head in the lab was adorable… but come on… even if it’s a damned bug lab, why does everyone in the other universe not believe in work clothes?

    -Did Olivia’s hair get less red next to the more natural red head?

    -They used iPads with modified screens

  4. Tom said

    Either the scientist was afraid they’d try to “save” him from his bugs, or he was afraid they’d shoot him on the way out and knew their concern for B-Olivia would keep him alive. That’s the only thing that explains the handcuffs and trapping Lincoln, to me. …My question is, now that he’s dead, who’s going to synthesize the enzyme to make the vaccine? His last words, “Make sure they spell my name right” seem to indicate he thinks he’s succeeded, but it looks like the beetles still kill their hosts, so he apparently hasn’t succeeded enough to create a lasting colony of such beetles as symbiotes with humans. You’d think his last words would be something like, “My notes are over there. Make sure they get to my colleague…”

    BTW, did anybody catch that, “I’m going to take care of you,” (from Lincoln) as opposed to, “I’ll do everything I can,” from Frank? Frank, speaking as a doctor, Lincoln, speaking as … a potential suitor, perhaps? (He looked so distraught at the thought of B-Olivia marrying Frank…) B-Olivia and Lincoln would actually be great together, I think. ;-D (The Olivias seem to have a thing for getting with their professional partners.)

    Who else saw B-Olivia’s pregnancy coming, when the Observer was talking about Peter to Walter and noted, “It must be hard, being a father”?

    Jeepers, sure Walternate didn’t give B-Olivia much of a choice, did he? When he said, “You’re the mother of my future grandchild”? What if she’d wanted an abortion? And what was Walternate saying about, “Don’t worry that becoming pregnant will jeopardize your job”?! Apparently, reproductive rights in the workforce haven’t come very far in the Alterna-Verse. 😦

    I’m not sure Walternate actually does have better ethics than Walter. After all, Walternate allowed the experiment to continue even after nine test subjects had died. Walter may be ruthless (after all, he did hook up Peter’s head to a car battery as a child, to see how much electrical current Peter could take) but I doubt he’d continue an experiment after subjects started dying. I think it was just the “Ewww” factor that stopped Walternate here.

    Man, Fringe is such an X-files remake anyway — I sure hope this isn’t a redo of the Mulder/Scully “your genetic code has been foretold since the beginning of time as being perfectly matched to eventually create the child who will save the world for all humanity” plotline…

  5. Six weeks is a bit early for morning sickness, but not unheard of. I suspect, as you suggest, it was the thought of ingesting a fatal dose of beetle eggs that caused the nausea, elevated heart rate, and elevated blood pressure.

    The Skelter Beetle was a Manson reference, the scientific name was “Mansonium boogliosis” (which is also atrocious faux-Latin).

  6. […] This week’s Fringe cipher was: ROMAD. (???) A list of all previous Fringe reviews is available here. Karl, as always, has more to say. […]

  7. Tom said

    ROMAD — kind of makes sense. The ROMAD being the one who’s down in the trenches doing the dirty work and killing people while the officers call the shots from behind the scenes. Kind of like what Olivia’s having to do.

    I’m predicting a Demon’s Lexicon / Fringe crossover in the works, with Walternate as a “Black Arthur” figure. He’d rather not experiment on children, but perhaps no qualms about experimenting on _pre-children_ — after all, a fetus isn’t a child until it’s born. I’m thinking in utero Cortexiphan dosage is going to make this the uber-baby…

  8. FC said

    No, we’ll have a Dune crossover, Fauxlivia will bear the Quisatz Haderach!

  9. FC said

    My brain is all mush!!! it’s Kwisatz Haderach!

  10. Karl Withakay said

    Who’s Duncan Idaho then, Peter?

  11. […] episode is debunked at Polite Dissent and Cordial Deconstruction, and you can read more about it at Fox, IMDb and the A.V. […]

  12. Renron said

    Question about the 3 headed flashlight used in the episode mentioned above. What brand of flashlight is that? Very cool looking 3 barreled flashlight. Fenix minigun is similar but different head. Any guesses what they used?
    Get smart reference to the cone of silence was funny to us boomers.

  13. Matan said

    I’m pleased with Tom’s mentioning the obvious problem with Silva’s endgame.

    I’m annoyed that the average Fringe viewer really can’t tell the difference between a cockroach and a beetle. That, or they did and didn’t bother to say it since practically every creepy crawly used in the movies is played by a roach (unless you want it to be worm-like, in which case they just use mealworms, which are actually beetle larvae).

    Let’s pretend, then, that beetles that look exactly like cockroaches (which are an extremely distantly-related order, within the insects, at least) exist in the Alternate universe. We must also assume that eusociality (having a queen) evolved in beetles (only termites, ants, bees, and wasps have them) as well as the ability to infest the living (which exists for flies, lice, fleas, and some arachnids like ticks, but no other insects despite what you’ll read on some blogs by delusional parasitosis patients). I’d be willing to accept such evolutions in an alternate universe if they weren’t such common tropes in science fiction. Instead I think the writers just assumed (correctly) that most viewers wouldn’t know the truth or wouldn’t care.

  14. Renron said

    To Matan,
    How do you know that the average Fringe viewer cannot tell the difference between a beetle and a cockroach? Just because the producers and directors take such liberties doesn’t mean that we (the average viewer) can’t tell the difference.

    “Studies show that 78 percent to 98 percent of urban homes have cockroaches. Each home has from 900 to 330,000 of the insects.” From the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America’s website. This certainly suggests that most people DO know the difference, perhaps you should focus on the producer and director, not the viewers.
    There’s a reason it’s called “Science FICTION”, by watching such shows we agree to suspend reality for entertainment’s value.
    BTW, I noticed it was a cockroach too. 🙂


  15. Yuri Stevens said

    The so called Skelter Beetles in this episode, in fact aren’t beetles at all. They are clearly cockroaches, probably the Skull Cockroach (Blaberus craniifer). Ussually the makers of the series are quite acurate when it comes to scientific stuff, butt this is one very big mistake…. Too bad…

  16. Yuri Stevens said

    And besides my other post… they that the “beetles” they took from the first victim weren’t mature. But still they pull a still living individual from the victims mouth. This specimen clearly has wings, which suggests that it is in fact an adult cockroach… Other than that… the juveniles of a beetle look a bit worm like (like mealworms) and not like tiny beetles… another flaw in the episode. 😉

  17. Tankadin said

    Silva managed to solve the problem with a host for the beetles by somehow breeding a queen. A single queen came out of his neck and he put it in the cage. I think the gist was that a queen could hatch her own young without needing a sheep (or human) host. Once he developed a queen, another researcher could pick up where he left off and complete his research.

  18. Mark said

    @ Renron and anyone who is interested: The flashlights used look to be Fenix TK45’s….too bad they’re $150 a pop though 😦

  19. Swick said

    Fringe S3E13 Immortality

    Walternate won’t do what Walter once did.

    I believe the decision not to “cross the line” by experimenting on children was a slight reference to Bell. If you remember Walter said that Bell would say “the only way to goes ass far as you could go was by crossing the line” (might not be excactly correct going by memory) So it stands to reason that if the William Bell of the alternate universe died in a car accident, he couldn’t have encouraged walternate to cross the line as the William Bell of this universe encouraged Walter to cross the line….

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