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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 5 Season 4, Novation

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 4, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

NüFringe Retrocontinuity Clarifications

-Olivia’s mother died when she was young, and she and her sister were raised by Nina Sharp.

-William Bell is still dead.

Cancer 101

I don’t think the writers understand what cancer is.  Cancer is basically a condition of uncontrolled cellular replication.  Malcolm’s research into encouraging cellular replication would be unlikely to have any direct application to cancer treatment except possibly to replace tissue or organs removed by surgery to remove the cancer, but it would not be able to cure malignancies or metastases (kill or eliminate cancer cells).   The problem in cancer is not primarily with replacing tissue; it is with removing the cancerous cells.  The research would be useless in curing cancer.

Mad Scientists Have Ethics?

William Bell, the man who collaborated with Walter in experimenting on children with an experimental, mind altering drug  (Cortexiphan), shut down a project into cellular replication for the purpose of tissue replacement due to ethical concerns?  WTF?

I’m Gonna Need Some Pliers and, uh, a Set of 30-Weight Ball Bearings

That sure was a neat trick where Peter hacked into a Cisco digital phone system just by crossing a few wires.  You can’t hot wire VOIP.

Did Gas Pumps Get Faster and Gas Get Cheaper?

Malcolm spent about 10 seconds pumping gas and the final reading on the pump was $11.16 and 14 gallons (though he paid $20), which puts gas at 79 cents a gallon and the flow rate at 1.4 gallons/ second.  If I’m ever driving in Rutland Vermont, I’ll make sure to fill up at Newhart Gas, where the fuel flows fast and cheap!

Genetics 101

It would take more than a complete copy of a persons’ genome to create an identical copy of that person.  It is often said the genes are the blueprints of an organism, but that’s not quite accurate.  Genes are more like a cross between a blueprint and a building code.  Many factors affect the final product.  In the analogy, available materials, contractors, worker skill & motivation, weather, etc all affect the form of the final product.  For a human being there are likewise numerous environmental factors and inputs that all affect the final product.  Even identical twins do not have identical fingerprints.

When Is a Copy Not a Copy?

Let’s say that the shape shifters used more than just DNA to copy their victims.  Peter stated that they replicate their victims down to the molecular level.  If that were the case, then they would have brains identical to their victims and think, feel, and act just like their victims, unless the data drive over rode the brain to some extent.  Of course, if they were identical down to the molecular level, they would have no interface to the tech.

Cylon Problem

Peter in regards to the enhanced shape shifters assuming the form of anyone they wanted to:

“Short of performing surgery to find those memory disks, you would have no way of knowing”

Really, there are partially metallic, electronic objects located inside these bodies and they can’t be detected by:



-Metal Detector

-EMF Meter?

Further more, they should be able to confirm identity by EEG.  (Fringe has established the ability to identify a persons’ unique brainwave signature)

Think Fast

Seeing as how at the end, Malcolm seemed convinced that Bell was right about his work, why didn’t Malcolm just throw the vial to the ground instead of trying to run away with it?

Shape Shifter 101/ Fool Me Once, Shame on You…

How stupid is Olivia?  I mean, she’s encountered shape shifters before, and she fell for the same trick again!  Did anyone watching not know the wounded agent was likely the shifter right away?  Anytime a hostile shape shifter leaves your sight, assume the next person you encounter is that same shape shifter!  I weep for the safety of our universe.


8 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 5 Season 4, Novation”

  1. jedivulcan said

    It’s hard to say where this season is going because the typewriter scene at the end seemed like a rehash of what we saw in the very first episode of season 2 and season 3 with the shapeshifters and alternate Olivia.

    The premise of genetically perfect shape shifters seems like a page out of the ’82 movie, “The Thing” or the shapeshifters from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In either case, blood tests either don’t pan out or get mucked up due to extenuating circumstances or character ignorance.

    I think Peter assumes that surgery might work when it might be a gross assumption. He had no idea there was a second type of shape shifter. More differences in this new set of events without Peter will undoubtedly be more fleshed out as the season progresses.

    Other things I noticed that didn’t work was Nina Sharp being Olivia’s stepmother. Nina’s character is still intentionally coy and misleading and seems like an unbecoming attribute to this newly created maternal relationship she has now with Olivia. The “oh, I don’t remember ever hiring a scientist… oh wait, I do now.” didn’t work for me. Lastly, the end of this episode looks like a setup for Peter to ask for the help of the other Walter.

  2. John said

    Jared Harris, who plays David Robert Jones, is confirmed to be returning midseason.

    Guess we know who’s behind the new shapeshifters, eh?

  3. Max said

    > shape shifters used more than just *DNS* to copy their victims
    I think they used bittorent for that

  4. Daedalus said

    Rutland Vt. and “Newhart Gas” are an in-joke, referring to sitcom “Newhart”, set at a hotel in rural Vermont. The real Rutland is a substantial town (I’ve driven thru it a lot) and you don’t fill up at Mom and Pop gas stations. Also it’s not on the way from Eden (which is also real) to Boston.

  5. Daedalus said

    You know in this context I should have signed my real name.

    David not-Robert Jones.

    And we do all know that DRJ and TJ Newton are both David Bowie references, right?

  6. […] This week’s Fringe cipher was: STILL. A list of all previous Fringe reviews is available here. Karl will has much more to say over at his blog. […]

  7. tahtee said

    Nina as O’s nanny? no way! There’es something wrong in this alternate universe screenwriters have creatde. O fallling for the shapeshifter’s trick? Cheap. Only Walter’sfears are beliavable, mainly thanks to the acting. Still waiting for something to explain (or not)the Observers. He, maybe if htey were feminie iI would see thm as children of uniersal Gaia… Bona nit a tots, petons.

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

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