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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 7 Season 4, Wallflower

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 18, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Transfer That Man to the Fringe Division, ASAP!

The officer gets a little spooked, and he discharges the entire magazine of his Beretta 92F with no target in sight and no concern where the bullets might end up.  He’s definitely Fringe material.

Gun Notes

The officer discharged only 4 rounds, which means that starting with one in the chamber, he had only 3 rounds in a 15 round magazine.

Also, the slide did not lock back on the last round like it should have, and the officer pulled the trigger a fifth time on an empty chamber.  Before it was mentioned the he emptied his entire clip (see below on that), I considered the possibility that the fifth round was a dud, and he had not emptied the magazine, but the dialog nixed that possibility.  Perhaps the officer had a low quality magazine with a weak spring and intentionally did not fully load the magazine to prevent over compressing the spring, but if your magazine can’t reliably feed a full load of rounds , it’s a liability and needs to be replaced or resprung.  A weak magazine spring is a common cause of slide lock failures.

Magazine Clippings

A clip is a device (usually a bent strip of metal) that holds rounds of ammunition to facilitate loading certain firearm magazines.  A magazine is a device that holds and feeds ammunition in a gun.  The Beretta 92F has a detachable 15 round box magazine and does not use clips.  Most modern pistols designed after WW I do not use clips at all.

Revisiting White Fright

I’ve covered this before, but despite Walter’s credulity on the subject, fright can not turn hair white.  Hair is not living, and no chemical process in the body can affect its color once it is grown.

Also, I don’t believe fright can make you go albino either.  You can go momentarily pale if the blood flushes from your face, but that’s not the same as loosing your skin pigment, and you really wouldn’t be any paler than your average corpse.  Fright certainly won’t cause your eyes to go red.

If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It

Chromatophores and the animals that have them are pretty cool, but they’re not Harry Potter invisibility cloaks.  They can blend into and with backgrounds, but they cannot become transparent such that you can look right through them.

MayI Please Borrow The Multiverse Manipulator Sometime, Broyles?

Broyles won’t even let Peter walk around in public without an armed escort to limit his interaction with other people.  Does Peter really think they will let him play around with the big, scary machine built to destroy universes?

Quote #1


“Tell Broyles, Science has no price tag!”

Wait, What…?

U-Gene originally had a pigment problem, and was treated with chromatophores that made him able to be invisible by dynamically blending in with the environment around him, but he’s not bending light around him like an invisibility cloak would, so he should be creating shadows.  Also, no explanation was giving as to how these cells could accurately reproduce 3D lifelike images in real time capable of making him not noticeable to people looking in his direction, if not right at him.  That’s some major processing power to do that.

Additionally, if his original problem was a lack of pigment, why wouldn’t stealing other people’s pigment be a workable substitute cure (at least in the Fringaverse) in place of the chromatophores?  Yes it was a genetic deformity so I would expect he would need to constantly replenish his pigment, but I don’t see why it would revert him to his original, pre-cure state and kill him

Was He Being Politically Correct?

Why target Caucasians for acquiring pigment; wouldn’t U-Gene have had to kill fewer people if he went after darker skinned people?

Magic UV Light

That mouse didn’t fluoresce under the UV light, it simply became visible as if a normal light was shining on it.  Apparently the super chromatophores absorb UV light and re-emit it at the exact same wavelength of light that would be normally be reflected by normal cells when regular visible spectrum white light shines on them.  Also, apparently U-Gene’s and the mouse’s hair is made up of these chromatophores as it’s also invisible.  I wonder about the mouse droppings.

Bad Plot Convenience Theater

Olivia’s line about the search taking too long and them needing to split up was entirely contrived to separate her on her own; it made no practical sense.

What’s the hurry?  Isn’t a slow, methodical search better?  Why not at least break up into teams of two?  Isn’t it good to have someone backing you up?  If I ran the Fringe division, I’d have a rule:   Always have a partner, and never leave your wingman under any circumstances.  No teams smaller than two people.

Olivia Dunham, Elite Government Agent

Is anybody keeping count of how many times Olivia has lost or carelessly discharged her firearm over the years?

Quote #2


“Your life is an experiment.  You have to find out where you belong, find your own place in the world.”

Things We have Learned In This Episode

Massive Dynamic used to be called Kelvin Genetics, and it had an insurance subsidiary called Cypronic Inc.

Nina Sharp in this continuity appears to be evil, though there is good reason to believe she may have been evil in the other continuity as well.

Olivia appears to have a pain killer problem, and she has antibiotics (Ampicillin) in her medicine cabinet.

Olivia and NerdLee may be hooking up at some point.  Obviously there’s a mutual interest there, and Peter seems OK with it, believing that this is not his Olivia.

U-Gene was Experiment 69545

I Will Not Be Pushed, Filed, Stamped, Indexed, Briefed, Debriefed or Numbered. My Life is My Own.

Did anybody else get a little “The Prisoner” vibe at the end there for a moment?  (Skip to the 1 min 50 sec mark if you don’t want to watch the whole video.)


8 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 7 Season 4, Wallflower”

  1. Cal said

    Did anybody catch the references to at least 3 x-files episodes:
    -Squeeze: crawlspace-dwelling genetic mutant keeps tokens from everyone he’s burglarized and killed or plans to kill… Including a gold locket from the lady FBI agent
    -Teliko: Albino African vampire (“ghost” in folktale) attacks and kills multiplto

  2. Cal said

    Argh… Sorry, the perils of posting from a smartphone… I was going to say, “attacks and kills multiple victims to steal all of their melanin (yes, turning their hair white too) to compensate for his own genetic disorder and stay alive.” Teliko also had superhuman hiding and camouflaging powers. But the Teliko had the good sense to seek out African American victims to get more pigment from them. Leading to the FBI’s involvement: no, the FBI doesn’t just have blanket jurisdiction over all “weird stuff” — but they do retain jurisdiction over serial hate crime murders that local authorities are unwilling or unable to investigate.
    And lastly,
    -In addition to the many other times in X-files the lady FBI agent is separated from her backup and her partner, loses her gun, and is either abducted or cornered alone with the bad guy, who then explains his deep psychological need to commit his crimes (because she’s so empathetic and easy to relate to) I was thinking specifically of “Irresistible,” which speaks directly to the psychological impact of investigating bizarre stuff and the need to occasionally see the “agency shrink” (and the lady FBI agent’s feeling of emotional stuntedness and her reluctance to discuss her experiences with anyone.)

    Also, is it just me, or does this timeline’s Oliva actually seem happier and better-adjusted than the previous timeline’s Olivia? Possibly not meeting Peter as a child and not hearing his advice to seek Walter’s help in ending her abuse made this Olivia desperate enough to kill her stepfather, which ironically helped her to be less fearful and more open with others.

    Lastly– so now we know where Olivia’s migraines are coming from. How long have they been going on? And if Massive Dynamic paid Olivia’s mother’s medical bills as she was dying (from cancer, in this timeline) and Olivia then went to live with Massive Dynamic’s CEO, perhaps Massive Dynamic never stopped experimenting on Olivia?

  3. Pablo4321 said

    The one thing that really bothered me about this episode was that I cannot comprehend at all why U-gene didn’t just put on some goddamn clothes, bandage his head, wear some sunglasses and pretend to have been in a bad accident or something. If all he wanted was to be noticed, that should have done the trick just fine. It sure beats the hell out of coming up with a complicated and unpleasant-looking, potentially dangerous way of extracting human pigment and infusing himself with it…oh and killing people in the process, of course.

    The way I see it, the only reason he was invisible to the people around him (and thus went unnoticed and felt so bad about it) was because he chose to walk around naked all the time. After all, there’s no reason why the invisibility should have extended to the clothes he was wearing on top of his super-adaptive skin. Clearly the usual “everything I touch becomes invisible too” handwave doesn’t apply since we can see him holding that hairclip-thingy when he follows Jessica (or whatever her name was) into her apartment and it stays very much visible.

    I realize that this is a common leap of logic when it comes to invisibility plotlines but it just seemed so very apparent here that I wondered why you didn’t include it in your deconstruction. I certainly seems more worthy of deconstructing than the rather nit-picky bit about the difference between mags and clips, immho. 😉

    Otherwise, great decon, as usual. Keep up the good work! ^^

  4. Cal said

    Good point. Although we did see his clothes become invisible when he turned invisible in the elevator, that first time. So maybe the invisibility seeps off his skin and onto any clothes he wears for any significant period of time– who knows.

    X-files got “clip” and “magazine” mixed up, too.

    I’m assuming (generously) that the reason Olivia chose to go off on her own was because she wanted a chance to talk to U-gene alone before the robocops got him (and possibly killed him in the process). It’s possible that, as a child experimentation victim of Massive Dynamic herself, she wanted to show him that recovery was possible. Although she never mentioned that fact, which could have been persuasive, to him.

    Cf. the x-files episode “Unruhe” — Scully is captive and disarmed, alone with the bad guy, and she uses her empathetic powers to get him talking about how bad his life is, etc., and she’s very sympathetic, and offers hope, etc. — until her FBI partner busts down the door and shoots the guy & kills him. Which was her goal the whole time. AWESOME!

    I got the impression that there was some implication that Olivia’s mother may have died as a result of some Massive Dynamic treatment, too…

  5. DeRa1s said

    I’m neither a gun enthusiast nor a native speaker, but from my understanding the terms “clip” and “magazine” – while technically describing different means of feeding ammo to a gun – are colloquially being used as synonyms. Law enforcement officers probably should know better, though…

    Apart from that: Nice work, Karl. I always enjoy reading your Fringe columns.

  6. Karl Withakay said

    It wasn’t really a major rant, and I’ve never been nearly as vehement about it as most other shooters I know, but the terms are really only used as synonyms by people who don’t know there’s a difference. If you ever want to see a flame war start, go into a shooters’ forum, such as, and call a magazine a clip.

    Technically, clips are (usually) used to load ammo into a magazine. A magazine is a device, either fixed or detachable, that stores ammunition and feeds it into the chamber of a gun.

    With rare exceptions, such as the M1 Garand rifle of WW II fame and its corresponding en bloc clip, clips are not usually required for the normal operation of a firearm, though they can greatly increase magazine reload time for magazines that can use them.

    It’s not really a matter of different ways of feeding ammo into a gun.

    A Mauser K-98 rifle or an SKS carbine both have fixed internal magazines (5 and 10 rounds respectively) which can either be loaded one at a time or by clips (5 or 10 rounds respectively). Once the magazine is loaded, the clips are intended to be discarded, though civilian shooters tend to save and reuse them.

    A 30 round M16 STANAG detachable box magazine in the U.S. military is typically loaded via 10 round clips. The ammo comes from the manufacturer preloaded onto 10 round clips, which are later used to load the magazines. Loading the magazines via clips is faster than loading the rounds one at a time, while clips are significantly less expensive than magazines which can be used numerous times.

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

  8. […] and I’ve dealt with this before, more than once or twice, existing hair does not turn white from age, fright, stress, etc.  Dig up a corpse […]

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