Fringe Rewatch – 1.06 The Cure


The Cure - Rewatch

Synopsis: After weeks of being reported missing, a woman with a rare disease resurfaces in suburban Massachusetts and inexplicably causes excruciating pain and subsequent death to those she encounters. As the gruesome scene is investigated, dangerous levels of radiation are detected, and unusual circumstances surrounding the case point to illegal human drug trials and possibly something even more sinister. Meanwhile, Walter obsesses about cotton candy, Peter strikes a bargain with Nina Sharp and a startling piece of Olivia’s past is revealed.

General Thoughts: Similar to Power Hungry, this episode was more enjoyable on a rewatch-level than I thought it would be. I think my diluted perception of the early episodes indicate the great strides the series made in the second half of the season.  Though the episode suffers from frustrating ‘episodic’ traits, there are a few sprinklings of the overarching storyline that has relevance today.

Below the jump I share my new observations and perspectives, explore the unresolved mysteries, highlight the mysteries closed by information gained in this episode and cap it off with my final thoughts on this episode retrospective.

New Observations & Perspectives

boxed out1.) The scene where Olivia’s sheer will and tenacity saves Claire, mirrors the one from “TRNT”, where she helps Nancy Lewis to control her combustive ways.

2.) Olivia believes that her emotions make her a “better agent”. I find this interesting in light of what we now know about her and Nick Lane. Emotions appear to play a big part in (both of) their abilities – perhaps Cortexiphan has shaped Olivia’s career path more than she realises. Maybe it goes even deeper than the yellow pill?

3.) Nina spent time with Peter when he was younger – Peter can’t remember. We can assume he can’t remember because it wasn’t him who she spent time with, but Walter’s original son. I wonder whether Nina knows this?..I should think she does – what doesn’t she know.

4.) As color thematics have played a fairly prominent part in the series for those of us who care to notice them, it’s perhaps worth noting the attachment placed on the red and blue medicine in this episode. “[The red one] makes you better..[the blue one] will make you special”. There’s that word again. “Special“.

5.) Olivia showed scant regard for Emily’s wake, she was simply determined to find answers that could help her save Claire. This was perhaps one of the first indications of Olivia being prepared to work outside of the law – similar to Peter when breaking into his old home. Funny how Peter was the one against rattling through the possessions of a dead girl – like Walter, he can be be surprisingly humane when he wants to be. Like father, like..

6.) There was a lot more ‘benchwarming’ action than I recalled!

7.) Olivia feels comfortable enough with Peter and Walter to not hide her emotions around them. She was very stropy throughout much of this episode (for reasons revealed) and she even took it out on Peter. For me it shows they are growing as a ‘family’ at this point.

Unresolved Mysteries

Flirt on1.) Why did Esterbrook threaten Olivia’s child-bearing organs? Is this a storytelling device to foreshadow something about her past (or future), or was Esterbrook just being a jerk?

2.) The ‘Aleph’ lapel on Esterbrook’s jacket is the same as the one from Olivia’s uncle’s kayak in her dream (1.01). What is the connection there? Was her uncle part of the same secret society as Esterbrook? Is there any relevance in the Aleph pointing sideways when we see Olivia lay the smack down on Esterbrook?

3.) Who was Esterbrook’s client and what were they “preparing for”? OK, perhaps they’re getting reading for a war with the alter’s, but are all of these seemingly disparate groups (the Zielger’s, Fischer’s, Esterbrooks, etc) really working towards the same cause, or do we have a conflict of interests? I guess we’ll soon find out!

4.) Olivia’s step father- what’s his deal? Why not face her like a man so she can put another cap in his ass? And, are his intentions becoming more malicious now that he’s delivering the birthday card’s to her home and not the office?

Closed Mysteries

1.) Intrepus were curing patients with Bellini’s Lymphocemia, but only so they could “weaponize” them by activating time-release radioactive capsules into their blood stream. They targeted suffers of Bellini’s Lymphocemia because it’s a fairly unknown ‘illness’, thus reducing the chance of getting caught.

Final Thoughts

You off to the shop? Blueberry pie, please..This was an important episode in my rewatch journey – it reminded me that the writers did know where they were going early on. Although this episode doesn’t delve into the heart of the mythology, it does tap into the idea that there’s something bigger happening right before our eyes. As Olivia so aptly said, “When did this become the world we live in?”.

It also raises the stakes; the suggestion that these crazy events are preparation for something..a war. But this is like no war we have seen before, or perhaps it is? People, innocent people being slaughtered by those who (I’m sure) would claim to be fighting for “our” world (which means what, exactly?). Vulnerable people being exploited by promises of cures, freedoms, liberties – all of the nice things that everyone should have as standard, not as an illusion.

The thing that really hit home with me is the idea that there are companies who actually have cures for so-called incurable diseases, yet they withhold their knowledge because it would not be profitable for them – (treating) the sickness makes them more money than healing the world. Whilst I have no proof that this actually happens, I have every faith that it does.

This run of episodes also feature some nice foreshadowing to Olivia’s own history. At this point she’s the one helping these victims, little does she know she was once a victim, and will be again. That’s when it becomes personal. That’s when the alternatives could start playing on her mind.

Best Performer: Lance Reddick

Best Moment: Olivia’s hilarious “Stab it in!”

Retrospective rating: 7/10

You can find our original Cure Eastereggs here.

Next rewatch episode: In Which We Meet Mr. Jones (Thursday ETA)

Comments

  1. FlashWriter says

    Just a fast note here. I am a little curious about how many of us knew what the word “sycophantic” meant? It’s almost like somebody made a bet that they could somehow use the word in the script…

    And my question…why did Patel feel that he had to kill himself? They never really explained that. Of course, in a latter episode we did find out what happens when somebody tries to quit ZFT, but do all these people know what happens if you want to quit? Like, get T-Boned in your most sensitive spot?

    Of course, there’s Olivia. In this ep, I really feel that for the first time, we get to see a little under the surface of this most complicated character. Anna Torv did her usual fantastic balance job, that of being the controlled, strong person with all this emotion bubbling underneath. I think her father is going to pop up down the line and THAT’s gonna be really interesting.

    One of the things I was a little curious about was what Olive’s police record looked like–certainly the police would get involved if a 9 year old tries to off her dad. How sensitive would the FBI be about a record that included shooting a parent at 9? (No matter what the reason would be.) Was that record, somehow, doctored to minimize what happened? No hearing? Just, “Gee, the father was a wife beater and the kid put a couple of caps in him for self defense and so that’s OK?” Maybe, somebody in the higher ups knew she was a cortexiphan kid and that record completely disappeared?

    A game that I play is to try to pick episodes to show people just to show how completely cool Fringe is. On the re-watch, I think this might be among them. My rewatch score is 8.75/10.

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    • says

      “And my question…why did Patel feel that he had to kill himself? They never really explained that. Of course, in a latter episode we did find out what happens when somebody tries to quit ZFT, but do all these people know what happens if you want to quit? Like, get T-Boned in your most sensitive spot?”

      We never got a clear link between ZFT and Intrepus, but I agree it’s likely. That said, Patel was an Intrepus affiliate, so I’m not sure he was a fully signed up member of ZFT. Patel said something along the lines of; “you don’t know what these people are capable of!!”. Leading me to believe that life wasn’t worth living once they found out he gave them up. Interestingly, Patel still had the ..decency (is that the right word?) to out them before offing himself. Seems like his conscience has been weighing heavly on him for a long time..

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  2. Gil_Cdn says

    The Kill Report # 6

    Here is the death toll count for ep.1-06 THE CURE.

    Inside Holly’s Diner: chef, Ben, Emily Kramer, Marty (police), and 4 other customers = 8
    Dr. Nadim Patel = 1
    A guard at Esterbrook’s lab (shot by Olivia) = 1

    ** BTW, Mr. Papaya was sacrifice for science …ha..ha..ha! **

    Total death toll count (up to and including ep.1-06):
    149 + 3 + 13 + 12 + 5 + 10 = 192

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  3. mlj102 says

    I was so excited to see you’d posted this recap – this episode is one of my favorites. I thought it was very well done and had a lot of important points in it.

    I like how you pointed out the connection between the way Olivia coached Claire to be able to take the medicine and the way she coached Nancy to redirect her focus away from them so that they didn’t blow up. I definitely think that part of the ability Olivia has is being able to influence others and help them accomplish things. That’s also hinted at with Nick Lane when he mentions how Olivia was always the strong one – to me that implies that she was able to remain focused in the midst of whatever was done to them, and probably help him to do so as well. Also, Rachel has made similar comments that Olivia was always the strong one. I think that trait is going to turn out to be very important in later story lines.

    I agree with you that the fact that Olivia feels like she can share her feelings with Walter and Peter shows how they are growing as a family. Olivia is a very closed off type of person and is very good at hiding her feelings (as mentioned above, she’s very strong and is able to hide her emotions when she doesn’t want others to see her vulnerable), so I think it’s a big step forward for the dynamic between the three of them that she trusts them enough and is comfortable enough with them that she is willing to let her guard down a little bit. I loved seeing that relationship develop over the course of the season.

    I loved the scene where Olivia informed Peter about her stepfather and how she’d shot him. The whole thing was just spectacular. I imagine that there are VERY few people who know about that, so it really says something that she felt she could tell Peter. I thought Anna captured the feelings and emotions of that scene so well! Her facial expressions were right on the dot the whole time and that made the scene that much more meaningful. In my opinion, that’s the kind of scene that you really have to be careful with – there are so many ways in which it could become cheesy or cliché and actually cause the viewers to dislike the character even more instead of understanding the character better. But I think the way they did the whole scene managed to avoid that, so that’s a big accomplishment.

    I can’t wait to find out more about Olivia’s past and her stepfather and all. One of the things I’m most looking forward to in season two is Olivia’s next birthday, since it seems most likely that that will be a reasonable time to expect them to revisit that storyline. I’m really hoping they’ll focus on that as I think it has the potential to be a really great episode if they make a point to emphasize it and build upon it the way they did with this one.

    The other thing about this episode that I loved was the fact that Peter was willing to put himself in a very compromised position in order to help Olivia. In a lot of ways, I had felt like it was something Olivia needed to conquer on her own, and I had really hoped to see her be able to find something that would allow her to catch Esterbrook on her own. The way she told Peter that there was something there, she just needed to look harder, really made me want to see her triumph in this one on her own – like she needed that. That said, I’m just as pleased with the way it worked out. It was great to see Peter take action. It’s really the first time we see him go out of his way to do something that someone else needs. It shows that he’s not the selfish nomad, constantly in trouble with the law, that is often what is initially apparent in the way he does things. I just really loved the whole concept that he saw that she needed something but that she couldn’t do it for herself, so he took action. He took a huge risk in approaching Nina, and an even bigger and more dangerous risk in being willing to make a deal with her. Nina is clever and doesn’t deal in trivial things – you know that’s going to come up later and it’s probably going to put him in a very difficult position. And he has to know that. Yet he was still willing to do it. I think that says a lot about Peter and a lot about how much he cares about Olivia. And I love that Olivia figured that out and acknowledged it in the end. It’s one of Peter’s character traits that I love most: that he is very loyal to the few people that he lets himself care for and is willing to do the things that he sees those people need. It makes me wonder if it was a similar situation that got him started down the path he was on when we find him in the Pilot. He had hinted in that episode that at one point something had caused him to “go crazy” and essentially do things he normally wouldn’t do, which is why he was in the mess he was in. I would not be surprised at all if, at some point, he took a big risk to help out someone he cared for a great deal, and then one thing lead to another until he was in too deep and couldn’t get out.

    We also see how Peter is really an expert at lying/bluffing. He was so incredibly believable when he told Olivia that he knew where Claire was and how he knew. There was not even a hint of deception during that whole scene. Seriously, if we hadn’t seen him approach Nina, I wouldn’t have known any better. It makes me wonder if there are other things that he is not being completely honest about. I definitely think he’s one of the good guys, though I have to wonder if he knows more than he tells sometimes. Either way, I loved how, despite his expert performance, Walter almost completely blew it for him when he started to point out how his excuse wasn’t actually possible. That really made me laugh and I loved seeing Peter quickly stop Walter before Olivia was able to catch on. Great moment!

    I thought the climax scene where Olivia managed to save Claire was actually one of those “edge of your seat” moments. Maybe I’m just gullible, but I was so caught up in how emotionally invested Olivia was in this case and how much she needed to save Claire, that I honestly expected to see Claire blow up, like Emily, right in front of Olivia. Seriously, given the terrible things that had already happened to Olivia that day (seeing Patel shoot himself right in front of her), it would have been just her luck to have her be so close, yet unable to save her, and I had been preparing myself for the emotional repercussions that would inevitably follow. So I was quite relieved when Claire managed to “stab” herself just in time. Still, just because her head didn’t explode can’t mean that she’s going to be just fine, right? I mean, she was bleeding from her eyes – she must have been subjected to tons of radiation – that had to have had some major side effects.

    Random question: I was very curious about who called Broyles and told him about Olivia’s unconventional interrogation of Esterbrook at the conference. Does he have someone keeping an eye on Olivia? Was it Esterbrook himself? Or someone with Massive Dynamic? It just seemed odd to me that he received a report on it so soon after it had happened. And even though she was forceful, she was pretty subtle about it – it’s not like she made a big scene and it didn’t seem like a ton of people (if anyone) were watching, so I doubt it was just a random report or complaint on the conduct of the FBI. I wonder if someone other than the Observer is following Olivia.

    Reflections: There was a tiny, probably unintentional, reflection of Walter as he was looking in the window at Holly’s Diner. There was another one in Broyles’ office that I thought was pretty neat – usually the camera angles don’t show much reflection in his office, even though it’s essentially all glass walls, but in this one shot in his office, the camera pulls away, showing him standing in the middle of his office, with his reflection clearly shown in each of the surrounding windows. Also, though not reflections, I found it interesting that in the room where Claire was being held, there were several TV monitors above her, and each one was monitoring her, so we saw several pictures of her in that one room. There was also a small reflection of her in lying in bed in the glass door across from her.

    Favorite moment: Can’t leave out Mr. Papaya – that whole scene was hilarious! The reactions of all the characters were terrific, and Walter’s comments of “the friendliest of fruits” and “gooification” just made it that much better. And as if that wasn’t good enough, it just continued as Walter innocently suggested they try it on a gerbil, and everyone emphatically said no. Too funny!

    FlashWriter: I’ll admit it – I had to look up sycophantic… I agree, it was a random choice of words – but it worked.

    I guess I figured Patel was in a position where he was almost being threatened by intrepus – that he felt that Esterbrook would realize he was the one who ratted him out and that Esterbrook would come after him. I think he was in a tight position where he wanted to do the right thing, but he feared what Esterbrook would do to him, so he just shot himself because he saw it as his only option. However, I agree that it was maybe a bit too drastic and that he could have probably avoided it.

    I’m also a bit curious as to the seeming lack of consequences for young Olivia trying to kill her stepfather. I guess I just figured she was never charged or convicted of anything since it could be viewed as self-defense, in which case there would be little or no record of that. Maybe?

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    • Gil_Cdn says

      Love reading your comments, mlj102!

      Olivia telling Peter about her stepfather is one of my favorite scene in S1, I think this scene is the point where I got totally hook on to the series and absolutely love Anna’s portrait of Agent Dunham!

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    • says

      Good points as always, mlj102.

      “Random question: I was very curious about who called Broyles and told him about Olivia’s unconventional interrogation of Esterbrook at the conference. Does he have someone keeping an eye on Olivia? Was it Esterbrook himself? Or someone with Massive Dynamic? It just seemed odd to me that he received a report on it so soon after it had happened. And even though she was forceful, she was pretty subtle about it – it’s not like she made a big scene and it didn’t seem like a ton of people (if anyone) were watching, so I doubt it was just a random report or complaint on the conduct of the FBI. I wonder if someone other than the Observer is following Olivia.”

      Interesting. I didn’t pick up on that second time around, but I recall it being a topic of some discussion back in the day. I’m not sure Broyles has someone following her (as I think it would have been revealed to the audience by now), but I remember thinking that this is where Broyles’ ‘corporate sector’ connections come into play – perhaps he has contacts in Intrepus or the industry who would forwarded that info to Broyles?

      (Here’s a wacky thought, maybe it was Nina?)

      Broyles strikes me as someone who performs a major balancing act – on the one hand wanting to give his agents as much info as possible to protect and serve, and on the other hand trying to keep business associates happy – particularly those who might fear similar investigation to the one Esterbrook received.

      Well, that’s my take on it anyway!

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  4. Elliot says

    I loved this episode, still do. I think it is quite likely that Olivia was either not charged (her mother might have pled to it if it were charged)–or that the records were sealed. Which might have added to the stepfather’s anger.

    And of course he is escalating, he’s moved from mailing the cards to her work to hand delivering them to her home. He’s been on the other side of that door, he’s planning on getting in.

    I can’t decide if I think Nina knows or not,about Peter’s origins. I rather think not, but that she knows SOMETHING is up with Peter.

    This monster (Esterbrook) was one of their best–fully human, fully evil, completely believable and horrifying. While I don’t believe researchers are witholding possible cures (indulging in too much late nite infomercial viewing, Roco? That guy’s been fined a bunch of times by the Feds for lying and breaking consent decrees. . .)–I know that the reality is in some ways worse: if it doesn’t look to make enough money, they simply don’t pick up the research to do. A person who can’t be bothered to stretch out his hand to try to save a life is creepier to me than one who would demand a ransom for it, because the latter is at least a human emotion.

    Amd you are right on the Benchwarming—so, so, NOT Luke & Leia. Romance doesn’t have to wreck a working relationship, it just has to be well written like this episode.
    I also loved the way Peter just up and went and got the information she needed, saving the girl and saving Olivia from having to endanger her job. And how Walter understood and clammed up about isotopes and heat signatures. It makes up for how ham handed they were with the science, which was abysmal, but who cares when the story includes as much gold as this episode did?

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  5. says

    “While I don’t believe researchers are witholding possible cures (indulging in too much late nite infomercial viewing, Roco? That guy’s been fined a bunch of times by the Feds for lying and breaking consent decrees. . .)–I know that the reality is in some ways worse: if it doesn’t look to make enough money, they simply don’t pick up the research to do. A person who can’t be bothered to stretch out his hand to try to save a life is creepier to me than one who would demand a ransom for it, because the latter is at least a human emotion.”

    :D I haven’t been watching informercial’s, but I do believe it happens. With over 6 billion people on this planet and thousands of illnesses and millions of people suffering, something just doesn’t add up. At the very least the episode seemed to suggest as much. I guess there’s also a fine line between not continuing research because there’s little profit in it, and not producing a cure because there’s little profit in it.

    I guess, as Esterbrook put it (albeit in a different context), it’s about fortitude and will. If almost anything is possible, with the only barrier being our imaginations, I guess the suffering in the world can be put down to a lack of compassion or ROI.

    Just my opinion though! :)

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