Fringe Rewatch – 1.16 Unleashed

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Synopsis: As animal rights activists ransack a laboratory, they get more than they bargained for when one of the caged “animals” unleashes a ferocious appetite. Leaving grotesquely mutilated dead bodies in its wake, the scientific engineered beast – with the body of a lion, claws of an eagle, fangs of a viper, skin of a rhinoceros and tail of a serpent – attacks Charlie. With Charlie’s life on the line, Walter must come face-to-face with both his past and the beast.

Below the jump I share my new observations and perspectives, and take a quick look at the unresolved and closed mysteries from “Unleashed”.

New Observations & Perspectives

unleashed_review1.) I Hate to say this but the episode was even more hammy than I remembered! Many of the character actions felt way too forced and contrived, and once again with this episode, I failed to buy into the world of the show.

2.) Rachel and Peter shared a joke about the name of a song they were trying to remember. How lovely for them. :) The song was called “Escape” – I wonder if that’s the attraction there..escapism? Heavens! Are they kindred spirits??

3.) Peter calls mixing a bunch of different species together “unnatural”. I wonder what he thinks of beings from parallel realities inter-mingling? It’s interesting how we separate natural from the unnatural – after all, how do we define right from wrong, when even 10 years ago some of the things generally frowned at are now commonly accepted norms in society. Is it about ethics..evolution? Is this our journey, to progress as a species, but not in spite of our humanity?

4.) Dr. Swift places humans on a rung above animals – suggesting that it’s better for an animal to undergoing testing on our behalf. Hmm..where do we fall in this perceived hierarchy in a world filled with other worlds? The alternate reality angle kinda distorts the food chain somewhat.

5.) Sewers or no sewers, I can’t see how the monster was not sighted more often. I mean, it wasn’t exactly shy when taking out the activists at the beginning of the episode.

6.) I did like the moment at the end when the fearless Olivia turned on her night light – the irony of her bedtime story with Ella the night before surely not lost on her. She had been brave and unflinching throughout the monster hunt but I guess she needed a bit of reassurance before letting her guard down. I do wish she had switched the light on with her mind though – in a kind of reversal of what she did in Ability. Perhaps it would have been a bit early in her journey for that – season 2, maybe?

Unresolved Mysteries

1.) Why did Walter hook Gene up to the solar panels?

2.) What was the purpose of creating the monster in the first place? Was there even a purpose other than to prove it could be done?

3.) Who was Walter talking to in the Lab – Himself? AlterWalter? Peter1?

4.) What kind of “classified” work did Kelvin Genetics do for the US Military?

5.) What would Charlie’s babies have looked like?

Closed Mysteries

1.) According to Walter,  the monster attacked but didn’t eat its victims because they were carrying its offspring – the result of being injected with its stingers.

Best Moment: Walter calling for a bucket, then upping it to “TWO BUCKETS” – one of the few dead-pan funnies in this episode.

Best Performer: Jasika Nicole

Retrospective Rating: 3.5/10

Our original Unleashed posts can be found here.

Next Rewatch Episode: “Bad Dreams”. This episode can be viewed for free on the Fox Fringe player, or on Hulu (also free) – US restrictions.


  1. mlj102 says

    Seriously? There aren’t any comments on this one yet? Where is everyone?

    So this episode has become your lowest rated episode of the season (and I imagine it will stay that way). I actually agree completely. I knew that this wasn’t by any means my favorite episode, but it wasn’t until I re-watched it that I realized just how much I disliked this one. It’s not that it was bad, just that in comparison to the rest of the season, it doesn’t come close to measuring up. There weren’t really moments that stood out to me as memorable or very well done like the other episodes all have. There weren’t even a whole ton of funny moments. The story was interesting, but it wasn’t gripping. And it all felt just a little forced.

    This is the only episode that has had moments that annoyed me enough that I’m going to complain about them. First: I usually don’t complain about insignificant things like this, but I thought it was really random of Rachel to suddenly declare it to be bedtime when she’s still cleaning up and Olivia and Ella are obviously in the middle of a story. I’m no expert, but generally I think parents are okay waiting until the story is over before announcing it to be bedtime. I don’t know; it’s really trivial, but for some reason it was really annoying to me.

    My other complaint of this episode was the end when they confront the monster. It really hadn’t bothered me the first time I watched it, but this time, the way the whole thing was handled just seemed completely out of character for all three of them. Yeah, I get the whole concept of letting Walter conquer his own demons. I would have no problem with that if they had him shoot it before Olivia and Peter showed up. But the way they prolonged the climax of it all and had Walter get knocked down, then had Olivia and Peter just sit there, then make some pitiful attempt at trying to run – that just didn’t work for me. Peter and Olivia are both strong, smart people with experience in dangerous situations like that. Neither one of them would go running into a scene, where they knew that they could confront this dangerous creature at any moment, without being prepared for it. Besides that, it’s not like Peter or Olivia to see danger and run – they confront it and stand their ground. So why didn’t we see them even make an effort to defend themselves? Sure, Walter had one of the guns, but we never saw Peter or Olivia even attempt to use the other gun. And Olivia’s good when it comes to using a gun. So I just really disliked the way they decided to have that play out. It made Peter and Olivia look completely foolish and lame.

    Moving on past my complaints. I agree that the ending where Olivia had to turn on the light before going to bed was a nice touch. I like seeing the sort of after-effect these cases have on the characters. I think it would be really easy to make the mistake of having a strong, tough character like Olivia and showing her determination and courage in the midst of all these crazy events, and having her come out the hero in the end of each one, and ending the story there. Which is great, but it takes out the human element of these stories. It would make her out to be more than any average person. But moments like that help me to see that, in spite of all her strength and courage, when all is said and done, she’s just another person dealing with unbelievable things, and that she feels the impact of those things just like anyone else would. It really makes her a person I can relate to.

    I also agree with your unresolved mysteries – specifically numbers 2 and 3. I was rather curious as to why Swift and team had decided to attempt to create the monster. What was the purpose? I doubt they went to all that work and risk just to keep it locked in a back room. Speaking of which, how long had they had the creature up to the point it got released? And what were they doing with it? As for the third point you made, it also struck me as significant. Walter going around the lab talking to… who? My best guess is himself, but the question is, was it really all just in his mind, or is there more to it than the fact that he’s a little crazy? I really expect that to be one of the things that is important later in the show.

    I had also noticed Peter’s strong reaction when he found out that Walter had known about the creature pretty much the whole episode and hadn’t bothered to be honest and tell the rest of them about it. He was pretty mad. I imagine that is just a small taste of the reaction we’ll see when Peter finds out the bigger secret Walter has been keeping from him. I’m kind of nervous for that to happen.

    I also found it to be rather touching that, even given the condition Charlie was in and his looming fate and all, he was still concerned about Olivia and didn’t want her getting hurt. I really like that quality – that he looks out for those he cares for. I really like the strong friendship that exists between Olivia and Charlie and I love when we get to see that highlighted like it was in this episode. With all the spoilers and such that we’ve gotten concerning season 2 and Charlie and all, I’m really concerned that they’re going to go the route of Charlie betraying them. That would seriously be heartbreaking and I really hope that doesn’t happen.

    Favorite moment: Like I said, it was hard to really find one for this episode, but I think my favorite was when Olivia came in and asked if they’d made any progress and Peter replied, “Apparently you’re looking for a lion-snake named Harriet.” It was one of those subtly humorous moments (made even funnier by the way the actors delivered it all) that is a classic part of this show and is part of the reason why I love it so much!

    Reflections: Okay, so I thought I’d seen one in this episode, but I can’t seem to find it now. That makes this the only episode without some sort of reflection. Great – one more reason for me to dislike it!

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  2. FlashWriter says


    OK. Let me take the minority position here…

    I think that I’m just a plain sucker when it comes to these types of stories. I mean, the first time around “Unleashed” seemed derivative, but this time I took into consideration the idea that ANY story of this type would seem that way and, on the second time around, that aspect didn’t bother me at all. We still had “our gang” (meaning our incredible cast and the whole production team), and they simply sold the story to me. While the “macro view” was that it’s just another monster story (and it is), what interested me in the rewatch was the series of “micro moments” in the episode.

    The first “Micro Moment” for me was when Olivia went to the M.I.T. dorm to interview Carl. Carl’s reaction to Olivia was priceless, “Whoa.” He sounded like Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. It seemed like Olivia was enjoying the hell out of his reaction too. It was like she was barely squelching a grin through the whole scene. Yep, our girl was just a little flattered and more than a little amused at Carl. Who could blame him? I mean, think back. Collage. Frat house. You open the door and this completely gorgeous woman is standing there holding up FBI credentials. I know what my reaction would be: “Whoa.”

    Another moment occurred in the lab when they were examining one of the victims as they tried to piece together some picture of what killed the poor chap. (An aside here: I made the comment about the makeup on the victims the first time around and I’ve gotta say it again: Whoa. I can’t remember bloody gashes, slashes, and punctures that ever looked more real than these did. Fantastic job, guys.) Anyway, here is a replay of the micro moment:

    So this thing had the claws of a lion and the fangs of a snake?

    WALTER (Chuckling)
    Reminds me of a woman I once knew in Cleveland–

    PETER (Interrupting)
    Walter, these punctures are almost four inches apart. That would make this snake…eight feet long.

    WALTER (Continuing as if what Peter had just said was totally inconsequential)
    …Her name was Harriet.

    OLIVIA (Entering the lab)
    How is everything?

    Well, apparently you’re looking for a lionsnake named Harriet…

    I mean, this is REALLY GREAT STUFF. God help me, but I just love these lab scenes!

    Another one: We’re out in the woods with two animal control officers as they’re pulling up and stopping their truck.

    This is unit 81. We’re responding to the…”monster”…sighting on route 30.

    DISPATCHER (over the radio)
    Rodger that, 81.

    The two animal control officers get out of the truck and begin walking toward a stand of trees.

    It’s always a monster…”monster” must be “housewife” for “raccoon”.

    It was just a small, almost insignificant snippet but, again, a completely fantastic piece of dialogue. Think about it, an entire character was revealed with one passing line. Go ahead. Sit down and write a line like that. These people are frackin’ GOOD.

    Okay, a few words about Peter-Rachel. What was interesting to me about the whole sequence wasn’t that Peter called Rachel, but it was that Rachel was making this BIG THING about the call. And it seemed to me that she was doing this sister-act that I used to see my own sisters do. It’s a subtle female thing and it hints at this competitive relationship that sisters seem to have when they’re reasonably close in age. It says, “he called ME and THAT gives me a point”. The turn and (very loud) laugh Rachel executed was like ringing the point up on a scoreboard.

    Now, OLIVIA, being who she is, HATES points of any kind scored on the visitor’s side. She was still bugged about it the next day, enough that she had to find out from Peter what the call was about. The rule here is simple: if it was nothing, then the point is erased after the play review. In this instance it was nothing. The point was erased and we could, then, get on with the case. What sometimes hooks me about Olivia (and makes me love her all the more) is that her female side pops up at the most unexpected moments.

    I make no qualms about how I revere the writing on this show. Roco’s comments about “hammy” and “forced” got me to thinking, because I couldn’t quite figure what he was talking about. I guess that it was Walter’s reaction to the entire incident. He seemed to go completely over the top and take ownership of the problem in a way we just haven’t seen from him. I can’t figure out why. Even when it was proven that the monster and the deaths and Charlie’s predicament had no relation to his former experiments (which failed), Walter still proceeded as if they did. He went so far as downing poison and going solo hunting for the monster in the sewers after barring Peter and Olivia from following him. I agree this whole thread seemed forced, but we’re talking John Noble here and I never did find it hammy. He sold it and I bought it. (Was there some other angle that Walter wasn’t telling us about?) There was even another micro moment when Walter asked where the facilities were, knowing that Peter would have some kind of cynical comment. He sat there grinning to himself, enjoying his little private joke (even as he bagged Olivia’s shootin’ iron so he could go monster huntin’).

    About the monster: There’s a kind of rule in writing horror (there’s no doubt in my mind that, at its most basic level, this episode was a straight-up horror episode) that you don’t show the monster until quite late in the game. Our subconscious minds can contrive far more terrible things than what the film maker or writer can usually put on film or write on the page. When we finally do see it, there’s something that goes on in our minds, something like “Oh, well, is THAT all it is? I can handle that.” It lets the steam out of the story.

    Our writers followed the rules on this one, but here’s the twist: the reveal of the actual monster was just as horrifying as I imagined it. It looked evil and deadly. John Noble again sold it with this look of unbridled terror. I think the fact that it was on the ceiling, looking down at him all that time made my skin crawl the most. It was one, damn good looking monster. It was beautifully conceived, and the CGI was flawless. (I just wish it would have been harder to kill.)

    And Finally a Note About Charlie: There was something very noble and romantic about that call to his wife. It was almost like a “last meal” moment. He really thought he was going to cash in and his last act was to call his wife and listen to her lousy joke. Then laugh at it, no less. There was just something about that sequence that got me a little misty. Charlie, you are my MAN.

    In closing I have to say that, actually, no. If somebody asked me to show an episode that justified my fanaticisim for this show, this is NOT the one I’d show them. There was, however, enough cool here to still enjoy it. (That episode that I’d show is coming up next. And it still grates me that Anna Torv wasn’t nominated for it!)

    REWATCH SCORE: 7.0/10.0

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