Fringe Review: "Snakehead"

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Tonight's episode could have been called "How the Worm Turns the Stomach."

Triad gangsters are smuggling Chinese immigrants into Boston to use as hosts for a giant parasitic worm that they are harvesting. Are they using it for drugs or does the parasite perform a more benevolent task? And will the team's investigation into this global crime syndicate end with disaster for one of the team members? As Walter struggles to find his independence, the team races against the clock to save a boatload of Chinese nationals from a parasitic death.

Read our recap of "Snakehead," get caught up and then see if you agree with our review below...

What Worked: Delivering Lines
Walter is usually the go-to guy for one-liners on the show, and he got his in tonight, but Agents Dunham and Farnsworth got theirs in, as well. When Peter arrives at the initial crime scene with the bodies of 27 Chinese nationalists washed up on shore, parasites bursting through their mouths, Dunham asks him if he's already eaten. When he responds that he has, she replies, "Well, that's unfortunate." Later, when Dunham and Peter return to the Harvard lab, which Walter has loaded up with the bodies of the dead parasites, Astrid welcomes them to "Bishop's Live Bait."

Fringe Lab Work

What Didn't: Reading Lines
Look, we aren't all as smart as Peter Bishop. Therefore, we don't all speak fluent Cantonese. With half of the episode's characters speaking their native tongue and us having to follow along with subtitles, we haven't done so much reading since grade school.

What Really Worked: Astrid the Friend
It is always nice to see just how much Walter and Astrid care for one another. When Walter catches Astrid spying on him, they quickly make up and agree to scour Chinatown as friends. Walter practically bubbles with excitement to have Astrid along with him. Later, when he realizes that his actions have led to Astrid being attacked by the Triad, he is visibly upset. He finds Astrid alone in the lab and the two share a tender, caring embrace.

What Really Didn't: Astrid the Liar
When caught spying on Walter, Astrid stammers through a lame cover story about visiting her friend. Who lives in Chinatown. By the Chinese restaurant. Good one, Astrid. Walter spends half of his time completely unaware of his surroundings and even he could see through your awful lie.

What Really, Really Worked: On the Road to Independence
Peter tells Dunham that Walter is working on "self-actualizing" - doing certain tasks to attempt to assert his independence. These include taking his own taxi to crime scenes, cleaning the apartment, cooking, and dressing himself. Unfortunately, this also includes setting off on his own to run down leads in Chinatown. This results in a very sad scene performed brilliantly by John Noble: Walter cannot remember Peter's phone number and begins dialing random numbers to try to reach his son for help. When he runs out of money, he breaks down and cries in front of a stranger, explaining that he is lost. When this stranger takes him in and finds Peter, it leads to a touching scene between father and son in the woman's apartment and then another in the Bishop's apartment when Walter explains that he wants his independence but will need Peter's help for time to time.

What Really, Really Didn't: On the Road to a Plot?
This was yet another Fringe episode that did nothing to further the overall plot. It was still an excellent hour of television, but we're always concerned when Fringe strays a bit from week to week from following the main story arc. We hope next week we'll be right back in the thick of William Bell and the other dimension.

What Really, Really, Really Didn't
That promo for the new season of 24. Man, is that show the worst or what? Perhaps the FBI in Jack Bauer's world could use a few more agents like Broyles and Dunham. Then they wouldn't be so inept.

Among the great quotes uttered by the Fringe cast this week...

Walter: I'm going to enjoy this. Provided, of course, the beans have been properly soaked to leech toxicity.
Astrid: For the record, I wanted ice cream. | permalink
Olivia: I didn't know you spoke Cantonese.
Peter: Get to know me a bit. | permalink
Walter: Truly, Agent Farnsworth, it never ceases to amaze me the infinite variation that Mother Nature gives us. She truly has quite a disturbing sense of humor.
Astrid: Considering your new pet, I think Mother Nature's a real bitch. | permalink
Peter: So how many are there? Is it bad?
Olivia: Did you eat?
Peter: Yeah.
Olivia: Well, that's unfortunate. | permalink

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Fringe Season 2 Episode 9 Quotes

Olivia: I didn't know you spoke Cantonese.
Peter: Get to know me a bit.

Peter: So how many are there? Is it bad?
Olivia: Did you eat?
Peter: Yeah.
Olivia: Well, that's unfortunate.

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