Season 1, Episode 5: “Power Hungry”
Original Airdate: 10/14/2008
Written by Jason Cahill & Julia Cho
Directed by Christopher Misiano
Patterns of Interference: In Worcester, Massachusetts, a socially awkward man, Joseph Meegar, awakens and takes detailed notes of his vitals. After being berated by his mother, he heads towards his shipping job. While handling an electronic scanner, it overloads in Joseph’s hand. He then heads to an office to deliver a package to a receptionist whom he has a crush on, but after he witnesses her making dinner plans with a co-worker, her monitor suddenly begins to go malfunction. Distressed, Joseph leaves, and as he gets on the elevator the receptionist follows him on. He accidentally drops a phone that he had used to take pictures of her (creeeeeepy) and she sees them. Just then the elevator fails and begins to plummet. It crashes, killing everyone, except for Joseph. Distraught, he leaves through the underground garage, but as he does all the cars turn on as he passes by.
Olivia confides in Francis the events of the night before, where she saw John in her kitchen (at the conclusion of the previous episode). She reveals she drew a gun on him but John had vanished. Francis comforts her, telling her she is being hard on herself and that she is still processing recent events.
At Walter’s lab, he attempts to comfort Peter on the recent torture he experienced. Broyles arrives with Olivia, and assigns them the case regarding the accident, revealing that the elevator did not simply fail but drove itself down after a power surge. A similar incident occurred in Japan 9 months before, and they believe it is related to the Pattern.
The team arrives and discover that all camera footage was erased. Walter inspects the bodies and notices one of the victims displays thermoelectric trauma: it appears all of them were electrocuted. Using Olivia’s necklace, he proves that the elevator space is charged beyond what any natural phenomenon could produce.
Walter reveals (of course) that he was once tapped to work on a project to make human beings trackable by pigeons. Working on the theory that humans are simply complex electrical systems, by altering a person’s electromagnetic field they could be easier to track. But the side effects outweighed the positives (Walt provides an anecdote of where a test subject hiccuping would alter the lights). Using the evidence from the crash, he proves that someone has continued that work and altered someone to have such abilities.
Joseph later returns to his job but is confronted by his boss for being undependable and is fired. Upset, Joseph attempts to change his boss’ mind. The boss returns to working on machinery that malfunctions due to Joseph’s unstable emotional state, crushing his arm. A horrified Joseph looks on as co-workers attempt to extract their boss from the machine.
Later at the office, Olivia is researching Walter’s theory when Broyle stops by her desk, bringing her coffee. In discussing Walter’s theory Broyles reveals that previous Pattern investigations have revealed off-the-grid clinics that have engaged in various human experimentation, and in particular a Doctor Jacob Fischer has been suspected of spearheading them. Olivia is later going through the files on Fischer when the office suffers a power outage. Investigating, Olivia comes across John again. He tells Olivia that he doesn’t have much time, and tells her that Fischer is looking for the same man she is, and that Olivia needs to find him first. John steps back onto an elevator and leaves, and Olivia races down a few flights of stairs to catch the elevator, only to find it empty – but then she focuses on the maximum weight capacity sign on the elevator and has a realization.
Olivia heads to Peter’s apartment where she uses the reports from the elevator weight sensors to realize that there was a discrepancy between the weights of the victims and the sensor readings. They realize the person who caused the crash was on the elevator and managed to survive.
A frantic Joseph returns home and reveals to his mother that he had gone to a clinic a few months prior that promised to help him with his confidence but somehow altered him. Ever since he has been experiencing strange phenomenon. His mother is apathetic and berates him again, and a distressed Joseph loses control again, shorting out the lights and electronics around him – including his mother’s pacemaker. Witnessing his mother die, he packs a bag and leaves, but is confronted by Doctor Fischer, who tells him not to be afraid before being knocked unconscious and taken.
The team makes a connection to the power outage at the shipping company and the delivery at the office building, and narrow the search down to Joseph. They arrive at his house and find Joseph’s mother. Using the remnants of Joseph’s Walkman from the crash, Walter uses the cassette to identify Joseph’s unique electromagnetic signature. Harkening back to his original theory, Walter requests two-dozen carrier pigeons. Walter magnetizes the birds to allow them to find Joseph.
Later Olivia has another vision of John, who kisses her. He tells her that he didn’t betray her and that he will prove that he loved her. They are interrupted by Peter. John vanishes, leaving behind a disappointed Olivia.
The birds are set free and tracked via GPS. They lead the team to an abandoned building. Meanwhile, Joseph is being experimented on further by Doctor Fischer. Fischer’s associate arrives, stating they have visitors and Fischer instructs him to take Joseph elsewhere. After Joseph is forcefully loaded into a car, he uses his powers to turn on the vehicle and drive into his captor.
The team tracks down Doctor Fischer, who feigns ignorance when asked about Joseph. Searching the building, they find Joseph, who runs. Olivia gives pursuit, and after a chase Peter is able to catch Joseph by surprise and help apprehend him. Fischer is arrested and Joseph taken into custody for study and help. Later, Olivia is speaking with Walter and he hypothesizes that Olivia has been having visions of John. A surprised Olivia asks how, and Walter believes the previous experiment where she shared a dream state with John allowed some of his consciousness to imprint on hers. Walter is unsure if it will ever disappear from her mind.
That night Olivia is driving and sees a vision of John, which leads her down into the basement where she finds a large number of case files, which are revealed to be Pattern-related that John was investigating on his own.
Also found are John’s personal items, including childhood pictures – and an engagement ring he intended to give to Olivia…
Scientific Method: The human body as an electrical conductor yet amplified.
Fringe with Benefits: Not sure I care for the entire illusions with John and his saying he will prove his love for Olivia. But it does lead her to the conclusion about the person walking away from the elevator crash.
A little disappointed at first that the appearance of John at the end of the episode was simply an illusion on Olivia’s part. In fact, the only part of this story I didn’t like was the stuff with John’s appearances. And yet, it’s how we end the episode as she learns John’s consciousness merged with hers when she was in the tank. And she spots him on the street and he leads her to his storehouse of research on the Pattern. She also discovers he was planning to ask her to marry him.
Agent of F.R.I.N.G.E: So, Olivia knows she’s dealing with a person who can channel electricity and what does she first do when she spots him – pull a gun and tell him to freeze. She only says his name after a short time. Maybe she should have started with his name first.
Olivia’s guilt over John’s actions, death and their relationship continues to haunt her.
Walt’s Faults: I’m surprised no one tried to stop Walter when he began examining the bodies in the elevator without any of the usual precautions. Was wondering if we’d hear any more of the rift with Astrid and Walter as, while she’s not speaking, she doesn’t speak until the heart starts to beat, but then she seems short with him with the pigeons. But then they seem fine at the end of the episode when Walter is trying to remember Astrid’s name.
At first, I’m not getting his dancing about in the hotel room until he shocks Peter. I got a good laugh out of that. I also liked Walter noting Olivia’s pallor and knowing that she is being visited by John.
Daddy Issues: The scene with Peter and Walter as he tries to explain what it was like to be locked away. Peter, sadly, offers no empathy.
Olivia asked if Peter would have a little more faith in Walter when the pigeons are released and make a path towards Meegar.
Observatory: I loved how the Observer comes out of the elevator when Meegar enters the elevator and looks right at him. Makes me wonder if he is controlling everything that the Fringe teams investigates in the first place.
Endgame: I liked the opening which gave a little background into what has already happened. The fact is, this show has a lot going on and it needed this to catch up. My first thought was that when I saw Meegar, he is such a loser that I had to wonder if he was going to go for the cliche that the power was all he knew. Thankfully, they didn’t. Nice touch with the old phone in the house. It’s not a rotary, but it’s not modern enough to show how Meegar and his mom have been unable to move forward because of the nature of their lives. Hell, even his name “Meegar”, “Meager” as his boss pronounces it.
There is some lampshading on the ridiculousness of carrier pigeons homing in on people via electromagnetic waves, but the team and script plays it off well. Still, the show is settling into a bit of a predictable, erm, pattern: weird thing happens, team investigates, Walt has connection to said event via old research.
Massive Dynamics: 7.5. I would have given more as I was glad they avoided the cliche of the nerd with power having nothing else, but they replaced it with the cliche of the merged psyches.