Recap / Fringe S01 E02 "The Same Old Story"

Season 1, Episode 2:

The Same Old Story

A prostitute is abandoned by an unknown man at a hospital, in labor. She dies as the doctors perform a caesarean section, but the child ages rapidly in minutes, soon dying after having aged to the likes of an 90-year-old man. Olivia Dunham, Peter Bishop, and Walter Bishop , new members of the Fringe team, are called to investigate by Philip Broyles, believing the case to be part of "The Pattern", a string of mysterious incidents. The woman is identified as having recently left a local motel, and Olivia finds evidence that points to a past serial murder case she and her former partner John Scott were unable to solve. Olivia explains to Peter that the murderer would paralyze his victims, young women, then make an incision along their face to extract a piece of brain material, killing the victim in the process. Walter takes both corpses back to his lab and determines that the woman had only been impregnated minutes before giving birth, her child having accelerated aging disease. Walter is reminded of having previously done work in this field, and remembers where he stashed the car containing the related files. Once they are retrieved, Olivia makes a connection to the pituitary gland which controls growth in humans, and asks fellow agent Charlie Francis to monitor recent cases where the victims' pituitary gland has been removed.

Olivia and Peter turn to an expert in progeria, Dr. Penrose, to try to learn more about rapid aging, but Dr. Penrose cannot help them further, though Peter suspects he is hiding something. After being visited by the Fringe team, Dr. Penrose goes an abandoned warehouse and meets the murderer, Christopher, his son, who also suffers from rapid aging syndrome. Penrose warns Christopher to be careful and that they only need one more woman to complete the cure. By this time, Charlie has found a recent murder victim killed in the same fashion. At Walter's lab, they confirm that the woman's pituitary gland has been removed. They rationalize the murderer must extract hormones from the glands to slow down his own aging process. Walter hypothesizes they can discover the location of the crime by looking at the images left in the woman's optical nerves induced by the paralyzing sedative. Borrowing an electronic pulse camera from Massive Dynamic, they discover the image of a suspension bridge near Stoughton and identify the likely location from which it was viewed—the same warehouse that Dr. Penrose visited. The FBI converge on the building, and Olivia and Peter find Penrose about to cut into another victim. Olivia chases off after Christopher, who eventually succumbs to his rapid aging and dies, while Peter, after nicking Penrose with a bullet, confers with Walter to apply a makeshift defibrillator to bring the victim back to life.

As they wrap up the case, Olivia, Peter, and Walter complete forms to finalize their position in the Fringe team. When Peter is out of earshot, Walter learns from Olivia that the FBI medical files on Peter's childhood are void of any details.

Tropes present in this episode include:

  • Express Delivery: The prostitute is accidently impregnated by Christopher, and the fetus keeps growing until it kills her. This is because it's rapidly aging, and it dies an old man shortly after being cut out.
    • Olivia has a nightmare of being impregnated by John, and then the baby starting to grow rapidly like the victim.
  • Fetus Terrible: Once that poor girl gets impregnated by Christopher, the baby keeps growing inside her until she dies. By the time it gets out and dies, he is an old man.
    • Then Olivia's Jump Nightmare.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Christopher claiming his father should have let him die rather than harm and make him harm so many to keep him alive. This mirrors Walter ruining the Red Universe to save Peter. Walter himself realizes this.
    • Walter asking Olivia about Peter's medical history, and Olivia telling there was nothing about medical history in Peter's file. He thought she learned the truth of Peter having come from the other universe.
    • Also, the last shot of many clones of Christopher lying on lab beds. This alludes to Massive Dynamic's Penrose-Carson experiments, to create mind-controlling clones to fight the war against the Other Universe.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Peter improvises a defibrillator out of some piece of industrial equipment, to revive a woman whose heart has stopped due to an anesthesia overdose. It works.
  • Not So Different: After you watch season 2, you'll realize the meaning behind Walter's words, and how he's silently and subtly admitting he is like Penrose, harming innocents lives in order to save his son, or a close substitute.
  • Serial Killer: Christopher Penrose. He captures women, drugs them and surgically removes their pituitary glands. This is because he is rapidly aging, and needs to do this periodically in order to survive. By his final words to Olivia, he doesn't seem happy about it, and tells his father should have let him die a long time ago.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: The baby that kicks off the plot grows from an infant to an old man in the space of minutes. Where all that mass came from is not addressed.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Given that it's a rapidly-aging and growing baby, yeah.