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Author's Note: Having grown tired of what's currently available on TV I've decided to rewatch some of my all time favorite shows. I'm limiting myself to one episode per week in order to experience the storytelling as it was originally intended, which hopefully will preserve the thrill of having to wait a week to see what happens next. This article covers the Fringe episode “Midnight", which originally aired on April 28th, 2009.
We’re nearing the end of Fringe’s first season and the show continues to deliver a healthy mix of suspense and strange science. "Midnight" begins by following a young man as he goes through the motions of getting ready for a night of clubbing, and through clever editing and some exposition disguised as a phone call we learn that this man is a player. Unfortunately for him tonight he is the one being hunted, and after he meets a woman at the bar and takes her home she casually breaks his neck.
The Fringe team is called in due to poor condition the authorities find his body in, as the back of his neck has been ripped open and the spinal fluid extracted. Walter takes note that the body has bite marks from a human on it, meaning that a person committed the crime. He also detects the presence of syphilis, and after running some tests he identifies that this particular strain of the disease has been extinct for some time.
They’re able to trace the syphilis sample to Nicholas Boone, who ordered the disease through his company Lubov Pharmaceutical. Olivia and Charlie lead a raid on the company’s location, and as they enter the premises they find Boone, who is confined to a wheelchair, in the middle of dissecting an animal. He’s taken into custody and questioned, where he tells them that he is being forced to create biological weapons for ZFT, the mysterious organization that has already caused plenty of problems for Olivia and the Bishops. While the story initially paints Boone in antagonistic colors it's soon learned that ZFT has forced him to work after they kidnapped his wife, and he agrees to reveal everything he knows about them if she is rescued. He claims they are holding her prisoner at a restaurant, but when Olivia and her team arrive on the scene she is nowhere to be found.
Boone acknowledges that he bent the truth, that he’s known that his wife is the killer from the start. ZFT infected her with a contagion as punishment for Boone’s insubordination, and that the disease ravaging her body can only be contained by the consumption of spinal fluid. Boone initially extracted his own fluid to satisfy her needs, but took too much from himself which is how he ended up in the wheelchair. It’s a simultaneously heartbreaking and touching revelation, to see someone willing to sacrifice the use of their legs in the name of love is admirable even though Boone knew that once his fluid ran out she would have to find another source.
Olivia is able to recover a sample of the contagion from the restaurant, and Boone gets to work on creating an antidote with Walter at the Harvard lab. It’s important to take note of the wonder Boone has for Walter as the man appears to be in awe of the elder Bishop. Coupled with our knowledge that Walter’s typewriter produced the ZFT manuscript, along with the gaps in his memory, it would appear that the writers are either implicating Walter as a key player for ZFT or at least want us to believe that he was once part of the organization.
Astrid is able to deduce that Mrs. Boone has been using a local nightclub as her hunting ground, so while the two scientists continue to work on a cure Olivia, Peter, and Charlie head there to hopefully capture her. The operation proves successful, although her increased metabolism causes the tranquilizer they use to wear off on the ride back to the lab. A brief struggle breaks out but Peter is able to once again subdue Mrs. Boone. Back at the lab her husband convinces Walter to draw more spinal fluid from him, which is essential in creating the cure, but the operation proves costly as it causes the Boone to have a stroke. Walter confronts him for lying about the amount he had previously taken from his body, to which Boone replies by questioning how far Walter himself would go to save a loved one. This not-so-subtle foreshadowing will pay dividends in the future.
Mrs. Boone’s cure comes at a cost as her husband dies, although he makes good on his earlier promise as he recorded a video earlier in the day. While he doesn’t know David Robert Jones he does finger William Bell as a financial contributor to ZFT, further strengthening our suspicions that Walter has a past history with the terrorist organization. With just two episodes remaining in season one we’ll see where things go next week, as the penultimate episode “The Road Not Taken” sets up the season finale.
Observer Sighting: He's at the club, who knew they had such an active nightlife!