"Did you eat?"
"Well, that's unfortunate."
Fringe has never shied away from the viscera and gore that the sci-fi genre so often demands, but "Snakehead" was an especially stomach-churning addition to the series. The team investigates a case involving large parasitic worms that are growing inside groups of Chinese nationals, and while this was a great freak-of-the-week, it was Walter's search for independence that gave the episode its beating heart.
A few weeks ago, I was frustrated with the show's crop of self-contained episodes this season. I stated that a freak-of-the-week episode needs to have a truly bizarre monster or it had to reveal or deepen the characters to be truly successful. Thankfully, this episode went two for two. It opened with an Asian man desperately searching for Ping-On Street, only there's no help to be found there; the man we'd come to know as Min Che eagerly extracts a hideous, tentacle-covered worm as it crawled from the victim's nose and mouth. And just when I thought that wasn't bad enough, not 5 minutes later the Fringe Division shows the parasitic worm in all its glory as they take it out of a beached dead woman's severed mouth. Now I am quite the gore-hound; I am an avid horror aficionado and love all the blood and guts the genre entails, but even I squealed and turned from the screen. It was not a proud moment - something about these creatures just gave me the willies.
Olivia and Peter talk to Mai Lin, the one surviving Chinese national from a tanker crash that killed all others, and discover that the nationals were given a "sea-sickness" medicine that contained the worms. They also discover another tanker full of infected Chinese isn't far behind. Walter posits that the nationals were being used as incubators for the parasitic worms until they could be extracted. Peter, Olivia and Broyles trace the money paying for the tankers to the triads (after all in popular fiction, if it's Asian and evil, it's triad) and to a waspy family in the suburbs. The waspy mom feigns innocence but we know better, and soon we discover that the worms' lymph gland is a powerful immune booster and that the waspy son has an immune disorder. The team eventually traces it back to Ming Che and Peter is placed in mortal danger right before Olivia bursts in to save the day.
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