This week in Sci-Fi Time Capsule, the spiritual successor of the X-Files, Fringe. Season 1, Episode 10 is “Safe,” which is about a bank robbery where a man gets stuck inside a wall.
(WARNING: Spoilers begin below)
It starts with a bank robbery, where the perpetrators use advanced technology to pass through a solid vault wall. Their time runs out though, and the last man to exit doesn’t make it through the wall, becoming stuck. That’s where Fringe Division gets called in. Olivia recognizes the man as an old marine buddy.
Walter wants the body (or part of it) taken back to his lab. When they get a severed hand back to examine it, Walter discovers that it’s radioactive. Olivia discovers that the memories of the dead robber aren’t her own, but her dead partner’s memories of the man. She is able to parlay those memories into a connection with the man’s other acquaintances, and tracks down a lead on the robbers.
Meanwhile, Peter recognizes a pattern in the number of safe deposit boxes pillaged in the robbers’ series of heists: they’re all Fibonacci Series elements. Combined with Oliva’s groundwork and the Department of Homeland Security’s creepy-easy access to credit card records, they know that the robbers are heading for Providence. Peter confronts Walter with the Fibonacci deposit box numbers, and Walter realizes that the boxes were his. Peter catches Walter off guard with a question about where he’d get a deposit box in Providence to figure out where the next robbery will be.
In the end, the robbers make off with the contents anyway, and the resulting machine they are able to assemble pulls an inmate from his prison cell in Germany via teleportation.
Why Is This a Classic?
If this isn’t a classic yet, it’s only because Fringe only ended recently. This is the X-Files where Mulder and Scully are one character, and where science does have all the answers. I could only imagine this conversation, should the three of them meet at a crime scene.
Mulder: “We discovered the victim covered in translucent pink goo. I think this may be some sort of ectoplasm – psychic residue.”
Scully: “Just because the lab couldn’t identify it doesn’t mean that it’s psychic goo. There has to be a logical explanation.”
Walter (tasting the goo): “This is Transmoxigenic Medium. It’s used in electronic brainwave migration. I can brew up a batch back in my lab, using three kinds of household cleaners and some polonium. Belly used to like it on his toast … I always preferred raspberry jam.”
Peter: You violated the laws of nature, Mr. Eastwick, and Mother Nature is a bitch.
Walter: No, Peter’s right. Your pupils are dilated. It’s a symptom of high stress. Unless you’re using hallucinogens. Are you tripping, Agent Dunham?
Walter: Think back 20 years. Imagine yourself then imagining yourself now, 20 years into the future. In your wildest imagination, could you ever think you’d be here?
How it Holds Up
I won’t lie. The early seasons, especially 2 and 3, hold up much better than the last couple (especially the last). The episodes don’t stand alone as well as some other series, just because of the underlying story arc and numerous references to prior episodes (and hints to subsequent ones). Walter’s Fibonacci mumblings from episode 2, for instance, came back into play as safe deposit box numbers. A very astute viewer could have picked up on it, but not one just watching a single episode.