Fringe: The Bishop Revival Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, January 29, 2010
The Nazis have always made ideal bad guys. They are purely evil and universally disliked. The problem is that they are yesterday's bad guys and out of place today. This episode of Fringe challenges that, and raises the bar for using the Nazis as bad guys in a modern program. Don't expect anything like the ridiculous antics of the 1963 film “They Saved Hitler's Brain.” This is an ingeniously weaved story combining science, mystery and history.
It all starts at a wedding where the groom's family is Jewish and the bride's family is not. A guy who looks like Hitler without the mustache is standing menacingly in the corner when he is spotted by an old woman who is a Holocaust survivor. Apparently she recognizes him and starts screaming. Suddenly all the Jewish people die as if they are being gassed. Everyone else is unaffected.
The Fringe team discovers that it is a man made bio-toxin designed specifically to kill people with certain genetic traits. Walter points out that Josef Mengele did research on this even before the discovery of DNA as a way to achieve “the final solution.” After closer examination of the genetic makeup of the weapon, Walter knows who created it.
It seems that just about everything the Fringe team confronts can be traced back to something the Bishop family did years ago. This time it isn't Walter, but his father Dr. Robert Bishoff. The family changed the spelling of their name when they emigrated to America. Apparently Walter's father was a brilliant scientist himself. He worked in Germany during World War II but was a spy for the Allies.
In a classic Bishop family dysfunctional twist, Walter's father hid the formula for the toxin in books he left to Walter when he died. Peter later sold those books while Walter was in the asylum. It was his way of getting back at Daddy for abandoning him. So the weapon created by the grandfather, that was supposed to be guarded by the father, is released to the world by the son. It is now the Bishop family's task to fix what they screwed up. Doesn't it seem like all the ills of the world are both caused and cured by the Bishops?
If the Fringe team fails, the toxin could make Hitler's dream come true and kill everyone on Earth who he did not consider in the “master race.” They track the Hitler wannabe to a conference full of people of every ethnicity advocating world peace. There could not be a starker contrast between good and evil. Just before the Nazi can kill everyone in the room, Walter storms in with a brilliant solution to save the day. Justice prevails, the Nazis are defeated, and Walter is the hero. It's a nice piece of scriptwriting that with an unexpected twist at the end.
As a bonus, the episode leaves you with a mystery. It is never fully explained who the Nazi bad guy is or how he knew so much about Walter's father's research. The final shot deepens the question. Top to bottom, this episode of Fringe is masterfully crafted. It is one of the finest stand alone episodes the series has produced.
Mania Grade: A
TV Series: Fringe
Episode: The Bishop Revival
Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jaskika Nicole, Lance Reddick
Written By: Glen Whitman, Robert Chiappetta
Directed By: Adam Davidson