A Better Human Being
Season 4, Episode 13
Airdate February 17, 2012
Written by Story by: Glen Whitman & Robert Chiappetta

Teleplay by: Alison Schapker & Monica Owusu-Breen

Directed by Joe Chappelle
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Cast | Transcript

"A Better Human Being" is the thirteenth episode of the fourth season of Fringe.


The science team investigates a mentally ill patient who appears to be connected to a series of murders. Frightening clues and connections are uncovered as the team is trapped. Olivia discovers some shocking revelations.


When Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) realizes that Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is experiencing memories from the Olivia of his original timeline, he convinces her to allow his father Walter (John Noble) to examine her. They find nothing immediately wrong with her brain, but Walter takes some hair samples for testing. With Olivia out of earshot, Walter scolds Peter in the belief that Peter is - perhaps unintentionally - empathizing his memories onto Olivia, who as a child was highly emotionally attuned to others.

The Fringe division learns of a case of a teenager, Sean Martin (Harrison Thomas), in a mental institution who, while in a nighttime trance, reportedly related in perfect detail the distant murder of a reporter by three teenagers. Sean explains that he hears voices from "outside" his head, leading Walter to believe that some type of telepathy is involved. Sean's transcription of the voices he heard during the murder leads the team to a subway bathroom, where they discover blood from an assailant injured in the attack. Astrid (Jasika Nicole) stays with the boy as he is purposely taken off his medications, hoping to identify the voices that he hears.

Analysis of the assailant's blood does not produce an identity, but Walter realizes that the sample shares a similar genetic anomaly with Sean's DNA, a trait that can only be shared by common ancestry. Olivia and Lincoln (Seth Gabel) learn from Sean's mother than Sean was conceived by in vitro fertilisation, and that the deceased reporter had visited her a few days before, looking into the process. Walter concludes that Sean is reading the thoughts of other in vitro children that share the same genetic trait and are protecting themselves like animals.

The team locates the doctor that performed the process, Dr Owen Frank (John Aylward). Dr Frank admits that he modified and donated samples of his own DNA to re-introduce instinctive traits back into humans, attempting to build "a better human being". Walter recognizes that the children who share this trait are likely killing to prevent their genetically modified nature from becoming public. Dr Frank provides Olivia and Peter with the location of his files, unaware that several of his progeny have already arrived there and are lying in wait. As Olivia and Peter discover the destroyed files, Sean hears voices plotting to ambush them, and Astrid is able to alert Olivia in time for her and Peter to defend themselves and capture their attackers. However, the second pair of teenagers suffocates Dr Frank. With the doctor dead, Sean is no longer is able to hear any voices, a situation he both welcomes and fears losing.

Walter discovers from Olivia's hair samples that she has recently been given doses of Cortexiphan. He and Lincoln confront Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) and demand an inspection of Walter and William Bell's Cortexiphan samples, which were stored in Massive Dynamic's headquarters under biometric security measures. Nina shows them the vials, but Walter recognizes that the Cortexiphan inside has been replaced by Potassium Iodide with food colouring, implicating Nina.

After completing the case, Olivia and Peter stop at a gas station on their way home. Olivia discusses the lifestyle they had in Peter's timeline and he confesses that he can tell from her eyes that Olivia is the same as from his original timeline. After a brief kiss, Olivia leaves the car to use the restroom, but Peter discovers that she has disappeared. Elsewhere, Olivia regains consciousness tied up in a tiled room, along with a fatigued Nina tied to a chair opposite her, telling her that everything is all right.

Notable QuotesEdit

Peter: Just be straight with me. Are you okay?
Olivia: Yeah, I'm fine.
Peter: Then why did you kiss me?
Olivia: I don't know. It just felt like that's what we'd do. Just felt normal.

Olivia: I remember, Peter. I remember William Bell, I remember crossing over to bring you back. I remember Jacksonville, and seeing you shimmer the first time we kissed. I, walking to the machine, and getting inside, and being scared that you were going to die. I remember it, I remember us. I remember everything.

Olivia: Apparently, a nurse here watched the news report this morning, and last night, a patient with schizophrenia had recounted the entire crime in great detail. as it was happening.
Lincoln: There really aren't any normal days in this job, are there?
Olivia: Nope.

Astrid: I can understand why silence would scare you. You're not used to being by yourself. But this is normal. It was so loud for you that you couldn't even hear yourself think. And I bet you have a lot of great thoughts.


  • The Observer walks past the cashier's window at the gas station when Peter enters, looking for Olivia.


  • "The Ghost Who Walks" by Karen Elson.


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