Of Human Action
Season 2, Episode 7
Air date November 12, 2009
Written by Robert Chiappetta
Glen Whitman
Directed by Joe Chappelle
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Cast | Transcript

"Of Human Action" is the seventh episode of the second season of Fringe.


Tyler Carson, the son of a Massive Dynamic employee, is kidnapped and taken hostage in New York. When the police close in and try to rescue Tyler, something causes them to kill one another. Walter posits that one of the kidnappers is using hypnotism to cause people to do what he wants. Peter reminds him that hypnotism can't force action, only suggest it, so Walter suggests mind control. Fringe division closes in on the kidnappers.


In Queens, New York, police chase a sedan driven through a parking garage by two men keeping a teenage boy named Tyler Carson in the backseat. The police officers surround the car and draw their weapons, demanding that the men exit the car. They do, and Tyler stays in his seat. Without explanation, Officer Gibson goes to the parking ramp and jumps to his death. Officer Williams shoots her two remaining colleagues, then herself. The kidnappers’ crime spree continues on the road. One of them, Patrick Hickey, demands that a convenience store clerk hand over all his cash. Another customer tries to intervene, but then takes a pot of hot coffee, pours the coffee to his face, and beats himself with the pot. The cashier electrocutes himself.

Examining the policewoman who shot herself, Walter Bishop concludes that she was the victim of mind control rather than hypnosis. Theorizing that the mind control works on an auditory basis, he develops a method of combating the effects through the use of white noise. The tactical team led by Olivia Dunham traces the kidnappers—both of them car salesmen with no serious criminal record—to a warehouse. One of them drives the car through a large door but is burnt in the explosion when the car flips. Olivia gets the drop on the surviving kidnapper, Tom Dobbins, who points a gun at his own chin and begs for her help. Peter Bishop, wearing headphones that broadcast Walter’s white noise, follows the ransom payment. It leads him to Tyler, who says, “You can lose the stupid headphones. They don’t work.”

Peter is now forced into helping Tyler Carson, who has mind control powers due to his father Dr James Carson working on thought-controlled weapons systems. Peter tries to get into Tyler’s head by sharing his own stories of his father not believing in him, but Tyler rejects the attempts to bond. He only needs a driver. Their destination is the home of Tyler’s mother, Renee Davies, whom Tyler had been told was dead. When the two of them meet, Tyler wants her to run off so that they can be mother and son. She refuses, and Tyler becomes enraged at her husband Seth Davies when he returns home.

Tyler tries to force Peter to shoot the husband but changes the target to Phillip Broyles when he arrives at the house with Olivia. Peter is forced to shoot Broyles but manages to pull the gun off-center so that the Homeland Security agent is only hit in the shoulder. Tyler and Peter drive off; Olivia is picked up by Astrid and Walter and after a short chase, Walter is able to use a device, that momentarily renders Tyler unconscious, giving Peter back control. Peter crashes the car, knocking them both unconscious. Tyler is given a sedative and is brought unconscious into custody. Nina Sharp writes a message to the absent William Bell updating him on the status of the Carson-Penrose experiments. (Claus Penrose is a scientist seen caring for a genetically engineered killer in the much earlier episode "The Same Old Story".) Tyler is one of many identical boys placed with foster families, and James was his assigned guardian, not his father. Renee Davies is said to be his surrogate mother.

Notable Quotes[]

Peter: Walter, remember that conversation we had about personal space?
Walter: I'm bored. No cadavers at this crime scene. Or food.

Walter: This is exciting. You think the FBI will ever give me a gun?

Walter: All commands will come through the headphones. Once you're given the order to put on the headphones, do not remove them under any circumstances. If you do, you may die a gruesome and horrible death. Thank you for your attention and have a nice day.

Astrid: Chicken. You serious?
Walter: Just a hypothesis. What do you think, more like pork?
Astrid: Truthfully, I don't really spend a lot of time thinking about what human brains would taste like.
Walter: Then why did you ask?

Peter: Genius, the second you took me, they knew you were behind it all.
Tyler: Whatever. You had no idea I was the one in charge.
Peter: Yeah, you managed to kidnap yourself. Congratulations. You're a criminal mastermind

Peter: A teddy bear versus mind-control spies. The bad guys don't stand a chance.

Walter: Oh, don't be ridiculous. You were abducted. Of course, you need crepes.


  • The Observer can be seen behind a silver car on the right as the police cars arrive at the parking garage.
  • The X- Files connections: The character of James Carson is portrayed by actor Andrew Airlie, who played two characters in separate episodes on The X-Files, portraying respectively, Rob in the 1993 episode "The Jersey Devil, and "Attorney" in the 1996 episode "Sanguinarium" This marks the seventh consecutive instance in which an actor who worked on The X-Files has a role in a Fringe episode.
  • Walter mentions that he can't lose Peter again. This is one of the earliest references to the truth of Peter's nature.


  • In the beginning, teaser, when the NY Police stop the 'kidnapping', they are armed with 9mm Beretta pistols. This is a mistake. NYC Police do not carry Berettas.
  • Walter is examining the policewoman's brain and finds damage to it from the villains' mind control techniques. He would be very unlikely to be able to differentiate such damage from the damage resulting from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, especially from a 9mm bullet. He would, in fact, be rather lucky to find the brain all in one piece.
  • Walter explains that Peter's teddy bear emits a stream of audible white noise. White noise in audio terms is actually a particular signal with a fixed bandwidth which sounds to the ear like a high-pitched hiss. The teddy bear, however, emits an undefinable oscillating sound, predominantly in a lower frequency range.
  • The cashier electrocutes himself by sticking a key into the "grounded" side of the electrical plug! [Perhaps this was done on purpose to prevent electrocution by imitators!]


  • "Subtle Duck" by Charles Bissell
  • "Angel Love" by Samantha James


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