A Fringe investigation is triggered when a patient at a mental institution undergoes an impromptu brain surgery that unexpectedly leaves his brain exposed. Despite the unthinkable circumstances, the patient's condition and sanity miraculously improves before the Fringe team arrives. While Agent Dunham and Peter scan surveillance tapes (and Walter enjoys his pudding), Olivia recognizes a familiar face as Thomas Jerome Newton, the leader of the shape-shifters. As similar cases stack up, the Fringe team heads back to the lab to determine exactly how patients are being cured. Walter's brains are put to the test and William Bell resurfaces.
Fringe follows the casework of the Fringe Division, a Joint Federal Task Force supported primarily by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which includes Agent Olivia Dunham; Dr. Walter Bishop, the archetypal mad scientist; and Peter Bishop, Walter's estranged son and jack-of-all-trades. They are supported by Phillip Broyles, the force's director, and Agent Astrid Farnsworth, who assists Walter in laboratory research.
The Fringe Division investigates cases relating to fringe science, ranging from transhumanist experiments gone wrong to the prospect of a destructive technological singularity to a possible collision of two parallel universes. The Fringe Division's work often intersects with advanced biotechnology developed by a company called Massive Dynamic, founded by Walter's former partner, Dr. William Bell and run by their common friend, Nina Sharp. The team is also watched silently by a group of bald, pale men who are called "Observers".