As predicted last week, Fringe revisits the monster-of-the-week format in its latest episode, but still manages to convey some clues to the season’s endgame even if the plot served more as a standalone.
Let’s take a closer look after the jump.
This week, we spent the whole episode “over here” which I actually appreciated. As much as I feared this transitional episode would stall Fringe‘s growing momentum, I’m happy that it was a more straight-forward episode (and by straight forward I mean “still intelligent and engaging unlike another Bad Robot production *cough Alcatraz cough*”). This week we meet a young girl, Emily (Alexis Raich) who has visions of catastrophic deaths and attempts to warn those she sees biting it.
We go back to the very familiar formula of the entire Fringe team (Yay! More of Jasika Nicole’s Astrid!) trying to figure out how to prevent the next ‘death event’ in Walter’s (John Noble) Harvard lab. The narrative takes shape with an equal mix of great police procedural and some of Walter’s unorthodox methods, guided by Peter (Joshua Jackson). We also get some basic science explaining how Emily is able to have these premonitions along with some adequate emotional beats.
But the strength in this episode, and all episodes that are more standalone than the trippier ones, are those moments when the protagonists continue to develop amidst the more straightforward narrative line. And in this episode, Olivia (the always en-pointe Anna Torv) is the shining star. We get a plethora of great Olivia moments (again, supporting my theory that this has been our Olivia all along, and Peter need not go seeking ‘his Olivia’ because she’s right frickin’ here). These moments continue her character’s evolution even though we’re well into season four. After The Observer’s (Michael Cerveris) ominous forecast of her death, we get great moments of Olivia coming to grips with the whole fate vs. free will debate. As regimented and grounded our Olivia is, she still has a vulnerable side to her and it was delightful to see her more human moments revealed with care and subtlety through this episode.
I especially enjoyed her interactions with Broyles (the equally wonderful Lance Reddick). Broyles is the only one she tells about her recent interaction with The Observer, and I think it has more to do with her personal connection to Broyles rather than the fact that he’s her boss. Broyles pulls out his surrogate father card throughout the episode but does so in a way that is at once professional yet genuinely caring. I’ve said it before, but Fringe really works best when we see our team more as a family than anything else.
This point is again exhibited in the scenes with Olivia and Nina Sharp (Blair Brown). When Olivia learns that Massive Dynamic was behind testing Emily as a lab rat, she confronts Nina. This is the Olivia/Nina dynamic that we’ve become used to in previous seasons before the timeline reboot. After the reboot, apparently Nina “raised” Olivia, and they supposedly have a strong familial relationship. I think it’s intentional, but I certainly don’t feel that they have any kind of a genuine relationship. (i.e. Some definite brainwashing going on up in here)
In the closing scene of the episode, Olivia tells Nina she’s sorry that she was so accusatory in their last meeting, and indeed she “loves” Nina like a mother. Barf. I did not believe it at all, and I’m pretty confident that it was a deliberate choice on behalf of the show. I fully admit, this could be because it was revealed that Nina is somehow behind the whole super-evil human shape-shifters plot, and has given orders for gassing and injecting Olivia with some unknown substance for weeks, but Nina just doesn’t read “loving mother” to me. Our Fringe team works best as a family – but no outsiders allowed (with the exception of Seth Gabel’s Lincoln Lee).
- Again, loved the absolutely disgusting impalement of the first victim in the cold open. The blood spurting on that lovely cashmere coat of that corporate woman: Delightful! Seriously – if the academy is determined to ignore this show for its acting and writing talent, at the very least, let’s give an Emmy to the Special FX team.
- Though he played more of a supporting role in this episode, John Noble continues to impress. The initial investigation with Emily and subsequent hypnosis scene was a wonderful nod back to the Fringe I loved back in the first season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy about how far we’ve come, but it’s nice to get nostalgic every now and then.
What did you think viewers? Were you upset that we focused more on characters and laying some foundation vs. more answers? Do you wish more was revealed regarding The Observer’s prediction? Are you looking forward to next week’s episode where there’s more “over here”/”over there” action? Let us know in the comments section.