After many episodes of just hanging out in the background, we get a double dose of Astrid (Jasika Nicole) in this week’s Fringe offering. Even though I wouldn’t classify this as an Astrid-centric episode, proper – it still gave us plenty of great moments and interesting tidbits of this loved character throughout.
Let’s take a closer look after the jump.
I have to, yet again, applaud Fringe for its effective cold open. We get introduced to our “monster-of-the week”, Neil (Chin Han) a former MIT professor, as he ominously tells a cancer patient that he’s going to kick it (in the most unpleasant of ways) on a bus bench. It’s just a great piece of cinematography, including the interesting framing techniques we see in the doctor’s office where bench guy is told that he’s got a 95% chance of survival. Continuing with the inventive use of the bus passing by, this sequence demonstrates how Fringe is master at conveying the grotesquely eerie in a visually irresistible way. Han’s deadpan line-delivery further adds to the creepy atmosphere, setting the stage perfectly as the credits roll.
Onto the meat of the episode: Astrid! As I mentioned, this episode doesn’t particularly centre around her (or her ‘over-there’ counterpart) as last week’s teasers might have suggested. The Astrids exist more on the periphery, but I still felt we got some solid moments of Astrid’s character development. ‘Over-there’ Astrid (OTAstrid), militant and almost robotic, makes a trip “over here” in an attempt to find comfort after her father has died. She hopes to meet our Astrid to get some insight. That’s about it. The Astrids help solve the main crime of catching the “angel of mercy”, the aforementioned Neil.
Neil believes God has given him the power to save those who are fated to suffer and die. He knows this because he can see their futures. Instead of allowing them to live out a slow, painful death, he spritzes them in the face with insta-die spray causing them to poetically cry tears of blood (their organs are congealing). But this isn’t a magical power, but Neil is in possession of some “observer tech” which allows him to see the future. We learn (via miscellaneous observers) that it was dropped by the observer we know best, “September” (Michael Cerveris). (Side Note: Has our observer been named before? September eh? What kind of meaning can we glean from that?) Turns out September dropped the tech near Reiden Lake, the location where boy-Peter was saved in the alt-timeline (and where current Peter (Joshua Jackson) appeared in this timeline reboot). The science is a bit of a cop out (i.e. futuristic alien tech?) but I’ll let it go…
The Neil subplot is adequately played with excellent guest performance work by Han, but ultimately, this provided the opportunity to reintroduce issues that have been cast aside for this season’s timeline reboot. That isn’t to say that it provided any kind of answers, though. Contrary, I actually think it opened up a whole can o’ additional confusion.
We get a reminder in the “Previously on Fringe…” clip that ‘over there’ Olivia (Anna Torv) – or Bo-Livia (Bogus Olivia), as John Noble’s Walter hilariously names her – impersonated our Olivia and it’s confirmed that she did the same in this new timeline. The reason this is confusing (for me) is if we are to believe that Peter wasn’t in this timeline, then what the heck was Bo-livia (I’ll call her that for this recap in honour of Walter) doing here in the first place? Without Peter around she would not have needed to get intel on the fated doomsday machine. And why is Olivia so forgiving of Bo-livia and Walternate after kidnapping/brainwashing her (apart from some minor distrust)? Furthermore, how did Olivia get back to “over here” without Peter’s help (aka memories of their love – barf)? Lots of dangling threads produced by that 30 second clip reel. Could be that I’m still itching to know what happened with Peter and Bo-livia’s baby. Just some stuff to think about…
Aside from that, however, the interactions between Walter and Bo-livia were just priceless. I don’t particularly care for Bo-livia, but I think she’s growing on me in the same way she grew on Walter. Kudos again to Anna Torv for playing the two versions of the Olivia character so distinctly, yet still maintaining common elements between the two. That’s no small feat.
Although I tend to enjoy the episodes that give answers or progress the larger narrative questions, I appreciated that this episode gave us a little more time “over here”. We got some more Peter-Olivia ‘partners-in-crime’ development, and even with the presence of over-there-ers, Walter and Astrid’s relationship was subtly reinforced throughout. While this may have been a “filler” episode on other series, on Fringe it was more of a way to get us reinvested in the characters we love, that have taken a backseat of late to the goings-on “over there’.
- I loved Walter’s initial disdain for Bo-livia. Good continuity work ensuring that he didn’t immediately forget what a stone cold bitch she was last season.
- Sorry- more Walter love. This time for his one liners – Calling Astrid “asterisks” (among other hilarious variations) and referring to Lincoln (Seth Gabel) as “the other boy” = golden.
- If we use Han as our example, it appears that mere mortals can become observers if we get our hands on their gadgets. This doesn’t sound like a very good development considering that criminal mastermind David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) is still out there, somewhere.
- I love the way Olivia looks at Bo-Livia. Combo stank-face/curiosity. It’s exactly how I would look at my double if I ever met her.
- We finally see that Astrid has a life outside of the Harvard laboratory. And that she’s a bald-faced liar, albeit well intentioned. Turns out talking like an automaton means that yes, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have daddy issues. Bummer.
So what’d you think of this week’s episode, Fringe fans? Happy with the way these mid-season episodes are going? Like me, did you get just enough mythology to keep you satisfied? Let us know in the comments section below.