Fringe, TV Review

TV Review: Fringe, Season 2, Episode 1: A new Day in the Old Town

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I love Fringe, but I have to admit there are a lot of details in the plot that I don’t understand. I’m certain that during the coming season, I will click as to the real significance of a previous occurrence and feel totally ridiculous because of how long it took me to get it. Such are the trials and tribulations of a confused blogger.

Paradoxically, it’s the reason I started reviewing Fringe; the way I figure it, if I have to sit down and discuss its finer points each week, I will not only have questions, but be forced to systematically address them and, perhaps, understand things a little bit before the ‘Oh my God I’m so stupid’ moment.

And comments from readers are definitely going to help.

As those of you who have been following my personal blog know or those who have read my first two reviews of Supernatural for Blogcritics have probably guessed, I’m quite the avid X-Files fan. Supernatural filled some of the void, but there was still something missing — government conspiracies. Which is the rest of the void Fringe helps to fill up.

But where The X-Files took its time getting us into the conspiracy (only five of The X-Files’ season one episodes had to do with the alien government conspiracy mytharc), Fringe revels in it; the paranormal all comes in to support it, rather than to distract us from it. It’s also interesting to note the use of ‘fringe science’ in Fringe, as opposed to The X-Files, where most of the mysteries were explainable through paranormal science.

Fringe’s first season finished on the pretty incredible scene of Olivia Dunham meeting William Bell. It wasn’t the fact that William Bell is played by Leonard Nimoy that is pretty incredible (although it’s always exciting to see Leonard Nimoy). It was the fact that Olivia Dunham met him… in the World Trade Center. Yes, you read that right – the Twin Towers were not destroyed in the parallel universe where William Bell lives.

You’d expect season two of Fringe to open up with a startled Olivia Dunham looking at William Bell and demanding answers — but if you did, it means you don’t quite get the nature of this show yet. No, my friends, season two opens with a car accident — the responsible party runs away, find his way into an apartment, kills the owner, smashes his face in, and connects himself to the victim whose facial features he then acquires. Not quite the elegant way the Alien Bounty Hunter used to morph in The X-Files, but still, pretty scary (considering this guy, by all accounts, is human).

Speaking of which, kudos to The X-Files homage in this episode; check out the screen cap at right.

We quickly learn that the other person in the car crash was Olivia Dunham, at which point we realise that it’s not going to be easy, finding out what happened during that meeting with William Bell. Talk about being a tease.

Peter Bishop and Walter Bishop make their appearance in season two grocery shopping, with the usually eccentric Walter Bishop intent on making custard for his son who doesn’t even like it (any more), before being called to the scene of the accident. Curiously, Olivia Dunham isn’t anywhere to be found, although all signs point to her not having left her car after the accident. But the mystery doesn’t last for long, as our heroine makes a season premiere-worthy entrance — by smashing through the windshield of her car.

Unfortunately, the crash (if you can call it that) has left Agent Dunham in a deep coma from which doctors don’t think she’ll recover.

But they obviously haven’t been trained in fringe medicine, because Olivia Dunham mysteriously wakes up from her ‘fatal’ coma, pronouncing a sentence in Greek we come to find out is what Peter Bishop’s mother used to tell him each night while tucking him into bed.

Weird enough for you yet?

While the episode was really good, its rhythm was really slow, compared to some of the more action-packed episodes from last season and especially compared to the action-packed into each episode of Supernatural (nope, still not over the 10 pages of notes I took while watching “Good God Y’All”). The actors have obviously grown into their characters (except perhaps for John Noble, for whom Walter Bishop’s character seems to have been written), the story is advancing (perhaps in a confusing fashion) and characters are getting killed off. (Why did it have to be Charlie? Why?)

More X-Files bells were rung with the following line:

Phillip Broyles: I’ve been called to Washington tomorrow. The efficacy of the division is being questions. I’ve been informed that our failure to deliver any usable results is unacceptable.

The addition of Amy Jessup to the Fringe Division – albeit unofficially – is going to be very interesting. Her open-mindedness is refreshing, although despite it she is still bound to have more than one shock.

Amy Jessup [about Walter]: Is he crazy?
Peter: Oh yeah. Definitely.

Her personal religious point of view she has already started to bring to the events the group has been investigating is also bound to make things even more interesting. Perhaps she is the Scully to the division’s Mulder? Or is the Apocalypse touching Supernatural also affecting the world of Fringe? Now that would be a pretty intense yet potentially amusing cross-over, wouldn’t it?

Another fringe science question fans are hoping to find out more about this season is the evolution of Olivia and Peter’s relationship. Yes, because romance is definitely part of fringe science; I’m sure Walter Bishop would agree. In any case, how is Olivia’s relationship with Peter going to evolve now that Olivia’s sister Rachel spread the beans about her feelings to Peter? If anything is going to happen, it couldn’t have happened before now; Olivia is far too calm and self-contained to allow any man to approach her – until now. Her state of mind after her emergence from the coma was shockingly vulnerable; and, at her most vulnerable (yet), the person she asked for was Peter.

 />One of the seemingly big inconsistencies in the last season that has carried on in this season of <i>Fringe</i> is the relationship between Walter and Peter. I find it rather intriguing that Peter went from angry son to accepting, loving one in the space of one year only. And, while people change, I also find it intriguing that Walter has gone from an absentee father to one creeping in on his son in the middle of the night to make sure he’s still breathing (oh, Walter, I could just hug you!).<br /><br />The relationship between Walter and Peter, from the latter’s point of view, could be summed up in the following exchange:<br /><blockquote> <b>Amy Jessup</b>: What are we doing here?</blockquote><blockquote><b>Peter</b>: As I’m sure you’re probably already aware of, my father was a scientist.<b>Amy Jessup</b>: Who was sent to St-Clares. </blockquote><blockquote> <b>Peter</b>: A mental institution, yes. But there is more. Worse. And some good, too. It’s complicated. But for right now, all you really need to know is that this building is where he used to work. </blockquote><br /><br />Which brings forth an interesting question: are these inconsistencies related to the fact that the Peter Bishop that we know is not the one meant to be in this world, since that one passed away when he was only 8 years old? It definitely would make a lot of sense as to why Peter liked custard when he was a kid but doesn’t anymore as an adult. <br /><br /><img style=

This review would be incomplete without the mention of the pretty nifty old school yet new school fringe science messaging system used by the killer to get his orders. Of course, I didn’t like the less than nifty message it gave the killer, but hey, any technology can be used for good or evil, right?

The only thing missing from Fringe at the moment are memorable lines and memorable moments. In fact, other than the occasional Walter Bishop line/moment, there isn’t much to be repeated, making my Tumblr account quite useless. So to Fringe writers: please add more like the following gems to each episode:

Walter: I need four Bunsen burners, eight metal bowls, and a freezer.
Astrid: The bowls need to be sterilised?
Walter: It’s not for the autopsy; it’s for the custard, for Peter’s birthday.
Peter: Walter, will you forget about the custard?
Walter: I refuse. Also, rib cutters, forceps, and a bone saw. For the autopsy. It would be gross otherwise.

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