FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review – 3.18: ‘Bloodline’

A ‘Family’ forged by Fate, faces their Fears & Foibles
amid the Freaky & the Fantastic.

Join Frea, Jan, Lou, & Maximus in our temporarily constructed shared alternate reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

‘Connections: Cosmic & Cabbie’

Podcast Agenda: – note this podcast is PG rated

1 Intro
2 Episode Easter Eggs – Observer Sightings, Glyph, etc
3 Quick Thoughts
4 Roundtable
5 Episode Rating – out of 10 Genes

Leave us feedback here or on Twitter:

Frea – @Frea_O
Jan – @happydayz3
Lou – @olddarth
Maximus – @mxpw999

On the run all the time? A commuter? Listen to our portable version
via iTunes – Alternate Reality Version.

Review of Fringe Episode 3.18 – Bloodline

Connections: Cosmic & Cabbie

Quickly now – just finished a Snoopy Happy Dance Marathon upon the news that not only has FOX renewed Fringe for a fourth season but also for a full twenty-two episode order! WooT!

Congrats to the cast and crew!

Bloodline has to be one of the most layered episodes of Fringe. There is so much going on below the surface here that it would take a major thesis to cover them all.  

Fauxlivia Encounters A Buddha In The Road!

Fringe is very much a show of ‘why.’ The other elements of story telling; how, who, what, where, and when are given to us, in that trademark Fringian Freaky Format that shows the viewer the story in either the most graphic or dramatic way possible. Or with the two mixed together if the occasion calls for it. Often those mechanics are used to manipulate the viewer’s thoughts one way while the real ‘why’ of those scenes is often more complicated than expected. Bloodline is a text book case.

In Bloodline, and in previous episodes, Walternate has consistently told us via BadBradon that experimentation on children in the battle between universes is not an option. Yet by the end of Bloodline, Walternate has broken his vow with the accelerated pregnancy of his grandson being carried by Fauxlivia.

Or did he?

I believe in the show’s sincerity when showing us that Walternate would not break that vow since he is so adamant about it. Yet at the end of the episode his complicity appears undeniable. Why? Why would he do that? Some of the feedback I have seen from others state they knew Walternate was behind it all the time. They were right but possibly for the wrong reasons because they have drawn the wrong conclusions. Some viewers still see Walternate as fundamentally evil and willing to do anything to accomplish his goals. I respectfully disagree because Walternate is a far more complex character and his goals are not clear to us in this episode.

Walternate reinforcing his, ‘No Children Experimentation,’ edict to BadBradon only to then reverse his decision makes no sense. Yet Walternate turns out to be behind the accelerated pregnancy. There has to be a reason why Walternate would take such a risk with his grandson.

What if Walternate knew about Fauxlivia’s family history? What if he knew that Fauxilivia’s sister and baby had died in labor from Viral Propogated Eclampsia or VPE? What if Walternate knew that it was a near certainty that his grandson would die too? Would Walternate subject his grandson to a risky procedure when the alternative of doing nothing means certain death?

The answer is, of course, yes. Yes he would. I am guessing that Fauxlivia surviving was of secondary interest to him. Saving his grandson was the primary goal. Preserving the Bishop Bloodline because the Dunham Bloodline is tainted with VPE. So Walternate’s gambit here does not mean his edict no longer stands.

Walternate did what he did to save his grandson’s life.

Bloodline certainly leaves us with the intimation that the real purpose of the accelerated pregnancy gambit was so Walternate could secure a DNA compatible energy source for his Machine. But that is a conclusion engineered by the tone of the episode without providing anything substantiated for such a conclusion. The confirmation of Walternate’s true motivations lie in future episodes.

Of course I could be totally wrong and Walternate is just plain evil. But that is too simple and pat for a show of this quality. They have taken great pains to deepen the characters in both universes. There is more to Walternate than stock evil guy.

(Note: I had been toying with the idea that one of Walternate’s goals for Fauxlivia Over Here was to get pregnant but with this episode I am putting that idea to rest. My latest belief, Fauxlivia’s pregnancy was at the least, accidental or at most, fated.)

Episode ‘Patterns’: Add your own in the comments.

  • beautiful opening mood shot of Fauxlivia watching holographic picture with a butterfly flying away and fading from view to be replaced by the next image
  • Fauxlivia facing the same fate of her sister, Rachel and her baby, because the Dunham bloodline carries VPE – a deadly defect that turns the life stage of birth into one of death
  • Fauxlivia’s agent senses kick in at home, she is being watched by an Observer
  • Fauxlivia is tasered in her home
  • Scarlie is dating Mona – the Bug Girl. Lee teases and Scarlie teases him back about Fauxlivia
  • Walternate repeats his vow to ScarySanderson – ‘No Children.’
  • Fauxlivia is a fighter too
  • Sonograms in the RedVerse are way cool and far less messy. No jelly needed.
  • Henry the cabbie returns! Reading Opus the Peahen and ‘verting the 12th Season of West Wing
  • Henry is the catalyst for Lee and Scarlie finding out about the Olivia switch and questioning how much more is going on below the surface of what they know
  • ‘Hands on the wheel!’, ‘Out of the car!’, ‘Which is it?’
  • said it before but those ear phones are way cool!
  • Walternate spills some of the goods to Lee. ‘This all from a cab driver.’
  • Fauxlivia’s impassioned plea to nurse to look the other way – and the nurse kind of did
  • Bstrid’s phlegmatic, ‘Oh I see,’ was a great beat when she asks for another factor and learns that the baby is Walternate’s grandson
  • RedVerse version of Taxi Driver and Travis Bickle helmed by Coppola instead of Scorcese
  • Fauxlivia Meets The Buddha On The Road! Episode 3.10 Firefly callback!
  • Henry and Fauxlivia/Oliva’s paths intertwined by… fate or destiny? ‘She got to me.’, ‘Nice to meet you Henry.’
  • Mothers and babies are miracles. Even more so with VPE in the equation.
  • Wonderful birthing scene by all the actors involved
  • Lee and Scarlie do not trust Walternate
  • baby blood test reveals Walternate behind it all
  • did Mary do a double take on the baby after the blood test?
  • Observer’s neutrally delivered, but oh so full of foreboding, ‘It is happening.’

Cosmic Cabbie To The Rescue!

I have spent so much of this review on the big picture issues here because it is important that to keep open minds on the actions of characters. The probability of our opinion of Walternate changing again is high.

This episode accomplished so many things. Fauxlivia, Lee, Scarlie, Mary, the baby, and Henry were fleshed out even more. They all did great work again. Everyone was engaging. Special note to Anna, Seth, and Andre during the birthing scene. They managed to make what can often be a cliched scene into something touching and poignant without being cloying. A Fringe trademark we have seen throughout the series; most recently with the handling of the Peter and Olivia relationship.

Henry may only be a cabbie, as Walternate observed, but it was only a cabbie who helped our Olivia return home and helped save Walternate’s grandson. On another show, Henry having delivered his own daughter would come off as trite. On Fringe it feels right. Henry has also twigged Lee and Scarlie to the fact that there is much more going on than before.

‘A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!’ cried Shakespeare’s Richard the Third. Walternate’s version of that plea could very well be, ‘A cabbie! A cabbie! my kingdom for a cabbie! There are moments when the outcome of the grandest of schemes rest on much simpler, unaccounted for actions. Moments never envisioned by schemers and plan makers like Kings and Walternate. Moments often ascribed to fate or to the random.

One of those unforeseen moments could very well turn out to having the baby, (will the baby still be a baby by the season finale or will the growth acceleration continue?), end up at the RedVerse Machine. Peter has made a vow too.  Peter is adamant that he will not go back to the Machine in our universe.

Walternate and Peter may find their vows rendered impotent by forces outside their control.

Whatever happened in this episode, the Observer and his ‘It is happening,’ let us know the end game with the Machines is about to commence.

Fringe – Ep. 3.17 – Stowaway Episode Review

The Bell Tolls For Whom?

Jumping into a season midstream for a serialized show is never easy. Doing so for a series as complex and layered as Fringe is even more daunting. Always up for a challenge so into the breech I step.

Before I jump into this review a brief statement of orientation of my views on Fringe is needed. It should help you decide whether you feel my reviews will be worth your while. It is all about providing context because in isolation, words and thoughts can be misconstrued. So consider this opening of a new review restaurant and allow me to walk you through the specialities that I am serving.

On the surface Fringe is a textbook example of a show finding its place, feeling out how best to use its characters and stories. It then married the two of them together creating a launch pad to ignite and lift off a multi-season serialized story. Beneath the surface there may be more than a kernel of truth to the conceit that the show was testing the waters to see if it could recapture some of that X-Files fan base by serving up a procedural monster of the week show style. Once the show ascertained the size of its core audience it made the slow transition from stand alone to serialized.

Happily, the show was not wasting any air time during its more stand alone phase. Huge swatches of foundational story mythology was laid down; the Pattern, ZFT, and the Observers for examples. The show then focused on a subset of that mythology; the concept of parallel universes and the show is where it is now. The showrunners constantly point out that they have six or eight seasons worth of material. The pieces are all there right back to the pilot. This makes rewatching the earlier seasons a very rewarding experience. Every episode is a thread in a larger tapestry. The emotional engagement for the characters that was not there until such episodes as Jacksonville, Peter, and Subject 13 make those beginning episodes a brand new experience.

Fringe lays story points down in one season leaving them dormant until later seasons where they spring back to life, often in the most dramatic ways possible. Stowaway is another such episode. At the end of the previous episode, Os, Olivia’s Soul Magnet laced cup of tea served up by William Bell in the other universe back in Season 2, Episode 4 – Momentum Deferred; is gonged by back to life by Walter. Olivia now becomes Bellivia and Walter is overjoyed that his childhood friend is back. Back to help Walter find a solution to saving the universe and Peter. However Bell does not seem to share Walter’s vision of the shape of things to come. Bell tells Peter that by trying to escape his fate, Peter may be very well be taking the path that will lead him to his destiny with the Machine.

Episode ‘Patterns’: Add your own in the comments.

  • Belly planned it all – soul magnet laced tea and bells
  • Peter not happy with Bell at all
  • happy Walter and Bell back to their childhood ways of collecting DNA and tissue samples
  • bra’s are binding
  • Bellivia hitting on Astrid – lovely hands
  • hope in raindrops
  • NerdiLee!
  • ‘Stranger things have happened.’ ‘Um, no they haven’t.’
  • NerdiLee meets Gene
  • ‘A compassionate soul vampire?’
  • Azarael Archangel of Death – seeds for future story?
  • Peter and NerdiLee bonding over the Dana Grey case
  • Walter and Belly working on the classic ‘which train’ problem
  • Bell offering Peter a pot of tea. Only on Fringe could something so innocuous become so sinister.

The New Scooby Gang?

It is rather amusing to see viewers upset about the lack of credible science, or even pseudo-science, to back Bell’s theories about the soul being indestructible energy that can be attracted to a host body by Soul Magnets. Amusing because in Stowaway the notion that someone can become indestructible by being struck multiple times by lightning hardly raised any eyebrows, Terran or Vulcan.

I am struck with my own ironic amusement that I have come aboard FringeTV to review Fringe and start with my least favorite episode of the season. Especially in a season filled with an almost unending streak of exceptional episodes. Such is my fate or destiny it seems. My disenchantment with this episode is in part due to the indestructible lightning premise. Also in part due to guest Paula Malcolmson taking her series long arc from Caprica and reprising it in a condensed form in one episode of Fringe.

My biggest issue with this episode is the lack of forward story movement. Stowaway revisits the fate versus free will themes. Again. Without adding anything new. Further disappointment arises with how Bellivia is utilized in this episode. With a handful of episodes left in the season this one was a golden opportunity to use Bellivia to reveal either some show mythology or Walter backstory or both. Instead Bellivia is restricted to trading quips and joints with Walter while making verbal or suggestive gestures with Astrid.

The most intriguing aspect of Stowaway was the concept of the Archangel Azrael, the Angel of Death, and a possible thematic tie-in for Peter and/or Olivia. Story seeds may have been planted here. When they will bloom could be several episodes or seasons down the road.

Of special note is Anna Torv’s portrayal of a William Bell possessed Olivia. In a season of excellent acting opportunities, Anna has risen to the challenge every single time. Her impersonation of Leonard Nimoy’s speech patterns and cadence was amazing. And this is coming from some one who grew up with Nimoy and the original Star Trek. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

I will touch upon more season long items and be more episode centric in subsequent reviews. For now, thank you for your patience with this inaugural review. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you here with the rest of Season 3.

Chuck Gets A Clue. And Ellie Does Too? – Ep. 4.19: Chuck Vs The Muuurder!

Written by Alex Katsnelson & Kristen Newman
Directed by Alan Kroeker

It is a true measure of affection for these characters that a small scene between Chuck, Sarah, and Casey decompressing together after their latest mission makes wading through a filler episode like this one still rewarding.

A bottle – meaning the episode was confined to standing sets such as the Castle, BuyMore etc – and filler episode; this one ran on three tracks. The A storyline had Chuck in charge of the Intersect Project which quickly became a locked Castle aka room mystery. The B storyline had the BuyMore battling it out with the LargeMart over stolen mascots. The C storyline had Ellie digging deeper into PapaB’s Intersect Research on the laptop.

The most intriguing and engaging storyline of the three for me was the C storyline, so you can use that as a barometer for the relative merits of the rest of the episode.

Ignoring Devon’s flip flopping on Ellie’s involvement in the spy world – and in the scheme of character irregularities in the ChuckVerse, Devon’s is the least egregious to date – the most likely candidate for the identity of the mysterious Agent X on the laptop is Chuck. What triggered the scan of the laptop at the end of the episode is most intriguing. Is it a security measure designed by PapaB to activate once Ellie reaches a certain breakthrough point? Or is it some long distance hacking by Vivian Volkoff as she seeks out all possible avenues of apparent revenge against Chuck? The ominous music suggests the latter but the more rewarding story possibilities lie with the former.

Most importantly is how will this all land for Ellie? And Chuck? Will Ellie finally be allowed to have the blinders removed from her and step through the story closet door into the light? The disappointment from Ellie’s deflection from the truth back during the Chuck de-Intersecting arc earlier in the season still stings deeply. So to say I am being cautiously anticipatory about the show finally taking this story line to the next step demonstrates that ‘Hope’ does indeed survive.

Episode ‘Flashes’: Add your own in the comments.

  • Ellie in the zone with her dad’s research
  • Chuck In Charge aka The Search for Chucks
  • ‘Good Lord, four more Chucks!’
  • Another ‘Rush’ shoutout!
  • Intersect candidate evaluation scenes
  • ‘I hate being a nemesis!’
  • Journey ringtone!
  • Prank Detente
  • cute little Kevin Bacon
  • swarthy, bearded guys = the new butler did it?
  • Ellie figures out what her dad was going. Now will she figure how it was done to?
  • Where is Kevin Bacon? In the ducts, of course!
  • Chuck demonstrates the value of pocket protectors
  • Devon has become a good liar!?!?! vis a vis Ellie and the laptop to Chuck??
  • Chuck’s respite from being a Nemesis short-lived. Vivian Volkoff lays down the gauntlet.
  • Ellie and Agent X. Any relation? Hmmm….

“Pigs CAN fly!

The last few episodes have pushed the product placement barriers more and more. Last week’s Toyota show-vertisement seems sublime to Big Mike’s near episode long Subway sandwich one. That Kevin Bacon piglet sure was cute though and he got to tour the now famous Castle duct work which turned into an explosive form of the Castle Slide.

The A storyline was nifty in concept but underwhelming in execution. Part of that is because the Castle has been compromised so many times the past two seasons you wonder why they bother to clean it up any more. Sifting through the storytelling debris there were some good beats. It was gratifying to see Casey and Sarah backing Chuck as the leader. It was also good to see the show not take the Given’s character down an obvious path and have her see Chuck’s worth in action instead. As for Chuck the oscillations between his fears and talents swung more than a tad too much for my sensibilities but what, at one time or another in their life proud plastic packeted and pocketed nerd, could not help but let out a fist pump when Chuck showed the multi-faceted purposes of a pocket protector to override the door lock on the Intersect Command Center?

Was it just me or did the potential female Intersect agent Chuck chose look a lot like Jill? Nah, probably just a coincidence….

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review – 3.17: ‘Stowaway’

A ‘Family’ forged by Fate, faces their Fears & Foibles
amid the Freaky & the Fantastic.

Join Frea, Jan, Lou, & Maximus in our temporarily constructed shared alternate reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

‘The Bell Tolls For Whom?’

Leave us feedback here or on Twitter:

Frea – @Frea_O
Jan – @happydayz3
Lou – @olddarth
Maximus – @mxpw999

On the run all the time? A commuter? Listen to our portable version
via iTunes – Alternate Reality Version.