Fringe Season 4 Episode 2: Review

Out of the Darkness Into The Light
  
‘One Night In October’
  

The big question going into Season 4 was how the Fringe writers were going to utilize the new timeline for story telling possibilities.  The first episode of the season gave a universe load of exposition.  This time the episode cuts to the chase right from the get go.  A serial killer is on the rampage on the Other side and Our side is asked to help out by bringing his counter part over to work on the case.  A counterpart whom just happens to be an expert on serial killers.  
All set up within minutes of the episode start.
The story can take off so quickly because this new timeline has been used to strip back a lot of the continuity baggage both Olivias are carrying.  They have been reduced back to their basic qualities; both Olivias void of any impacts that Peter has made on them.  A concentrated distillation of their characteristics has been attained in Season 4.  This leanness of character is a deliberate decision by the Fringe show runners.  It allows them to highlight the similarities between the two Olivias.  And the differences.  It also streamlines story telling setup.

So close yet so different.

None of this story telling economy would have been possible if the previous timeline had been in play. The impact that Peter had on both of them plus their unique love triangle and baby Henry were wonderful paths of growth for the two Olivias within the story arch of the past season.  But here they would have been encumberances and required a lot of valuable story telling time to wade through before even setting up the episode.  All that plus Peter in the mix would be another buffer between the two Olivias – of course removing Peter from this episode could have easily be done without the need for his Existence Erasure.
The net result?  A taut, tightly drawn episode that moves with a brisk pace.  Of course we do want those layers of history taken back out of storage and returned to the Olivias.  Especially our Olivia. But until then the Fringe writing staff look well prepared to use these lightened characters to re-examine them before those Peter influenced moments changed them forever.
Episode ‘Patterns’: Add your own in the comments.
  • patented creepy opening Fringe scene with neon blue tubing, skull plug with electrodes, and male victim with the cold breath
  • Walter rants to Lee about shapeshifters and the other side while putting cloths over any reflective surface
  • Olivia was kidnapped for two weeks & not enough drugs in the world for Walter to forget that
  • ‘She bought my ignorance with baked goods.  It was that damn Portuguese sweet bread!’
  • in the new timeline everyone remembers Walternate starting The Machine in an attempt to destroy our world but instead the Bridge was created
  • ‘Kennedy, help me!’ ‘It’s Lincoln!’ ‘Quickly!’
  • Olivia arrrives with coffee – anyone think Peter is going to get a chance to redeem his coffee order gaffe from last season?
  • Astrid the Match Maker: ‘Do you ever think maybe your type doesn’t exist?’
  • Olivia & Fauxlivia share scenes & Anna Torv nails it
  • Serial Killer on one side vs Professor of Forensic Psychology on the other
  • ‘I lived in your apartment.  I picked up a lot of things about you.’
  • John Ferguson does outstanding outwork in a guest star role
  • Charlie is with the Bug Girl.  On their honeymoon!
  • well done scene of misdirection with kidnapping of girl’s mother at the gas station
  • Walter gets horizontal in a chair to re-enact the Maxell ads of the 80s
  • John not knowing he is scoping ‘himself’ out as he examines the contents of the house
  • Anna plays Fauxlivia playing Olivia
  • highlight of the episode – John & Olivia share their memories of abusive fathers
  • John understands the other John but he had Marjorie to help step him out of the darkness into the light
  • ‘Small moments of peace.’
  • ‘What my father did with cruelty, she did with love.’
  • There is no other road for the serial killer John
  • Alt Broyles is alive!  New timeline has pluses and minuses.
  • Olivia owns Fauxlivia with her photographic memory recalling the tractor licence plates.
  • John confronts himself
  • ‘The night my father found the dead things.’  Jack Ketchum short story anyone?
  • ‘What happened to him?’  ‘My stepfather?  …I killed him.’
  • Serial killer John steals Marjorie from John but not the mark she left on John
  • Peter pleads Walter for help
John Ferguson made a great guest star turn.  My favorite moment from the episode is the scene where John McClennan is discussing Marjorie with Olivia. His explanation of his realization of what Marjorie had done for him strikes me as foreshadowing for further down in the season when Olivia begins to comprehend and/or regain her knowledge of what Peter did for her.

‘Her name was Marjorie.’

I was completely engaged emotionally for this guest star turn; further evidence of John Ferguson’s excellent performance. I imagine quite easily being a puddle when the great cast from Fringe ie Olivia, Walter, et al have their moments of realization about Peter.
If we get episodes like this one in Peter’s absence from the Fringe gurus, then keep bringing them on. By the look of next week’s episode the Fringe show runners sure seem to be taking full advantage of this new timeline.
And Olivia owning Fauxlivia over the tractor licence plate? Can I have a Hell Yeah!

9 out of 10 Genes.

Fringe Season 4 Episode 1:Review

Rough-Edged Reset

‘Neither Here, Nor There’

Fringe is back for a fourth season, stoked with a full head of story telling steam. Thanks to the mind breaking removal of Peter from not just a timeline, but existence itself, at the climatic end of Season 3.  Fox fanned those flames even higher with an excellent off season promotional campaign that peaked just before the Season 4 premiere creating a buzz with the slogan, ‘Where is Peter Bishop?’

And the Fringe showrunners continue to demonstrate they are not afraid to break with convention. We are treated to our initial glimpse of a Captain Kirk – Tholian Webbing style, Peter Bishop in the very first scene.

Don’t You Forget About Me!

A Peter Bishop, who by all astonished Observer accounts, has managed the impossible. Peter should no longer exist but yet he lingers with some traces in the newly established time line.  How Peter has managed to do this tells me in my gut that this is at the crux of whom the Observers are and what their purpose is.  Equally intriguing is September’s decision to disobey orders to activate his Peter Time Eraser.  Is September seeing that the boy is important again or is he softening like his compatriot August did?  And will the TIme Eraser be modified to bring Peter back fully?

In Episode 4.01 we find much has changed.  Olivia, looking just at tad frayed at the edges, is near back to Season 1 guardedness, Walter is very fragile and refuses to leave his lab and, in the only good bit of news, Astrid is out in the field instead of babysitting Walter.  

Into this Peterless timeline steps Lincoln Lee.  While he met the main characters last season in the previous timeline, in this new post Season 3 setting, the audience sees the Fringe team through his freshly reset eyes.  Lincoln’s life parallels Olivia’s but he is three years behind her curve.  With his partner, Lincoln felt like he was part of a family but in a flash, at the hands of a new, and just as deadly shapeshifter, Lee’s partner is taken from him.  Much the same happened to Olivia three years ago with her partner, which harkens back to the pilot.  But in this timeline, without Peter to act as Walter’s intermediary, Olivia’s partner could not be saved.

‘Neither Here, Nor There,’ carries extra burdens that regular season premieres normally do not. Normally the premiere episode has to set up the season long arcs necessitating more expositional material than subsequent ones.  In Season Four of Fringe the first episode not only has to do but it also must set up the parameters of the new timeline.  A further piece of story overhead is because of the unique position the show is in from a story telling point of view, the Season 4 Premiere makes it an excellent leaping in point for new viewers.  With all this additional overhead this episode juggles them adroitly as possible but at times there are some rough edges because of these muliple purposes.  

The most noticeable sign of rough edges is the dialogue being much more on the nose than is characteristic for Fringe.  Statements about missing something in one’s life or lacking a tether or feeling a life long hole hammer the point of Peter’s absence much more clumsily than is expected from a show with its established pedigree.

Fortunately the cast knows their characters so well at this point that they take on these extra burdens and smooth the bumps out as much as possible.  Anna Torv shows how much her mastery of Olivia Dunham has grown from the first season by visibly doing a masterful nuanced and intriguing performance of an almost Season One Olivia.

John Noble also brings another iteration of Walter to us.  This Walter is more in his own world and yet he seems more lucid.  Is it possible that in this timeline he never had William Bell remove parts of his brain?  Most noticeably this is a sadder Walter, one who may have witnessd the death of his son not once, but twice.

Linlcon Lee is integrated fairly seamlessly, if perhaps a bit quickly.  His presence is welcome but it will be interesting to see how he plays off of Olivia in the long haul as Lee almost seems like a male version of Olivia.  And while Astrid gets to go out in the field she does not seem noticeably changed.

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

  • wonderful opening scene with a hateful Olivia verbally jousting with her Redverse counterpart Fauxlivia, whom we learn still switched places with Olivia
  • instead of Spot the Observers now we get to play Spot the Peter… er, make that Spot Peter
  • ‘It is impossible.’  Tell Peter that.
  • New amber-orange Title Credits = red + blue?
  • NerdiLee has moves! Quickly puts down his suspect.
  • NerdiLee’s partner killed by a new type of shapeshifter – Translucent Man
  • Walter feels something is different in the lab the past week
  • Gene! has made it to the new timeline intact!  Whew!
  • Astrid’s got a gun! And a squelching blue tooth ear phone/camera piece to talk to Walter from the field
  • Walter avoiding cracks in the floor and reanimating pidgeons
  • Reanimating birds are nothing, Walter is growing an ear under the dome
  • ‘I need to check her anus.’
  • September on a shopping trip at a Mom & Pop electronics store
  • ‘I need to erase someone from time.’
  • Walter hiding from the Man In the Mirror in the Isolation Tank
  • Olivia’s calming effect on Walter – a new power?
  • ‘I’m not wearing pants.’
  • Awesome translucent shots of the shape shifter injecting himself with the ever present Fringe Big Needle
  • ‘People die. Sometimes twice.’
  • Olivia references John Scott from the Season 1 pilot
  • Anna Torv is noticeably better at playing Season 1 Olivia than she was back in Season 1
  • Olivia letting shapeshifter get close?!?!! Boo!
  • ‘Not from here. You mean, like, China?’
  • NerdiLee gets to see the ‘Bridge’ and Fauxlivia and a Zeppelin too!
  • Walter sleeps in his office
  • September changes his mind about erasing Peter – hmmm
  • Peter in the TV
Ah Yes, Fringe is back!

A lot of seeds laid in this episode.  September’s actions are sure to set off interesting story developments.  The new shape shifters look to be in for the long haul.  The Bridge between the two worlds now allows for easy story access to both sides.  Lots of interesting possibilities are waiting to be explored in Season Four. 

And hovering in the back ground.  Unable to directly interact but always a presence noticeable by his absence. 

Peter.

Episode Rating: 8 out of 10 Genes.