Last year Fox (the network most likely to give a series a chance and then kill what has the makings of a phenomenal show) debuted Fringe, a darkly intriguing show from the minds behind Lost, Alias, and Transformers.
Officially: FRINGE returns for a second thrilling season that will continue to explore the unexplained phenomena and terrifying occurrences linked throughout the world – known simply as “The Pattern” – in pursuit of a larger, more shocking truth.
Set in Boston, the FBI’s Fringe Division formed when Special Agent OLIVIA DUNHAM (Anna Torv) enlisted the help of institutionalized “fringe” scientist WALTER BISHOP (John Noble) and his son, PETER (Joshua Jackson), to save her partner and lover from a mind-bending death. Through unconventional and unorthodox methods, the FRINGE team imagines and tests the impossibilities while investigating unbelievable events, macabre crimes, and mystifying cases involving pyrokinesis, neuroscience, cryonics, genetic engineering, astral projection, and other fantastical theories. When the unimaginable happens, it’s their job to stop it.
Agent PHILLIP BROYLES (Lance Reddick) guides the group, while by-the-book Agent CHARLIE FRANCIS (Kirk Acevedo) and Junior Agent ASTRID FARNSWORTH (Jasika Nicole) provide support and depth to the team. Underscoring the unfolding mysteries, enigmatic Massive Dynamic executive NINA SHARP (Blair Brown) asserts that the advancement of technology is changing the world of science, and conversely, the science of the world.
I’ve heard comparisons to shows ranging from X-Files to CSI and none of those labels due the show justice. Not only is Fringe its own unique self, when people see it likened to another show so constantly, it gives a misleading expectation of what the show is and so they go into viewing it with preconceived notions that affect how they see it, often spoiling it from trying so hard to fit in into the vision of what they thought it would be rather than just watching it for itself. And when one does that, it shines on its own merits.
It had a slow and stuttering start, and was a bit touch and go as the show found its path. But by mid-season I found myself quite intrigued and the show did not disappoint.
Olivia has a poise, a grace under pressure, that makes her excellent at handling these impossible cases and which also makes you hope that she comes out of this entire mess all right. She is quickly hired by Broyles, who knows way more than he is saying. Nina Sharp knows more as well. Just how much is still vastly unclear. Olivia’s step-father was a psycho and is likely going to come after her at some point. (I certainly hope that they do not drop that subplot!) Olivia has a very accurate memory, is adept at connecting things, almost preternaturally so. She never forgets a face. She also never forgets numbers as well. We find out that she was dosed with the drug Cortexiphan (sp?) as a three year-old child by Walter and William Bell. It is a drug that works on “perception” and appears to be able to basically give people any ability. All the other children that we have encountered that were given this drug have come to deadly ends and tragic circumstances. There was Nick, who was Olivia’s partner in the drug trials, who ended up becoming so dangerous to himself and others that he was put into a coma indefinitely. And pyrotechnics Susan Pratt and her twin sister, one of whom blew herself up and the other narrowly avoided the same fate. It is obvious that the drug has been affecting Olivia, esp. the issues with the tank and John’s consciousness. And the thing with the lights and the bomb in “Ability,” which was glossed over in the following episodes. Olivia seems to be better than the other children, but is she really?Do we have any real idea of what she is capable? And just how important is she supposed to be? At the end of the finale, she was stuck in the parallel world/ dimension with William Bell (Leonard Nimoy), who appears to have been hiding out there.
Peter has an I.Q. of 190. He is brilliant, cynical and sarcastic. The son of a mad genius scientist, he has lived on the shady side of things and is in trouble with any number of people. At first he wanted nothing to do with his father, but then he becomes personally involved and decides to stay in order to find some answers. This is a man who has cared about no one, never really had friends, no real family. He starts to connect to his father for the first time. That connection between father and son, so off-kilter and unusual given their background and individual issues and demons, is very interesting. Also, he is starting to care about Olivia, and Astrid. He is finding a family and maybe even finding he wants that responsibility of caring for others and being there for them. And I do see Olivia and Peter as family – brother and sister with their wacky father figure Walter, who has harmed them both in the past but genuinely cares for them now. So, Peter has quite a past that may well cause problems for him, as well as being in the dark about where he comes from…
Walter is a madman. He is perfectly frightening and can be equally perfectly frightened by his own behavior. He swings from periods of lucidity to muttering, confused asides, to furious rants and temper tantrums to complete obtuseness, often obsessing about a food or beverage. He can be a sweet, vulnerable old man and the next moment he is a soulless, disturbed scientist who will do anything to attain his objective. John Noble plays it so brilliantly. Walter loves Peter, but also grows very angry with at times. We find out that Walter lost Peter to an illness when was seven years old and this loss so consumed him that he was driven, with the aid of William Bell, to travel to another dimension. Walter brought back the Peter of that parallel universe back with him. Which explains a lot of Walter’s cryptic remarks about Peter’s health records to Olivia toward the beginning, the fact that Peter rarely recalls the childhood incidents that Walter brings up and why occasionally it seems Walter is a different person. Question is what happened to the other Walter? Why doesn’t Peter remember? At what age did Walter bring him back? When will Peter find out and how will this impact him? And his relationship with Walter? And just why exactly is Walter so messed up? His memory loss? Is that all from the drugs or is there something else going on?
And what is up with the Observer? He saved Walter and Peter from drowning, even though he is not supposed to interfere, but merely observe. He should not have been there, but he was. Why? And does he have a connection to the boy from “Inner Child”? Are they connected or was he merely observing him?
EW’s Fall Preview Issue w/ Fringe on the cover, an interview and a great video.