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'Fringe': Ferguson's disappeared!

220_nwpassage_015 It’s episodes like Thursday's that make me feel like I bet on the winning horse.

“Lost” is coming to an end. You already know that because you are reading the Internet. Anyone who reads anything on the Internet knows “Lost” is coming to an end. People not reading the Internet might have guessed it when “Lost” started blowing up characters we’ve come to love. (Oh, and are you reading Todd VanDerWerff's Show Tracker posts on “Lost"? They’re great. The best part is I don’t have to write them.)

When “Lost” broke in half and crashed on network television six years ago, it spawned a brood of weird sci-fi series. I tried “Dollhouse” and forced myself through most of “Heroes.” I’m way behind on “FlashForward,” and I don’t know if I’m still recording “V.” But “Fringe” I watch every week. And not just because I write about it. “Fringe” was my pick from the shows that came after “Lost,” and it’s episodes like Thursday's that make me feel like I picked a winner.

Previously on “Fringe,” Peter found out he’s from another reality, the shape-shifting soldiers from another dimension brought over Mr. Secretary, and Walter got high and told a story about Peter having artificial innards. 

Thursday, we begin in Washington state. Must be nice to be able to really use that Canadian landscape when filming instead of trying to find any street that can pass as Boston. 

After realizing he’s from no place you’ve ever heard of, Peter wanders across the country to find himself. Along the way, he stops to eat a little pecan pie and flirt with the waitress. Peter is smooth. George Clooney getting fed lines through an ear piece by James Bond and the Fonz smooth. After avoiding telling where he’s from, where he’s going or who he even is, Peter gets the waitress to volunteer to bring a mix CD to his hotel after her shift. Nice work, Peter.

Too bad the waitress never shows up. She was too busy washing her hair or getting her brain cut out. One of those lame excuses.

Peter spends the night on the lobby couch, waiting. When he finally heads back to his room, he gets a mysterious phone call, which sounded to me a lot like Helper from “Venture Brothers,” but I could be wrong. Peter packs up and heads out of town, but after a mostly painless product placement, he drives past the diner from the night before and the crime scene it has become.

Peter is sucked into the investigation of the girl’s murder in which he’s a suspect and he can’t trust his own senses due to lack of sleep and it all might be tied to Thomas Newton and just eight layers of creamy “Fringe” goodness. What else can you ask for? You've got Martha Plimpton from “Goonies” and “Parenthood” as the sheriff who doesn’t trust Peter but needs him to find her partner, whom she has feelings for. You have Peter trying to convince everyone he’s not crazy while forcing them to prove they’re not evil shape-shifters. It’s all so J.J. Abrams-y.

Not everything was perfect. There was the Cowboy Tarantino music when Peter was buying his gun and the pointless attempt to find Peter using objects from the other side, but those debts were paid in full by moments like Walter’s breakdown in the grocery store over “Delicious Strawberry-Flavored Death” (with “Classical Gas” playing in the background) or Peter trying to explain what exactly it is he does for the FBI. 

Plus you just can’t beat a good twist ending. Unless it’s with a double-twist ending. Peter uses adrenaline spikes and geometry to track down the location he thinks the shape-shifters are using to dissect their victims, but it turns out to be just an insane dairy farm owner who likes cutting things up. All the strange Thomas Newton sightings and scrambled messages were caused by Peter’s lack of sleep.

Or were they!?! 

Right when Peter finally gets to lay down and relax with his mix CD, not only does Thomas Newton show up pointing a gun, but he’s brought with him Mr. Secretary himself, Walternate. Man, “Fringe” is making it more and more difficult for me to pick my favorite episode. But that’s a problem I will happily live with. Right now, I’m split about the fact that next week is the first part of the season finale. Half of me is excited to see how “Fringe” will leave us hanging, the other half isn’t happy about being left hanging. 

Not gonna do it – OK, so it is obvious that Peter can’t do any investigating without an authorities blond at his side, but I’m not going to compare Agent Olivia Dunham with Sheriff Tracy Mathis. It’s no fair to compare. Martha Plimpton was great though, right? And Mathis is basically Batman. Her family was killed, she went into law enforcement, still hoping to catch the murderer. I hope “Fringe” finds a way to bring her back.

I will compare Thursday night’s “Fringe” to the Fox classic “The X-Files.” It had that feel of a Mulder/Scully investigation, and I love how “Fringe” owned it, throwing in the line “you want to believe.” That’s what makes it homage. 

Astrid action – It has gotten to the point where even Walter makes a joke about Astrid’s FBI training going to good use baby-sitting an old man. She didn’t have much else to do this week. Before Walter got his idea to track down Peter, I was almost hoping he’d ask Astrid if she wanted to see something cool and then perform some act of crazy out-there science. Maybe next time.

Spot the Observer – There were way too many crowd and exterior scenes Thursday night. I’m too old to stay up and find baldy. Would someone please leave me a comment telling me where he was? I will point out a couple of strange observations of my own though. Was there a drawing on that peach in Walter’s refrigerator? Was I seeing things? Was it a peach? And what about that Bazooka Joe comic? It started off as a joke about instant messaging, but the punch line didn’t make any sense. “You can’t get there from here?” What does that mean?

-- Andrew Hanson


"Fringe": Heart of Glass

Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman sing the praises of Thursday night's "Fringe"

Complete "Fringe" coverage on Show Tracker

Photo: Out on his own, Peter (Joshua Jackson) helps Sheriff Anne Mathis (guest star Martha Plimpton) with a disturbing case. Credit: Fox Television

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Comments () | Archives (6)

"You can't get there from here" is a common Boston expression used to point out the completely insane layout of the city's streets. It is almost impossible to get from one place to another, unless you already know the route and even then, you invariably get lost. Which makes it a fitting locale for "Fringe."

I also stay up late and watch Fringe on Thursday nights! Other stuff I might tape and watch later.

I don't know if its the endless promoting of "Happy Town" on ABC - which I think is pretty funny considering everybody in the free world knew Happy Town would be canceled the minute somebody mentioned "The Magic Man" in the teaser commercial two months before it aired - but am I the only one who would like to see a Martha Plimpton sheriff in a mysterious-small-town-where-weird-stuff-goes-on-amongst-spooky-fog spinoff? I mean, let's face it, I really like Fringe, but it's still basically just an updated X-Files, right? So, why not, as its spinoff, just an updated Twin Peaks? That seems to track logically, in my opinion.

It seems like they went into an inordinate amount of backstory for Plimpton's character not to bring her back - not only is she Bruce Wayne, but she's also Fox Mulder (believes in conspiracy theories, aliens, is in love with her partner and all that). If they don't bring her back, it seems like this was more of a waste of time than Walter's find-things-from-the-other-universe experiment that was 5 minutes of nothing in an otherwise excellent episode (hopefully, they use this in next week's episode). Even despite that, I'm calling this the best of the season.

FYI, I feel like FlashForward is finally hitting somewhat of a stride, which is too bad considering its will likely be cancelled. The last four or so episodes have really been pretty taunt. I think they took a lot of criticisms to heart during their midseason break. Too late, probably - alas.

"You can't get there from here" reminded me of The Further Adventures of Nick Danger from the Firesign Theatre (who were, delightfully, here in Los Angeles a few months ago to perform live).

The X-Files "believe" commend sent us into peals of laughter here at CasaAnon. It was nice seeing Martha playing a likeable character.

One of the best episodes ever.

And I'm sorry, but Mr. Secretary looked entirely too sane for me. His hair was too well combed and he didn't look distracted at all. Walternate just doesn't do it for me.

I was kind of dissapointed that Mr. Secretary was Walternate. I was hoping for someone more - I don't know - surprising? Ah well. But, I'm looking forward to seeing how Peter handles this situation.
Yes - it was very X-files like wasn't it? Out in the forest with the somewhat foggy atmosphere. And even the dialogue between Peter and Sheriff Mathis was VERY X-files!
Sorry - didn't spot The Observer. I always have to go back and look a second time - or just look it up on the net.
And yes Andrew - I would agree - you picked the winner. Dollhouse? Ughhh...! And I was an Angel and Buffy fan. But, Dollhouse watched like it was nothing more than a vehicle for the egotistical star. And the others - whatever.

Well I think I'm in the minority here. I didn't like this one so much! I got all the Twin Peaks and X-Files references, I like Martha Plimpton, I got the her and her partner love that reflects on what Peter had with Olivia (could have if he'd call her!) but this episode left me flat. I really don't think this one compares to Bad Dreams, Ability or Jacksonville for best episode! I do like what you have to say, but this was almost like another story of Walter's - the more I think about it, the more it doesn't make a lot of sense. I did like the pen part, and think that will be important, and Martha would be great in an updated Twin Peaks!!! lol but this is Fringe, and I think this episode was about how Peter is reacting, only we didn't get to know how he is feeling, or anyone else on the team, and I'm missing that. After the big reveal and long build-up to it, I really want to see the Fringe team experiencing how they are feeling, with Peter gone, and the various reactions to finding out the truth - I mean, Broyles? Astrid? how did they react?

So i can't agree. In terms of moody atmosphere and setting, this was good, but the plot didn't make a lot of sense. Someone mentioned that maybe the plot represents Peter's viewpoint - he's not making sense to himself or anyone else right now, with his world shattered. So I'm going to go back and look at the episode from that view. But I'm still disappointed.


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