'Fringe' recap: Don’t eat my pudding
For the last few weeks, I've been heaping praise on "Fringe." Rightfully so. It's been firing on all cylinders all season. I'd say all the episodes so far easily make the "Fringe" top 10 of all time. But I have a bone to pick with "Fringe" this week. Well, that might be a little severe. It's more of a warning: Be careful with your promos.
Now, I love "Fringe" promos as much as the next guy. I watch them very carefully, in fact. Mostly to see if I got quoted in them. Watching promos that closely is a double-edged sword. I can't help but feel that the opening sequence would have been much more dramatic if I hadn't known Sen. Van Horn was going to turn out to be a shapeshifting super soldier from another dimension. As far as bones to pick go, a small one.
First, we have Bolivia contemplating literally "how far" she will go to complete her mission. Bolivia has been trying to get close to Peter without him figuring out she's not his Olivia, but it doesn't help that the real Olivia professed her love to Peter in order to get him to return from the other universe. Bolivia needs to figure out if she's ready to be intimate with Peter to keep up her charade, and he's not making it any easier on her. I mean, talking about his understanding of an old rich guy bagging a young girlfriend and then transition it into knowing they haven't slept together based on body language? Not the greatest come-on ever, but I guess when you're Joshua Jackson, you don't to work as hard impressing the ladies.
Then we have Thomas Newton. He doesn't even have to contemplate how far he'll go for the mission. He shoots up a hospital trying to retrieve one of his fellow shapeshifting super soldiers, and when Broyles gets him locked down, Newton puts a bullet in the eye of his operative and then jumps down a stairwell. That's dedication.
Last, there's the sleeper agent shapeshifter who's been living the life of a random police office for the last five years. He's eating dinner with his family, getting his son to eat vegetables with promises of smelly urine, and overall living what the beer company ads call "the good life." That is until Newton shows up and tells him to drop everything to stop Walter and then vanish into the night -- after, you know, killing the wife and kid so there isn't any evidence. (Newton is one hard-core bad guy).
Ultimately they all decide where the line must be drawn. The sleeper agent can't give up the cop's family. He's been programmed so well to mimic emotions that he won't leave the wife and kid, which takes shooting them right off the table.
Newton shows that no life is more important than the mission. Not the sleeper agent. Newton gives him a bullet to the head and a seat in the trunk for refusing to follow orders. And when Newton himself is captured by Fringe Division, he swallows the cyanide microchip and makes his final transformation into a corpse.
And Bolivia decides to go all the way for the mission as well. In order to quell all doubts that Peter didn’t really seem to be having, Bolivia sleeps with him. "Fringe" didn’t show that, of course, but Bolivia's general shirtlessness and the swelling music strongly implied it.
The episode wasn't completely about "them." Walter began to embrace his new role as majority shareholder in Massive Dynamic, staring with an LCD-fueled board meeting full of elaborate imagery, shouting and George W. Bush-style uncomfortable back rubs. I'm excited to see Walter move into the Massive Dynamic lab to do his investigating. Sure, it's sad to see him leave the Harvard basement, but that place never felt the same to me since production moved to Canada. It'll make me all that more appreciative when they go back. I mean, they have to go back eventually, right?
Overall, "Fringe" continues its hot streak known as Season 3. This episode loses a few points because I'm still not buying into the Peter/Olivia romance quite yet. I know that it's Bolivia pretending to be Olivia and that she spent the entire episode afraid of being discovered as a spy, but I keep thinking that Peter has to pick up on that. Where are his con man skills? Too late now. I'm guessing after they took their relationship to a more intimate level, Peter will be wearing even bigger blinders to Bolivia's inconsistencies. We'll have to wait until Nov. 4 to find out.
Astrid Action -- Like "Fringe" itself, Astrid has been on a streak this season. Our Astrid is more of a confidante of Walter this year, and she even mentions how she's less grossed out by the bizarre experiments she walks in on. But also like "Fringe," Astrid stumbles occasionally. Letting Walter leave the cafeteria by himself after he's had a "eureka" moment? Astrid should know better than that. Though I'll forgive her this once. The stegosaurus was my favorite dinosaur too.
Spot the Observer -– Apparently the Observer was observing when Olivia, Peter, Broyles and Walter met in the lobby of Massive Dynamic to swap information. I didn't catch him this time. Luckily the Internet did it for me. Though I did spot something else ...
Most Obscure Reference –- I used to do this for my old "Cleveland Show"/"Family Guy"/"American Dad!" Show Tracker, picking out the most obscure reference. Believe me, they had plenty to choose from. This week, "Fringe" had a few. The episode's title, "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep" is a reference to the Phillip K. Dick story that became the movie "Blade Runner." Near the end, Peter drinks in a bar where "Forbidden Planet" is playing on the TV. I'm willing to bet that anyone reading this knows the name of that robot (prove me right in the comments). But the most obscure reference had to be Walter saying "Ownership has its privileges." I'd say few viewers know which company had a slogan similar to that (prove me wrong on that one).
-- Andrew Hanson
Photo: John Noble as Walter Bishop. Credit: Fox