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'Fringe' recap: Over Here

302_thebox_0423 Looks like "Fringe" didn’t do too well in the ratings last week. "Fringe" was so low on the list, it wasn’t even mentioned in The Times’ ratings roundup. Though it did beat out CW. (Take that "Nikita.") I hope this just means more people are watching "Fringe" online or TiVoing it for later. Based on the first two episodes, I’m ready to place my bet that Season 3 will be the best season of "Fringe" yet.

Last week, we got to see how Olivia is doing over there. Answer: not good. She was imprisoned and pumped full of her counterpart’s memories. She escaped, but all her attempts to get back to our universe turned into dead ends. In the end, she seemed to succumb to the new memories and return with "other side" Charlie Francis.

This week, we flip back to our universe. Or universe prime. Or the blue universe. Bluniverse. And it's just like coming home. The episode starts off with unknown men holding a suburban family hostage while they dig up a mysterious box in the basement. Ah, yes. The nice, comforting "what the heck is going on" opening. That's old-school "Fringe" topped off with the classic credit sequence. I'd almost started to miss it.

So, yeah. There’s a familiar-looking box that kills people when it is opened (except one guy who may or may not be dumb). Got it. But more important, how is Bolivia blending in to our side of the looking glass?

Pretty well, it seems. Not all on her own. Thomas Jerome Newton helps her out quite a bit. If you don’t remember, he's the leader of the shape-shifting, mercury-filled soldiers from the other side. Luckily, Newton has been gathering intelligence on our Olivia and the Bishops, and he has a book on pop culture that looks like he bought it from the discount rack at Barnes and Noble. I'm sure the smiley face and classic cars are really going to help Boliva blend in. I would have liked to see Bolivia's reaction immediately on arriving in our universe, what differences and similarities she noticed. But there's way too much else going on.

The Bishops continue to deal with the repercussions of their trip to the other universe. Walter mourns the passing of his friend, William Bell, by complaining about his generic obituary. One of the wealthiest, most mysterious men in the world dies and the headline is "William Bell, founder of Massive Dynamic, is dead." That’s a generic obituary.

Meanwhile, Peter discusses the doomsday device Walternate built on the other side. Walternate is missing a few pieces; the most important is the weapon's power source, which happens to be Peter. And if Peter wasn't torn enough about his real father's machine, Walter adds fuel to the fire with a little story of how Oppenhiemer was convinced to build the atomic bomb for America before the Nazis built theirs and ended up killing countless people in the blink of an eye.

In improvisational theater, they have what's called the Harold. In a rough nutshell, a Harold is a performance piece that commonly has three separate story lines working off a central theme. When done well, all three story lines merge together by the end. "Fringe" worked just like a Harold, weaving Bolivia's, Walter's and Peter’s stories together, all with the theme of "the Box."

For Bolivia, "the Box" is part of her mission. Those random guys digging in the opening worked for Newton under Bolivia's orders. Unfortunately, one of the two guys Newton hired decided to bring his cousin, who proved immune to its effects. (Did you realize before Bolivia that the cousin was deaf? I figured it out when he was reading her lips. Something about how his cousin said he was "not dumb" stuck out to me).

For Peter, "the Box" is a piece of his father’s doomsday device. Peter turned his back on the alternate universe, still not comfortable with his past. He won't even listen to Walter's apology/reasoning for what he did. Plus, now he's dealing with a more dancing /kissing Olivia. There were some questions in the comments last week about whether Peter knows Olivia is actually Bolivia. I'd say when a hot blond wants to jump you, a "new look at life" since coming back from the other side is as good of a reason as any. Sounds great.

For Walter, "the Box" is a safe deposit box. Walter is involved with the hunt for the mysterious box, but his main focus is the reading of William Bell's will. Walter goes to Massive Dynamic to meet with Nina, hear Bell’s last thoughts and get their inheritance. Walter's includes a key to the safety deposit box and a note that says "DON’T BE AFRAID TO CROSS THE LINE." What a dangerous statement to say to Walter Bishop. "Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far we can go." Kinda scary to hear him say that, and then giving him control of Massive Dynamic is like handing him a gun.

Everything comes to a climax in a dramatic subway scene. Walter's solution to defending against the ultrasonic death sound was pretty ingenious. (Though I almost wish they would have left out all music while Peter was deafened by the gunshot.) The exploding head was a nice touch, and the oncoming train was the perfect kicker. That slow sense of dread as Peter realized the tunnel was getting brighter. So good.

I hope more people were watching this episode for so many reasons: To see how good "Fringe" has become, to get addicted to the show and, most important, to see that they quoted my blog in the promo for next week. Thursday night has become "Fringe" night.

Groaner -– The humor of "Fringe" can be hit or miss. Nine times out of 10, Walter cracks me up. But that tenth time out of ten is a fart joke. Silent but deadly? "Fringe" made up for it with the massage parlor joke.

Astrid Action -– Astrid has become the Jiminy Cricket to Walter’s Pinocchio. I was afraid she was going to be stuck assisting in the lab or making grocery runs, but Astrid also got to be the angel sitting on Walter's shoulder, telling him what he should do. She urged Walter to tell Peter his side of the story, and she was the one Walter came to when he found out he now owns Massive Dynamic. I don’t think I could ask for more Astrid Action. Wait, I can. Give her her own episode!

Spot the Observer -– Had to look online again. If you look close, you can see him walking into the subway station as Newton is walking out. But more important, did you spot what they were working on in Massive Dynamic when Walter showed up for the reading of the will? Did Massive Dynamic invent the Federation transporter technology? Could have sworn that came from the Vulcans. Then again, who founded Massive Dynamic …

-- Andrew Hanson

"Fringe" recap: Over There

Five things that could help "Fringe" revisited

Complete "Fringe" coverage on Show Tracker

Photo: Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv in "Fringe." Credit: Fox

Comments () | Archives (9)

Fringe is developing into one of the best sci-fi shows around. I'm really looking forward to where the show goes this season. SO many possibilites!

And yes - I record the show on my DVR. Just in case I miss it - and so I can watch it twice.

I am a diehard Fringe fan but something is wrong with the transfer of over there and over here since the star looks and acts pretty much the same. I stopped the remote several times and asked my husband, where the hell are we now? Is the (star) the other one or the real one? Something is not being managed clearly in the script. It is confusing for the first time in many seasons.

i too tape this or watch online. i hope the don't base the ratings on weather the show lives or dies, because this one is a definite keeper!

I'm wondering this season when the "Peter" issue starts to get more oomph - specifically, he is the only major character who is unique - just the one, no alts. It seems a good set up for him going back to his misfit sort of ways, especially since he seems to be set up for "saving" one or the other universe by destroying the other one. Sooner or later his big "crisis" is going to be which one to pull the plug on (and get the choice - chilly Olivia and goofy Walter, versus weirdly hot Bolivia and psycho Walternate).
Also, the William Bell death - can you say continuity? As in, Bell was in the alt world, and as we recall, died in the alt world...and no wonder the obit was generic, as in who announced his death? and left out - "cause of death was atomization in an alternate universe" and there should be no end of speculation on what happens to Massive Dynamics in the media - just a FEW missing pieces.
Olivia and Bolivia are not well distinguished - I mean why not leave them with different color hair or some other easy jarring tag (Bolivia is way more butch, why not have her show up in leather pants or something). There is a major scene coming where Olivia's niece meets Bolivia and freaks out, bet on it.
Finally, what happened to the "bugs" the alt people mentioned last season as coming through the openings ("this time its not bugs" was the line).
Last night's story spent lots of time on the deaf guy - but he was ultimately a total throw-away story line, and tossed away any effort at real character advancement - maybe there is a reason the ratings are taking a dip.

@dgrant -- I think Bolivia's more feminine than our edition. Bolivia smiles more, wears her hair down, speaks in a higher pitch unless she thinks about it, and used her skin and sexuality as a distraction both times Peter got close.

I love the nuances, and I think they're laying the threads really carefully to weave a wonderful arc.

Been watching Fringe since the beginning . First I thought of X Files and the chemistry between Fox and Skully.
After watching for a while you can see the acting of Anna Torv is far more exceptional from Gillian.
But Peter cannot compare to Fox Mulder.
Olivia's expressions tell you more about her feelings than her words.
Any one who misses Fringe misses a great show for the thinking human.

I was glad to see season 3 but for some reason I doubt there will be a 4th season.
I hope I am wrong.

KarenJ - Totally agree that "Fringe" is oen of the best sci-fi schows around. I love it because it leans on the science as much as the fiction.

Bettye198 - If you have any problems figuring who's Olivia and who's Boliva, go with hear color. Olivia is currently a redhaid, Bolivia's blond. Though that might just make it more confusing.

Lisa - Wish there was a way to show Fox we're watching. Where can I get one of these Nielsen boxes?

dgrant - I think they're going with the slow burn on Peter. Same thing happened last season. They kept toeing the pool of his backstory and didn't dive in until half way through the season. Though I doubt his decision will come down to just which universe to save. "Fringe" completely threw me for a loop when they showed what really happened in 1985. I bet they have just as much fo a twist for this story.

Though I do disagree on William Bell's obit. He might have been living in the alternate universe, but Massive Dynamic was here. Could you imagine of (heaven forbid) Bill Gates passed away and his obit was simply "Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is dead?" But I agree they won't list his cause of death as converting into energy to help his friends escape an alternate reality.

Fabrisse - I think you've hit the nail on the head as far as the differences between Olivia and Bolivia. Olivia = serious, focused. Bolivia = playful, impuslive. Think maybe Olivia's personality could be the result of losing her mother so young? Makes sense.

Oh, and something I forgot to point out. I liked how Bolivia was learning about Olivia by watching old interrogation tapes. Almost seemed like Bolivia popped the "Fringe" Season 2 DVDs in her Macbook for a little refresher.

June - "Fringe" will always be compared to "X-Files." Though I applaud "Fringe" for sticking to science-based mysteries. I don't think I'm ready to weigh in on a Torv/Anderson or Jackson/Duchovny comparison. Mulder and Scully didn't have a character like Walter Bishop stealing the spotlight and all the best lines.

I don't think Xfiles comparisons can be made. For one Xfiles was always the two characters working together and both FBI agents. Fringe is a dynamic of three characters working like a family unit with one only being an FBI agent, the other a mad scientist and the other a son/consultant, but is not a true FBI agent. Not even close. By all means compare Olivia to Scully if you must but on Fringe Walter is the one who gets the most airtime and character development, not Peter. So, really Fringe doesn't have a Mulder as such. Sure Peter and Olivia work together to solve cases, but in that team also is Walter and Broyles and Astrid.

@Bettyeye: I think the two Olivias are very different and it can't be long until Peter figures out that Altivia is a little too "hot."

Besides, she's got to screw up enough times in a pop reference down the line-- especially if she relies on that Barnes and Noble bargain book- often published overseas, they have funny errors- they referred to the Superbowl losing Buffalo Bills of the early 1990's as "The Buffaloes." Wouldn't something like that be a hoot?

I must say the whole blueprint drawings of "Peter the power source" is much, MUCH too close to the whole Rimbaldi device drawings on Alias and if this doesn't go a completely different way than that show did, I am going to be severely disappointed.

On a similarly derivative note, I conversely do hope Broyles ends up like Mr. Spock on Star Trek - the one transcendent good guy of both worlds!


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