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'Fringe' recap: That wasn’t supposed to happen

303_plateau_055 As you’ll remember, last week’s “Fringe” built to a heart-stopping ending. Of course, by that I mean when this Show Tracker was quoted at the end of the promo for this week. Now a less-experienced or professional television journalist than myself might start sneaking “quotable” lines into his or her writing. Slip in random sound bites of praise in the hopes of getting quoted again. Not me. I’ll sneak in those lines because I love “Fringe.”

At this point “Fringe” has become two different shows, complete with their own title sequences. Blue “Fringe” vs. Red “Fringe.” We started out in Red “Fringe” with our Olivia  trapped in the alternate universe, and then the second episode showed Olivia trying to blend into the Blue “Fringe” world. Now we’re back to Red “Fringe” and it is almost like watching an episode of “Fringe” from a parallel universe. 

In the Red universe, “Fringe” is a show about a government agency that deals with attacks from an alternate universe. Everyone knows who they are, though many disapprove of their policy of “ambering” locations of Fringe occurrences. The team is made up of a redheaded Olivia, Charlie Francis full of worms, and a partially melted Agent Lincoln Lee. 

On this week’s Red “Fringe,” the team chases after Milo, a mentally handicapped man who signed on to a pharmaceutical trial and got so loaded with “smart drugs” he that he could predict the future by calculating probability. Then he starts using those predictions to kill the people who want to take his “smart drugs” away. It almost seems like a Blue “Fringe” type of case. Is it possible that our Olivia just attracts those kind of cases? 

Not only was Milo’s ability to kill through probability a cool concept, the way “Fringe” showed it was as cool, if not cooler. In the beginning, everything slowed down as Milo made his calculations. Then, once we learned how he was predicting the future, the screen split into dozens upon dozens of possibilities as Milo sorted them out. Michael Eklund put in a strong, if Ethan Hawke-looking, performance too.

What keeps this from being your average “weirdness of the week” is how it connects to the bigger story of the season. As they’re investigating, the members of Fringe Division also start to question if their Olivia really is their Olivia (guess they’re a little quicker than Peter). Even Olivia begins to question who she is. When she survives Milo’s probability attack because she didn’t know about the oxygen-related road signs of the alternate universe, she gets the answer to that question. And in case that was too vague, a hallucination of Peter showed up to spell it out to her and give her a smooch. 

The third season of “Fringe” continues to get better with each episode. Most importantly, it has momentum. It’s moving forward with a distinct destination, and even though I know “Fringe” is heading somewhere, I have no idea where that might be, or what’s going to happen when we get there. Boy, if you’re not watching “Fringe,” you’re missing out. And you can quote me on that. 

What they did on their summer vacation – I’m starting to think that the writers of “Fringe” spent their entire summer break thinking up crazy differences for the alternate universe. Apparently there was a war in Aruba, ballpoint pens are a rarity due to everything being digital, and smallpox is ravaging Texas. Luckily, they still have “Star Trek” over there. Charlie threw down a solid Vulcan mind meld reference. Though maybe in the alternate universe only the odd-numbered “Star Trek” movies are good.

Astrid Action – Maybe I should come up with another name for this section for the alternate universe? Farnsworth Fury? Maybe not. Either way, Astrid is eight kinds of awesome in the other side. She’s finding the patterns, calculating statistics, and rocking that beret. Watching her argue the 0.00% chance of a person using probability and a bus to murder only to have to say, “It happened again,” made me realize why I argue for more Astrid Action. Keep it coming.

Spot the Observer – Did you spot him? I caught him all on my own this week, which means if you missed him, you probably weren’t paying attention. (What? Were you cooking or something?) Baldy McWatcherson was part of the crowd watching from the bridge at the third bus crash. The questions is, why didn’t Olivia notice him? She was scanning the crowd for the mastermind of these accidents and locks onto the autistic guy over the pasty, hairless man wearing clothes decades out of date? Somehow I doubt that.

-Andrew Hanson

Related:

"Fringe" recap: Over Here

"Fringe" recap: Over There

Complete "Fringe" coverage on Show Tracker

Photo: Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo, left) and Olivia (Anna Torv). Credit: Fox Television

 
Comments () | Archives (4)

This show is fabulous! I can't tell you how wild I thought it was the way that Milo character first got away from Olivia. The wink was over the top fantastic, jumping off the bridge...I couldn't tell he was not quite all there til he got to his sister's place. Awesome concept, and he got lost in it, no turning back. He DID look like Ethan Hawke! For a second there I wondered...really great performance, and truly creepy, honestly, the finger movements, the eyes moving around as if he was literally seeing the future - loved it!

Love how you can still tell it's Olivia, in spite of having her alternate's memories..she still has a way, a thoughtful manner that is distinct from Bolivia. Is it her old memories flashing back with the visions of Peter and Walter? There are times I think she's lucid as Olivia and knows what she's doing in using the memories of Bolivia..but then that gets lost and she seems to really think she's Bolivia. Keeps me on my toes and makes me wonder...will she have that point of being able to do that? Walternate mentioned she could hit a plateau and sink into Bolivia totally..but she COULD (I like to think) come back lucid as Olivia and still be clear about Bolivia's memories. Great possibilities here...

True it seems her partners (or at least Charlie) is a bit more aware of her not being Bolivia, but he's not clouded with emotion and the wild experience of crossing over the way Peter did. He's got alot going on, so I can understand his temporary blindness. But again, last week, I could see he made note of a difference or two in her - the way she left him out and not calling, no one could reach her, she wasn't answering her phone. I don't think he'll forget that, things will add up. It won't last, I don't think Bolivia has it in her to keep up a charade for too long. She's impulsive, and commanding, she has rank and confidence in herself, a bit unlike Olivia...but I also do think she COULD be assessing Peter and Walter and hopefully will see they are not really this huge threat that they were built up to be, that they mean well. It would be cool if she wound up on their side, against Walternate.

Oh what a show, just love it! And love your reviews! I ALWAYS miss the Observer, I try to stay alert to look for him, but somehow get caught up in the drama and miss it. Maybe a second viewing I could get it, but by then, I've read this review and know where he was. I'll keep trying, the season has just begun.

I've seen other people refer to either AltStrid or Bad-Asstrid.

If she's not accessing our Olivia's memories consistently, would she know about the Observers? And the focussed intensity and repetitive hand motions may have been why she locked in on the real criminal.

This is shaping up to be the best season so far, of course. I really like the idea of the back and forth episodes. It's given the show so much breathing room and allowed for Kirk Acveedo to come back for a bigger part (hopefully they can find a way to keep in back in our world worms and all). Which brings up the other part of why this show is so great. You understand what's happening, even in crazy science terms, but you can't guess what's up next unlike pretty much every other show. Not knowing how it'll come together is the best part of the ride, and given how sure the show has been of itself since season 1, I don't think it'll disappoint when we do find out; though, I do kind of want the two universes back to one by the winter finale, if only to come back and deal with obvious devestation next year. Renew it now FOX!

Fabrisse: Bad-Astrid is perfect. I'm going to start using that. As to the Observer, it seemed to me at the time that even if Olivia didn't recognize him, he still stuck out. Though the receptionist at the clinic later on also seemed to be wearing retro-style clothes. Maybe the Observers don't stick out so much there.

Fringed: In my book, Kirk Acevedo is welcome to stay with "Fringe" as long as they'll keep him. His back and forth with Anna Torv has buddy/buddy feel that comes of very real.

"Fringe" does mini-story arcs better than any show on air. ("House" was really good at it for a couple seasons, too). Word from my inside sources is that the last episode before "Fringe" makes way for the World Series will be as big and important as most shows' season finales.


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