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

October 8, 2010 |  8:53 am

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

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