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'Fringe': Embroidering the Pattern

October 15, 2008 |  6:59 am


My respect for "Fringe" grows by the week. Following last episode's introduction of the Observer and the subsequent realization that the character has been with the series from the beginning, we're finally beginning to understand exactly what this Pattern is everyone's talking about. And to my great relief, it doesn't appear to be a catch-all explanation for any kind of unexplained phenomena. It seems J.J. Abrams and company have a plan after all. Hallelujah!

The Pattern, from what I can make out, involves using unwitting human guinea pigs in bizarre medical experiments designed to grant them weapon-like powers. It sounds a little like the backstory of "Heroes" except the responsible parties here are still a mystery. So far, we've seen a guy receiving messages from a vast mental network, a way to create almost instant children, and now we have a man with the ability to supercharge electrical devices. It sounds to me like someone's forming an army. And yes, the thought occurred to me before they specifically alluded to it in the scenes from next week.

The elements introduced into each previous episode are slowly being reintroduced and stirred into the pot, making this quasi-procedural more complex than the average "CSI" clone. In the opening minutes, we got a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from the Observer, the aftermath of Agent Scott's unexpected reappearance in the last episode and yet another poor sap caught up in forces beyond his control.

At this point, I suppose I should admit that I misjudged this show in its opening weeks. I initially fretted that "Fringe" would never grow beyond a run-of-the-mill "X-Files" knock-off and that the episodes seemed too similar in structure and subject matter. But now I'm seeing what the creators are up to. With each instance of similar-but-different incidents, our heroes are getting closer to uncovering what's going on. Let's hope that the show can bring us in unexpected directions.

They even continued with the gross-out theme of the series, this week featuring a beating heart hooked up to one of Dr. Bishop's machines while he gets to play with that classic mad scientist cliché, the Tesla coil.

--Patrick Kevin Day

Photo credit: Fox