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'Fringe': Taking the show on the road. To Seattle.

October 16, 2009 |  1:19 am

205_dreamlogic_0058 You know what “Fringe” has gotten really good at this season? Side characters. That’s a good thing. Now that Charlie Francis is gone, there’s a gaping hole next to our stars. Last week, we got the dynamic Massive Dynamic scientist Brandon. This week, we get Seattle Bureau Agent Kashner. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again, but after how he got treated tonight, I’d understand if he wanted to avoid the Fringe Division.

Before Agent Kashner makes his appearance, we get to visit another one of Season Two's fun side characters: bowling-alley Yoda Sam Weiss. Last we saw Weiss, he was being so Mr. Miyagi-like that Olivia pulled her gun on him. Though she had to walk without her cane to do so, playing right into his annoyingly Zen plan. Just when Olivia was telling him she was all better, Weiss pulls another Jedi mind trick and knows someone close to her died. That’s enough to get Olivia to follow through with another one of his unorthodox treatments. As long as he’s not telling her to sand the floor. Then she’ll know he’s just messing with her.

We don’t hear what Sam asks Olivia to do, but how long did it take you to figure out it had something to do with the business cards and people wearing red? Pretty lucky that this week’s case took place in Seattle, giving Olivia a bunch of new people to meet and ask for their cards. It would have been strange if she tried to follow through in the FBI offices she worked in every day.

Nope, this week “Fringe” borrowed a page out of the “X-Files” playbook and took the show on the road. To Seattle. Painstakingly recreated in the show’s new hometown of Vancouver. That must have taken a lot of CGI.

Seattle has got it all: Space Needle, Starbucks, people with crazy eyes seeing demons. They should really play that up with the tourists.

Olivia, Peter and Walter fly out to the Evergreen state, and almost instantly, Walter wants to fly back. Apparently, Washington smells a lot like a mental hospital. That they might want to keep from the tourists.

Walter can’t fly home alone, so enter Agent Kashner. Ah, poor Agent Kashner. He had no idea what he was getting into, baby-sitting a 60-something mad scientist. He didn’t even think it was possible that a grown man would try to bring raw milk in his checked luggage, but that’s what Walter does, the impossible.

After helping Walter home and even assisting in brain surgery, Agent Kashner is rewarded by being knocked out and experimented on by Walter. Though I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that Walter didn’t actually operate on Kashner. Guess that might have stretched his likability.

That was the crazy science of the night. A Seattle physician, Dr. Nayak, was using microchips he installed in patient’s brains to help them sleep, until he figured out he could get high off their dreams. It must be good. Walter enjoyed it too, and he routinely ingests every psychedelic known to man. I loved how Dr. Nayak’s patient lists flipped by as pictures like the iTunes Store. I wonder if the Genius bar helped him pick other patients’ dreams based on his previous selections.

205_dreamlogic_0154 It was a simple enough crime to figure out. Once the research assistant showed up dead, who else could it be? We’d only really met one other character. But to help Olivia from solving it too quickly, she had a random Charlie memory in the middle of the episode and Sam Weiss called to check in on her progress with the business cards. Who calls while they’re inside the bowling pin machinery? That was the best time to give her a ring? Seriously?

Sam has Olivia pick random letters off the business cards and then word-jumble them into a phrase that she needs to hear. That message being “You’re gonna be fine.” The same thing Charlie said to her on her first case as an FBI agent. Awww. Even when Charlie’s gone, he still manages to reach out and touch us.

You probably caught in the trailer for the next “Fringe” episode that they said “This November.” That’s right, we have three weeks until another new “Fringe.” So take this time to go back, enjoy the first five episodes of the season again. Practice your Observer-spotting skills. See you in November.

Peter’s origins -- I might as well make this a weekly feature. They keep dropping hints of Peter’s past. This week, they gave us two. First, Peter knew a lot about sleepwalking due to his own nocturnal problems as a child. He said that his father gave him the means to combat the bad dreams he had from age 8 to 19. Wonder what might have caused those bad dreams? Getting stolen from an alternate universe? Hmmm...

Then at the end of the episode, we peek at Peter’s dreams. Peter as a little kid, woken up by his father and then snatched out of bed. No wonder he needs help avoiding his dreams. And did you notice the poster on his wall for the Challenger mission on June 28, 1984? Only the Challenger didn’t have a mission in June of 1984. At least not in this universe.

Astrid action -- Astrid actually made it out of the office this week! How about that? She stopped by Walter and Peter’s new pad to give them some good-luck Ciabatta bread. Don’t know if that’s good luck for Peter for bringing home women or for Walter to remember to wear shorts to bed like he promised in case Peter does. Though Astrid may have enjoyed her out-of-the-lab freedom a little too much this week. She was gone when Walter drugged Agent Kashner. Maybe she’ll have to stay home just a little longer.

Spot the Observer -- Last week, baldy was really easy to spot. This week, he played a little more coy. You can catch him sneaking down the stairs in Dr. Nayak’s office while all his patients are yelling in the lobby. Right before Olivia gets the call from Sam. Using a distraction. Well played, Observer. I wonder if he’ll be checking in on any of the baseball games going on between now and our next new episode.

-- Andrew Hanson

Photos: (top) Walter (John Noble) travels to Seattle for a case with FBI Agent Kashner (guest star Travis Schuldt). Credit: Fox Television

(bottom) Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Walter (John Noble) examine a corpse. Credit: Fox Television


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