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'Fringe': Ferguson's disappeared!

May 7, 2010 |  7:50 am

220_nwpassage_015 It’s episodes like Thursday's that make me feel like I bet on the winning horse.

“Lost” is coming to an end. You already know that because you are reading the Internet. Anyone who reads anything on the Internet knows “Lost” is coming to an end. People not reading the Internet might have guessed it when “Lost” started blowing up characters we’ve come to love. (Oh, and are you reading Todd VanDerWerff's Show Tracker posts on “Lost"? They’re great. The best part is I don’t have to write them.)

When “Lost” broke in half and crashed on network television six years ago, it spawned a brood of weird sci-fi series. I tried “Dollhouse” and forced myself through most of “Heroes.” I’m way behind on “FlashForward,” and I don’t know if I’m still recording “V.” But “Fringe” I watch every week. And not just because I write about it. “Fringe” was my pick from the shows that came after “Lost,” and it’s episodes like Thursday's that make me feel like I picked a winner.

Previously on “Fringe,” Peter found out he’s from another reality, the shape-shifting soldiers from another dimension brought over Mr. Secretary, and Walter got high and told a story about Peter having artificial innards. 

Thursday, we begin in Washington state. Must be nice to be able to really use that Canadian landscape when filming instead of trying to find any street that can pass as Boston. 

After realizing he’s from no place you’ve ever heard of, Peter wanders across the country to find himself. Along the way, he stops to eat a little pecan pie and flirt with the waitress. Peter is smooth. George Clooney getting fed lines through an ear piece by James Bond and the Fonz smooth. After avoiding telling where he’s from, where he’s going or who he even is, Peter gets the waitress to volunteer to bring a mix CD to his hotel after her shift. Nice work, Peter.

Too bad the waitress never shows up. She was too busy washing her hair or getting her brain cut out. One of those lame excuses.

Peter spends the night on the lobby couch, waiting. When he finally heads back to his room, he gets a mysterious phone call, which sounded to me a lot like Helper from “Venture Brothers,” but I could be wrong. Peter packs up and heads out of town, but after a mostly painless product placement, he drives past the diner from the night before and the crime scene it has become.

Peter is sucked into the investigation of the girl’s murder in which he’s a suspect and he can’t trust his own senses due to lack of sleep and it all might be tied to Thomas Newton and just eight layers of creamy “Fringe” goodness. What else can you ask for? You've got Martha Plimpton from “Goonies” and “Parenthood” as the sheriff who doesn’t trust Peter but needs him to find her partner, whom she has feelings for. You have Peter trying to convince everyone he’s not crazy while forcing them to prove they’re not evil shape-shifters. It’s all so J.J. Abrams-y.

Not everything was perfect. There was the Cowboy Tarantino music when Peter was buying his gun and the pointless attempt to find Peter using objects from the other side, but those debts were paid in full by moments like Walter’s breakdown in the grocery store over “Delicious Strawberry-Flavored Death” (with “Classical Gas” playing in the background) or Peter trying to explain what exactly it is he does for the FBI. 

Plus you just can’t beat a good twist ending. Unless it’s with a double-twist ending. Peter uses adrenaline spikes and geometry to track down the location he thinks the shape-shifters are using to dissect their victims, but it turns out to be just an insane dairy farm owner who likes cutting things up. All the strange Thomas Newton sightings and scrambled messages were caused by Peter’s lack of sleep.

Or were they!?! 

Right when Peter finally gets to lay down and relax with his mix CD, not only does Thomas Newton show up pointing a gun, but he’s brought with him Mr. Secretary himself, Walternate. Man, “Fringe” is making it more and more difficult for me to pick my favorite episode. But that’s a problem I will happily live with. Right now, I’m split about the fact that next week is the first part of the season finale. Half of me is excited to see how “Fringe” will leave us hanging, the other half isn’t happy about being left hanging. 

Not gonna do it – OK, so it is obvious that Peter can’t do any investigating without an authorities blond at his side, but I’m not going to compare Agent Olivia Dunham with Sheriff Tracy Mathis. It’s no fair to compare. Martha Plimpton was great though, right? And Mathis is basically Batman. Her family was killed, she went into law enforcement, still hoping to catch the murderer. I hope “Fringe” finds a way to bring her back.

I will compare Thursday night’s “Fringe” to the Fox classic “The X-Files.” It had that feel of a Mulder/Scully investigation, and I love how “Fringe” owned it, throwing in the line “you want to believe.” That’s what makes it homage. 

Astrid action – It has gotten to the point where even Walter makes a joke about Astrid’s FBI training going to good use baby-sitting an old man. She didn’t have much else to do this week. Before Walter got his idea to track down Peter, I was almost hoping he’d ask Astrid if she wanted to see something cool and then perform some act of crazy out-there science. Maybe next time.

Spot the Observer – There were way too many crowd and exterior scenes Thursday night. I’m too old to stay up and find baldy. Would someone please leave me a comment telling me where he was? I will point out a couple of strange observations of my own though. Was there a drawing on that peach in Walter’s refrigerator? Was I seeing things? Was it a peach? And what about that Bazooka Joe comic? It started off as a joke about instant messaging, but the punch line didn’t make any sense. “You can’t get there from here?” What does that mean?

-- Andrew Hanson


"Fringe": Heart of Glass

Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman sing the praises of Thursday night's "Fringe"

Complete "Fringe" coverage on Show Tracker

Photo: Out on his own, Peter (Joshua Jackson) helps Sheriff Anne Mathis (guest star Martha Plimpton) with a disturbing case. Credit: Fox Television

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