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'Fringe' recap: Over There

September 24, 2010 | 12:04 am

301_olivia_064 Welcome back. How was your summer? You look like you’ve lost weight.

It’s been 18 weeks since we last got a new episode of “Fringe.” May 20, 2010. I remember because it was also the combination of a padlock on the school in Jacksonville where Walter and William Bell experimented Olivia and her classmates with their drug Cortexiphan. Man, writing this blog is going to turn me into that nerd William Shatner yelled at on that “Saturday Night Live” sketch. Oh well.

“Fringe” is back, and it hit the ground running, clocking in a nine-minute opening. Though look how well they used those nine minutes. We got the kindly psychologist trying to convince our Olivia she is their Olivia (or Bolivia), the diabolical plotting of Walternate, and then Olivia’s dramatic escape. So much was happening, I’d barely had the chance to think “Hey, where’s the credits?” before they appeared.

I could spend this entire post talking about that opening. How the first scene dished out a major helping of exposition in the rich candy coating of that eerie interview. It reminded me of the classic “How many lights are there?” scene from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” (Bonus point if you can name the actor opposite Patrick Stewart in that scene). Then writing about how incredible John Noble is. Walter vs. Walternate. So different, yet essentially the same man. Can we at least get this guy an Emmy nomination this year?

Then after I wrote that entire post about the opening, I’d have to write a second one about the credit sequence. Just like the Season 2 finale, we got the credits from the alternate universe version of “Fringe.” (Nearly as cool as the '80’s version)

Here are the words I managed to pick out of the credits:














I can define maybe eight of them. Speciation? Synesthesia? Transhumanism? No clue. Retrocognition? Past thought? Aren’t those called memories? It is probably much more complicated. Maybe being aware in the past. Like when you know you’re dreaming, only back in time. Who knows?

What follows the credit sequence is part “Collateral” and part “Memento.” Olivia searches for a way home with a head full of her doppelganger’s memories, hijacking a poor cabbie as her chauffeur. Meanwhile, the alternate Fringe Division searches for her. 

I don’t know about you, but I loved the episode. I can break down why I loved it, too, in three points. 

No. 1 –- Competence. In the first and second season of “Fringe,” Olivia has had her moments that made me wonder about her abilities as an FBI agent, but in the premiere, she was kicking butt. Not just physically. She played smart and fast. The alternate Fringe Division kept one step behind her the whole way. Plus Walternate was the mastermind behind it all. Skilled, driven people are always fun to watch.

No. 2 –- Hazy memories. Olivia’s struggles with her identity added that extra depth to her running and gunning.  Is she Olivia with some of Bolivia’s memories or is she Bolivia with some of Olivia’s memories?  There were times when even I wondered, and I knew.

No. 3 –- Details. So much care is put into the alternate universe. I love it. Every scene has at least one little Easter egg. Finding these minor differences between our universe and theirs becomes like a game. Over there they have the Broadway musical “Dogs” instead of “Cats.” They have daily flights to the moon. Some are better than others. I don’t think we need to see the Twin Towers anymore to know that we’re in another universe, and the fact that their IDs are called Show Me's struck me as odd. It’s a cool nickname for ID, but to have “Show Me” printed across the top didn’t quite work.

There were other things I wasn't a big fan of as well. I'm still not completely sold on Olivia's love for Peter. It popped up in the Season 2 finale. Bolivia's discomfort after being kissed by Peter felt more real. 

If you have any friends who watched “Fringe” in the first season and quit, this would be the time to invite them back. “Fringe” has found its footing. I’d say right around the winter break last year “Fringe” started pumping out strong episodes, and they’ve only gotten better. 

Seems like next week we get to see Bolivia trying to make her way in our world. That sounds like fun.

What I did on my summer vacation: What did everyone watch while “Fringe” took the summer off? I finally worked my way through “Battlestar Galactica,” and I’m glad I did. Did anybody besides me watch “The Hard Times of RJ Berger?” It would have been my favorite new summer show if not for “Louie.”

Astrid action: The alternate Astrid got a little screen time, running the odds of Olivia’s possible actions after escaping. Sad to see that alternate Astrid gets even less to do than our Astrid. Now I have to beg for more screen time for both of them. 

Spot the Observer: Once again, I have to rely on the good people over at to help me find baldy. I was certain he made up part of the crowd watching the Opera House get ambered. That seemed exactly like the kind of place the Observer would love to hang out. But no, he was walking around the park where Massive Dynamic should have been. It's not fair. They can't let the Observer sneak by after having a guy ride past on a bike with one big front wheel and one tiny wheel in back. A penny-farthing, according to Wikipedia. That’s just cheap. 

-- Andrew Hanson

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PHOTO: Anna Torv, left, as Olivia Dunham and guest star Andre Royo as Henry. Credit: Fox Televison