While still basking in the afterglow of FOX ordering a full 22 episode third season of Fringe, I geared myself up for the start of the second half of season two. For the uninitiated, Fringe is an ultra-cool, trippy, sci-fi television show created by the team from Bad Robot Production Company headed by J.J. Abrams. Abrams is the excellent director who brought the Star Trek franchise back from the dead.
The plot of Fringe revolves around strange occurrences related to a phenomenon called "The Pattern." A special FBI task force, or Fringe Division, was hastily thrown together to investigate pattern-related cases. The lead investigator is Special Agent Olivia Dunham, played by the lovely and talented Australian actress Anna Torv. Dunham assembled her own group to assist her. That group is comprised of Walter Bishop, a brilliant mad scientist who was committed to a mental institution for 20 years, his son Peter Bishop, a genius-level repeat offender, and Astrid Farnsworth, a junior FBI agent who aids Walter as a laboratory assistant.
I cannot encapsulate the complete first season nor totally bring up to speed anyone who has never seen the show. What I can do is recommend that you pick up season one on Blu-ray; I got a wonderful price on Amazon.
In a recent episode, we saw Dunham go back to Jacksonville, to the army base she lived on as a child, and confront her darkest memories. She endured this in the hopes of being able to unlock her ability to connect with the alternate universe and avert a catastrophic event. Walter told her that the only way this was going to happen was for her to feel fear. Olivia Dunham does not know fear so mankind had a big problem.
The rules state that for everything that crosses over from the alternate universe, something from this universe must go over there. In that episode a building in New York City was the target and everyone who inhabited that building would be zapped over. Finally, Olivia accepts that she is scared and she notices a building in the distance glimmering… the target. Our heroine springs into action and disaster is averted. The tease at the end of the episode was when Olivia meets Peter for dinner and she can see him glowing. He is from the alternate universe. The episode ended with Walter begging Olivia not to tell Peter the truth.
This week's episode was all about Peter. Most of the episode takes place in 1985 when Walter was working on a cure to save his dying son. Using a portal he created to look into the alternate universe, he spied on “Walternate,” the copy of himself on the other side. Ultimately, Peter dies in this universe. Walter then, having perfected the cure for the disease, travels over to the alternate universe, to save Peter’s copy from dying.
Many interesting plot points were disclosed in this episode, such as, what happened to Nina Sharp’s arm and her ambiguous relationship with Walter, the true origins of “The Observers” place in the story, Carla Warren the lab assistant who died in the fire, and the way Walter’s actions changed the course of time.
By bringing over Peter’s copy from the alternate universe, Walter started the first crack in a pattern of cracks in our reality. He is the sole reason why the Pattern is even happening. The few scenes in real time dealt with Walter spilling his guts to Olivia in an attempt to have her understand his reasons for doing what he did.
I dug all the retro 1985 details the director added to the show, especially changing the open credit sequence. John Noble, the actor who plays Walter Bishop, is one of the best actors in television. His dramatic range and uncanny ability to play the idiosyncratic Bishop truly deserve some award recognition.
All things considered, a wonderful return to primetime for a creepy, smart, fun, and utterly mind-bending show that continues to push boundaries.