A promising TV show throughout season one, Fringe is definitely becoming better, slowly unfolding to deliver its full potential. Season two is already better than season one, and the second episode is better than the first.
On the one hand, like I noted last week, the acting is a lot better (except for John Noble, whose Walter Bishop was always amazing) and we can finally connect to Olivia Dunham (although her portrayal is sometimes a little erratic; why would a woman normally under such control freak out so easily, trauma or no trauma?). The speed is also picking up; a lot more things happened in episode two relative to the season premiere.
I was wondering if season two would only be about The Pattern, but it seems that the writers have found a way of adding another dimension to the story: the Monster of the Week. This week, we feature a lupus-resistant foetus that has grown to become quite the difficult teenager, to put it mildly.
While Fringe has numerous times drawn comments about its resemblance to The X-Files, this episode in particular is the one that, to date, bears the most resemblance to the cult series. From the monster to the dark shots, the people disappearing into the ground, and the tension between the male and female lead, all these elements contributed to the X-Files-ity of the episode, delightfully topped off by many great moments such as:
Peter [examining Olivia’s cane]: I’m looking for the hidden ninja sword.
Olivia: That one wasn’t covered by insurance.
Peter: How’s it going, Walter?
Walter: I’m planning to urinate in 23 minutes.
Peter: Good to know.
Astrid: We’ve been at this for five hours.
Walter: Science is patience!
Astrid: It’s also slimy.
What Mr. Hughes did deserved a bit of attention. In short, he and his wife wanted a child. His wife, suffering from lupus, couldn’t conceive and so Mr. Hughes – or rather, Dr. Hughes, tinkered with some animal DNA (including scorpion DNA) to produce a foetus who would be able to resist the in utero attack his mother’s immune system would wage on it.
The desire to have a child is one that is understandable; no childless couple should ever be told such insensitive things as "you’ll have more fun without kids" and "stop complaining, it’s not like its all fun and games" (I personally overheard those two comments). Today, there are a lot of things a couple can do to have kids; there is, obviously, the most obvious way (wife + husband = babies), but for those for whom this formula doesn’t work, there currently are: fertility treatments, in-vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, and adoption. And, as technology advances, there are probably a lot more options that are going to open up to such couples.
The question is, where do we draw the line? When does having a child become a selfish act, rather than a selfless one? These are tough questions that cannot be adequately addressed in this review; however, I’d only like to mention that the ends do not always justify or condemn the means. It isn’t because Baby Boy Hughes turned into a terrible creature that what Dr. Hughes did was wrong; conversely, had Baby Boy Hughes turned out normal, it wouldn’t have justified what Dr. Hughes did as right.
Olivia is undergoing an interesting physical transformation. While we have only witnessed the acute hearing, according to Sam, there is a lot more awaiting our fearless heroine. Speaking of which, wasn’t that quite the Sylar moment, when she started hearing all the sounds from around her apartment? Thankfully though, she didn’t go all megalo-Sylar on us and start slicing people’s heads open.
Another point of interest, which wasn’t directly addressed, is the relationship between our above mentioned heroine and Peter. The two had a bit of a moment at the beginning of the episode, when Peter came to pick her up upon her discharge from the hospital (begging the question, why Peter?), and another indirect one when Peter covered for Olivia for almost shooting him. Speaking of which: a) she’s an amazing shot, and b) Peter’s face was priceless.
Just one last little question: when they are in the Hughes’ house, knowing that a mutant of sorts lives in it, why did Olivia and Peter separate, when one doesn’t have a gun and the other doesn’t have full use of her leg yet?
Okay, just two little questions: how did child-Peter from this universe die? Is Walter at fault, possibly for not being present, and does it have anything to do with fishing and/or drowning?