Saturday, October 10, 2009

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Fringe: Momentum Deferred
Season 2, Episode 4

As we learned in the season one finale of Lost and into the second, the biggest disadvantage to dragging a mystery out for more than half of a season is that expectations get too big for anything to live up to them. The hatch was never going to be as cool as it was meant to be for John Locke. I've been telling Billy that The Wire is one of the three best shows ever for years... well, I remain confident that one will live up to the billing when he finally watches it. Hear that, Billy?! Watch It!

Back to the main point, its especially frustrating that characters obsess over something so much that its revelation outweighs anything else. Sure, I love them getting Walter out of his comfort zone so John Noble can shine and anything relating to Peter being from Earth-2 has me downright giddy. But for the vast majority of us, the questions all revolve around William Bell and what happened when Olivia finally met him in (of course) the last shot of the season. And once again we get delayed satisfaction. In Lost, it was spending MULTIPLE episodes getting INTO the hatch from MULTIPLE perspectives. In the case of Fringe, we had Olivia's unexplained car accident and convenient amnesia.... ahh, amnesia, the lazy writer's filler (see Teri in season one of 24 for further examples). Fringe has at least handled it better, giving us exciting new science to chase while keeping the conspiracy simmering in the background. But as they say, it's time to "nut up or shut up."

For starters, any episode of any show that starts with Curtis from 24 (the always great Roger Cross) blasting some guys apart and acting all conspiratorially with a mercury-bleeding shape-shifting so-called super soldier has got a quick thumbs up from me. Apparently, he really needs him some frozen human heads. Actually, he needs one specific human head... the rest get tossed after inspection. Basically, we have the best episode of this show in a long time, one that starts off with a bang, gets us some of what we've been waiting for (NIMOY!!!!) and peals back some of the ongoing mysteries.

Curtis sharing screen-time with Fake Face Charlie continues to outline a conspiracy of these shape-shifters attempting to get to Bell through Olivia and while they have been a bit heavy handed with it this week, I was sad to hear FFC would die if he didn't get into another body soon. Because really, how many mercury thermometer's can you chug down as a quick fix while Walter and company are closing in on you?

I was hoping they would have a episode that focused on him helping them with an unrelated case, simultaneously having him hide the fact that he isn't Charlie while performing Charlie's job. But it seems that will remain a lost opportunity.

But jumping from there, we're back in the old "I remembered this experiment Bell-y and I did." grindhouse of season one. But it was fun seeing Olivia just downing a glass of crushed up flatworms while Peter and Walter argue about it. I enjoy the Let's Just Go With It approach to fringe science investigation.

When Peter once again gets to flex his "jack of all trades" status by examining the shape-shifting control device, I loved the line about him not sleeping after seeing Invasion of the Body Snatchers because he is a pod person. Earth-1 Peter fell asleep (i.e. died) and he was brought from another world to take the boy's place. Between that and his trip with Walter to visit the latter's former experiment subject/crush, it's a funny and quirky week for the Bishop boys - as it should be. Peter giving Walter some money to help him get a girl... hilarious.

But that's not what you want to talk about really. So let's get to the Nimoy Action. He shows up (of course, in the last shot before a commercial break - good old predictable television) in one of Olivia's flatworm-induced flashbacks. Apparently, Bell (call me William, or Willem) briefly catches up with Olivia and sort-of, not-really apologizes for what his experiments did to people before explain that his and Walter's goal was to create a GateKeeper (does that make one of them the KeyMaster? Must consult Bill Murray on this ASAP) to guard between the two realities. Apparently this is Olivia, which is fitting since she isn't as interesting a character as Walter or Peter so they can keep her on par with the others by making her this show's Most Important Person in the World. And no complaints from people who watch a show that made two brothers the first and second most important people in the history of the world.

Also, Bell mentions may never be able to return to ours (yeah, right). He confirm the shape-shifters as soldiers of Earth-2. I would be mad that Bell promises that the "truth" will come out, rather than telling her more of the story. But what were you expecting? It isn't like Mulder was hanging out with aliens and discussing their long term goals in season two. But now the main characters know a war is coming and they are the front line of defense. We do get the sweet story of how she came flying through that car in the premiere and altogether it was enough to intrigue the audience and as long as we get that every so often and we never have an episode explaining how Peter got a tattoo, I can live with it for now. We even have Nina Sharp to explain Bell's words of "a storm coming" meaning one of the world's won't survive the doorway opening.

My only true complaint is how shocked and surprised everyone is to not suspect Charlie, the man who was first on the scene with the body that they prove this week wasn't the shapeshifter. Shouldn't he have been one of the first suspects? Instead of Olivia's flashback of the shape-shifter's leader's symbol or Massive Dynamic rendering the last copy from the changing device, you would think simple police work would have solved that mystery. Even if they had a great showdown between Olivia and FFC, it still could have been reached through a simpler plot. It was only really done the way it was to justify Curtis from 24 recovering his leader's head. But it gave us a great final shot with his eyes opening. And Curtis likes apples too... good to know.

Finally, just a bit of a scheduling update. I know this came a day later than usual and hopefully I'll get to Dollhouse review tonight or tomorrow morning before the Red Sox once again try their worst to get me back on a regular television watching schedule (stupid untimely hitting slump... but that's neither here nor there for our purposes). Even if it takes me until next Tuesday or Wednesday, I feel obligated to posting something about this week's The Office. It's really too big a moment to skip, even if thanks to Fringe, Supernatural and baseball postseason, it's been relegated to Check Out On Hulu Friday or Saturday Status... it's still one of my three favorite comedies on today. So hopefully, you'll hear more from me soon on all of this fun stuff.

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