Friday, November 6, 2009

Rocket Man

Fringe: Earthling
Season 2, Episode 6

Not to reverse my position on how this show needed to step away from the main Bell/Bishop experiments mythology, but this week's stand alone was easily the weakest episode of the show's sophomore season. What's worse is that it finally shown a bit of the spotlight on my favorite actor in the cast. Perhaps I haven't adequately detailed how much I love every actor associated with The Wire. Because it's a lot! Besides a decent opening sequence (but that gimmick is wearing thin lately - more on that later) and the terrific performance by Lance Reddick, even a glimpse of the Observer and Stargate SG-1 cameo can't redeem a rather dull adventure. And it was even directed by Mr. 24 himself, Jon Cassar.

So with so much going right, how did it all go so wrong?

Well for starters, Cassar doesn't really bring much to the table that's very unique. I've watched every episode of 24 enough to learn Cassar doesn't bring much more than functionality to the table. He's the dishes and silverware, but he isn't the meal, at least not as a director. But he doesn't make this a weak episode.

The script by J.H. Wyman and Jeff Vlaming takes care of that little chore. The decision to become less of a version of Planetary (the seminal comic book by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday - thanks for pointing out the great comparison Billy) and more a ripoff of The X-Files. You can get away with doing the former because it wasn't a television show. But don't blatantly rip off the villain from "Space" with your own incorporeal force and pretend it's anything more than redundant.

Their biggest mistake is in limiting Walter's involvement and abilities. Wyman and Vlaming decided to emphasize the theme of contrasting the solid with the ethereal by having Walter unable to comprehend the formula behind this week's villain until he visually constructs it out of toys. It's the kind of heavy-handed writing that even Noble can't redeem. And unfortunately, PEter seems shoved into the background to accomodate Broyles, which is twice as much of a shame since A) Peter's the second best character in the show and B) when he and Broyles worked off each other in the pilot while Olivia was out of the picture, there was some strong chemistry between the two of them. Nothing like the Walter-Peter stuff, but it had the potential to be more interesting and engaging than the Peter-Olivia interactions. But that might just be the effect of the numerous problems I have with Olivia (i.e. not exploring her powers and all of her painful bowling/therapy scenes).

But I've come to enjoy this show enough that when I can't get interested in a plot heavily involving Reddick and guest starring JR Bourne (Martouf from Stargate: SG-1) something bad is up. In the end, the problem is how futile all the efforts of the main characters are. I still don't understand how Broyles really got any sense of resolution since the villain isn't destroyed at the end. Beyond that Walter spends the entire episode solving a formula that is in fact, unable to be fixed. Way to neuter the efforts of your characters. Being able to effect no significant change or resolution leaves the characters cuckolded and ranks just slightly lower on the Plot Developments That Piss Me Off List than discovering the problem will solve itself.


Mr. Jibe said...

I agree people who make bad tv shows should be shot

Gift Hampers said...

True Lance Reddick has it covered.

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Asset Search said...

Where can I see the story, I am interested to see it. Lance Reddick is the hero of the story, he plays really a nice character.

joven said...

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