thoughts on pop culture

Fringe Season 1 Episode 20: There’s More Than One of Everything

I am thrilled that Fox has picked up Fringe for another season. If last night’s season finale had instead been the end of the series, it would have been cruel. We obviously have a long journey ahead of us, and I can’t wait.

The episode started with Massive Dynamic’s Nina Sharp being worked on at the hospital due to a gunshot wound. We find out that it’s David Robert Jones who’s responsible, and after some prodding, Nina reveals to Olivia and Phillip that Jones removed an extremely powerful power cell from her artificial arm. She also explains that it was William Bell who hid the power cell in her arm to begin with. Apparently Jones was once an up-and-coming employee at Massive Dynamic, but had a falling out with Bell.

Jones doesn’t waste any time putting the power cell to work. He finds a quiet street and uses the cell to power a device that opens up some kind of gateway to an alternate universe. The gateway is unstable though, and a most of a semi truck makes it through before the back end is sliced off, leaving a rather unique piece of wreckage. Once the FBI team arrives, we discover just how unique, when it is confirmed there is no record of any part of the truck being manufactured in our universe. 

While Olivia and her team are busy chasing down Jones, Walter and the Observer go off on a search of their own. The Observer escorts Walter to the shore, and to a beach house Walter spent a lot of time in many years ago. The Observer then explains he has already overstepped his bounds and can go no further. He hands Walter a silver dollar and asks if he remembers what he has to find. Walter does not remember, but goes toward the house alone anyway.

Back in the city, we see that Peter has truly come a long way from the first time we saw him–it is obvious that he truly cares for Walter, and we see Peter’s concern about the whereabouts and well-being of his father. Once Peter tracks him down to the beach house, a childhood memory of Peter’s helps Walter remember what he was supposed to look for. Some kind of strange telescope-like device that he and Bell used to use to connect to the other universe while tripping on LSD.

Ultimately we have a final showdown between Jones’s crew and Olivia’s. There is some serious ass-kicking, the opening of a pretty stable gateway between the two universes, and finally Peter uses the funny-looking telescope thing to close the portal just as Jones is passing through.  We end up with an awesome sliced in half version of Jones with a kind of “Are you kidding me?” look on his face.

I thought that was the big climax of the episode, but then Peter comes to the lab to find a note from Walter.

“Stepping out for a bit. Don’t worry about me son, I know where I’m going.”

Peter doesn’t seem worried, and we cut to Walter returning to the cemetery we’ve seen him at before. This time we get to see the tombstone he’s been crying over.  It’s Peter’s, and it says he was seven years old when he died. I actually had to pause the show for this complete “Holy fucking shit!” moment. So Walter’s Peter did drown, and somehow Walter brought the Peter from the other universe (with The Observer’s help?) back to raise as his own. This opens up a whole array of possibilities for the show that I hadn’t even considered.

Olivia then gets a call from Nina to schedule a meeting with Bell. Olivia goes to the destination and thinks she’s been stood up. As she gets on the elevator to leave the building, we see her skip between universes briefly, then the elevator door opens and she is greeted by name by a woman who leads her to an office. There’s a newspaper with the headline “Obamas set to move into new White House” lying on the desk. William Bell then enters. Olivia asks where they are and who he is. He introduces himself, but says the answer to her other question is more complicated. The camera backs out over Olivia’s shoulder and out of the office window–then backs out further to reveal that the meeting is taking place in one of the World Trade Center towers–END.

This took some massive balls, and quite frankly I’m thrilled someone has finally decided to slaughter the sacred cow of 9/11 on mainstream television. I can’t think of a more potent way to show the difference between two alternate versions of New York City than to use 9/11. I hope this is exactly the kind of bold storytelling we can expect when season two starts in the fall.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Renewed, Science, Scifi, Season Finale, Technology, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Fringe Season 1 Episode 20: There’s More Than One of Everything

Fringe Episode 18: Midnight

Tonight’s episode of Fringe wasn’t bad, altough I thought the ‘maneater’ storyline was a bit tired. In addition, the big reveal at the end of the episode just didn’t seem all that surprising to me. However, we got a slew of hilarious Walter-isms.

Walter’s obsession with discussions of food while examining dead bodies is something I find very amusing for some reason.  Tonight, when observing the exposed spinal column of the first victim, Walter told Peter it reminded him of shrimp cocktail.  As if that wasn’t enough, Walter also took the opportunity to let Peter know that shrimp didn’t really have big vein that people normally remove, it’s actually the intestinal tract.  Yummy.

Later, while examining another crime scene, Walter discovered a bottle of benzyl alcohol, which he quickly pointed out is normally used as a local anesthetic, although his preferred use is as a mouthwash.

The biggest laugh Walter gave me tonight though was his use of The Clapper during the scene in the lab when they figured out where to find their killer.

In addition to comic Walter, we did get a sincere moment when he posited that if we do have souls, then we must allow for the possibility that there is still time for redemption. I believe this is what inspired the video confession at the end of the show.

While not intentionally hilarious, Peter got a big laugh out of me when he was walking around the nightclub with his infrared camera. I thought he looked just like Egon Spengler walking around the New York Public Library.

The pleasant surprise of the night was Astrid, who is really starting to hold her own with the others after so many episodes as barely more than an extra. Her advice to Peter in the lab was classic, “When you finally meet a nice girl, I would avoid bring her home for as long as possible.” Adam Morgan did a great interview with Jasika Nicole, who plays Astrid, over at It’s definitely worth the read.  In fact, something she says near the end of the interview got me thinking tonight when Astrid covered for Walter’s fatal mistake in the lab.  Maybe she is just protecting him, but perhaps Astrid has some reason to lie for Walter that we just don’t know about yet.

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Scifi, Television | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fringe Episode 15: Inner Child

After way too long a break, Fringe is finally back with fresh episodes to wrap up the first season.  Tonight we got an episode with everything we’ve come to expect plus a little extra.

I only had one thought when the little albino boy was revealed during the opening–Holy shit it’s The Observer as a little boy somehow.  Ultimately, I’m not sure that’s right, but this kid certainly has some special abilities, just like our favorite bald guy who loves jalapenos.  I suspected the boy was somehow reading Olivia’s emotions when he started freaking out as she got worked up in the hallway outside his hospital room.  The moment the boy shared with The Observer at the end of the episode made me think it’s not the last time we’ll see him, and that he probably has more abilities that will be revealed at a later date.  As for the abilities we saw tonight, I must admit that the upside-down writing totally freaked me out.

Just before tonight’s episode, I read this article on Ars Technica about the cracking of the code within the images at the commercial breaks.  Based on the article, I guessed the first image must be a W, and I guess I was right since the remaining images spelled out A-L-T-E-R.  I’m not exactly sure how significant these hidden words are, but I love when this kind of attention to detail is part of a show.  It certainly makes you wonder how many other hidden messages there are.

The only thing about tonight’s episode that was a bit lame to me was the serial killer’s method for tricking his first victim of the episode.  I mean this was totally pulled directly from Silence of the Lambs.  In fact, the only thing missing was the guy asking, “Would ya?” when his victim offered to help him load his windowless van.

Fortunately, no lame Silence of the Lambs reference could sink an episode that contained one of my favorite crazy Walter quotes to date: “I’m sure Agent Dunham knows what a penis looks like!  Don’t you Agent Dunham?”

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Science, Scifi, Television | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fringe Episode 6: The Cure

I thought tonight’s episode of Fringe was just okay.  I may go back and re-watch some of the previous episodes during the 2008 Break-for-baseball-nobody-cares-about (brought to you by Major League Baseball and FOX).  Here are a few quick thoughts about this episode:

“The man goes to sleep reciting pi to the 100th digit.” – Oh Walter, you’re so delightfully silly and nerdy.

I enjoyed watching Peter put on his detective hat to interrogate Massive Dynamic’s Nina Sharp.

The score is still far too Lost-y for my taste.  Can we please find something other than the shrieking violins to indicate suspense?

October 21, 2008 Posted by | New Series, Science, Scifi, Television | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Fringe Episode 6: The Cure

Fringe Episode 1: Pilot

So it seems that being disappointed in the series premiere of Fringe is the popular thing to do this week if you write about television.  Perhaps it’s because I didn’t watch the leaked video several weeks ago, or maybe it’s just that I try not to get overly excited about any new show, but I thought it was a decent first episode.  It’s always going to be difficult to introduce a cast of characters and make us care about them, even when the network gives you twice as long (95 minutes with limited commercials) to do it.

I think the cast has a decent chemistry, and I was pleasantly surprised by Joshua Jackson’s performance as Peter.  My only real complaint about the show so far is that the score seems to have been pulled directly from an episode of Lost.  Michael Giacchino is the composer for both shows, but it seems silly that he couldn’t come up with something more unique for the tense moments than the exact same strings that Losties are so familiar with.

September 12, 2008 Posted by | New Series, Premiere, Science, Scifi, Technology, Television | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Fringe Episode 1: Pilot