Friday, April 2, 2010

On the Fringe

    Last night, Fringe returned to Fox with a very special episode called "Peter".  Almost all of it was set in 1985, where we saw a young Walter Bishop (John Noble) lose his son, Peter (usually played by Joshua Jackson), and how he dealt with it.  It was a very emotional story of a father's loss, and his fight to stop himself from loosing even more.  It showed how Walter's intentions were good, and that he never intended to kidnap the alternate Peter, only heal him and return him to his own world.  On that level, it fully succeeded.

     Bigger than that was what the episode established in the Fringe mythology.  Not only was Nina Sharp's (Blair Brown) injury explained, but also what cause the cracking between the universes in the first place.  Everything that happens now, all of the bad, mysterious deaths and frequent attacks from the other side are Walter's fault.  It is why he is such a tortured man, why he had to be put away in an institution.  It even got the Observers involved in a more active way, and revealed fully the special connection between Walter and one of the bald man in particular, now established to be named September (Michael Cerveris).  Further, it set Peter up for something great, as he "has to live".  But why?  It revealed so much that it felt like a spectacular season, or even series, finale.  Yet, it wasn't.  It was just the kickoff for the third of the season still left to air.

    Besides how important the episode was, there was also much fun and whimsy included by the writers.  The theme song was completely redone, to show that fringe science in 1985 included things like in vitro fertilization, stealth technology. and laser surgery.  The music and graphics were also redone to fit the time period.  Plus, a knowledge of things that were supposed to be, but didn't come about were in evidence.  For example, Eric Stoltz (Caprica) was originally going to star in Back to the Future, and he did, in the other reality.  It makes me wish we would launch some zepplins again and let them dock at the Empire State Building, as intended.

     John Noble, who had proved his acting chops previously, did a fantastic job letting the subtextual elements of the story unfold without being over the top.  His reverse aging makeup was fully believable, and he truly has created a memorable character.  Blair Brown didn't do as well, but perhaps she was just given nothing to work with.  Introduced was Peter's mother, Walter's wife, Elizabeth (Orla Brady, Shark).  The real shame in the whole thing was, despite ample opportunity, William Bell (Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek) never showed up, and he should have been there in several key spots, in my opinion.  Instead he was 'in Europe'.  Is there another story there?  I certainly hope so.

     Fringe airs on Fox Thursday nights at 9pm.

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