This week marked the fall finale of Fringe as it takes another hiatus until the new year. Plagued by mediocre ratings, and slow narrative progress, perhaps another long break isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Viewers need to get re-energized, and based on the teaser trailer of what’s upcoming, Fringe may return to much stronger numbers and viewer interest once it’s back from vacation. (We clearly need more Walternate, Faux-livia and the Observers)
Let’s take a look at this week’s episode, which sets up some nice plot points going forward…
Much like last week’s episode, and let’s face it, many of the episodes this season, Fringe returns it’s faithful “monster (or fringe event) of the week” formula. This week we’ve got an invisible killer who sucks the life out of his victims, stealing their pigments (turning them into albinos) so that he can be “visible” for a short amount of time. There’s a bit of a back story, namely that Massive Dynamic found out about his condition of “invisibility” when he was a baby, and have poked and prodded him in a lab ever since. The lab blew up in the early 2000s, killer decided to hide out in the basement of a condo while spying on the inhabitants, eventually falling in love with one of the tenants. Although it’s not all that interesting, Fringe has been remarkably good at painting a sympathetic picture of these killers. You see, our killer this week just wants to be “seen”, wants the validation of being recognized and ultimately loved (cue the violins). Eventually, it’s conveniently revealed that stealing pigments from other humans is actually going to end up killing our killer. He dies rather poetically when the girl he’s been stalking, finally acknowledges him during their daily elevator ride. In all honestly, my brief summary really doesn’t do the scene justice, it’s actually quite touching.
But the invisible serial killer plot acted as a catalyst for some interesting developments with our beloved protagonists. We saw the development of a potential romantic connection between Olivia (Anna Torv) and Lincoln Lee (Seth Gable) who have a chemistry that is far more palpable than Olivia and Peter (Joshua Jackson). I’m definitely rooting for this couple (in this universe and in the alternate one as well) Lincoln learns that Peter was involved with “another Olivia” while professing admiration for the Olivia he’s been interacting with. Peppered throughout the episode, we even get some cute scenes of Peter encouraging Lincoln to develop something further with this Olivia. The ease at which Peter was dishing out the bro-advice made me submit to the idea that there indeed isn’t “another Olivia” out there, that Peter’s Olivia is in fact THIS Olivia. Transporting Peter back into another time stream where everyone knows his name seems like a bit of a cop-out. I have a very strong feeling that Peter’s laid back attitude that I was admiring in last week’s episode, is set to blow up in his face. Methinks I see a love triangle developing, and definitely a very sad Peter because his Olivia doesn’t remember a single thing about him.
And of course, there was the big cliffhanger and the end of the episode. Just as Olivia leaves for her 3am (yep, 3am) “date” with Lincoln at the local all-night diner, she’s gassed in her apartment as two thugs injected her with some sort of amnesia serum. All with surrogate mother Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) looking over. I knew the hasty maternal relationship between Nina and Olivia was far too contrived to stick. Again, more evidence to support how Peter’s plight to “go home” is likely a fruitless endeavor.
Overall, I felt like this fall finale of Fringe was a bit lackluster, but it did showcase what the show has been really good at – a serial narrative disguised as an episodic one. We get nice little self-contained stories that reveal snippets of what’s to come in the larger mythology of the show – just enough to keep us coming back for more. Perhaps this is a necessary format to follow when we’re talking about a network drama that has a good 22 episodes to fill versus the traditional 12 found on premium cable networks. I’m not quite frustrated yet, as the amount of closure we get from the secondary narratives are satisfying enough that primary narrative can take a bit more time to unfold.
Some other things to chew on:
- Do you think Peter and Olivia will ever get to be together? Or are the fated to be in this “will they or won’t they” predicament until the show’s finale?
- What the heck is Walternate up to? We all know it’s unlikely he’s completely abandoned his plot to destroy this universe; do you think he’s behind the new breed of shape shifters? Or is that too predictable?
- I think we need more Broles. We can never get enough Lance Reddick as far as I’m concerned.
- I’m pumped about the return of Peter’s mother, Elizabeth Bishop (played by the fantastic Orla Brady). I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Fringe has been consistently great at showcasing some fantastic guest stars.