Fringe S3E2 review
|REVIEWS - TV|
Some grisly surprises this week... and an extremely pleasant one for Mad Walter.
I think I'm seriously failing the weekly Fringe Rorschach test:
If that's one of the hurdles to a good job at the Fringe division, the tools of my trade in the department would be a mop and bucket. Perhaps this show will make me smarter.
"The Box" starts out episodic in nature, in the wake of last week's closing of the cross-season 'bridge story', but now the antics of the Other Siders resident in our own dimension are really beginning to develop.
Not-Olivia is continuing effortlessly to fool everyone that she is our Olivia (who makes no appearance in this episode beyond the pre-credits recap). If the fact that Peter has completely failed to notice the change doesn't secure him a place as one of the least sensitive men in sci-fi, it should. Credit to Anna Torv - playing a slightly different version of an established character can be tricky to pull off; trouble is Torv does it so well that you begin to wonder why alarm bells aren't ringing in Peter's supposedly planet-sized IQ. I think the original Olivia would be quite offended that he is oblivious to the change in her, particularly when such a simple explanation is at hand, given recent events.
Meanwhile Not-Olivia is being inducted into the ways of our side (including the fact that Bono is unknown in the parallel universe - love those 'Other Side' details) by her cold-blooded Brit associate, with whom she's conspiring to assemble the doomsday device/s, one part of which needs Peter as some kind of catalyst.
The eponymous object of this episode really is Pandora's box; in fact it's a high-pitched music box that resonates in the inner aural canal, turning those within earshot into zombies, and - rather graphically - even causing heads to explode if your fillings are too cheap. When the device is planted at a subway station, it begets a platform full of zombies, complete with cataracts. Nasty.
Somehow the device has been transported down the subway tunnel, and with his usual thoughtless abandon, Peter decides to go in and disarm it, and just deal with that whole head-explodey business as he goes. Walter has a wiser head on his shoulders, and comes up with an off-the-cuff solution: have Not-Olivia fire her gun inches from each of Peter's ears, rendering Peter deaf for three minutes so he can face the sonic danger with some protection.
Yeah right. A friend did that to me with blanks when I was younger, and I can tell you from experience that young Mr. Bishop would have had a comfortable twelve-hour window to defuse the deadly music bomb. Hell, he could have gone home for dinner first.
Like the exploding head wasn't enough, more visceral nastiness quickly comes our way as Walter pulls the zombie-victims' brains out in the lab/morgue, which produces a ghastly sucking sound that our favourite mad scientist claims he finds 'Quite calming'.
It's good to have Mad Walter back. The moment this episode where he ate the bit of brain from his tie, to the consternation of Asterix/Astrid, only to reveal that it was a jam spill from his endless culinary experiments really nails the appeal of Walter Bishop. He's Hannibal Lecter on a twelve-step program. Is he going to eat human brain while offering unwelcome anecdotes about his former experiments with bondage...or melt your heart again with some food-related adventures? Man they must have starved him back in the funny farm.
The real crime in Fringe is that The Wire's excellent Lance Reddick gets less character development than anyone else in the show, particularly as he is a weekly character and an important figure in the set-up. It's as if Abrams & Co. got him cheap because they only wanted one-third (the relentlessly stoic third) of Cedric Daniels. Come on J.J. - you and the other Fringe-ers obviously love X-Files to death, so remember how intelligently characters like Skinner and Smoking Man were developed in the web of that show's reality. As it stands, the walk-on players in Fringe are getting more action than Lance Reddick. Who knows, maybe the man doesn't care anyway; I'm sure the checks are very comforting...
Mad Walter joins Blair Brown's increasingly improbable wig for the reading of William Bell's will, and later reveals - to his growing astonishment and to the worried delight of his adoring viewers - that he has inherited Massive Dynamic. All of it. So Walter is apparently going from begging pocket money for his candy addiction to owning a company the size of Microsoft, Lockheed and Pfizer combined.
Well, don't spend it all at once, Walt. Leonard Nimoy has a habit of coming back from the dead.
Lest our yearning for the original grumpy Olivia that we know and love be diminished by the cheerfulness of Not-Olivia, the substitute shows her icy-cold killer credentials when she casually disposes of the deaf henchman who succeeded in retrieving the fatal music box (which he was able to do because he couldn't hear the killer sound). She goes on to demonstrate her pragmatic attitude by making a carnal bid for Peter, who has unwittingly interrupted her disposing of the body, and needs distracting from that giveaway trail of blood issuing from the bathroom.
Of course, it's not consummated. Well done, writers. Not even in your dreams, because, guys, there's nowhere to go afterward. Nowhere fun anyway - ask Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. Hell, it took Mulder and Scully 15 years to hook up. If you want to get to seven-season syndication magic, take a cold shower.
I'm not that sure about this week's episode - it's funny how Fringe can so frequently fail to focus properly when it has such a relatively small core cast. As Lance Reddick knows well, it's possible to have a huge cast and successfully juggle both character and storyline.
Perhaps it's because 'The Box' is a chimera episode, neither standalone nor strictly linked to the bridge story, that I still feel the series is taking time to reboot when it should have hit the ground running. I do wonder how long the assembly of this doomsday device is going to take, and if that's the goal towards which S3 is heading. If so, it's still too early either to complain or anticipate.
Admittedly there were some genuine shocks in this episode - some of them quite sickening - as well as another frustratingly maladroit attempt by Walter to make things right with his not-son, who's still totally resistant to discussing the bad old days with dear old pop.
'The Box' felt rushed, even down to the editing. Surely the look on Walter's face when it sinks in that he has just become one of the richest men in the world...that was the place to exit to credits, no?
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE HELP SUPPORT OUR SITE, AT NO COST WITH ONE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON BELOW:
If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.