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Fringe s3E8 review

REVIEWS - TV

The ailing season three blasts back with perhaps the best Fringe story-arc episode ever...

Olivia pleads with Other-Broyles for her life in Fringe episode 'Entrada'

"Entrada"

Serve people baloney for two months and they'll appreciate a steak as never before. So in a sense the pleasure-spike Fringe fans like myself have felt upon watching 'Entrada' is a bit of a cheap trick, and a set-up; this episode is where the previous seven have been leading us through a winding and not-always-entertaining road. But no-one can deny that this is consequently one of the most effective 'story-arc' episodes of Fringe ever.

To boot, 'Entrada' boasts the best pre-credits sequence since the pilot show three years ago, with Peter getting an anonymous call from the woman who briefly saw Our Olivia materialise back in our dimension - bringing him to the shocking realisation that he's literally 'sleeping with the enemy'.

What follows is a great game of cat-and-mouse between a newly enlightened Peter and Not Olivia, who (as Our Walter later complains) has taken Peter in through carnal wiles. Watching pragmatic Peter inject himself with a trank at gun-point, and calmly promising to kill Not Olivia if his Olivia turns out to have been harmed, is one of the best emotional wallops Fringe has provided since Peter accidentally called Walter 'daddy' in season two.

There's no let-up either in the welcome boost to the Broyles character, whose 'other' self is finally persuaded, after a round of soul-searching and a heart-to-heart with his wife, to help Our Olivia escape from being vivisected before being sent back to her own dimension in kit-form. How many actors, as Lance Reddick in this episode, have a chance not only to die a noble death but to keep playing the character who died?

Once again it's quite clear that Google's Android mobile operating system is now splitting Fringe's budget-boost with Apple. Google knows a geek audience when it spots one; Android gets a prominent logo-blast when Peter gets the crucial call at the start of the show, but thereafter the two portable Mac computers not only get prominent screen-time but also become a pivotal part of the plot...

...because Not Olivia has the same model Mac as Peter; and when she flees after tranking him, she takes the wrong one. Hmmm. That's just a biiiiit dumber than I would have taken Not Olivia for until now - but then she has been allowed to get away with a fair few other goofs that might have given her away as an 'imposter' in the previous seven episodes.

But okay, let's give Not Olivia that goof. Are we then going to allow her another Mac-based blunder when she leaves Peter's computer in the middle of the trans-dimensional typewriter shop, allowing Peter to hit paydirt in his search for the fugitive imposter? In the first five minutes of a three-man search that was to encompass an entire neighborhood in Brooklyn?

To hell with it - yes. I'm so glad to watch an episode of Fringe that I absolutely loved again, that I can let it go. Our Olivia is back, Their Olivia is re-ensconsced back at the Other Place's militarised Fringe Division (apparently little-evolved for all her experiences - could Our Olivia ever have been so shallow?), Walter has given the word 'vagenda' a rare airing on network TV, and Peter is having the decency to kiss His Olivia gently on the forehead and write off an emotional bond that had become very important to him as 'collateral damage'. If he has a future with Our Olivia, that's for fate to tell. We already know how he feels, and frankly it's not looking too hostile on Our Olivia's side either.

But gently, guys. Rent series three of Moonlighting before developing this relationship again 'for real'.

Other great moments from 'Entrada' include Peter's eyebrow-raising shooting of Not Olivia's poor hostage; was he really prepared to kill an innocent mother to protect His Olivia, or was he absolutely damn sure that the hostage was a shape-shifter? The ambiguity is tantalising in regards to Joshua Jackson's character. Season three of Fringe, for all its many faults, is proving to be Jackson's acting renaissance in the show; the more the writers give him to do, the more he steps up to the plate.

It was also a pleasant and disarming (or be-legging...?) surprise to see the guardian of the typewriter shop be given the use of his legs back in reward for his services, when most of us probably thought he was submitting to some kind of euthanasia, having outlived his usefulness for the Other Side. The writers simply won't let the Other dimension get totally demonised, even where evil Walternate is concerned; there are good and bad people on both sides, and good and bad in all the people on both sides.

Okay - so the Other side now have the module they want, and the fact that each world seems to have exactly half of the components of the doomsday machine indicates that we've not heard the last of the other side by a damn sight. But let's go back to 'Freak Of The Week' for a while first, huh J.J? Just for old times' sake...


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