Top 10 Fringe Episodes

Fringe, one of the most recently acclaimed sci-fi shows, concluded its five-season run earlier this year and its final season is out on Blu-ray/DVD this week. The show boasted many intriguing and memorable episodes that pushed the envelope in regards to storytelling. The show was about the investigations by a government agency into fringe science events like strange mutations and teleportation. The Fringe team led by Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) encountered some really bizarre phenomena. While Fringe had many standout episodes, these ten were among the show’s very best stories.

10. “The Arrival” The enigmatic Observer called September (Michael Cerveris) is fully introduced and right away viewers are fascinated by this strange, formidable being from the distant future who can predict actions.

9. “The Boy Must Live” This fifth-season episode boy must livetakes place (as does the entire season) in the future where the Observers have taken over the world. September and the Observers’ origins are finally revealed as is the forgotten plot devised by Bishop to defeat the Observers.

8. “Black Blotter” The Fringe team recover an empathic and mute child Observer called Michael (Rowan Longworth), who is the key to defeating the Observers. Meanwhile to aid in that task, Bishop takes a hallucinogen, which leads to some pretty trippy animated sequences. How trippy? Imagine Sgt. Pepper meeting Monty Python!

brave new world7. “Brave New World, Parts 1 & 2” The fourth season (and for a moment the series before it was renewed) closes with this exciting two-parter that has the Fringe team finally confronting Bishop’s former partner (Leonard Nimoy), who is out to destroy the universe and remake it to his own designs.

6. “There’s More Than One Of Everything” This first-season finale answers many questions about The Pattern events that the Fringe team was investigating while brining up many more questions and startling revelations. One of the biggest ones being about Peter’s identity. Plus, it introduces a parallel world where the World Trade Center is still standing.

5.TIE: “The Plateau”/ “Amber 31422” These two episodes take place predominantly in the parallel world where Olivia was trapped and brainwashed amberinto believing she was her double. The episodes present viewers with intriguing plots about the affect the Fringe team have on the parallel world. “The Plateau” is about a gifted man who can forecast future possibilities using math, except for the unforseen variable of a different Olivia in his world. It would prove to be his undoing. “Amber 31422” examines the impact that the suspending amber chemical has on people living in the parallel world. Notably on twin brothers, one of whom was released from the substance and we learned what it felt like to be embedded in amber.

4. “Peter” This outstanding flashback episode explains how the entire mess peterwith the parallel world began. Taking place in 1985, Dr. Bishop comes up with a way to peer into a parallel world. Around the same time his son dies and he learns his son’s double in the other world is also dying, thus he decides to save that boy at a terrible cost. The episode had a nifty retro feel to it, even the opening credits reflected the 1980s with its electronic soundtrack and listings of cutting-edge technology during that time.

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3. “Entrada” The thrilling conclusion of the swapped Olivias storyline in season three has them both on the run in the two universes. Fauxlivia, the nickname for the Olivia from the parallel world has her cover blown. Meanwhile, the original Olivia manages to break her from her captors who were out to remove her brain for study. There was an urgent feeling of desperation shown by both Olivias as the original tried to make her way back to her own universe, while her malevolent double assigned to the original universe mercilessly avoided a manhunt led by Peter.

white tulip2. “White Tulip” One of the grisliest and most emotional stories dealing with time travel introduces Alistair Peck, a scientist (played exceptionally well by Peter Weller) who is experimenting with time travel. Peck is able to time travel by painfully and surgically implanting devices on his body. What gets the Fringe team involved is that his work winds up killing people by draining them of their energy. It turns out that Peck was only trying to save his wife from being killed in the past.

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1. “Over There, Parts 1 & 2” The two-part second-season finale takes place in the parallel universe as Dr. Bishop and Olivia travel there to retrieve Peter, who had defected to the other side. It was fun seeing all the differences in that other world. Examples include, lost friends and family who are still alive, canceled TV shows are still airing, the comic books are differentover there map (Red Lantern instead of Green Lantern), dirigibles fill an altered New York skyline, and even the map of the U.S. is radically different. But more enjoyable were the actors portraying alternate versions of their characters. Fauxlivia and Walternate were very effective villains and are part of the reason why Fringe was so much fun to watch.

Lewis T. Grove

Fringe & Its Fantastic Foray

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After five seasons, Fringe, one of the best science fiction shows on TV, comes to an end. Fans can now breathe a sigh of relief that the show runners were able to conclude the wonderfully twisting saga of the Fringe Division’s Science Team and its investigations into the bizarre and who later became freedom fighters for humanity.

When Fringe first premiered in 2008, it came off as a sophisticated, 21st-century version of The X-Files. Both shows were similar in that they were about government agents investigating freakish phenomena. In Fringe’s case, the main characters FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), consultant Dr. Walter Bishop (brilliantly played by John Noble) and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) didn’t chase UFOs or ghosts but encountered weird monsters-of-the-week and fringe-level science like teleportation, fast-growing humans and so on as part of their investigations for the Science Team.

libertyBut the show soon developed its own mythology. It turned out there was a reason behind all the weirdness going on in the world, which was called The Pattern. Usually they happened in the New York/ New England area as illustrated by bold 3D location titles. Unlike The X-Files, where it became apparent that the producers didn’t know what was going on with its convoluted stories, Fringe methodically explained things and the answers led to more intriguing questions. It made one want to find out what was going on. For instance, in the first season finale “There’s More Than One Of Everything” viewers learned that Peter Bishop was actually dead with an apparent doppelganger of his running around. That led to the revelation of an existing parallel world, which was dramatically shown when Olivia found herself transported inside a very much intact World Trade Center.

Things became stranger and more titillating in latter seasons. That could be one reason why the show wasn’t a ratings hit. While sci-fi fans may have loved the bizarre antics of mad scientist Walter Bishop (like eating licorice during grisly autopsies) or the uncanny plots and macabre premises (such as reanimating a beheaded person when the missing head was reattached to the body) it probably turned off casual viewers. Well what would one expect in this society that loves shallow reality programs? Still, Fringe grew a cult following as people discovered this quirky show that dealt with parallel universes and visiting enigmatic post-humans from the distant future.

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But fans fell in love with the equally peculiar characters. There was Peter who was conflicted about his place in the world as seen in the show’s pilot. He was a brilliant but shiftless person with dubious morality and estranged from his father (who was committed at that time to a mental hospital). Olivia was seen as the more stable person yet contended with being thrown suddenly into bizarre cases while remaining a dedicated and resilient agent. Her core was terribly shaken from the events of the late second season/early third season. She traveled to the parallel world in “Over There, Parts I & II” and was captured and brainwashed. Her redheaded double (nicknamed “Fauxlivia”) came to Olivia’s world and took her place. These early third season episodes that shifted between the two worlds were some of the best. After Olivia finally escaped, and had difficulty with her romantic relationship with Peter, it was clear that she was traumatized.

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New Fringe & Supernatural: All Is Right!

Ah, last night was great for TV watching. Wasn’t home to see the new episodes of Fringe and Supernatural but I DVRed them and finally caught up to them today. Wow, both new episodes hit the mark(s) with some amazing, wonderful and disturbing developments.

Fringe began its run of the final eight shows for the season (and maybe the series unless Fox renews it for a fifth season) with “A Short Story About Love.” There were basically three storylines; one about Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) realizing the memories and feelings from the Olivia of Peter Bishop’s (Joshua Jackson) universe were supplanting her own. The problem is that Peter’s Olivia is in love with him, while the “regular” Olivia has no romantic feelings towards him. Meanwhile, Peter is following clues left behind by the Observer that apparently died in the previous episode. The third storyline was pretty average procedural junk about a deformed madman out to create a love potion from killing lovers. It was the kind of stuff you may find in a typical X-Files episode. Luckily, this storyline didn’t dominate the show.

The big reveals were pretty surprising. It turns out (SPOILERS AHEAD) that Peter is in fact in his own universe so that Olivia’s new feelings for him is probably the universe correcting itself. Luckily for us soft-hearts, Olivia independently decided to give in to her new memories and feelings and the end was so blissful and romantic. It was a heartwarming reminder to us cynics that love is the greatest force in the universe. Even on Fringe.

Supernatural began airing new episodes last week, and just as it all seemed hopeless for the ally-challenged Winchester brothers, Sam (Jared Padelecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Castiel (Misha Collins) returned!

Yay! Our favorite stoic Angel that supposedly died earlier this season (and gave rise to those dumb Leviathan baddies) is back. In this week’s episode “The Born-Again Identity” Sam is committed to a psychiatric ward because the Lucifer hallucination in his head has driven him crazy. Desperately calling anyone for help, Dean finds out about this genuine faith healer. So when he goes to the guy’s place it turns out the healer is none other than Castiel. It turns out that he lost his memory and doesn’t remember being an angel or anything else.

Anyway, he decides to help Dean out. It was so great to see our pal Cass, it helps that he’s easy on the eyes LOL. Eventually, he remembers who he is and is wracked with guilt over his previous actions when he tried to play God. He gets to Sam in time to save him from a demon. But it turns out he can’t cure Sam of his hallucinations so in an act of self-sacrifice he transfers the debilitating hallucinations onto himself and he winds committed. Frankly it sucks that they had to leave him there in that ward. I guess the producers still wanted the brothers on their own to take on those Leviathan. Still sucks anyway because I know Castiel would kick the Leviathan’s butt all over the place. It just makes me wonder why can’t the Winchesters find some supernatural allies to help them with the Leviathan? Hopefully, they will be done with when the season finale comes around.

Annette DeForrester

 

Fringe Nears Its End

Fringe ends its mid-season break when it airs a new episode “Back To Where You’ve Never Been” on Friday the 13th (!) on Fox.

Sadly, this may be the swan song for the show being that its ratings have been terrible. Fox president Kevin Reilly said recently that the show isn’t profitable which most likely means that it’s on the chopping block. A shame really. Fringe (about federal investigations into incidents dealing with fringe science) is the best science fiction show currently airing and credit has to go to the producers (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and J.J. Abrams) for throwing caution into the wind and running full steam with the show’s complex mythology in this season.

Last time on Fringe, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) returned from limbo into our universe much to the chagrin of the enigmatic Observers (who seem to be trying to maintain the dimensional and temporal cohesion of the multiverse). Unfortunately, Peter concludes that the universe he returned to is not his own because no one, not even his father Water Bishop (John Noble) or lover FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) have any memory of him since he was erased from our  timeline.

Yes it’s a bit complicated, but here goes: throughout the show’s run there has been an impending war brewing between our universe and another parallel universe due to an incursion made by Walter back in the 1980s to a parallel world (where the World Trade Center is intact and airships dot the skies) to save Peter’s life and winds up bringing him to live in our universe.

All the interdimensional traveling is causing wormholes to appear that threaten to destroy the fabric of reality in both universes. At the end of the third season, the show jumps forward to 2026 where the parallel world is destroyed and ours face the same fate. Then there’s Olivia’s death at the hands of the evil alternate version of Walter. To reverse this, Peter Bishop uses a giant machine placed in the ancient past to change history in 2011. He creates an interdimensional bridge between the two universes so that both sides can work together and resolve their differences. It works, though it leaves an uneasy truce between the two factions and with Peter erased from the proper timeline.

For the most part the changes to the timeline have been very minor apart from Peter’s absence. The characters have changed subtly and only dedicated fans could spot the differences. This could be what disappointed some who expected wilder changes but it probably was an attempt by the show makers not to turn off casual viewers (not that it mattered since ratings plummeted anyway). At the end of the mid-season finale “Wallflower”, Peter was still trying to find his way back to his proper universe with the Observers on his tail.  Meanwhile it’s reveled that Olivia is an unsuspecting test subject of Massive Dynamic (one of those giant technological companies that are behind many fringe events). Click onto their official site: www.massivedynamic.com   

Obviously it helps if one has a good basic knowledge of the characters. Well that’s why DVDs exist. Being that it’s only three and a half seasons, it’s fairly easy to catch up to date. And it’s worth a rental or download. The show may have turned some off with its superficial similarities to The X-Files and the first few episodes of season one reinforce this notion. But this show isn’t about convoluted conspiracies that don’t make any sense and UFOs.  One could tell that the producers (responsible for LOST and the upcoming Alcatraz) have a game plan that rewards patient viewing. More or less all the weird stuff going on in this show (such as an invisible ex-soldier, a desperate scientist who mutilates his body in order to time travel and save his wife, or children who are born and rapidly mature into adulthood) that the standalone episodes are part of a larger tapestry where Walter Bishop is in the center of, thanks to his scientific brilliance. And his same brilliance research and theories in the past have also cost him dearly in terms of his sanity and relationship with Peter.

Fringe faces an uphill battle to get a fifth season greenlit. On Fox there are a three other genre shows vying for airtime. They include Terra Nova, Alcatraz and Touch. Add to that those moronic singing competition shows that eat up entire programming slots and there’s only so many shows the network will keep on the air.

What’s distressing is that the show more or less has a five-year story plan, meaning they only need a couple dozen episodes to bring the show to a proper conclusion. Fox could do the producers a favor and either renew the show for a final year perhaps with only thirteen episodes to conclude it, or give them enough notice that Fringe will be canceled this season so they can try to wrap up the series. If the second option happens then hopefully the show won’t feel truncated like season four of Babylon 5. That show suffered when it was forced to conclude its main storyline in the fourth season only to find out that a fifth season was greenlit. This led to a listless final season that didn’t seem to go anywhere in terms of story.

Of course, the worst fate is an outright cancellation that doesn’t give the producers time to conclude the show. This leaves fans with unanswered questions like who are the Observers and what is their agenda? Then there is the other terrible fate: a show that ends on a cliffhanger. Reassurances from the producers that they are seeking other venues to finish the show don’t help. It’s a rarity that another network picks up a canceled show and seriously, who wants to read a comic book or novel that finishes a live action story? It won’t feel complete and only serves to remind fans over how they were denied a proper ending. In the meantime, fans can enjoy the new slate of episodes that will be airing over the next few weeks.

José Soto

Check out this clip from the latest episode and groove to the psychedelic background music from Tommy James and the Shondells!

Fringe Begins Its Fourth Season

One of the few returning network TV shows that’s worth watching live premiered its fourth-season opener and Fringe didn’t disappoint devoted fans.

Despite its rich history, this episode “Neither Here Or There” is a bold jumping on point for new viewers. The reason for that is because of FBI Agent Lincoln Lee’s (Seth Gabel) re-introduction to the Fringe Division, which serves to explain what the show is about for anyone who doesn’t know anything about shape shifters, Observers, or amber.

Last season, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson),  in trying to prevent the destruction of two universes, was erased from existence which resulted in a new timeline. In this one, Agent Lee’s partner (played by Stargate: Atlantis’ Joe Flannigan) is killed by a strangely translucent man-a really disgusting effect. This leads him to meeting Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Walter Bishop (John Noble) and the rest of Fringe Division who investigate bizarre occurrences.

While the episode is set up to introduce new viewers to the Fringe universe, it’s also an intriguing yet subtle re-acquaintance for fans. Yes it’s a new timeline but things aren’t that different. The changes will only be caught by fans like Walter appearing a bit more unhinged than usual. Knowing the show, more clues will be peppered among upcoming episodes. But fans will note that Peter’s existence is critical and his absence should’ve made the timeline more radically different especially when it comes to the simmering cold war between our universe and the “Over There” universe that still exists.

What worked best for the episode were all the clues that weird stuff is going on, best shown with Peter’s ghostly image that literally appears in blinks and the enigmatic Observers who want to preserve the new timeline. It’s all intriguing and makes one want to learn more about what is going on and where it will all lead. Given the show’s history, it’s unlikely that it will disappoint fans. Despite its superficial similarity to The X-Files to casual viewers this program is a lot more than monsters of the week and convoluted conspiracies.

That’s why Fringe is the best sci-fi show on the air right now.

José Soto