Hey guys, Eric here with your weekly coverage of J.J. Abram's "Fringe". As it's a complicated show with a lot going on, I've been struggling to come up with some sort of coherent structure to my episode breakdowns. After putting some thought into it I think I've found what I'm looking for. So check it out and let me know what you think.
FRINGE EPISODE 1.2 "THE SAME OLD STORY"
The episode starts out with a man and a woman in a hotel room, sharing some awkward post coital conversation. While the woman tries to make small talk from the bed, the man sits in the bathroom fumbling with a scary looking needle and some type of chemical. Before he can get it ready, the girl begins screaming in pain. The man then panics, grabs the girl and drops her off at the hospital, where she proceeds to grow a giant preggo belly, tear in half and spit out a kid who is growing so fast that you can literally see it happen in real time. If you were saying to yourself, "boy that sounds like a case for those 'Fringe' guys", you'd be right! When the investigation starts, Olivia quickly ties the case to a killer she has investigated in the past, whose MO involves cutting out pituitary glands of his victims. Convinced the cases are involved, she begins trying to tie them together.
The Fringey Science
While trying to figure out who the killer is, Dr. Bishop (remember, the crazy old Dr. guy) posits that because the girl was injected with a chemical to paralyze her muscles right before her death, the final neural image that was sent form her eyes to her brain could be frozen in the passageway. It's at this point that the show's consummate voice of reason Peter (The Dr's son, played by Joshua Jackson) points out that even if you could find the signal, there's no way for you to interpret it to see what exactly it is. Normally you'd be right, but this is wacky Fringe land, and it just so happens that the shady "Massive Dynamics" corporation has developed a doohicky that will interpret the image and project it onto a screen. Coincidence? Do you know J.J. Abrams? In the end, the device works and allows our investigators a fleeting glimpse of what appears to be a bridge. That glimpse, followed by some mildly cheesy computer work leads them to a warehouse, and ultimately their killer.
A few key hints to our mythos are dropped in this ep. Here they are, in list form since I'm lazy:
- Although Massive Dynamics has a classified clearance with the Government, both parties are highly suspicious of each other, and it's obvious that they're up to something hella shady.
- It appears as if all of these so-called "Fringe" cases that the crew will be investigating each week will somehow tie in to research done by Dr. Bishop before he was committed. It also appears that he has many more secrets to reveal as the show goes on.
- It is revealed that Peter Bishop has a medical secret in his background. What it is was not hinted at.
- Our lead, Olivia Dunham, also has something in her background that makes her recruitment to the Fringe unit non-coincidental. This is also yet to be revealed.
It turns out that an old partner of Dr. Bishop, who had worked with him on a project where they were "growing soldiers" using artificially accelerated growth in humans, kept one of the test tube babies and raised him as his own. The only thing stopping him from dying rapidly were constant injections of the hormones from pituatary glands, which was the motive for his killing. Bishop's old colleague escapes, the killer is dead, and that is the end.
It was really interesting to see how a typical episode of this series may play out, after getting through all of the laborious setup of the pilot. I enjoyed what I saw, but again I have to stress how much of a leap of faith in every direction this series takes. Even by cop show standards, a lot of what is presented here is a bit too convenient for its own good. In particular, the scene where they were snagging the last image the girl saw from her brain, while it provided a great visual scene, still came off as cheesy. It wasn't helped by the fact that two clicks of a mouse somehow matched the bridge to a blueprint, spun it around to the perfect angle and confirmed the location. I mean come on now, you've got to try harder than that.
Character wise, we finally got a little of SOMETHING from Joshua Jackson's character Peter. Apparently he's really good with machines. Okay, that's at least something to lead me to believe that this guy is actually a genius. I also have to admit that the homemade defibrillator scene towards the end was pretty incredible.
He still has no chemistry with the lead character Olivia, which is a problem since they're continuing to hint at trying to set something up with them, but I'm becoming ever more intrigued by the relationship with him and his father. Dr. Bishop is quickly becoming my favorite character on the show. He's offbeat, strange, quirky, and all around a lovable guy. He even had a few one liners in this show that made me chuckle a bit. All in all, good times. I can't stress enough though how much of a problem it will become of Abrams and co. try to hook up their two leads. It will not work, so I advise against it.
"Fringe" is a wildly improbable show in almost every way. Simply buying into the base premise is going to be tough for a lot of people, but once you're able to do that there is definitely an atmosphere in the air that's hard to deny. There are some great ideas here, and I'm definitely willing to give this show a few more episodes before I pass judgment. That said, there are a few easily recognizable time bombs that could derail the show before it gets a chance to really shine.
Oh, and for those numbers nerds out there. The number sequence the father is mumbling at the end of the show while trying to go to sleep is as follows... 1 - 2 - 33 - 3 - 77 - 2 - 21 - 6 - 2021. I think I may have missed some in the beginning, but then I realized I was watching a J.J. Abrams show so those were probably clues to some wacky shit, so I started furiously writing them down. When they release the show on Hulu maybe I'll track them down. Then again, who am I kidding.
Thoughts, feelings, opinions on Fringe 1.2? Leave 'em in the comments!