Returning Fall Favorite: Fringe

Fringe, which just started its sophomore season this week, ranked as one of my favorite shows from last season. From J.J. Abrams, Fringe was a lot of sci-fi fun and it was easily addict-able with strong performances from most of the cast, especially from John Noble as crazy-scientist Walter Bishop. The stories were fun and entertaining, and the first season cliffhanger was brilliant. Apparently controversial in the U.S., but brilliant nonetheless. My main issue last year with the show was that it was often predictable; I often knew the outcome of the show or a twist that was coming many scenes before it was revealed. In fact, the best part of the Season 1 finale was that while I knew what was going to happen before each of the two big reveals, it was only a few seconds before, which leads to that great feeling that you figured something out while still getting to be shocked at the same time. So, how did the the second season kick off? I’d have to say about the same as last year–good fun, but alas, somewhat predictable.

***Season two premiere spoiler alert****

Season two picks up close to where we left off, but not in the same place, i.e., we’re not getting answers to soon about that alterna universe Olivia visited. We meet a new character, an FBI agent who we know from summer scoops, is going to be Olivia’s new partner. The actress has some work to do, she was a little dull for me, though I will grant you that could be tainted by my love for Kirk Acevedo’s character, Charlie. Olivia was in a car accident, but she wasn’t present when the FBI were first on the scene. In fact it isn’t until later that she comes flying through a window. (UPDATE**I’ve seen it said that this was the almost-accident that happened at the end of last season. I remember when it happened I wondered what the point was. I don’t entirely get it, but I sort of do.) The show tries to get us to think that she is brain dead, but as she’s the main character, we all knew this wasn’t the case. (And this is not the kind of predictability I was talking about–although this was predictable, it is an often used plot device, and well, you can’t be groundbreaking every time.) She comes back to life, says some gibberish (or Greek, as we later find out, something Peter’s mom used to tell him), and then realises she can’t remember where she went.

From there we meet the ‘monster of the week,’ this one in the form of a shape shifter who communicates to someone (or something) via a typewriter and a magnifying glass, who tells him to grill Olivia and then kill her. Most likely communicating from different universes. Whilst all this is happening, Walter & Co (and please please give Astrid more to do) are figuring out this shape shifter dude and realise that Olivia is in danger. The shape shifter has shape shifted into her nurse, is prevented from killing Olivia, is chased by Charlie, the new girl, and Peter. Charlie shoots her, Olivia is saved. In the B storyline, there is fear that the Fringe Division will be de-funded, but Peter helps to save the day. All’s well that end’s well.

Or not, of course. And here is the twist I could have told you was coming a mile away. Perhaps it is because I’ve watched a lot of sci-fi, and maybe even because I watched a lot of Alias, which is another J.J. Abrams show with a similar feel, but when it turns out that the shape shifter killed Charlie, I wasn’t surprised. I was disappointed, because I just knew they were going that way, and was hoping I was wrong. In fact, in the earlier scene where Charlie was talking to Olivia, I kept waiting for him to try and kill her. It is eerily reminiscent of the Evil Faux Francie storyline on Alias, and I really hope it doesn’t take all season for it to get sussed out. Also, how was it that the dead body looked like the nurse, but then later the dead body was Charlie? I’m a bit confused on that one, but I’ll leave it to the internets to help sort me out.

Still, overall it was a promising entry, and I assume we’ll get answers to that other universe Olivia visited soon. Also, what was up with that kiss between Nina and Boyles? And is the shape shifting device that most likely will save the Fringe division going to be used for nefarious means by the US Government? I still put this show high on my list, mainly due to the great cast and well let’s face it, I watched Charmed for five years. Need I say more?

They have a lot to tackle moving forward: which Peter do we know, what was the new girl looking at the Bible for, what does it mean that the division seems to be on the offensive now. I am optimistic for the future, but I do hope the writing gets stronger, and that maybe it can surprise me now and then.

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