Last year, J.J. Abrams gave us a brilliant new show filled with compelling storylines with quirky characters and sometimes gruesome mysteries. The show managed to keep my attention thanks to its interweaving storyline embedded within a case-of-the-week format. The acting was always top notch which set the bar very high for this shows sophomore season. If the pilot is indicative of what we can expect in the coming weeks, then it’s safe to say the Fringe Division has taken that bar and broken it in half.
“A New Day in an Old Town” was quite a wild ride with so many unexpected turns, I think I got whiplash. In the teaser we got to see a man scramble from the scene of an accident and rearrange his face in front of a mirror like Silly Putty. What a fantastic way to remind us about the bizarre oddities we forgot about in the long wait for this new season. “Fringe” never disappoints when it comes to adding new mythos to their expanding universe. Another shock to my visual cortex was seeing Olivia Dunham (played brilliantly by Anna Torv) flying through the window of her parked and damaged SUV. All of that, and we hadn’t even seen the title card yet! The action was piled on thick throughout the episode: Olivia abruptly awakening from her coma spouting Greek, Phillip Broyles’ (Lance Reddick) powerful argument with an FBI review board, the shape shifter taking two bullets from Olivia’s gun, then jumping out a 10 story window and landing on its feet, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) telling Broyles that the Fringe division is going on the offensive, and let’s not forget the big reveal that the shape shifter actually killed Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) and assumed his identity. I had opposing emotions when it came to Charlie’s death. On one hand, I was sad to see his character killed. He was an anchor for Olivia, while avoiding a Fox Mulder persona. After hearing rumors that Kirk Acevedo may not return to the show, I’m glad to see he is not only staying on board, but his character is now a villain.
“Fringe” has an uncanny ability to blend comedy into practically every episode. I’m sure I laughed about as many times as my jaw dropped. Lines like “I want to see her face when she eats my pudding”, “Stay out of the medications”, and “Go get that bitch” were delivered perfectly by the actors and gave us moments of brevity amidst the chaos unfolding in front of our eyes. I love that the writers continued to reference the fact that Walter Bishop (John Noble) continues to self medicate as well as bringing back the Fringe Division’s bovine mascot. Another hilarious moment was watching Walter perform an autopsy while instructing Astrid “Asterisk” Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) on the proper way to make custard while eating a Red Vine gripped in his bloody glove. Who comes up with this stuff?!
The actors and actresses in this show NEVER fail to deliver amazing performances. Joshua Jackson carried this episode and did it with style. John Noble’s performance as Walter is always a delight. Agent Amy Jessup played by newcomer Meghan Markle (a former Deal or no Deal model) was a great addition to the cast. Her character entered the show seamlessly which is hard to do in an episodic series (you hearing me “Heroes” writers? No more Maya’s please!). Lance Reddick had several shining moments in this episode, and always seems to captivate me with every word. You can always bet on this cast giving an amazing performance and with a growing list of talented co-stars joining their ranks, I’m guessing an Emmy nomination could be in the works for next year.
I did have a few very minor issues with the script. Any hospital in America wouldn’t allow the Bishop boys entry into a secured area just because Peter tells the doctor to “Back off!” Why not just flash his FBI credentials? There were two moments in the episode where Peter threw himself into a dangerous situation unarmed: when Peter and Agent Jessup entered the home of the shape shifters victim (why would Jessup allow him to come with her unarmed?) and when the same pair were chasing down the shape shifter in the bowels of the hospital. With the introduction of a “super soldier” villain, it feels like a very familiar storyline from a very similar show (“X-Files” has a similar villain played by a young Adam Baldwin!!). Again, these are minor issues and they were completely dwarfed by the strength of the rest of the episode.
A few final notes:
- I think at this point, it’s pretty obvious Peter is either a clone of Walter, or Walter visited the other universe and took the Peter of that world back to his own.
- I loved seeing Broyles covering up the details of the accident.
- The typewriter communication device was a great introduction into how the two universes can communicate with one another.
- At one point, Walter referenced a time when he and Timothy Leary had experimented with some mind altering drugs. Any show that references Leary earns bonus points in my book.
- What was up with that kiss between cyborg Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) and Broyles?
- Who is the shape shifter working for?
- I really enjoyed the interrogation scene between the “nurse” and Olivia. Really solid acting in this scene.
- Agent Jessup tying the pattern to the bible was a great touch.
- What other show would you see a cow wearing a birthday hat?
I realize this review has gone on for quite a while now, but with a show like “Fringe”, it’s hard not to analyse every scene. Abrams packs in so much into every episode, and it looks like Season 2 won’t be any different. After watching the preview for the rest of the season at the end of the episode, it looks like we’re in for one weird and wild ride this season.
More custard please!
There wasn’t a single line in the entire episode that felt phony. Everyone from the main characters to the supporting cast had amazing performances!
The visuals in this episode were amazing: a face molding, the shifter jumping out a ten story window, Olivia flying out of a stationary SUV’s window… this series never fails to disappoint.
I was disappointed that Leonard Nimoy’s character William Bell was absent from this episode, but the writers set up many different moments in the episode that will help to push the plot of this series forward. We got a few answers, but were left with more questions. “There are consequences to travelling between two universes…” SWEET!
Overall Score: [Rating:9.75/10]Last 5 posts by Josh Singleton
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