Four Torches (Out of Five)
In the season finale of the last season of Fringe, we learned that parallel universes exist — and that, in fact, Walter Bishop had created a device in order to go into one of them to get an “alternate-Peter” after his son died in this universe.
At the end of the episode, Olivia traveled into that universe too, a dimension where the World Trade Center was never destroyed, to finally meet the mysterious William Bell (played, in darn near perfect casting, by the mysterious Leonard Nimoy).
In the season premiere, airing this Thursday on Fox (opposite Supernatural, damn them, at 9 PM/8 C), Olivia comes back from that other dimension.
Boy, does she come back!
The sequence where she reenters this world is one of the weirdest and most interesting I’ve seen in a long time.
The episode picks up right where the finale left off. But almost everything is left unexplained, so don’t expect to see more of William Bell just yet.
Instead, we get lots of action, and a new FBI character, Meghan Markle’s Amy Jessup, to replace Kirk Acevedo’s Charlie Francis (who isn’t gone just yet).
The opener is fast-paced and fun, but I saw a few red flags that concern me:
First, Olivia has amnesia, which means she doesn’t remember what happened in the other dimension, or what “really important thing” she has to do to prevent catastrophe in this dimension.
Really? Amnesia has looooong been the lazy writer’s best friend. (And the Fringe writers have already used their “amnesia” chit on, well, Walter’s entire character!) Olivia’s amnesia disappointed me a lot.
Second, I have this unsettling sensation (in part, because of Olivia’s amnesia) that they’re bottling up the William Bell/alternate dimension storyline until later in the season — sweeps week, perhaps.
I know that creator J.J. Abrahms has said that, contrary to Lost, he wants this show to be easier to follow. I can appreciate that.
But I like this show best when it get backs to its serialized central mystery. I like it least when it veers into the “monster-of-the-week” territory.
Last red flag? [minor spoiler here] The “Fringe” department is being shut down. This is a fine complication so far as it goes, and probably inevitable given the need for dramatic conflict.
But once again, the show is veering uncomfortably close to The X-Files territory. The fact is, that show is so iconic that Fringe simply has no choice but to steer as far away from The X-Files‘ storylines as possible, to avoid the inevitable comparisons on the part of the viewer. Anyway, I hope this isn’t a major plot-line.
But hey, these are mostly just quibbles. I enjoyed the opener a lot, and I’m sure fans of last season will too!
A preview of the Fringe season opener