"Walter thinks that she was a shape-changing soldier from another universe. He thinks that might be where you went. Do you think it's a bad sign that I can say that out loud and neither of us thinks I'm crazy?" -PeterIt feels right that the "Fringe" premiere would feature a couple of overt Mulder/Scully nods (David Duchovny is on the TV in the first murder victim's apartment, and later the subcommittee grilling Broyles brings up "The old X designation"), because the season premiere finds the show continuing to embrace its role as the 21st century "X-Files" - albeit an "X-Files" where Scully has already become a beleiver.
"Fringe" is much weirder - and better - than it was early in its first season. And the willingness of the show and its characters to embrace ideas like shapeshifters, parallel universes, et al is a lot more fun than that period when Broyles or Peter or Olivia would constantly raise a skeptical eyebrow at Walter's theories. That was maybe necessary at first, but we're at home watching men turn into giant hedgehogs, so the characters just seem dumber to us when they don't go along with what we already know.
The downside to being another "X-Files" is that I suspect this show's larger mythology will make as much sense as the "X-Files" conspiracy did by the end, or as much as "Alias" did. But I don't necessarily need a logical endgame when the individual episodes are enjoyable, which "A New Day in the Old Town" definitely was.
I found it interesting, and yet apropos, that the writers would come back with an episode where Olivia is so much on the sideline. I suspect they just didn't want to reveal whatever William Bell told her after the season one finale ended - that, or they had no idea what he told her, and just came up with a cool cliffhanger, thinking they'd explain it when they came back from hiatus. But if it was frustrating to have Olivia forget her trip to Earth-WTC, at least it meant we got to spend far more time with Peter and Walter, who have become the heart of the show.
That's especially true now that we know Peter isn't the Peter from this Earth, which gives a new resonance to their interaction. Now Walter's fixation on custard isn't just another sign of his eccentricity, but a story about the old man wanting desperately to believe that this Peter (who doesn't like custard) is identical to his Peter (who loved the stuff). Joshua Jackson and John Noble have become so comfortable together as performers, and it's fun to hear the delight in Noble's voice (and see the dismay on Jackson's face) when he gets to utter a line like, "Feel his anus! It's soaking wet!"
I wasn't especially fond of Agent Jessup, who seemed so blase about all this freaky stuff that she's either a blatant double agent for the bad guys, or else it's bad writing/acting. On the other hand, I'm glad they gave Kirk Acevedo a nice moment to play as Charlie (the speech in Olivia's hospital room) before they bumped him off and replaced him with the shapeshifter. There was a lot of confusion about whether Acevedo would still be a regular on the show this season, and this development doesn't help. It's entirely possible faux-Charlie could stay undercover next to Fringe Division for a long time, or he could be found out by sweeps, and then we see goodbye to Acevedo permanently.
Still, a solid start to a season, and a sign that the improvements from late last season weren't an aberration.
What did everybody else think?