Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fringe, "The Road Not Taken": Who ya gonna call?

A day and a half late, some quick spoilers for this week's "Fringe" coming up just as soon as I go through my record collection...

I can't complain too much with an episode that climaxes with Agent Harris being burned alive, now can I?

Overall, I thought "The Road Not Taken" was a solid episode that set things up for next week's season finale, with the return of Nina Sharp, Olivia confronting Walter about his role in drugging her as a child, the revelation that Walter's typewriter used to be William Bell's, and the Observer appearing (and speaking) to Walter.

At the same time, I have to confess that I'm not nearly as engaged in the "Fringe" mythology as I was about either the island secrets of "Lost" or the alien conspiracy on "The X-Files" at a similar stage. Part of it is that there seem to be so many secrets, only some of them possibly related, on "Fringe," but for whatever reason, I keep losing all the different threads and spend half of episodes like this one trying to remember key details from previous shows. The long in-season gaps between episodes didn't help -- "Fringe" definitely feels like a show that would benefit from uninterrupted scheduling, ala "Lost" or "24" -- nor did the number of episodes that had little or nothing to do with Massive Dynamic, ZFT or any other Pattern-related group.

Looking forward to the finale, though. John Noble is wonderful.

What did everybody else think?


Karen said...

Yes, that line rocked! I'm so glad FOX picked up this show for another season.

Karen said...

Hear, hear to John Noble being wonderful. His breaking down in the cafe when Olivia confronted him was so moving - especially the part about him not remembering what he's done.

Waaaay too much shilling for the Star Trek movie, I thought. Or was that just playing with those of us who've been spoiled about who's showing up next week?

In general, I agree, Alan - not feeling invested in the mythology. But this show has grown on me over the season, from the point where I almost gave up on it after a couple of episodes to the point where I very much look forward to it. Hoping for good things next season.

Jen said...

I was so annoyed at the Star Trek stuff. I mean I know that cross promotion is big and all, but between this and the Lost logo morphing into the Enterprise last week... I don't know there just has to be a line. Though I did love them using Clint Howard to be the paranoid star trek loon. My inner nerd had a good laugh at that.

I think that they've done a good job of ramping up the mythology stuff in the last few episodes. It was done in such a way that you weren't beaten over the head with it early on, so people would find it accessible. Now that it's moving towards a climax things start clicking into place and I'm finding that the mythology and Walter's role in everything is the most compelling thing for me.

I really thought that John Noble did a fantastic job. It's so easy to laugh at Walter being kooky but the scenes where he's really vulnerable are just magic.

Devin McCullen said...

Yeah, very solid episode. And I agree. John Noble is outstanding.

I didn't think of it as shilling, I was too busy laughing at it.

Which reminds me, everybody should check out the Zap2It recap - if nothing else, scroll down to the part where he discusses the apps Olivia has on her phone.

Hatfield said...

I agree, I've lost track of a lot of the mythology here, and the scheduling is almost certainly to blame. I do remember, however, that The Observer spoke to Walter in his spotlight episode last fall, when that missile looking thing came out of the ground and Walter met up with him at some diner.

I'm just glad this show gets to continue. When I check the ratings it seems to be doing pretty well, but am I off about that?

One unrelated note: It occurred to me just now that I broke rule #3 (or is it #4?) of What's Alan Watching? last week in the Reaper post when I asked after a totally different show. My apologies, and I'll mind myself in the future.

ED said...

I laughed at the Star Trek stuff. It was shameless, but the in-jokes kind of cracked me up, even more so since we know who is playing William Bell (I don't believe this to be a spoiler, since it has been widely reported and we heard the unmistakable voice a couple weeks ago. Alan, I apologize if you or anyone feels it is).

Whereas with Lost, and in BSG, I am\was deeply involved in the mythology and want(ed) answers and was also invested in the characters, with Fringe I actually find myself more engaged with the characters, specifically Walter and Peter. Olivia is becoming more interesting, but John Noble is so wonderful, and the character is so wonderfully written, that a few good Walter scenes is all I need to be happy!

Anonymous said...

I totally bought the Star Trek references, in that an outsider picks up hints of a vast conspiracy charged with fighting an invasion. Given that the outsider does not know the core manifesto, he translates the hints into a world view he does have a grasp of.
Clint Howard, what a career playing geeks and lightyears away from Gentle Ben.

dez said...

In general, I agree, Alan - not feeling invested in the mythology. But this show has grown on me over the season, from the point where I almost gave up on it after a couple of episodes to the point where I very much look forward to it. My feelings exactly. Don't care as much about the mythology, but I love anything involving Walter (and seeing Peter follow in his footsteps with that weird gizmo was fun, too).

Anonymous said...

Alan: "I can't complain too much with an episode that climaxes with Agent Harris being burned alive, now can I?"

Amen!!! Very well put - perhaps one of the most satisfying moments on TV this year.

Agree with the general sentiment on being invested in the show's mythology - to me it has felt like the writers weren't invested in it consistently enough in terms of both plot and having the characters display their engagement with it on a regular basis.

Last night had an example - a woman mysteriously burns to death after Broyles tells the whole tean their looking into Bell and biological weapons, and Olivia and Charlie waltz right in to the woman's apartment. Oh yeah, they put on gloves once they got inside. Sloppy on the writer's part and gives us no feeling that the characters are thinking using their previous knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this show needs to be shown in consecutive weeks like 24 & Lost. Having gaps just doesn't work. It works for Bones because it doesn't rely on mythology; it is a procedural and they, along with comedies, are the only shows that can be jerked around on the schedule like Fox does. So, thank you, Fox, for renewing Fringe but be more consistent with its programming, please.

I'm stoked about the finale and next season.

Eldritch said...

Jen said...

I was so annoyed at the Star Trek stuff

I thought the Star Trek geek scene was funny, though Alan is right to say it didn't advance the plot at all.

I didn't think of it as product placement at the time. I guess that means it was well done product placement.

But as a product placement, it was certainly much more intrusive than Big Mike's eating a Subway sandwich on "Chuck."

I understand why producers and advertisers are doing them, but I'm liking them less and less. They break the suspension of disbelief which jars you out of the story's universe. Very distracting and spoils enjoyment of the show.

Eldritch said...

Visiting parallel universes has always puzzled me.

When Olivia popped into the next door dimension, did she take the place of Olivia2 who normally lived there? If so, Where did Olivia2 go?

When she viewed the 2 burned corpses (in the next dimension), did the other cops in our dimension, standing around her, notice she had popped out of existence? Did they notice when she popped back into our reality? Why didn't anyone say anything?

Unknown said...

Thanks to the AI overrun, my DVR cut off right before the end when Mrs. Massive Dynamic was going into her apartment building. This was after the Observer came to get Walter. Did anything of note happen?

Eldritch said...

Matthew said...
Thanks to the AI overrun, my DVR cut off right before the end when Mrs. Massive Dynamic was going into her apartment building. . . Did anything of note happen

As she got off the elevator, two men in black ski masks shot her. She falls to the floor. Her fate ????

Anonymous said...

Matthew - here's a link to the last 50 seconds of the episode with the part you missed due to the incompetence of the American Idol folks going late yet again:


Toby O'B said...

I suppose it would have been too obvious an in-joke if Clint Howard claimed to be Balok instead. But to be really geeky, he should have contradicted Peter's guess that he was Spock by saying that as the son of Sarek, he was Sybok.

Nicole said...

As soon as he referenced Khan Noonian Singh, I knew there was to be some Star Trek fun. I thought it was cute.

Count Screwloose said...

I also thought it was a great improvement having Peter turn the wisecracks down a notch. It's important that he have an emotional investment in the proceedings, too. I suspect as much will be revealed soon. Anna Torv is still underrated, I think, and John Noble papers over all the cracks. I see why Torv picked her scene here with Walter as a favorite. Great stuff.

The phased-in/phased out reality stuff had me completely fascinated, and probably more nervous than anything I've seen on TV since Twin Peaks. Can't wait for Tuesday night.

evelyn27 said...


Anonymous said...

Did anyone else make the visual connection between Olivia's hallucination of the city's burning and the "Lost" smoke monster? I think they were the same visuals! I felt so "in with the in crowd" when I noticed that!

7s Tim said...

two quick things, maybe of note, maybe not, but didn't look like anyone else dwelled on them:

In one of her visions, there was some graffit saying "He is Here". He who, does it even matter, is it Billy Bell, did it just look like something cool for their whole days of future past thing? dunno personally, hope it actually gets a call back in season 3 or something.

also, were they trying to activate our drew barrymore girl with one of those light boxy things, which is the first test or some such for anti-dimensional kiddie soldiers? they just kinda panned over it before she lit that guy up, was hoping they would pann back over it after the 'splosion, but i didn't catch it if they did.

and yes, i'm only posting this at half past midnite days later cause Alan's Dollhouse finale post ain't up yet.