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- TV Series: Fringe
- Episode: There's More Than One of Everything
- Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole
- Written By: Akiva Goldsman, Bryan Burk, Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman
- Directed By: Brad Anderson
- Network: Fox
- Series: Fringe
Fringe: There's More Than One of Everything
Did J.J. Abrams Just Alienate the Mainstream?
By Stephen Lackey
May 13, 2009
Leonard Nimoy in FRINGE
© Mania.com/Robert Trate
You may wonder what I’m talking about with the headline “Did Abrams just alienate the mainstream?” I ask this question because most mainstream TV viewers can’t handle heavy scifi elements. Typically, mainstream fans just want a little bit of sci-fi or horror mixed in with their procedural TV. These are different times though and much of the evolution of sci-fi on network TV comes thanks to J.J. Abrams. Sure Whedon should get some credit too but honestly Whedon has yet to have a television series that’s as successful as Alias, Lost or Fringe. Abrams worked in some magical fantasy elements into Alias and followed that with a character driven series that slowly worked in some staples of science fiction storytelling with Lost. What he did with those shows though was he hooked fans on the characters and their stories before weaving in the fantastical elements. With Fringe, he slams it home early and just continues to amp it up throughout the first season. This worked once on Fox with the classic X-Files but people forget that The X-Flies was a ratings flop for a really long time before finally finding its audience. Luckily, Fringe has not had the ratings problems of The X-Files though. Enough of Lost’s fans came over to the series to kick start it and old school fans of The X-Files have also made their way to Fringe. So, this episode and last week’s episode have really upped the science fiction ante and friends that I have that aren’t as into sci-fi have already been calling to ask me questions because they didn’t quite get it. That’s frustrating but hey they made it through the time jumping of Lost so surely they can settle into the alternate realities of Fringe.
There were some sorts of letdowns in this season finale of Fringe. They weren’t huge but they were letdowns none the less. The first is that Nina Sharp was shot last week. It ends up being no big deal this week. I didn’t want weeks of episodes with Olivia and the gang standing around her hospital bed with sad faces but overall there just wasn’t any impact on the series to her being attacked. There is however a reason for the attack though and it sets the episode on an extremely suspenseful path. The other letdown comes from the Observer taking Walter last week. It felt as though we were set for some amazing new development with the Observer but he ends up just being a tool, most likely of William Bell. The errand the Observer takes William on does return the show to an element of early episodes of the series. Walter hid some of his most important inventions and other projects in places that mean something to him. Now he’s at a beach house he used to own to pick up a device that just might save the day. Peter shows up at the beach house to help Walter search. So yes, there were letdowns but those letdowns led to great stuff so in the end it all sort of balances.
One of the most fast paced sequences in the episode comes when Peter and Walter are coming to the same conclusions at the beach house that Olivia, Nina, and Broyles are coming to back at FBI headquarters. It leads to Peter and Walter meeting Olivia at the location of the climactic ending of the episodes. While more questions are asked in this episode than answers are given, the best reoccurring villain of the season, David Robert Jones, does get finality for his story. His motivations are honestly a bit disappointing. He seemed like such an epic character to only be doing everything he was doing out of some need for revenge against William Bell. He was too good for such simple motivations. What if Ben had only been a single episode character on Lost? It seems that he and most of what’s happened this season has just been a setup for the real story that should begin next season. A new formula of bouncing between realities appears to be taking shape. At least we aren’t doing time travel again.
Perhaps the best moments in the episode were the smaller character moments though. Some of them were mysterious and others were emotional but they were all great and they go a long way to grounding the series and making every glance, every bit of body language, mean something. Throughout this season Walter and Peter never seem to be able to completely connect. When one of them, usually Peter but not always, has a moment of true openness the other one usually misses it or brushes it off. One of the best instances of that sort of exchange happens in this episode while Peter and Walter are at the beach house. Just when it looks as if Walter is going to feel the moment too and share the memory with Peter, he instead is thrilled that Peter’s story reminds him of just where the device he is looking for is hidden. Peter is openly disappointed by Walter’s totally missing the point of the story. Peter chalks up Walter’s actions to his odd manner and memory issues but in one of the most shocking moments of the series so far a new revelation explains much about why Walter acts as he does with Peter. I won’t spoil it here but there’ll be a lot to say about this scene in future reviews for sure. The more mysterious character interactions have been coming over the last couple of episodes between Broyles and Nina. In this episode it seemed like every time a decision needed to be made or some new bit of information needed to be shared the two of them would exchange looks. When will Olivia catch them glancing at each other? Broyles knows a lot more than he’s been letting on and Olivia needs to start demanding answers from him. She seems impatient with him already so we may see just such an exchange next season.
The other big scene in this season finale is easily the much promoted appearance of William Bell. We’ve all known he was coming and we’ve all known that Leonard Nimoy would be playing him. What’s surprising is that when he finally appears there’s a sense of levity from him as he’s wearing an almost cocky sort of grin. That grin almost deflates the scene but then a pan outside the building he and Olivia is in makes the whole thing again feel epic and game changing. This meeting does little more than put Olivia and Bell in a room together, but it does define the parameters of how Bell and Olivia will occasionally be running into each other. The build up to the scene was riveting and the pan outside the building was Lost zinger ending worthy.
Fringe started a little scatter shot but it has grown into the best new television shows of the season. The only reason it even started a little weaker has to be due to the rush writing of early scripts to get them done before the writers’ strike began because as soon as the series got beyond those scripts the quality jumped tenfold. Next season, the series needs to get back to the pattern and define it within this new world of alternate realities and sci-fi based terrorist groups. The last couple of episodes have played with who’s really the bad guy and who isn’t so going into next year Bell doesn’t seem quite as bad as we were led to believe in early installments of the season. This season finale offered the goods in action, suspense, drama, and mystery. It’s going to be a long wait for the fall premiere.