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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.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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braveheart79 5/13/2009 12:50:32 PM

Yeah this episode was Sick! What an great way to end the premier season. I can't wait until Fall!

I'm not sure about any of you, but I'm seeing a LOT of similarities between this show and Stephen King's The Dark Tower... a LOT of similarities!!! Do any of you think they could connect the two? JJ is a huge fan of King and King is a huge fan of JJ. Actually King has given only JJ his blessing to do any kind of adaptation of The Dark Tower. From what I've heard he's the only person he's even considered for it. There is just so much potential with this show it's scary!

hanso 5/13/2009 2:42:44 PM

Stop giving the JJ credit for Lost, Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof have been running that ship for a long time.

Cool ending for the season, I would've preferred they wouldn't have gone with Nimoy for William Bell.  They shortned the character arc cause Nimoy would only do so many eps.

ponyboy76 5/13/2009 2:52:26 PM

 I said it before and I`ll say it again. Fringe is a damn good show. It hits all the right marks and is a great successor to the X-Files.
 That scene at the end with Walter at the grave was just sick. I sort of had the feeling that it was something like that, but you never can tell with Walter. It does explain alot from previous episodes. I always assumed that Peter called Walter by his first name out of kind of anger at him for going nuts, but its obviously more than that. I wonder if Peter will ever find out, because there are so many secrets that Walter is keeping from him and Olivia.
  And then the end scene in the office was just freaking nuts. Its funny because when Olivia went to the window I thought the window structure looked familiar. And I wonder what happened to the White House, that Obama had to move into a new one.
   Awesome finale!! Anyway, I can't wait until next season!

hanso 5/13/2009 3:22:54 PM

My guess would be 9/11 happened on The White House instead of WTC.

braveheart79 5/13/2009 4:11:27 PM

I didn't even catch that headline. On 9/11 the plane that crashed in the field in PA would have crashed into the White House if the people on board didn't fight the terrorists. That's the fork in the road where you either do one or the other, both have different consequesnces. This whole show gets deep! That's awesome when they put it visually like that!!!

DaForce1 5/13/2009 7:49:01 PM

Yeah, I started piecing together where Peter was really from a couple of episodes ago when they started ramping up the memories of Walter and Peter's early life not quite meshing together. One would remember something happening that the other wouldn't.

I'm wondering if Bell is in the alternate reality to stop the Walter of that reality. Mainly because I think our Walter was the one who wrote the manifesto in the first place, and is the leader of ZFT but just doesn't remember it.

snallygaster 5/13/2009 10:01:54 PM

Did anybody else watch the now-canceled US version of Life on Mars?

I thought it was interesting that Life on Mars began with Sam waking up in 1973 to the mind-blowing vision of the Twin Towers standing in the NYC skyline. Now the season ends with Fringe using the WTC in a parallel universe. It's become a rather powerful visual way of saying "we're not in Kansas anymore."

BTW, the fourth hijacked plane was not intended for the White House, but for the US Capitol building. 9/11 organizer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed revealed this in an interview with al Jazeera a few years ago. It actually makes more sense - the Capitol is not only technically the seat of government, but it's a much more massive building than the White House, and sits exposed on a hilltop making it an easier target to hit.

mortellan 5/14/2009 1:07:38 AM

Holy hell that was a double threat of shocking twists. Fringe nailed a perfect 10 on that landing. Kudos!

DangerRick 5/14/2009 6:20:44 AM

I think the only thing cooler than Nimoy being William Bell would have been if Bell were the "other" Dr. Bishop, who is not so crazy, or crazy like a fox!

Remember, there are 2 of everything.

LittleNell1824 5/14/2009 8:19:29 AM

For me, the Twin Towers scene was a gut twister. It was different with Life on Mars because that was the past. But in Fringe, the thought that there could be a scenario where it didn't happen - it makes me so sad thinking about what we've lost and what could have been.

I agree with Stephen that this episode probably lost anyone who tried to tune in for the first time. For those of us who've watched it all along, it was perfect. But it relied heavily on things that had gone before.

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