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- TV Series: Fringe
- Episode: Unearthed
- Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nicole
- Written By: Josh Singer
- Directed By: Joe Chappelle
- Network: Fox
Fringe: Unearthed Review
An Exorcism Should Be Performed On This Episode
By Kent Ninomiya
January 12, 2010
Charlie's Back... or is he?
It was a rather unsettling seeing Kirk Acevedo's character, Charlie Francis, working cases like nothing ever happened. Charlie was killed off by a parallel universe assassin earlier in season two. While people coming back from the dead would be par for the course with Fringe, that was not part of this episode. The episode “Unearthed” was actually meant for the end of season one before Charlie was killed. It was held over until now.
I can understand why FOX decided to pass on this episode for season one. For the most part, it is forgettable and does little to advance the development of the characters or overall story arc. In fact, Charlie's presence messes with the heads of Fringe fans and makes it feel like a repeat even though the episode is new.
The plot revolves around brain dead teenager who is taken off of life support and allowed to die. While her organs are being harvested for transplant, she suddenly wakes up scaring the living daylights out of the doctors performing the procedure. She screams a stream of numbers that turn out to be highly classified military codes. She also speaks in Russian and talks like a transvestite. It turns out that the teen is channeling an old sailor who speaks fluent Russian and was murdered.
This did not seem like a typical Fringe script. There was little mystery or compelling drama. The teen was possessed and the Fringe team was trying to help get rid of the guy possessing her. So what? That plot has been recycled since they burned witches at the stake for allegedly causing possessions. A predictable murder whodunit twist is clumsily thrown in, but it got solved way too easily. The perp's confession was ridiculously fast. The agents didn't even have to say “please.”
I did enjoy watching Walter Bishop bare his teeth and angrily argue with a priest about the existence of spirit possessions and exorcisms. It is refreshing when Walter flashes his dark side. The interchange reminds us of the underlying theme of Fringe which is the struggle between science and faith. The writers show their clear preference for Walter's brand of scientific faith when the girl's religious mother turns to Walter for help instead of her priest.
On a side note: if you recorded the episode, fast forward to the scene outside the church where Olivia is talking with the girl's mother. You can see the Observer walking behind Olivia in one of the shots. Don't let the guy with the hat and the beard throw you. The bald guy wearing the hat is definitely there.
The sad truth is that “Unearthed” is a stand-alone episode crammed into a January slot so that FOX can boast that it is showing a new episode as they roll into the February ratings period. FOX tried to pass it off as a special event by showing it on Monday. If the intent was to attract new fans and excite their core fan base, the effort likely backfired. The episode showed little of Fringe's characteristic quirkiness and only disappointed faithful followers. However, Fringe fans should take heart and not judge the rest of the season by what they saw in this episode. Once Charlie is back in the grave, the plots should get better.