TV Review: Fringe

michael dworkis muses about the current season and future of the FOX sci-fi series …

Creepy shape-shifters, human impersonators, parallel worlds. All normal in the lives of the Fringe division. You would think that after watching worlds nearly collide they would be ready for anything. However, things are not at all what they seem. At the conclusion of the last season, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) simply ceased to exist. The timeline was rewritten, and somehow the Fringe teams on two worlds managed to solve every single phenomenon without Peter Bishop, the man from both worlds.

As the present season began, Fringe on “our world” ran normally, introducing Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) to the team, a main character on the opposite world. To recap, the other Earth is more technologically advanced than ours, as their Walter (John Noble), or “Walternate” was forced to advance his knowledge of all things time, space, and science in order combat the never-ending plague of time-holes which would open on his world, as a result of Peter, his son being taken to ours. On our world, Walter is a recluse, on the alternate world he is the Secretary of Defense.

Confusing, I know. The short end of it, for those who do not know who Peter is… well … here goes…

Peter Bishop is the son of Walter Bishop. On both worlds, everything was the same. Was. Past tense. One day, on our world, Peter, as a child, became terminally ill. Walter, could not save him. He died. He became obsessed with his experiments about finding multiple universes and cracking time and space barriers. He discovered an alternate Earth, where the Peter there became ill. Our Walter jumped to the other side, bringing Peter back to cure him. The tunnel between worlds closed, and Peter, from the other side remained here. That caused chaos for the alternate world.

I am sure some of you are still confused, but it is time to move on. In this fourth season, Peter haunts the minds of Walter and Olivia (Anna Torv). Eventually, he wills himself back into existence but no one remembers him. With each episode, there are unfathomable events, mostly of a murderous nature. Each episode is part of a bigger plot, but I have yet to see it.

With the return of the fourth season, Peter makes the decision to jump to the alternate universe in an effort to get back to his timeline. We are led to believe that now the timeline is either separate or altered. We do not know. We do know that shape-shifters from the alternate universe have invaded ours and are responsible for many attacks and terrorist-like events. Taking Lincoln Lee with him, they secretly jump to the other side. The most notable difference between the two, is seen by Lee. The Twin Towers still standing. While this happens, a shape-shifter is hit by a bus and brought to “Walternate” for inspection. It seems he too wonders about the increase in shape-shifter activity on his world.

Unfortunately, Peter and Lincoln are discovered and are taking into custody by the Fringe Division. One of the agents try to murder them, but Peter and Lincoln wind up killing the agent. Lincoln meets the alternate Lincoln and Olivia, while Peter tries to track down “Walternate” in order to find a way to his timeline. As it turns out, those shape-shifters are out to cause havoc on both worlds. Those who saw Sherlock Holmes 2 will notice the good Professor Moriarty, a.k.a. Jared Harris, returns to Fringe as a criminal returned from the dead as the cunning Mr. David Jones, villain from the first season of the show.

I am concerned about the future of Fringe. Last week at the Television Critics Association, co-creator and Executive Producer J.J. Abrams would not speculate if Fringe would earn a fifth season. It must have been shocking enough to Abrams that his show was renewed for a fourth, after fan out-cry resulted in FOX renewing the show. Although, according to FOX President Kevin Reilly, they kept the show rather than risk ratings on a new venture. Reilly also revealed that while Fringe is one of their top shows for Friday night, they lose money because of its expensive budget. Abrams did say that should Fringe get one more season it would indeed be its last.

I find this season to be very slow moving, and conversations along the lines of:

“So, we need to complete this mission.”
“Yes, we should.”
“Alright, let’s do it.”
“Let’s go.”
“We need get our stuff.”
“Then we’re going.”
“We have a mission.”
“This mission is important.”

A lot of talk, and while there is action, the plot just does not move. While I understand there is a much bigger picture being painted, I do not feel for any of the characters since a big reset button got pushed at the end of season four, and it does not have the same pace as past seasons. I am concerned that Abrams might have to wrap up Fringe without a fifth season.

1 COMMENT

  1. I adore this programme, and have even enticed my girlfriend into the peculiar world of Fringe. My fear is that it’s just too confusing for anyone who hasn’t watched previous seasons, even I struggle! I just hope that when it reaches it’s end, that it actually has a conclusion, and doesn’t suffer the same premature fate as My Name Is Earl!