Fringe season 2 episode 1 review

Billy welcomes the return of the show that blends the implausible with the certifiable, often entertainingly. But was it worth the wait?

2.1 A New Day In The Old Town

I was glad to see the return of Fringe, as I thought that it got very short thrift from Fox last year when they gave it a mid-season hiatus just when the series was building momentum. Although, in retrospect, the show did come back with more sense of purpose, and the finale exceeded my expectations on so many levels.

For those of you who either missed that, or need reminding, season one ended with Olivia meeting Mr Bell in an alternate parallel New York, where his office was in the World Trade Center.

Fans of the show expect some craziness in the opening pre-credit sequence, but the insanity produced for A New Day In The Old Town reaffirmed the premise that this is a show where just about anything can happen.

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A man comes around in a car after it’s been involved in an accident, and in a dazed state he flees the scene. He enters an apartment building where he meets Luke Goss and kills him. For 10 seconds here I thought this was probably the shortest cameo in TV history, before the killer pulls out a weird gizmo, which has three spikes which he sticks into the roof of his mouth and the deceased half of a pop duo, before transforming into a clone of him.

Meanwhile, back at the car accident the FBI has called Fringe Division because the second vehicle involved appears to have nobody driving and is locked from the inside. The scene is under the control of the implausibly lovely Agent Jessup (Meghan Markle), who isn’t aware of Fringe or what they do. While Peter and she argue about what Fringe is and if she has clearance to know, Walter sets about breaking into the car only to discover once inside that something isn’t entirely normal here.

Suddenly the car comes to life, starts revving and Agent Dunham materialises in the driving position to be catapulted through the windscreen and onto the road!

Fringe writers (J.J. Abrams and Akiva Goldsman) got my full attention, and only six minutes of running time had elapsed.

Clearly the accident took place in an alternate New York, and then bled through into our reality. But who is the shape shifter? And will Olivia survive? Initially we’re given to believe not, as her annoying sister turns up at the hospital to be emotional while Walter goes even more batty than normal.

But this isn’t the only problem Fringe has, because sexy Junior Agent Amy Jessup is hacking into government computers to find out more about this mysterious division while a group of senators are telling Phillip Broyles that this particular expense hasn’t shown any returns and as such Fringe is to be shut down.

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Peter goes to see Olivia before they turn her life support off, putting him at her bedside when she contradicts all the medical information we’ve been given by waking up and not dying. She’s clearly somewhat confused and afraid, but even she is a little hazy on why.

What’s obvious to the viewer here, although it takes the cast the rest of the show to work this out, is that the shape shifter was trying to kill Olivia, and so far he’s not yet succeeded. We’re presented with a somewhat drawn out detective story, which then predictably climaxes with him coming to kill Olivia in hospital, and possibly one of the worst WTF moments the show has delivered so far.

The shape shifter targets a female nurse who is looking after Agent Dunham and becomes her (no, I didn’t understand how this process would change gender either based on what we’d seen so far).

She then tries to kill Olivia but is stopped by yummy Agent Jessup, who shoots the shape shifter who then jumps out of the Window and is hit at least two times by her bullets. She, Peter and Charlie pursue the shape shifter into the spooky boiler room of the hospital underground, with Charlie getting there well ahead of the other two.

The shape shifting nurse gets the drop, but you’re lead to believe Charlie was faster as she’s dead on the floor when they arrive moments after hearing gunshots.

But the final twist of the show is that he didn’t, and the shape shifter is now Charlie, as we see him burning the real Charlie Francis’ body in the hospital incinerator at the very end.

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How exactly? We saw the transformation process at the start take at least a full minute, sixty seconds he just didn’t have. The shape shifter had 15 seconds in which he had to change into Charlie, take the nurse’s clothes off and put them back on her body and then undress Charlie and put his clothes on and hide his body. And it assumes that nobody would notice that the nurse wasn’t shot in the same places, and that Charlie had three holes in the roof of his mouth, and no gunshots where the nurse was hit in the back.

This huge plot hole ruined what had been a pretty good episode, and it’s quite sloppy even by the standards of Fringe.

They also tied up the Fringe shutdown plotline by Peter handing over the transformation gadget to Phillip Broyles, so he could pass it on as a ‘result’. This seemed lame, and the only possible excuse for why, with all that time on his hands, the shape shifter didn’t take it with him after he’d used it to become Charlie.

Next week we’re offered a Night Of Desirable Objects, which I’m informed has trans-dimensional frogs in it. Personally, I can’t wait.