Fringe season 3 episode 1 review: Olivia

Billy buys a one way ticket to another dimension, and finds the weather most agreeable there, in the Fringe season 3 premiere…

3.1 Olivia

The strength of any TV drama is to resonate in the mind of the viewer, like someone struck a tuning fork and then placed it on your skull. For me, the season two finale of Fringe did exactly that, as it posed more questions than it set out to answer.

The biggest unanswered one for me was if ‘Altivia’ switched places with Olivia and infiltrated our universe, then how did she open the portal, if she wasn’t the real deal? I smelt a rat at the time, which, as I recall, in the talk-back I was lambasted for remarking that the infiltration was, indeed, a double bluff.

In the opening story of season three, this notion gets kicked around like a Coke can in a playground, as it takes place almost entirely in the alternative universe, one that ‘Olivia’ is desperate to escape from back to her beloved Peter. As that strongly suggests, this is a very Anna Torv-centric story, where Joshua Jackson hardly appears and John Noble hasn’t a big contribution either.

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Yet, the struggle of Olivia to escape her captivation and try to find a way home was both captivating and intriguing. Walternate has her given drugs in an attempt to convince her that she’s from his universe, or is it to convince her that she’s not? As the story progresses, the question of her real identity versus the one she’s convinced she has becomes the focus, and some disturbing possibilities come with it.

I won’t say where it ultimately goes, in case anyone reading this hasn’t seen it, but the resolution isn’t entirely proven to me, and it opens up yet another bigger question about what’s happening inside the head of the person in our reality who goes by the name of Olivia.

My only concern with this story is that anyone who hasn’t caught the previous season isn’t going to understand anything that goes on here, especially the curious appearance of zeppelins overhead. That’s a shame, but Fringe is now playing to its private audience, and it’s unashamed to do so.

It seems for the moment we’re progressed from the freaky starts and X-Files retro stories into a whole new Fringe era. And I, for one, am enjoying the scenery.

Oddly for Fringe, they even managed to throw a couple of cool references into the mix, which isn’t something they’ve often done much before. Olivia escapes from the security facility to discover it’s on Liberty Island, as in John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, and later, while she’s escaping, she sees a man on a Penny Farthing bicycle, which is a subtle nod to the identity conundrum-filled, The Prisoner. This and the general quality of writing and acting on show confirm that keeping Fringe going was a good idea, and there is plenty of gas left in the narrative tank of this series.

Next week, the Fringe team investigates a mysterious box that can entrance the unwary, and TV reviewers, probably.

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