This review may contain spoilers.
3. 12 Concentrate And Ask Again
Concentrate And Ask Again is, for the most part, a rather basic and simple standalone story about stopping an act of bioterrorism. And if that was all it contained, I’d be giving Fringe a roasting for not upping its game in response to being shunted to Friday night.
But, between the bone melting blue dust, there is an interesting and strong subtext about the children that Walter experimented on, and their legacy.
For one of his lab rats, the consequences of his exposure have condemned him to a hermit-like lifestyle, as he can’t stop the thoughts of others echoing in his own mind. The relationship that Olivia forms with him, because he can’t hear her thoughts, was both gently crafted and sensitively portrayed. They put so much in here between Simon Phillips and Olivia that, for a short while, I wondered if the Fringe team was about to get a new addition, creating a new dynamic to the Peter/Olivia tryst.
But, in the end, it was more about him using his ability to solve the case they’re working, but also to give Olivia the answers that she so baldy craves. His message is that you shouldn’t know what people are thinking, as it has a very negative impact on how you react to them. She doesn’t accept or understand, until it’s possibly too late.
I accept now that I’ve been ignoring the hints the Fringe writers have introduced for some time. The ones that they put in to keep selling the idea that the relationship between Olivia and Peter is more important than just character interaction.
But with this episode they gave up with the pretence and spelled it out implicitly: if Peter doesn’t love Olivia, or loves Altivia more, then our dimension is shafted, short and simple.
I’m really not sure how I feel about this in the greater context, because given the general fragility of romantic relationships, especially the one they have, it seems perverse to hang the whole destiny of existence on it. All I can say is that Olivia needs to work hard on that smile, or we’re all toast.
While I’m still coming to terms with the implications this has for the rest of the season, what I did really like about this story was that it had plenty of Nina in it, and revealed subtle glimpses of her relationship with William Bell. Although, (and I’d like some talkback on this point), isn’t one of her arms bionic? Wasn’t that why she normally wore gloves? But we saw both her arms clearly in one scene here and they appeared entirely normal.
Maybe this is a clue to an alternate Nina, and even an alternative William Bell, a concept that’s supported by some tweets that Leonard Nimoy made recently.
Even if I need a little convincing about Peter’s universal love triangle, I still enjoy this show and so far it’s maintained its viewing audience despite what Fox did. Every other occupier of the Friday death slot has succumbed eventually, but I’m hoping that Fringe can buck that trend and defy Fox’s cruel intentions.
Fringe is back next Friday in what I’m told is an ‘over there’ story, which is the first we’ve had for some time from that perspective. I’ll be tuning in for Immortality, and I hope you will too.
Read our review of episode 11, Reciprocity, here.
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