Fringe season 3 episode 7 review: The Abducted

Fringe reaches its 7th entertaining episode, but are dark clouds gathering for the series? Here's Billy's review of The Abducted...

This review contains spoilers.

3.7 The Abducted

I remember criticising Fringe for being a little too X-Files early on, although I think it’s got away from that rather successfully since. However, this episode has a distinctly retro feel of that old show, but in a positive way.

The basic story of abducted children used to inject youth back into an ageing man is pure X-Files – so much so that I half expected Scully to actually turn up at one point. But separating it from that show was the twist that virtually the entire episode took place in the parallel dimension, where time is rapidly running out for Olivia.

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She knows how to get back to our dimension, it’s just that she’s rather occupied with this case, which also has interesting overtones for the alternate Boyles. Phillip Broyles hasn’t much of a backstory in our universe other than that he’s divorced with children, but here he’s given a wife, son and daughter who he’s with.

Because of a slip by Olivia, who announces she’s with the FBI, he’s alerted to her knowing who she really is, but decides to ignore it. This is an interesting diversion, because it suggests that some people from both dimensions are effectively the same, even if their circumstances are different.

Another nice touch in here is the return of Andre Royo playing the cabby Henry Arliss Higgins whom Olivia met earlier in the season. She co-opts him into helping her get onto Liberty island so she can use the lab’s immersion tank to get back to our dimension.

Which is where I got slightly confused about events.

She uses the immersion tank and an injection of drugs to materialise inside the gift shop under the Statue of Liberty, where she meets a late night cleaner.

At this point Olivia’s fully materialised, and can interact with objects, but then she hasn’t actually disappeared from the other dimension, because Walternate has dragged her out of the tank, and in doing so they yank her back to that one. How? She can’t really be in two places at once, can she?

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And if she can, then at what point would she have ceased to exist in the other universe?

I’m sure Walter will give us an explanation at some point, but I’ll admit to not entirely following how this all worked.

Olivia fails to get back, but injects some real adrenalin into the narrative by getting a message to the janitor, which she then relays to Peter, who is actually in bed with Altivia at the time! This was a fantastic set-up for the next episode, and the rest of the season, because I can’t see that Peter is about to let Altivia know that she’s busted.

On an entirely different note, I was massively thrilled to see that Peter hasn’t succumbed to the marketing machine of Apple, and had an Android phone!

I enjoyed this episode much more than the last, and it had a genuine sting in its tail.

So how did Fox TV reward the better viewing figures and quality that episode 7 brought us? It moved Fringe to the Friday ‘death slot’.

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For those unaware of the history here, Fox TV is its very own evil twin, that falls out of love with shows, and then decides they’ve failed (before they actually have), and then sets about fixing them so they do fail.The list of shows they’ve done this to is long and quite impressive, but most recently they did this to Sarah Connor Chronicles and Firefly.

It works like this: the biggest demographic for this kind of show is 18-35 year olds. So they move the show to Friday evening, when that demographic isn’t sitting near a TV, but elsewhere. Then they turn around and cancel the show because it lost so much of its audience, even though they intentionally made it happen.

When Fox does this to a show, its days are numbered, which is exactly their plan. Why anyone takes a show to Fox to have them do this to it I’ve no idea. Like the fable of the scorpion and the frog, this is what Fox does – it’s in their nature.

I’ll be sad when Fringe ends, because in a world where so much TV is entirely brainless, it is often firing on multiple synapses.

I do wonder if eventually people will stop bringing Fox shows to have them treated in this fashion, and that the network will wake up to the fact that trashing its own programmes isn’t such a great strategy.

Read our review of Fringe episode 6, 6955 kHz, here.

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