This review contains spoilers.
It’s been a while since Fringe did a genuinely creepy story, but this one pulled out most of the stops, and the occasional vital organ, to achieve it. The underlying narrative was a Frankenstein reworking, where a brilliant scientist is trying to reverse the suicidal choice made by Amanda, a young woman he once new.
The twist that Mary Shelley never came up with, for obvious medical advancement reasons, was that, in her story, all the spare part contributors were dead, where here the medically astute Roland is harvesting them back from the people to whom they were donated when the woman suddenly died.
In most respects, this is a standalone story, one of the few they’ve done this year which has been totally fixated on the bigger plot development.
Yet, they can’t really leave the big plot entirely alone, and much of what transpires rotates around the very uneasy situation in which Olivia finds herself, returning to Peter to find out that he’s been sleeping with another version of herself.
In terms of excuses for being unfaithful go, this is a probably the best yet, but it still doesn’t get poor Peter off that hook. His lack of diplomacy in telling her that Altivia was more given to smiling probably wasn’t what she wanted to hear, and when she tells Peter that “We’re good”, you know then, categorically, that they’re not.
I have to commend Anna Torv for her work in this piece, because how she presents Olivia as both determined, yet massively fragile was exceptionally good, and totally believable. But, as always, the cast of this show aims to deliver and for once they even let Jasika Nicole’s character, Astrid, show some sensitivity, instead of her usual function of being a comedy foil for Walter.
But the award for creepiest scene this season must go to the one where Roland makes the lifeless body of Amanda dance, using an oddly theatrical mechanism that Mary Shelley might have thought up, while crying at how lovely she looks in motion. And, I thought Walter was six inches short of a Subway footlong, but Roland is triple certifiable, with extra relish.
Despite his skill at surgery, the amazing chemicals he’s designed to stop decomposition, and his skill as a puppeteer, it was all going to end in tears, wasn’t it?
Overall, this was an enjoyable episode, not especially for the main story, but in getting Olivia’s pain to the surface, something I think it would have been wrong to bury at this point.
Peter’s now wondering when the next train to the other dimension is leaving, as he’ll be getting no more sex in this one, it appears.
This was the last Fringe at this timeslot, as when it returns in the New Year it will move to the Friday ‘death slot’. For those that like irony, and I’m a big fan, the name of the returning story is Firefly, one of the previous shows that Fox condemned to the ‘death slot’ before pulling it entirely. The Fringe team isn’t without a sense of wit, it seems.
Fringe is back on the 21st of January, for those who own a PVR or stay home on Friday nights.
Read our review of episode 8, Entrada, here.
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