Warning: this review contains spoilers.
4.10 Forced Perspective
It was about time we had a decent standalone story, and this week’s episode attempted to provide just that. Fringe division encounters a girl who can predict the future when death is imminent, but then in Fringe it’s never that straightforward, is it?
What I liked about it was the ending wasn’t a happy one, despite how much of the script went into connecting the viewer to the girl, well played by Alexis Raich, an actress who once played a young Piper in Charmed.
There are far too many TV shows out there where everybody resolves their problems and goes off to a new life at the end of the show. Not here, though, and kudos to Fringe for having the balls to run with what in the end is a tragedy.
Woven into the death prediction narrative are a few minor progressions of the greater story arc, a discussion on the nature of the Observers, and Olivia’s obvious concern for her own life after its end was predicted by one of them. That she was abducted by Nina at the end of the previous episode wasn’t touched on much at all, amazingly. But I’m sure what went on then will surface soon enough.
My only marginal concern about Forced Perspective was that the girl’s own part in the death of the first victim wasn’t even considered. She handed him the drawing, which he then looked at and discussed with his co-worker, slowing him up just enough to make sure his date with destiny was precisely on time.
There wasn’t a hint that she felt some responsibility for what happened, even though if she’d not handed him the sketch he’d probably have survived. Or is that the point? It’s already happened, and so whatever she does or not, it will occur?
She’s also got another super-ability, because as gifted an artist as I am, I couldn’t create an accurate drawing on which someone could be identified while riding on a bus.
More commendable was the excellent effects created for the time-frozen bomb explosion, which captured the moment of destruction. The budget for effects in Fringe looks like it’s been cut in recent stories, so they’re using them more sparingly I’ve noticed. But whatever they spent on that sequence was a good investment, even if it was a short one.
What we’re expecting is for the girl to either confirm or dismiss Olivia’s death prediction, where in fact she does neither of these things, predicting instead her own inevitable demise. Fringe has a way of holding out what you think is a likely end point, and then when it’s convinced you it is heading in that direction, snatches it away. And, that’s what happens here, again.
What they put at the end instead was an odd scene where Nina and Olivia revisit an argument they’d had earlier about experimenting on children. What’s difficult for the viewer is that, in this universe, Nina brought up Olivia, entirely altering the dynamic between the two, and it’s one that I don’t think the show has delivered convincingly. Nina still comes over as the same personality as before, and to a degree, the plot supports her duplicity.
Yet Olivia doesn’t see even a hint of that, confusingly. Olivia’s complaint of migraines might be a connection to her abduction, but we’re given very little to work with. We’re not even shown the face of the Observer watching her apartment, but given the height of his cheekbones, I’m convinced it is not the one Olivia saw shot.
To those who say that’s obvious because “he’s dead”, would that actually stop him appearing at future points in time? I suspect not.This wasn’t the best Fringe episode this season by a long chalk, but what it did do was position plenty of things for later stories to engage with. The death prediction story wasn’t original – it’s an idea that’s been reworked a hundred times in movies and other TV shows.
What we need now is another main story arc episode, to keep the momentum up, but I’m not sure if this week’s story is exactly that. But what I do hear about episode 11 is that Astrid gets to meet her alternate, which sounds an entertaining prospect.