Fringe season 4 episode 16 review: Nothing As It Seems

Billy really hopes that the current hole Fringe has dug itself into gets shallower, not deeper. Here's his review...


This review contains spoilers.

4.16 Nothing As It Seems

I’m not feeling the love I once had for Fringe much recently, and Nothing As It Seems didn’t reverse that at all. On paper this was a clever idea, underling how from Olivia’s perspective the world she lives in has subtly changed. Take an old story and the rework it with modifications, so that the audience experiences the same disconnect.

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There was always going be the issue that you assumed the audience remembered the episode one story that they used as a template, although it was only really a start point. But much more of an issue for this writer was the story they picked, which given they had at least three seasons to choose was probably the worst one imaginable.

In the original story a man on a plane transforms into a giant Porcupine, but before the unintentionally hilarious TSA pat-down scene, he causes the aircraft to crash and kill everyone onboard. Except this time he doesn’t transform until he’s being held by airport security, which begs the obvious question, why are these events different?

The answer we’re given is the involvement of the nefarious Dr Jones, although why this might have very similar outcomes to those that Peter encountered originally isn’t really discussed.

Where it really left the rails for me was when another Porcupine person sprouted wings and flew to the top of an office building, which not only seemed entirely implausible but looked pretty silly too. It sort of presented the idea that there’s a gene for wings, and once you splice that in then the resulting creature can obviously fly, which is ridiculous.

However, the show wasn’t a total loss, as at least Walter was on fine form this week. But I’m bored with Lincoln pining for lost love, Broyles being the hard man with a soft centre, and Olivia breaking rules because she knows it’s easier to apologise after than get permission beforehand. Those traits are getting tired, and they need to find new ways to interest us in the characters. More Astrid, I say.

In the end, with the contribution of some dodgy latex Porcupine people outfits, this ended up as like one of those X-Files we’d rather forget, and not the excellent storytelling and genuine tension that I’ve come to expect. It does seem since they created the mutliverse narrative, the writers have really lost the plot in many respects. 

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The title is a subtle nudge to the classic The Island of Doctor Moreau (as in Nothing As It Seems on the Island…), which is where the story ends, with the anti-Noah transporting his menagerie of genetic hybrids to destinations unknown.

But by the time that sequence appeared I wasn’t really intrigued, more relieved that it was over. What happened to the old Fringe, the one that really made you think and entertained us with people not transforming into giant flying rodents.

This coming week we get a story that is called Everything In Its Right Place which given where Fringe is at the moment holds out a crumb of hope, I guess.

Read our review of last week’s episode, here.Follow Den Of Geek on Twitter right here. And be our Facebook chum here.