Fringe season 4 episode 18 review: The Consultant

Billy welcomes the return of Fringe's mojo in this week's episode. Read his review here...


This review contains spoilers.

4.18 The Consultant

If you’ve not seen Fringe then don’t read this, as I’m going to talk about crucial plot points in a revealing way.

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What an excellent story, as the weirdness of Dr Jones’ experiments impacts both dimensions, and as such causes Walter to go on an inter-dimensional trip, rather than the usual medicated variety.

But in many respects this was actually window dressing for a mole hunt, focusing on the duplicitous alternate Colonel Broyles. I know some people have thought he was a shapeshifter, but I never really bought that idea. Why? Because despite how clever their technology is, they appear to have an absolute knack for being discovered as fake. Perhaps it’s their ability to leave the host body in plain sight, or their inability to lead normal lives, whatever it is they seem to make rubbish spies. Much better ones are those who are real, but are being manipulated by the veritable puppet master Jones.

But going back to shapeshifters for a moment, what happened to the one that came over to the good guys last week? Nothing it appears, because he wasn’t mentioned and Walter clearly wasn’t treating him. Does that mean we’re done with that story element? it seems so, even if it did seem last week to be leading somewhere.

But there were some elements forged in the last episode that did evolve, most notably the set of characters who now appear to be more at home in the other dimension than the one they originated in. Lincoln and Walter are fans of the other side, so who next will decide that this dimension is a better lifestyle choice?

What was also rather noticeable was how little Peter did this week, it’s like they’ve run out of things for him to do other than look lovingly at Olivia.

The star this week was certainly Lance Reddick (Broyles), who sold the idea of a man torn between the love of his son and being a traitor. Reddick’s one of the most subtle Fringe performers, and he sold the depth of his pain successfully here.

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We’re only got four stories left in this season, so where is Fringe taking us in these?

I don’t like making predictions, mostly because I’m rubbish at it, but I’m going to have an attempt based on what we saw in The Consultant. My guess is that it will eventually turn out that Dr Jones, the evil genius that we know him to be, is actually a ‘good guy’. I use those two words with a few reservations, because he’s quite clearly a sociopath. What I’m actually suggesting is that his ultimate plan to merge the two universes is actually the correct course of action, because the longer they’re apart the worse the consequences for both sides ultimately are.

If I was writing Fringe, and thankfully for them I’m not, then I’d want to look back to the exact moment that these two universes diverged, which given that they’ve not got Batman but ‘Mantis’ would suggest that it’s at some point prior to May 1939, when the caped crusader first appeared in print.

The key to resolution is exactly why they diverged then, and so presumably is the answer to making them one and the same again. Of course none of this might be in the minds of those behind the show, and I’ve just splurged my frontal lobes here for no real purpose.

That’s the strength of the show, and why it’s still around I guess, which is that it makes you think, which in this era of ‘reality TV’ can’t be a bad thing.

Next week I’m reliably informed that we leap forward to 2036 for what looks from the trailer like an absolute hoot, with Letters in Transit. I’m so glad that this show season has got its mojo back, I was beginning to wonder if it ever would.

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