JJ Abrams’ Fringe episode 3 review

The Ghost Network finds Fringe continuing to impress, and in particular the performance of John Noble...

Fringe dips another toe in pool of the weird this week, in a show that I’m really starting to appreciate on so many levels. Yet another inexplicable event triggers an investigation that leads to a telepathic communication technology, or ‘The Ghost Network’ of this episode’s title.

But in the world of Fringe all roads ultimately lead to Walter Bishop’s experiments, and this is no exception when one of his long forgotten test subjects, Roy, starts to experience premonitions of ‘pattern’ events.

The story is well paced and moves along smartly to reveal why 12 people on a bus where suddenly immersed is a solid block of gelatinous goo. But in the Fringe style, resolution involves a few well placed twists and turns.

But these things are just the well placed garnish on the dish, the main course of which is the cast performances, most notably from John Noble. Each week he seems to inhabit Walter more naturally. He’s mad, brilliant, disturbed and funny in equal measures and often in the same sentence. His child-like relish at drilling holes in the test subject’s head while they’re conscious, or demanding a piano from a woman he’s forgotten the name of 100 times, is all pure magic.

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In what’s becoming a familiar pattern for the show they must tune the poor unfortunate Roy into the Ghost Network, using unorthodox brain surgery. And after they’ve then cracked the case, then unleash Agent Dunham to intercept those responsible for the bus incident and the object they wanted. Once his part is played, Walter turns to Roy and postulates that with a little work he could well be able to receive satellite TV. He says this in a manner that it would be an interesting experiment, irrespective of the actual consequences for Roy. The darker side of Walter is always brooding in the background. When first approached to do this experiment his first inquiry is ‘am I required to keep him alive?’

What’s less convincing about Fringe is this rather dull back story they keep returning to, that Olivia, Walter and Peter are all working for the same people who are causing most of the things they investigate. But they do manage to dangle a carrot about the ultimate fate of Olivia’s boyfriend, John. Based on his two second appearance it seems likely that actor Mark Valley might well be reappearing at some pivotal point in the Fringe season.

But even if I’m bored with the global conspiracy angle, the rest of Fringe is great fun and very entertaining. I’ve been informed that Sky is now promoting the show which will start screening in the UK from early October.

Check out our review of the previous episode here