JJ Abrams’ Fringe episode 4 review

Entitled The Arrival, the latest episode of Fringe continues to demonstrate a confidence and verve that's hard to resist...

The latest episode of Fringe is called the ‘The Arrival’, and they’re not talking about that delayed holiday flight from Malaga…

So far Fringe has been tracking a fine line between the weird and the wonderful, but with the exception of Walter Bishop, the other characters in the show have been somewhat lightly shaded.

This week’s episode was clearly designed to address those shortcomings and tries to also fix the ‘spare part’ nature of Peter’s presence. What’s clever is that the character admits he’s a hanger-on, and that he wants to leave. But in the course of the story the relationship between him and his father changes in an unexpected way that justifies his existence, conveniently.

I was wondering when ‘aliens’ would be injected into the vein of Fringe, and in this one the suggestion that they’re at work is very strongly mooted. It all starts with the provocative strange occurrence we’ve come to expect, this time the appearance above ground of a strange ‘subterranean torpedo’, observed by a curiously hairless man who has no sense of taste. It’s weird, but that’s what this show does best.

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Some shows are painful in their ‘exposition’, having characters explain what happened in the previous segment so that those who’ve been exposed to US advertisements might have suffered amnesia, and so don’t get lost and confused. But Fringe has an entirely different approach which is to explain very little. It uses the methodology of the X-Files, that things without explanation are actually of most significance, so pay close attention.

If that is a true reflection, then most of what happens in this story is very significant, even if almost none of what transpires it is understood at this point.

On the surface it’s the unearthing of a distant event where Walter and Peter so nearly died, but were saved. But beneath the narrative crust is the ‘pattern’, and how those curious events transcribe themselves into the reality we know. Given that most of this was window dressing for future events, I just hope that it gets to play out fully, and not get chopped like Threshold before the themes have actually matured.

I won’t go into the events like the Ladybird Book of the Paranormal, but things develop where Walter is forced to take control and do extreme things to protect himself and everyone around him.

One sideline plot development that I will mention is that Agent Dunham is having hallucinations that ex-person-boyfriend-traitor is trying to talk to her. So my assumption from the last review that he’ll return in some fashion did happen. But where they’re ultimately going with this is as opaque as finely polished concrete.

Overall, this is an interesting story, and a good bit more thoughtful than the first three outings. It’s also not so Walter-centric, which is probably a good thing as John Noble has eaten enough scenery for the entire cast so far.

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The bad news is that Fringe doesn’t return for two weeks, although the trailer for episode 5 looks action packed.

Personally, I can’t wait.

Check out our review of the episode 3 here..