JJ Abrams’ Fringe episode 5 review

Not enough of John Noble's Mad Walter in this week's episode, but Fringe is still cooking...

The new episode of Fringe this week is called ‘Power Hungry’, which actually doesn’t really fit with the plot. It’s like one of the those tabloid stories where the headline grabs you, and then you read it and find it’s a misrepresentation of what’s beneath.

The main story is about an emotionally crippled delivery man who’s also got electrical powers, which he got when he replied to a newspaper small ad, and became part of an unusual science experiment. He’s not hungry for this power, he wants it removed, but that didn’t play as a title so well I assume.

Frankly as Fringe goes I’d class this plot as a bit boring and just not weird enough for my tastes. It does have one cool scene where to track this man down they determine that he gives off a strong magnetic field that pigeons can sense, and as such use them as flying locators. The ‘fun’ that Walter has programming them is immense, and yet he still can’t remember Astrid’s name.

The real weakness of this episode however, is that it’s rather light on Walter (John Noble). While I appreciate other characters need screen time (this week it’s Olivia’s turn) the show undoubtedly cooks when John Noble is doing his impressive mad doctor routine. He’s now so good at doing it that I expect he’s now typecast as the wild-eyed scientist from this point in his career onwards.

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But entwined with that rather simple tale, some of this episode is given over to the unexpected appearance of Olivia’s ex-boyfriend, ex-traitor and ex-person – John.

He keeps reappearing, much to Agent Durham’s deep concern, and in a manner that convinces her that what she’s experiencing isn’t real. But curiously for a hallucination, he keeps leading her to puzzle solving clues, and even his own underground research bunker.

This contradiction is eventually explained by Walter, who proposes that when she connected to John’s conscious mind in the pilot episode, some of his mind leaked across into Olivia, where it’s still living alongside her identity. So John is dead, except a small bit of him occupying part of Olivia’s unconscious. Funky.

If this information isn’t spurious then what more will John lead her to find, and will he exist in there indefinitely? Maybe, but who knows other than the script writers.

Next weeks Fringe outing is called ‘The Cure’, and I’m assured by those that should know that the show gets wacky in just the way I like it.

Five stories in this isn’t much like the X-Files it so seemingly wanted to emulate early on, and it’s developing its own distinctive feel. Which if it expects to get past its first season is probably not a bad thing.

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More ‘mad’ Walter and weirdness, please!

Check out our review of episode 4 here.