JJ Abrams’ Fringe episode 6 review

Find out what happens to the friendly Mr Papaya when he meets Walter Bishop. You can’t beat a bit of Fringe…

Good TV has a cycle I think, where it starts tentatively and then builds up to the perfect pitch. The sixth episode of Fringe has convinced me that this is indeed ‘good TV’, and that it’s actually got into its stride much early than I’d anticipated.

‘The Cure’ is probably the strongest story yet, and surprisingly its focus is Olivia, with able support from Peter and Walter Bishop.

A woman is dumped in a suburban street, and wanders into a diner, before she emits something that kills all around. before her head explodes. Talk about an attention-grabbing first few minutes.

This doesn’t appear to be a pattern event, as there is no bald man attending, but it’s curious enough for Agent Dunham and her gang of misfits to become involved. It soon becomes apparent that a pharmaceutical company has developed a means of weaponising people with their own organic microwave blast, and the first woman to explode was a field test. But time is against the gang as another women is missing and being primed for remote detonation.

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I’m surprised to write this, but this story succeeds almost because they’re restrained with their use of Walter (who I’ve eulogised about in preview weeks), as entertaining as his interludes are. He still, however, gets some magic moments explaining the science behind what they’re encountering. I especially loved his demonstration with Mr Papaya.

But this is Olivia Dunham’s gig this week, and actress Anna Torv is really getting her perfectly-aligned teeth into this part. I like how she’s playing different shades within the same persona, making her subtly different between scenes. Some might read this as inconsistency, but the highs and lows of this story in particular need reflecting in her moods.

My only concern about Agent Dunham is that they seem to be concocting a romance between her and Peter, which I’m not sure about. They’re entirely mismatched, like Walter and everyone else on the planet. Where they plan to take this, and how far, has yet to be seen, but I’m unconvinced by it as a central plot development.

A more fruitful direction is the hints we’ve already had that Dunham and her team are more of a containment exercise than real investigators. Is Charlie their controller, leader or minder?

Whatever the answer, Fringe isn’t boring me yet, but then it might never get that chance. Despite winning a complete season there is only one more episode to be shown, and no air dates for subsequent stories.

I really hope they stick with this, because I’m really warming to its quirkiness.

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Check out our review of episode 5 here.