Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fringe - "Olivia"

Dr. Anderson (Gabrielle Rose) tries to convince Olivia (Anna Torv) that this is her world.
Photo Credit: FOX
Review by Paul Steven Brown

Season 3 - Episode 1

Run, Olivia! Run!

After the lackluster premiere of 'The Event', I was really looking forward to the third season premiere of 'Fringe'. Not that I wasn't already, but despite some stumbling during the middle stretch of the second season, 'Fringe' still a really solid mythology show. Also, I was eager to see what was going to happen to our Olivia Dunham that was trapped over in the Alt-Fringe universe.

Walternate has a plan and it involves convincing our Liv that she's their Liv. He wants Alt-Brandon to implant her with Alt-Olivia's memories which come conveniently in a liquid form. Of course, Agent Dunham will have none of this and she makes a daring escape and jumps off a cliff into waters surrounding Liberty Island. It would have made Dr. Richard Kimble of The Fugitive very proud. After that she hi-jacks a cab and a driver, and the chase is on.

One of the beneficial qualities of this episode is that it made me really root for Olivia Dunham. Of the three principle cast members (the other two being Peter and Walter), Liv has always taken the bronze. A lot of this is due to how Anna Torv plays the character. She's not as funny as the other two and has a frown permanently fixed to her face. Alt-Liv was fun and refreshing because she would joke with her co-workers and smiled. Our Olivia is the hero of this show, but I've never felt drawn to her character. However, that's sort of the character of Olivia Dunham; she's haunted and distant. She's skilled, intelligent, and attractive, but lacks a modicum of charisma. This may make her more realistic, personality-wise, but maybe less exciting as the central character of a television series. Her current predicament is so intense and unique, that I now can't help but really care for her and hope that she gets back home.

It's not like she can get on a plane and fly home either. She's in another universe and alone. We don't even get a glimpse of our world or Peter and Walter, until the very end of the episode. It's no wonder that she steals a few minutes to cry in the gas station washroom while the cab is getting refueled. I also like the fact that director Joe Chappelle did not follow her into the stall. We never see her cry. We only hear her. This is incredibly more effective than if we witnessed her red-eyed with a twisted, distraught face.

Olivia's reunion with her mother was touching. Also, it was the final push to completely unlock Alt-Olivia's memories. So has our Liv finally crossed over and does she really think she's Alt-Olivia? This would make for a pretty crazy situation if and when the two meet, sincerely thinking of themselves as the same person. What if Liv now has Alt-Olivia's memories, but also her own? What if she is just using the information to survive, deep undercover? Alt-Brandon mentioned adrenaline as the key to finishing the memory transplant. We learned last season that adrenaline helped kick Olivia's ability to visually tell what's from the other side.

It looks like next week will be a story from this side of the multiversal rift. I wonder how long the writers plan on bouncing between worlds before they bring our Olivia back. In the meantime, just knowing that the Liv hanging out with Walter and kissing Peter is not the one we know and love, really heightens the suspense of this season moving forward. Until then, I'll keep rooting for our Olivia Dunham.

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