Friday, October 15, 2010

Fringe - "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?"

Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and Walter (John Noble) explore the mysteries of the Massive Dynamic cafeteria.
Photo Credit: FOX
Review by Paul Steven Brown

Season 3 - Episode 4
"Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?"

One of the major tensions of Faux-livia hiding in plain site is the question of how far she would be willing to go to maintain her cover. She replaced our Olivia right as her relationship with Peter was beginning. Strangely enough, Faux-livia has had to partake of those first few dates of a blossoming romance for Olivia. Now Peter and Faux-livia are at the point where most couples would take it to the next level physically. The problem is that Faux-livia has a very solid and healthy relationship back on her world.

Exploring how committed to the mission Faux-livia in a episode that focuses on the undercover lives of various shapeshifter agents worked really well. For all intents and purposes, these are machines. However, throughout this episode, we see examples of it not being so cut and dry. The one that replaced the senator, while severely damaged, still responded to stymuli that involved his "wife". The police officer shifter had been in deep cover for five years and fell in love with the life and family of the man he replaced. While he retrieved the disc as Newton requested, he wasn't willing to leave the life that he now had. He was fully aware of his true nature, that he was something that his "son" would consider a monster (their bedside conversation was very touching), but he was also fully committed to his "family". Unfortunately, Newton could not allow this compromise to continue.

Newton, however, is not given to sentimentality. When Faux-livia arrives at his cell at the end of the episode with the shapeshifter equivalent of a cyanide capsule, he doesn't even flinch. He knows that has no choice but to kill himself so that our Fringe team doesn't get any information from him. He's all in.

Peter has finally admitted to noticing that "Olivia" has changed since her return from Alt-Fringe. However, it's that sort of change that happens to person after a traumatic event. Crossing over to another universe and getting into a fist fight with your other self would probably qualify, so Peter seems to chalk it up to that. Still, I couldn't help but think that he'd see some kind of hint that this was not his Olivia. I thought he might have caught her not running after the cop on the surveillance video and it would have clued him in. He's really smart and he's a con man, and I thought you couldn't kid a kidder. But he's also a guy, so maybe that part of a brain that can't resist a booty call shut down the rest when he started making out with Faux-livia.

I thought that the shoot out in the hospital between Newton and Broyles was wonderfully intense. Also, having Broyles be a friend of the senator and his wife added more texture to his background. It didn't hurt that it helped convince the wife about her machine-based husband and the help they needed from her in their attempts to revive him.

This was another excellent episode for the third season and probably the best since the premiere a few weeks ago. I think now this arc is at the point where the writers should start working towards bringing the Olivias back to their respective worlds. The people around them can only be ignorant for long.

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