Friday, October 8, 2010

Fringe - "The Plateau"

Walternate (John Noble) over sees Olivia's progress at the Fringe Division headquarters 'over there'.
Photo Credit: FOX
Review by Paul Steven Brown

Season 3 - Episode 3
"The Plateau"

If there are any new viewers have started watching 'Fringe' starting with this season, then they're are probably wondering what the hell is going on. The confusion would be understandable if a newcomer didn't know anything about the two parallel worlds and the fact that most of the cast has a double on the other side. To make matters even more complicated, the two Olivias have been switched, with our Olivia now thinking she's actually Faux-livia. So, yeah, not very new viewer friendly.

However, as someone that has been watching the show from day one, I'm eating this up by the spoonful. As I've stated before, 'Fringe' works better when it allows the mythology to develop. The 'monster of the week' standalones can be good, but they're usually weaker. That being said, the writers have been able to have their cake and eat it too for the past two episodes. The show is bouncing between worlds, continuing to follow the plights of the two Olivias, but also putting them in 'monster of the week' investigations. It's a neat spin on the typical standalone format. I also appreciate that the color of the title sequence (blue for Fringe Prime and red for Alt-Fringe) indicates which world we'll be spending the hour in.

On the surface, there wasn't any indication of which world we were visiting this week until the camera passed by a man on the street with a sign that read "Aruba War Vet". Yep, we're definitely in Alt-Fringe. From there we get a typically strange case for this show, but this time we get to follow the team from "over there". As for the case itself, it's a fairly interesting one involving a mentally handicapped man who has been given accelerated intelligence and is using complex methods of cause and effect to murder the people that would reverse the process.

I'm starting to really like the Alt-Fringe team. Olivia (with her Faux-livia personality) is more fun and looks pretty killer with the auburn hair. Lincoln is very Peter-like, but it's the possibility of meeting a version of him in Fringe Prime that really excites me. I'm glad to have a version of Charlie back. His friendship with Liv was always one of the things that really grounded the show. Also, I want to know the details of his strange medical condition. Broyles just looks bad ass in a tight black t-shirt and Computo-Astrid is just plain freaky awesome.

It looks like Walternate's mind manipulation of Olivia was not total. She's having visions of Peter (a neat way of working Joshua Jackson into the Alt-Fringe stories) and she's beginning to forget things like the bad air zones that would be common place "over there". Also, the fact that Faux-livia's boyfriend is going on a trip and not be around to reinforce the personality graft will probably add to its degradation. I'm looking forward to when our Olivia resurfaces and does to the Alt-Fringies what they're doing to the Prime Fringies.

Season three continues to be an exciting take on the regular 'Fringe' format. The Olivia swap has really added an exciting layer to what would be typical standalone episodes. I can't wait to see how this is all going to play out.

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