TV REVIEW Fringe 4.16
“Nothing As It Seems”
Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner
Director: Frederick EO Toye
THE ONE WHERE The wereporcupines return, but since this case already happened in the other timeline, Peter and Olivia know what to expect. Or do they?
UNIVERSE Over here – orange credits.
VERDICT Following last week ‘s important but unsatisfying relationship-based episode, this week we get a case of the week that neatly references the season one episode “The Transformation”. At first glance: is this the exact same case again? No, instead Marshall Bowman survives the journey; there’s no plane crash… but he Hulks out at the airport. It’s a sharp idea, having the Fringe team investigate a case (with slight differences) from the now-vanished timeline. More of this in future would play to the show’s SF strengths.
This would plod like a standard police procedural but for two accomplishments. Firstly, it has a vibrant emotional beat. Olivia faces the repercussions of letting the “other” version of her take over, including a psych evaluation that reveals how she’s forgotten about her brother-in-law and nephew. Meanwhile Lincoln soldiers on knowing he has no hope of a relationship with Olivia, something Peter and Olivia are very sensitive to, Peter even calling him a “good guy”. And then, of course, there’s Walter, more alive than earlier in the series, accepting Peter as his ersatz son and presenting him with all the gifts he’d been secretly buying on Peter’s birthday through the years. Toys, puzzles, beer for his 21st birthday – their brief, choked hug is the episode’s highlight.
Secondly, it’s an unrepentantly fun monster story. What’s cooler than a giant man-porcupine? A giant man-porcupine who flies like a bat!
There’s no clear resolution here, rather the story introduces a new faction (the folk with Sumerian tattoos who want to guide human evolution), an ark full of hybrid beasts and even a Battlestar Galactica alumnus as a guest star in the final moments . And we don’t see any of David Robert Jones at all, despite him being identified as the Doctor Moreau-like mastermind behind the scheme. Fringe is establishing a new challenge for itself in this simplified orange timeline. We’re impatient to find out where it will go.
NITPICK 1 Walter says that Sumerian is not his favourite “ancient language”, confessing, “I prefer Yiddish.” Yiddish isn’t an ancient language, it developed in the middle ages among European Jewish communities.
NITPICK 2 Walter must be having an off day, because his antidote to the genetic virus apparently contains “penicillin”. Why would he put an antibiotic in a drink designed to combat a virus ?
IT’S WOSSISNAME The reluctant boyfriend is of course Alessandro Juliani, famous to SFX readers as Felix Gaeta from the wondrous Battlestar Galactica . It’s a very brief appearance for somebody so cool so let’s assume he’ll be back.
IT’S WOSSERNAME Regrettably you’ll know Gina Holden as Dale Arden from the Flash Gordon TV series. She’s done loads of genre telly, though, including Supernatural , and Legend Of The Seeker as well as films like Final Destination 3 and Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem .
LMAO One of the gifts Walter stored for Peter is a copy of Hump magazine, which he had intended to give him on his 16th birthday. That’s amusing enough, but then later on we see Walter sheepishly coming out of the bathroom with it under his arm. (Note for fact hounds: back in the season three episode “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?”, Walter requests a copy of Hump to help stimulate senator James Van Horn’s brain.)
GROSS More Fringe body horror this week: as well as the beast transformation, it turns out that the creatures eat lipids (human fat from cosmetic clinics).
AUTHOR! AUTHOR! This episode’s co-screenwriter Akiva Goldsman won an Oscar for penning the 2001 Russell Crowe hit A Beautiful Mind .
GRANDMASTER? Walter observes that Lincoln has used the “sleeping Indian defence” in chess. There are no references to a “sleeping Indian defence” in any list of chess moves I can find. There is a “king’s Indian defence”, but that’s an opening move.
OBSERVING THE OBSERVER At 17:33, an Observer can be seen walking past in the background as Peter and Lincoln pull up alongside Olivia in their car.
Olivia: “I work in Fringe Division. ‘Weird’ is a matter of degrees.”
Dave Bradley twitter.com/SFXDaveB
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Fringe airs in the UK at 10pm on Wednesday nights on Sky 1 (opens in new tab) . It’s repeated on Sky2 on Thursday evenings if you miss it!