Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fringe - "Through The Looking Glass And What Walter Found There" Review

This week, we stumble down the rabbit hole.


Fringe continued it's final season with another surprisingly low key episode in "Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There".

I really like the moment of honest communication in the opening scene, particularly from Olivia.  She's kind of been on the back burner these few episodes and a large part of the grief process post-Etta has been focused on Peter's blind quest for revenge.  It was good to see Olivia be upfront and try to fix things before they fall apart, as it exudes the inner strength that we've all come to know and expect from her, while also showing us that she won't let her tendency for insularity get the best of their relationship as it once did.

That being said, I've always hated the whole, "I've done something rash and I'm not going to tell anyone about it" plot-line.  If you read my reviews of The Vampire Diaries (and if you don't, who are you?) I often pride that show on not wasting it's time with such petty developments, and everyone acts as sensibly as one would in real life.  This tech thing with Peter is a perfect example.  Why wouldn't he just tell everyone?  He knows this will have to have lasting impacts on his psyche, and it's not like Peter would ever get brow beaten by Walter or Olivia to take it out.  We know they'll have to find out eventually, so why are we holding off?  So they won't worry?  That ship's halfway across the Atlantic, Peter, and lying to your significant other in a relationship that is in danger of self destruction seems just as bad if not worse.  

I hate it when shows make me play this waiting game of inevitability.  It's not suspenseful, its irritating, and it just slows things down in a show that cannot afford to be leisurely at this point.  Just come clean, Pete.

Tape of The Week now sends us to a run down apartment complex, as Walter takes it upon himself to lead the charge alone without telling anyone else.  Walter's taped journey was pretty amusing once we saw the whole thing.  I chuckled when he stopped a very important sentence to buy a raspberry danish.  Little character ticks were sprinkled all over it which was the biggest source of it's enjoyment for me, and took me back to the Walter we've come accustomed to, yet seems conspicuously absent at present.   That would also annoy me, but we finally get an explanation this week as to why Walter has been acting differently this past season, as well as in last season's "Letters to Transit".  Walter's missing brain parts have been re-implanted, and he is slowly becoming the man he used to be.  Poor, Poor Cecil.  The final scene between Walter and Peter was quite touching, and I hope Fringe goes all the way with the theme here, because these are both two men in the process of becoming something they hate -- of falling victim to the worst nature of humanity, and they seem to be each other's savior, keeping them grounded and making sure they hold onto what it is that makes them human, and the people they want to be.  There's a big opportunity here to examine the human condition, and I want to see it seized.

He's set up a handy dandy pocket universe to hide the latest part of his plan.  (Sidenote: Walter would add an unnecessary hokey pokey dance to the process.  That's the character we know).  That kind of took me a minute to get my head around, as it's a bit of a stretch even by Fringe's standards, I think because the technobabble that the show displays was treated rather hastily and lazily this week.  Usually Walter does a great job of explaining this babble to the layman so that we can get on board, but this time there wasn't much of that at all.  It was like the writers just said, "Screw it, we don't have time for this, just go with it".  Created a membrane, did ya Walter?  Just like that?  Just made a nice little universe for yourself it the image of the adjacent one?  That so doesn't sound like the piece of cake the episode makes it out to be.  However, I understand that we are watching a tape where such an explanation would be ancillary to the point, and we as an audience weren't actually there to see the process, so it could've been a grand pain in the ass for all we know, and let's face it, if at this point you're analyzing the science behind Fringe, you're really missing the point of Fringe.  I nitpick.  It's in my nature, and Fringe is usually good at appeasing nitpickers like me, but this week, I did not get my medicine.  But whatever, no time right?  Go with it.

Except there seemed to be ample time in this episode to develop things, yet it seemed to plod on with no clear sense of pacing till its final third.  The only thing of note in the very slow labyrinthine journey was the apparent return of the Observer kid.  I said last week that the effort to bring things full circle by incorporating earlier Fringe cases into the endgame is a fantastic idea, and I am overjoyed that they seem to be continuing the trend, all they way down to the glyph code on the doors in this installment.  It shows a dedication and respect for the mythology from the writers, and an overall consistency in a show that needs it in a wildly different final season.  Great stuff, I just wish we didn't waste so much time trying to get there.  I mean we essentially had to take the same relatively bland journey twice.  Once with Walter, and once with the rest of the team.  I get that this was designed to highlight the suspicious differences in Walter's personality, but we could've done this with a bit more efficiency.

We also get another "look" at the mysterious Donnie, which I have nothing to say about, because we still have learned nothing of value.  The intrigue of another ally is nice, and I really hope the team finds him, like, yesterday so we can fast track this whole "find the plan" thing.

Great directing.  Notice the Observer.
So, the observers become privy to the teams location, pop right in, shootout, yadda yadda yadda.  This is starting to become a little formulaic, and the endgame here seemed to be an excuse to make some action happen in a very quiet episode.  The fight between Peter and the Observer was fun to watch because, y'know, superpowers, but nothing we learned was particularly earth-shattering.  The observer's warning to Peter was such a captain obvious moment to me.  Of course Peter will slowly transform into an Observer and the tech in his head will overwhelm his primitive his brain either killing him or assimilating him into enemy ranks.  This is not new stuff, just get on with it.

I imagine a big reason that this season is not firing with me on all cylinders is because I was expecting something bigger and more epic that what we've gotten thus far.  This is probably due to Fringe's budget being slashed, so a show where big sweeping action scenes were commonplace now has understandable trouble replicating such levity, but still, you don't need a huge budget to make something feel huge.  I've been waiting for the team, and the resistance to come out and engage in the final push, and it hasn't happened yet.  This tape search is just going on too long.  I understand wars of this kind are frequently quieter, underground ones, but at some point you need to charge that hill, and with only a handful of episodes left, I'd say it's about time we get to stepping.


67% = *** = "Good"


-VMA

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