Friday, November 12, 2010

Small Glass Screen: Embrace Your Own Destruction

Fringe: 6955 kHz

The second episode in Fringe's numerically titled sequence since returning last week returns focus back to Earth-1, where we get the idea that the fate of the world is in jeopardy more than ever. These episodes have been more of a transition from the first four episodes establishing the universes to the next few episodes where Olivia comes home. If you take it at face value, this was a rather ordinary episode of the show, with very little action. However, mythologically speaking, it was absolutely gripping. We got a real answer to a question which was disguised in the opening credits of last season's finale: First People. I guess the writers really do have the plot of this series nailed down to the smallest detail, because this was rather fascinating. The idea of people who existed before the dinosaurs, who suddenly left for some reason, was rather astounding, and as per usual, it opens up a series of intriguing questions about the alternate universe. We've barely reached the tip of the iceberg.

Ultimately, this was an episode about the characters and where they are emotionally. We faded back to Peter and Walter, who are in a bickering fight at the start of the episode, specifically over the doomsday machine introduced in last year's finale. Walter obviously is afraid of what could happen if Peter comes to piece together the machine that could destroy the worlds, having dealt with the consequences of his own brash decisions. Everyone around him has been telling him that his original decision of taking Peter was for the better, and he's starting to become sick of it. He wanted to be accepted as something other than a monster, but he doesn't want to believe that his actions were all benefit. He knows what the consequences were, and he knows he has to live with them. Others telling him he shouldn't have to is just arrogant pity. Although, he's still lovable and quirky. There's nothing quite like Walter screaming out in pure joy, "Malassadas!"

Of course, Peter has such a connection to this machine that he has to know what it is. His supposed destiny is tied to it, and he has no idea exactly what it does. It could mean the destruction of both worlds, but he has to be sure. He can't do it without Walter, not only intellectually, but morally as well. As William Bell has said from beyond the grave, "We gather knowledge faster than we gather wisdom. I trust now that you have ample amounts of both." Peter has always been reckless, but he has a good heart, and Walter is the one who has brought that out most in the past. The two have had disagreements, but they've worked past their issues for now, and have a great working relationship.

Speaking of relationships, Bolivia got a lot more to work with this week. Last time we saw her, Newton took her apart for not being prepared for the task at hand, and that her emotions will eventually betray her. We started to see that this week. She's beginning to empathize with the people on this side, and getting emotionally close to Walter and especially Peter. She had hesitations at first, mostly over the fact that she has a boyfriend on the other side, but now she's growing an emotional bond with Peter, and it frightens her. She has a feeling that her time over here is only temporary, and she wonders if Peter will still like her when he learns the truth. We have a vague idea of what will happen, but we don't really know. Next week begins to bring Olivia back to our universe, and that's surely going to be delivering on the tension they've been building. Even after that, when they return after Thanksgiving, what will it mean for both universes. The stakes are raised emotionally, and the audience can feel it.

9.0 out of 10

Glee: Never Been Kissed

was back this week, and it truly packed an emotional punch for me. I really like that the show can be fun and crazy one week, dealing with all the relationship drama that we've grown rather tired of. Then they switch back to these meaningful episodes that translate the human experience of these issues we deal with every day. This week focused mainly on bullying, which seems like an easy and dull subject for the show, but it really came through this week. The show is simultaneously hilarious and moving, with a plot string involving coach Beiste that is absolute fun at first, but then becomes genuinely sad and kind of heartbreaking. A particular scene between Shuester and Beiste really sums up the adult experience of high school as well. This show swings both ways.

Kurt was put back in the spotlight, and that's always a catalyst for some on screen brilliance. I've had an ongoing grapple with a friend of mine on his merits as a character, and while I absolutely love Kurt, he does not. I didn't feel that was even possible, but it's apparently true. However, this week we did agree on one thing: the Karovsky twist was the highlight of the episode. It really adds a whole new layer to a character we've previously pegged as a lunkhead with no extraordinary qualities. I hope we see more of this development, and it would be a real shame if we never got closure on it.

The music this season has been on a steady rise from good to great. Their song selections have been getting so much better, from both New Directions and their competitors. The Dalton Academy Warblers are absolutely fantastic, and I definitely have a man-crush on Darren Criss' Blaine. I'm so glad he's been upgraded to series regular. I also liked the idea of the boys taking on girls numbers and the girls taking on boys songs. The boys were rather well polished and polite, whereas the girls were so aggressive in that sexual sort of way. This was a week that observed people of every sexuality, and it was that much better for it. I never felt awkward when the music came out, which is difficult for a musical to pull off.

9.4 out of 10

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