Friday, September 30, 2011

"Fringe" Review: "One Night in October" (***1/2)

I'll be honest in saying that last week's episode didn't exactly rock me to my core as much as I hoped. I believe it has most to do with that central absence of Joshua Jackson, and much as I love Seth Gable, he doesn't quite fill that space in our hearts. Nor is he meant to. Across the seasons, Peter has always seemed like the odd one out. Walter and Olivia are clearly so much more interesting, lets just get rid of Peter. But now that he's gone, we really miss him. He had this charisma and endearment that just burrowed into the fabric of the show. How does it work without him. Begrudgingly and cynically, and this week's episode puts that pretty delicately.

Case of the week? Yeah, but with a twist we haven't really done before. The alternate universe has asked for Olivia's assistance in a serial killer case, escorting the serial killer's doppelganger from over here, a professor, over to glean information from the killer's home. There's immediately this sort of intrigue about Olivia and Altlivia working with one another, and a mutual frustration between the two. Admittedly, Altlivia is a lot more nonchalant about the ordeal, because what does she really have against the other Olivia? She's something of a competitor, and that's how she really sees it.

Olivia, in the meantime, has so many deep issues with Altlivia. It's not just the fact that the woman stole her life, but she realized that her life in the alternate universe, for the most part, has been so much better. She's happy, cheerful, and honestly possessing of a freedom that our Olivia doesn't have. Altlivia is what Olivia would have ended up as if her life had gone as she hoped it would. This may be stating what's been obvious all along, but it's so much more prevalent when the two of them are in a scene together.

There's also some interesting, if underlying, work between the two Lincolns this week. Our Lincoln is limited to one simple scene at the beginning, and has the added bonus of Walter mispronouncing his name as Kennedy. And then Astrid tells Olivia that she should totally tap that, which she should, but is somewhat insecure about. In the alternate universe, meanwhile, there's some interesting play going on between the other Lincoln and our Olivia. Altlivia's still with Frank, and Lincoln's feelings continue on the methodical backburner. There's some chemistry going on between the two of them, if it is slight. When the Alt-Lincoln bares a similarity between Olivia and her double, she shrugs it off in order to deny she's anything like her.

So it's here that I'll make some sort of weird prediction, or at least hope, that Olivia will end up in a relationship with the Alt-Lincoln, causing friction between Lincoln and Altlivia, and twixt Our Olivia and Our Lincoln. And then Peter comes back, and things get even more complex as such. Just a theory, but one I really want to happen. And then there's Walter, who doesn't have that much to do with the case this week, but he's not missing in the game. He's in the lab, going kinda nutso with hallucinations of Peter. It's kind of weird, but also maddeningly heartbreaking. Peter is slowly being brought back into the show, but how? Not really that sure. Walternate, meanwhile, remains curiously absent.

As for the case of the week, it's actually kind of interesting. It doesn't take long for the professor to figure out something's not right, and the reveal that he's in the alternate universe is skillfully done. Director Brad Anderson pulls things out further than needed, but wonderfully so. After he sees the two Olivia's in one space, it could've gone black then. But then it went on to pan over to an ambered over area, to which the professor asks where he is. And it could've cut to black then, but he pulled it out as to give a wider scope of the space here. A solid 15 seconds extra, but it pays off in full.

But there's some strong interplay on how a missing event, choice, or person can effect the outcome of your life. "Fringe" continues to find different ways to embody that theme of life defined by events occurred and not occurred. This storyline was another compelling and interesting way of pushing forward, and I'm sure it won't be the last. The writers of the show are capable, even if they're not insanely skilled. It's another piece of a constructing whole.

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