Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Fringe": The Problem with Peter

If you saw the title of this post and thought that my confidence in "Fringe" was beginning to wear off, you're sorely mistaken. True, this season has been a tough one for devoted viewers. They want things to move forward and faster, and I trust that they will in time. But there's always a trade-off, and in this case it means setting a radical reset button that slows down the pace of the show. The first four episodes of this season were somewhat hit and miss, not in terms of episode to episode, but sometimes moment to moment. Things have become too corny at times, a sentimentality problem that predates this season, but is most obvious now.

But with Peter's return, there's an opportunity to move forward in the storytelling, and an at first bizarre and somewhat half-baked detour in the show is showing signs of life. Peter has been something of a problem to this show in the past, and there's been a question of exactly what we're supposed to do with him. No offense, but he's just been all too normal at times, and at the season's end, he was almost an infallible hero. But if there's anything last Friday's episode embellished, it's that Peter is still very much in need of improvement, and the trials of this season may indeed lead to that.

Peter has always been of generally selfish, and much of the buildup over the past three seasons has seemed to form him from a loner and an outcast to somebody who is concerned about everybody and willing to sacrifice himself for his universe. But, there's always been a darkness to him. His cold-blooded shape-shifter killing spree in the middle of last season for example. His destruction of the other universe as shown in the finale of this season. He has opened up, but he's still ever so self-serving. All of this was done to protect his universe and the people he loved, and he was willing to do anything for that end.

So where we pick up this season is a character who we care for, as he has grown to being something of a good person, but the darkness is still there. This season is about actualizing his character specifically, which hasn't really been done yet. Season 2 did it for Walter, and Season 3 for Olivia. It's Peter's turn, and it very much emphasizes the structure of this show. Season 1 was the introduction, so it's expected that Season 5 will be the exciting climax, assuming that the show is to end next season. Given current ratings, I think that's more than likely. But I'm sure this season will be escalating as it goes on. If things are uncertain now, they sure as hell won't be by the end. Expect things to get better.

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