Monday, 4 October 2010

'FRINGE' 3.2 - "The Box"

Monday, 4 October 2010

An episode that mixed Fringe's procedural format with this year's decision to focus on the mytharc, while alternating the story between two parallel universes, "The Box" was an effective and enjoyable hour that, while over familiar in respect of the concept, made me more interested in how season 3's going to pan out...

Two intruders hold a house's residents captive while they dig for a mysterious box beneath a cellar floor. Unable to resist peeking inside the treasure they unearth, everyone in the vicinity is put into a deadly trance-like state, except for a third robber who's strangely immune to the artifact's effects. Fringe Division are called in to investigate the bizarre occurrence, with Walter (John Noble) coming to believe the victims were killed by an ultrasonic sound that disrupts the brain's alpha waves to a fatal degree. Concurrently, the alternate-Olivia (Anna Torv) is revealed as the paymaster of the dead thieves, in league with inter-dimensional colleague Thomas Jerome Newton (Sebastian Roché), to apparently collect various items with the intention of constructing Walternate's doomsday weapon Peter (Joshua Jackson) has the schematics to. Elsewhere, William Bell's death becomes headline news, with Walter and Nina (Blair Brown) attending the reading of his Last Will & Testament -- which makes Walter the sole shareholder of billion-dollar company Massive Dynamic.

The storyline was rather basic -- another example of the alt-universe's forces searching for a mysterious, deadly component in our dimension – but it's the little touches I'm enjoying right now. It's a masterstroke that the alt-versions of Fringe's characters are all better adjusted people than our versions. Of particular relevance here, Olivia is far more outgoing towards Peter, who she's managed to charm effortlessly, and reveals she even likes music and dancing. And the slippery fact that Walter was responsible for starting this inter-dimensional war is certainly very juicy, although I'm waiting for alt-Olivia to realize that, really, Walter's actions were never malicious and he's a penitent man. It also seems likely that Pete and "Fauxlivia" will develop a deeper romantic relationship, only for the real Olivia to reappear and cause a bizarre love-triangle, but that should still be fun to see play out.

"The Box" also progressed Walter's arc significantly by giving him full control of Massive Dynamic, meaning he has achieved a level of success he always thought was owed him. It'll be interesting to see Walter as Nina's boss, or at least with the full power and influence of the company's resources behind him. Although it'll be a shame if he swapped his Harvard lab for one of Massive Dynamic's pristine, ultra-modern ones.

So far; a solid and intelligent start to the season, making the most of what seems to be a stroke of genius in splitting our time between two universes, and two sets of characters. Torv is doing particularly fine work with this new context to play, although I'm a little concerned it will possibly mean less time spent with "our" Walter, as his alt-version isn't as compelling yet.

WRITERS: Josh Singer & Graham Roland
DIRECTOR: Jeffrey Hunt
GUEST CAST: Blair Brown, Artine Brown, Kyle Cassie, Eric Lynch & Sebastian Roché
TRANSMISSION: 30 September 2010 -- Fox, 9/8c