Monday, 16 April 2012

FRINGE, 4.18 - "The Consultant"

Monday, 16 April 2012

One of the better episodes for awhile, but it still feels like this season's started to limp towards a finish. I hope this last-quarter re-adjustment will result in a clearer focus very soon, because I've started to lose interest in everything. "The Consultant" was a nice showcase for alt-Broyles (Lance Reddick), the most underused character on the show, which is a particular shame because Reddick's a great actor.

The episode's big reveal, that Broyles has been in cahoots with evil David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) all along, worked brilliantly because it had a grounding in human drama. Broyles was being manipulated into feeding Jones intel about Fringe Division in exchange for the well-being of his sick son--marking a neat continuation of events from "The Abduction". It was a believable twist that gave Reddick plenty to play, together with a fun parallel to Walter's (John Noble) similar mistake trying to save his own son's life and paying a terrible price. So much of Fringe is about father's trying to save their children, and it will be interesting to see if this becomes a focus of Peter (Joshua Jackson) in the future because he's the father of Fauxlivia's child. (A storyline that remains vague, as if even the writers don't quite remember it's a ball that's been thrown into the air and needs to be caught soon.)

I'm still very unclear about why Jones wants to collapse both universes, however. Has that ever been explained, or are we just supposed to accept he's a diabolical genius who does something merely because it's possible to? There's a chance I've forgotten something key about Jones' past, but if so I really hope Fringe makes it clearer what this man's motivations are. We all love an English baddie who sips tea and delivers evil dialogue with a cutglass accent, but Jones is always in danger of being a moustache-twirling cipher. It's only really down to Harris' brilliant performance that this hasn't happened yet.

Overall, this was a decent episode that I enjoyed watching, but there's still something missing to this season now the situation with Peter has been resolved. (Even if it feels strange to know that storyline's over, because it's like the writers fobbed us off with a sentimental "love conquers all" explanation for Peter's timeline return.) I once again wish US seasons weren't so long, because shows start to feel strained in these latter stages, before what I assume will be a four-episode rush to make the finale mean something.

written by Christine Lavaf / directed by Jeannot Szwarc / 13 April 2012 / Fox