1.13 “The Transformation” Review – The Good & The Bad

1.13 "The Transformation"

Here is the FringeBloggers short and snappy review for episode 1.13 “The Transformation”.

The Good

  • Some good action sequences and tense moments. In particular Olivia visiting John Scott’s memory, and the Olivia/Peter undercover spy scene was also great to watch.
  • Great visuals. I thought the ‘monster’ was well done and the lighting was superb – great use of blues and reds.
  • The opening scene with flight 718 was brilliant. Every single second of it was well done – ominous and creepy.
  • No Agent Harris. It must have been his day off? Maybe he was busy chasing tail?
  • Astrid. Yes, it’s finally happened, the tide is turning! I’m sure I can speak for FringeBloggers past and present when I say that we never disliked Astrid, she’s too likable for that, even when she’s being snarky. However, this episode saw her take a medium-sized leap in the right direction, as she held her own during the father/son autopsy session, without the need for Peter to ‘dumb down’ for her. She also offered a heart-felt piece of advice to Olivia. She spoke the truth – it IS in the eyes. Anyway, these are small but encouraging signs. The writers are clearly building her up. Whether it’s the monumental “Astrid is William Bell!”, or “Astrid is a spy!” angle, I’m not so sure. But at the moment I’d just be happy with Astrid being somewhat awesome.
  • Good supporting cast. Especially the cabin crew and NSA agents, Bowman and Hicks. Really good.
  • A lot more mythology than the previous episode. I think that Fringe is at it’s best when it delves deep into the mystery of the pattern. It was also good to have an explanation for the encryption discs. To think that they took a pretty stand-alone episode in “The Ghost Network” and gave it deeper context some 10 episodes later. It gives me hope for episodes like “Power Hungry” and “No Brainer”. Not bad episodes by any means, but they could do with an encryption disc-esque tie in at some point.
  • Olivia and Charlie really are a great partnership. Charlie fills an important void, especially since the death (or whathaveyou) of John Scott. Charlie is impeccable in the way that he trusts Olivia (and vice versa), he also allows her to unload on him, which is something she doesn’t seem able to do with her sister.ย  Yes, I’ve speculated on numerous occasions that he could be working for ‘the other side’, but that’s paranoia developed from watching JJ. Abrams shows down the years. I’m not saying that Charlie wont be revealed to be a double agent or something, but I like what his character does for Olivia.
  • Resolution to the John Scott mind-meld. As fun as it was, I’m glad that we can now move on. Having John Scott in her mind sending her clues is good if it’s used with consistency. I enjoyed the final scene between Olivia and John – it was a nice way to put a lid on Scott’s coffin (at least for this season), whilst indicating that any Olivia/Peter love interest is a long way off happening, if ever.

The Bad

  • The Tank device. I like the synaptic chamber and I can understand Olivia’s desire to go back in for information. I can also understand Walter’s willingness to facilitate her desire. But it was becoming a bit of an over-used device. I don’t think they will, but use it again this season and it’ll be cheating! :) If the chamber can be used with such regularity, why don’t other relics of Walter’s past get used as often? Why didn’t they try to retrieve some answers from the deceased Samantha Loeb, for example? I admit, this is a difficult one to get around because the writers have to use whatever they can to facilitate the stories that they want to tell. I guess it’s a bit like the Swan Station‘s hatch in “Lost”. John Locke spent the good part of a season trying to access that thing – building freaking Trebuchet’s (awesome as that was!!) and losing lives along the way..when there was a back door like 10 yards around the corner! ๐Ÿ˜€
  • Didn’t Walter refuse Olivia’s previous request to go back into the tank (“Dreamscape”?). He said that it was too risky and that she could lose her life if she went in again. He also said that he would develop a “safer” technique before allowing her back in. Maybe he developed that safer technique, maybe he didn’t. My point is, there was no reference in this episode to their previous conversation about the tank (unless I missed it). There was no reference to Walter having adjusted the process by which he guides he through Scott’s memories – the entire process seemed like all of the other occasions. It would have been nice to have had at least one little update on this before we saw Olivia re-enter the tank. At the very least they should have used Walter’s previous warning to heighten the danger of Olivia’s re-entry. I realise that Peter reminded her of how risky it was, but it would have been better coming from Walter, in my opinion. Basically, the end scene from “Dreamscape” is rendered almost meaningless – and what a great scene it was too.
  • The Rachel and Ella story-line didn’t really go anywhere in this episode. Not a complaint as such, but having witnessed the madness that is World Olivia, I am a little perplexed as to why Rachel isn’t asking more questions. I guess we have plenty of time for that – unless Ella decides to play that Paint Aย  Pony game again!
  • Why did Conrad’s cronies allow Olivia to keep her earrings on? Surely they wouldn’t take such a risk? At the very least they should have asked her to remove them before giving her another scan. What was it I said about ‘bad guys’ being stupid?
  • If we’re to believe that Conrad was such a hard guy for John Scott and the NSA to capture, would he really have walked right into Olivia’s path like that? It seemed a bit odd — even Olivia couldn’t believe her luck!

Other things of interest:

The writers toned down Nina Sharp somewhat. Maybe it was the gravity of the situation, or the disappointment of not getting those designer shoes on her recent visit to London, but she seemed pretty sombre. I’m glad though, because as much as I love the flamboyant Ms. Sharp, I’m really interested to find out about her other shades. It can’t all be fun and games running the foremost company in the world? Don’t get me wrong,ย  there are worse positions to be in, but Nina has a lot to worry about. I look forward to seeing more sides to Nina – I suspect that she’s been through a lot in her life, and something tells me that she has such empathy towards Olivia because she reminds Nina of herself when she was younger.

The Observer – clearly another ‘Photoshop’ job. I guess it’s cheaper than paying for a Michael Cerveris stand-in?

Olivia is constantly doing this ‘lookie over the shoulder’ thing. We got a couple more in this episode. I don’t know why, but I like it. Can we have more lookie over the shoulder scenes?

Monsters Inc.The reason for re-writing human DNA into a monstrous code was put down to ‘curiosity’ and ‘freewill’. It seems that Conrad had no specific agenda other than selling to the highest bidder. This is probably the first real insight that we’ve had as to the motivations of the people behind the ‘pattern events’. I don’t know what’s more worrying — someone who uses unethical science to get rich, or someone who uses unethical science with a view to changing the world as they see fit. Both seem to lead to the same thing!

The only previous insight we’ve had regarding the motivations of these groups, came from INtREPUS leader, David Esterbrook, who told Olivia that money was no object in the pursuit of questionable science. He said that it was simply a question of fortitude. I’m beginning to see Nina’s smug reaction to his incarceration in a different way now. Could Nina and Massive Dynamic be our Dark Knight? Or, more frighteningly, our Joker?

Episode rating: 8/10


  1. e says

    There is no way that, say, B. Kevin Turner would take time out of his schedule to give people the kind of access that Nina does. She is either the world’s worst COO or being EVIL(tm) leads to an unusual degree of oversight responsibilities.

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  2. Page 48 says

    Yup, the tank is overstaying its welcome. I’m a little fuzzy on tank protocol. First time around they needed Scott’s see-through body on the network in order for him to hookup with Liv in the tank. Olivia also had to be tripping on LSD as I recall. Now, however, Olivia is able to jump in the tank and dial 1-800-John-Scott while Scott’s bod is decidedly offline over at MD and I don’t think Walter is pumping her full of LSD anymore before she gets tanked up.

    Also, the pressure on Walter continues to be lifted as yet again this week, it was as much the hard work of the FBI that solved the crime at hand rather than Walter’s funky lab work. Walter definitely gets an assist for keeping the NSA dude conscious long enough to direct Olivia’s undercover work in Illinois, but this is becoming more of a team effort, which, IMO, is the way it oughta be.

    I believe that the final solution to Mr. Harris can be found in Season 3 of “Alias”, where Lindsey pressured Arvin Sloane to put a hit on Sydney, but Sloane, in fact arranged for the hit to be on Lindsey himself. As a viewer, this was a very satisfying way to dispatch a despicable character. And the beauty of it was that Lindsey paid a handsome sum for the hit on himself. How sweet was that? I’d like to see something similarly satisfying happen to Harris. Not only would it deal with Harris, but it would introduce some of that “trust no one” element that really made “Alias” tick.

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    • says

      I believe that the final solution to Mr. Harris can be found in Season 3 of โ€œAliasโ€, where Lindsey pressured Arvin Sloane to put a hit on Sydney, but Sloane, in fact arranged for the hit to be on Lindsey himself. As a viewer, this was a very satisfying way to dispatch a despicable character. And the beauty of it was that Lindsey paid a handsome sum for the hit on himself. How sweet was that? Iโ€™d like to see something similarly satisfying happen to Harris. Not only would it deal with Harris, but it would introduce some of that โ€œtrust no oneโ€ element that really made โ€œAliasโ€ tick.

      ๐Ÿ˜€ Classic. That would be a great solution. I can’t imagine that anyone would miss Harris, not even Phillip (especially not Phillip)!

      Maybe Harris just needs more time to settle in, to show us the light and shade of his character? Then again I think that the writers built him up to be obnoxious from the first time that he was mentioned way back in the Pilot. I don’t know if you’ve been following Lost S5, but he reminds me of Frogurt – a man set-up for a fall :)

      Dipping into their Alias-box of tricks to solve our Harris-problem might not be a bad thing.

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