With 2009 nearing its end we thought we’d follow up our “10 Most Fascinating Characters” retrospective with a look back at our 10 Best Fringe Moments from the past year. Let me tell you, it was NOT easy to select just 10 moments from the 20 episodes that aired in 2009. However we painstakingly cast our minds back to the very best (and in some cases, most significant) moments from those episodes and came up our ordered list, counting down to what we believe was the very best Fringe moment of 2009.
See whether or not you agree with our choices below the jump.
10. Jones Opens a Door (“There’s More Than One of Everything”, episode 1.20)
David Jones was a fantastic character with many highlights during his short stint on the show. One of our favorite Jones, and indeed, series moments came as he opened the doorway to over there only to be thwarted at the last moment by that pesky Peter. There he was bandaged up like the invisible man, his molecules disintegrating and yet he still had time to reel out one or two classic Jones lines. We particularly love the way he said “your bullets just go right through me”. The man went far too soon, but thank goodness there’s more than one David Jones.
9. Olivia Returns (“A New Day In The Old Town”, episode 2.01)
What can I say, some moments are just visually impactful. The sight of Olivia doing her very best Superwoman impression as she came crashing back from her visit to the other side was quite simply stunning. And haunting! We debated whether this moment really deserves to be in our top 10 moments of 2009, but in retrospect we think it encapsulated the return of the show perfectly and the scene in general condensed a lot exposition.
8. Grave Mistake (“There’s More Than One of Everything”, episode 1.20)
We had figured it out long before the reveal, nonetheless the confirmation that original Peter was both dead and our Peter was from an alternate reality was one of the most powerful Fringe moments of 2009. The fact that no words were required to make this scene work speaks volumes. The loss, the pain, the deception – all summed up in the tears of a father.
7. Olivia Remembers (“Momentum Deferred”, episode 2.04)
Or, the “Olivia in Wonderland Tea Party”, as I like to call it. Although the scene had some contrivances in the way it was presented (i.e. continuity from the season 1 finale went right out of the window), it was visually memorable and loaded with important information, including; The First Wave, The Storm and the symbol, Bell’s illness and the suggestion that he’s trapped on the other side. I especially loved the time-slips which helped to illustrate the jet-lag, or displacement that comes with crossing over in the way that Olivia did. Olivia really cemented herself as my favorite when she stood there, arms folded and laid the smack down on doctor Bell:
Olivia: Oh, I can grasp it just fine. I don’t trust you, Doctor Bell…or William, or…Willum…or whatever cutesy name you think might appeal to my childhood instincts. It won’t. Your company has been involved in, if not directly responsible for, some of the most horrific things that I have ever seen, to say nothing of the fact that you just yanked me into a parallel universe to warn me about an inter-dimensional war that I believe you are responsible for starting. So what I want is not warmth, or tea. It’s the truth.
You go girl! This was one of those moments where you just have to sit back as you realise just much far a character has grown. As Bell himself said: “You are only just coming into your domain”. As an aside, I’m curious as to why Bellie decided not to mention The Blight. Bell propaganda?
6. Lights Out (“Ability”, episode 1.14)
This moment was all about the realisation, or rather, confirmation, of Olivia’s ability, both for us as an audience and for Dunham herself. It was a special scene because David Jones had just upped the stakes by threatening to destroy countless lives unless his faith in Olivia’s ability to disarm the bomb was founded. This required Olivia – at this stage open minded, yet skeptical of any kind of self-importance – to dig deep and find faith in herself. Logic went out of the window as she braved the impossibilities and popped away the little lights. The moment was made all the more important because of Peter’s part in disabling the bomb. He may have just stood there but I haven’t changed my opinion that his own ability played some part in helping Olivia to disable the bomb. Indeed, events in season 2 have only solidified Peter’s mercurial talent, even if he doesn’t yet know it himself.
5. Over There We Go (“There’s More Than One of Everything”, episode 1.20)
As Olivia crossed over to the alternate universe, I felt that the audience went there with her. The reveal itself wasn’t a surprise for me, but it gave the entire season perspective. The scene was filled with powerful symbolism – reflections, sliding doors, blue lights, and, of course, the Twin Towers pull back, conjuring a mixture of emotions including sadness and hope. And isn’t that what this show is about? On top of all that we have a physical metaphor for the twin reality concept. I still have no idea why Bell had to step out from the shadows like a crazy man – but the scene itself worked and provided a satisfying end to a terrific prologue.
4. Bad Dreamin’ (“Bad Dreams”, episode 1.17)
This scene was so un-Fringe-like, but it worked. You’ve got Lady Gaga’s “Starstruck” and Olivia (Lane) acting like Olivia’s bad twin – how could this not work! The girl-on girl-kiss wasn’t bad either, but that’s not what made this scene so captivating. It was dark, sexy and descriptive – even though no words are said for over 90 seconds. Then we get the reveal – even if you realised the trick, it was still fascinating as Olivia whispers every detail, every emotion that is coursing through Nick Lane as his feelings literally kill the dancer. The detail here is fantastic:
Olivia: The Dancer. He’s infecting her. She’s catching it. His emotions are jumping to her.
The writing, directing and acting were on top form here. In retrospect, I’d say this was one of Anna Torv’s finest performances in 2009. We also got some great comic relief with Walter, Peter and Astrid reacting to Olivia’s moans, and, we get another clue that the boy Peter has THE POWA:
Walter: Peter. Help her. Help her calm down.
*Peter touches Olivia’s hand and she calms down under the green and red blinking lights*
3. Rooftop Stand-off (“Bad Dreams”, episode 1.17)
Olivia’s rooftop stand-off with Nick Lane is a scene that has stuck with me ever since I first saw it. We got so many clues as Lane, young Olivia’s “buddy” during their childhood Cortexiphan experiments, pleads with her to kill him so that he won’t be able to hurt any more people with his ‘ability’. The emotion from Lane is touching and equally reflected in Olivia as she grapples to understand and remember:
Lane: You were always the strong one. Whenever I got scared you would make me feel better. Do you remember, Olive?
Olivia: I’m sorry, no. I don’t.
Lane: It’s OK. I think they meant for us to forget. I just couldn’t
Olivia may be the strong one but I can’t help but see Lane as a cautionary tale for the struggles that Olivia will eventually face (things have so not got bad yet). Let’s just hope that Peter is by her side
if when she becomes as broken as Lane is in this scene. Somehow, I don’t think that Peter has the ‘touch’ for no good reason. Perhaps this is the pattern we should be focusing on.
And of course, the moment of levity with Peter, Walter and the crushed car is quite fantastic.
2. The Choice (“Grey Matters”, episode 2.10)
I spoke quite a bit about this moment in our Grey Matters review, and a few weeks later, I still believe this to be one of the best and most important moments in Fringe to date. Not only do we have Olivia face to face with an antagonist who may or may not end up being sympathetic in his own right, but we have her making an important choice - prevent a crucial moment in the of history of worlds, or save Walter Bishop. Newton taunts Olivie for being “weak”, but this is much more than a jibe – he now knows for a fact how to get to her. By saving Walter, Olivia hasn’t just saved the life of a friend, she’s left everyone around her open to attack – Walter, Peter, Ella, Rachel, Broyles. Choosing to save Walter wasn’t, in my opinion, “weak” on a human level, but it did expose the gaps in Olivia’s armour. There’s no way the shape-shifters would have agonised over such a decision (at least from what we’ve seen). Advantage First-Wave. For these reasons alone, and for ethical and moral implications involved, this is one of those moments that will surely define the show in 2009.
1. The Truth (“Bad Dreams”, episode 1.17)
The series high – and therefore BEST moment – came as Olivia discovers that Walter was involved in her childhood Cortexiphan trials. Suddenly the “mysterious events” took on greater meaning as the characters begun to realise just how intertwined their lives are. The scene works on many levels, and it’s one of the few occasions where the characters spend a good few minutes just talking. But it’s the details that really get me; from the way Olivia locks the door (no-one is leaving the room until she drags some answers from Walter!), to Walter’s “where’s the fire!”, to the tender manner in which he cups Olive’s face – sending Olivia reeling in disgust – as the pieces begin to come together. And of lets not forget lines like this:
WALTER: It worked on perception. Carlos Castaneda, Aldus Huxley, Werner Heisenberg, all focused on one single elementary truth. Perception is the key to transformation.
PETER: Reality is both subjective and malleable. If you can dream a better world, you can make a better world.
WALTER: Or perhaps travel between them.
PETER: What did you just say?
*Walter opens a fridge door, its glass reflecting Peter*
Honorable mentions: Walter finding the chapter of Ethics, death of Evil Charlie, September telling Walter “there’s more than one of everything”, Nicholas Boone asking Walter “how far would you go for someone you love?”, the death of August – “she’s responsible for the death of one of us”, Walter watching the tape of Olive/The Incident, and Walter’s jig!
So there you have it – our 10 best Fringe moments from a memorable 2009. What do you think? Are there any moments you think we missed? Do you have a different order? Feel free to share any thoughts that you might have.