Welcome to the FB review of the Fringe season 2 premiere – A New Day In The Old Town. In this review I present my honest opinions on both the good and the bad aspects of the episode. I also take a look at the resolved mysteries and open questions, before sharing my remaining thoughts on the aspects which may have been overlooked.
- The opening was fantastic, one of the best to date. I love the fact that we picked up right where we left off, giving us that immediate continuity. Amy Jessup’s introduction was well handled, her questioning helping to illustrate the other side of the table that the Bishop’s now find themselves on. They are now the ones with the secrets and seem to be taking ownership of them. Walter’s fiddling around in the car was typical, but as I mentioned in my in the Things I learned from the Sneak Peek, he seemed to pick-up on the fact that Olivia had gone somewhere else (from experience, perhaps?). And of course, let’s not forget the introduction of the new villain and Olivia’s arrival back into her old town – it was stunning and unexpected.
- Walter and Peter saying ‘goodbye’ to Olivia. I especially loved the way Walter called her “Olive” – reverting back to the father-figure I suspect he once played – a nice touch. Peter’s reaction was interesting too (although I wasn’t entirely convinced until the later scene, just before she woke up).
- Amy relating pattern cases to Biblical text was interesting to say the least. I’ve always enjoyed when Fringe becomes more spiritually inclined and I’m really pleased that they’ve given Amy a ‘hook’ into the mythology of the show. It also begs the question of God in the Multiverse. Where is Fringe going with this? Is it possible to have a benevolent creator and multiple instances of ourselves? Could be fascinating!
- I loved the sub-plot with Olivia being unable to load her gun – I probably found it more engrossing than it was meant to be! Initially I couldn’t figure out why? Sure, she’s an FBI agent and her gun is part of her identity – without it she felt exposed, naked, unprotected. But it was more than that. Then I realised the reason I loved it so much was because of the story she told back in season 1 – when as a little girl she shot her step-father who was beating up her mother. It’s a more powerful story now that we’ve got to know her, it presents Olivia as a protector even in childhood – her role in this world cemented at such an early stage. So back to present day, and its a nice illustration of a moment when Olivia is not able to do what comes naturally – she’s just human, with flaws and faults and sometimes she breaks down. I think this was a nice example of the little things which made this episode so very informative.
- As I mentioned in my 6 Things I Discovered during The Season 2 Premiere article, I really liked the fact that the nurse/shapeshifter had tears in her eyes when interrogating Olivia. It made me more sympathetic towards them, and reminded me that they aren’t necessarily the “bad guys” here. I just wonder how I would have taken to that scene had the shapeshifter still had Luke Goss‘s identity – would I have felt quite so much sympathy towards them?
- Rachel. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel – what are we to do with you? I just didn’t buy her reaction to Olivia’s impending “death”. People deal with traumatic situations differently – we each have our own individual coping mechanisms, and that’s fine and understandable. But Rachel has just (in the last 3 hours) found out her sister is going to die and she spends her time telling Peter that Olivia really liked him. Well thanks Rachel! It just goes to show that she knew all along how Olivia felt, yet still tried to mess around with her feelings (the “coffee” scene from season 1 sticks out in my mind – I knew Rachel heard Olivia’s snarky comment). As FlashWriter pointed out in the “Unleashed” Rewatch comments, there’s probably a silent rivalry between them, but for me it’s another mark against Rachel. Maybe I’m being harsh on her, perhaps I should applaud her for giving Peter that crumb of comfort, but her character really grates on me.
- I didn’t buy that Fringe Division were going to be shut down. It added some nice suspense and allowed us to see Phillip on the front line defending his troops, but the idea that they have not delivered any “usable evidence” is slightly absurd. What about Harris, or Loeb, or the various monster hybrids?
- I found it to be a pretty big leap that Amy and Peter should come to the conclusion that the shapeshifter was still trying to accomplish its goal because it is a “soldier” – since they always stay on mission (right, Jones?). While this was clearly true in this case, there was a sort of disconnect with the way in which they arrive at that conclusion and suddenly rush to protect Olivia. If anything wouldn’t they have been weary of the threat after finding the first deposed body?
- I realise that Olivia wasn’t quite feeling herself, but I found it a bit hard to believe that she would be so trusting with the ‘nurse’. I kept thinking: ‘Olivia’s just stringing her along and is going to whip out her gun any minute now!’, but she was totally oblivious, despite the nurse just stopping short of asking what it was like to be treated with Cortexiphan! I still enjoyed the scene but that took me out of it a little bit.
- This is probably the weakest element of the episode: How did shapeshifter-Charlie have enough time to kill real-Charlie, take his identity (we know this takes at least 30 seconds), drag the original body of the nurse from wherever it was hidden, put Charlie’s clothes on, hide real-Charlie’s dead body and put a few bullets in the dead nurse’s body for authenticity..all before Amy and Peter arrived on the scene? Sorry, but all of this would have taken a lot longer than the 20 or so seconds it took them to arrive. Even if the scene was cut for viewer benefit, there’s no way it would take Amy and Peter more than a couple of minutes (MAX) to get there. Love the episode, but this is the type of contrivance I wouldn’t expect from Fringe. I can buy alternate realities any day of the week, but this?
- Why didn’t Walter try one of his experiments on Olivia when he found out she would die? All he did was shine a light in her eyes. I thought he’d at least break out the halo contraption, or something. Of course we know why, but it’s something the Fringe writers will have to contend with every time something is conveniently overlooked and not addressed in the episode.
- What happened during Olivia’s meeting with Bell? What is hidden? Where is it hidden? How did she come crashing back like that?
- Where did Amy get the FBI code to access Fringe Division’s file?
- What makes the Selectric 251 typewriter able to communicate between realities? Is it made specifically for this purpose, or does it function in this way because it isn’t from “Over Here”? If it’s the later, perhaps the same could apply to people.
- Who was the shapeshifter communicating with? Who gave him the orders? How did they know Dunham was still alive if they’re on the ‘other side’?
- The shapeshifter copied people’s identity, leaving the original body behind.
- I found it interesting that they chose Blair Brown to narrate the recapitulate at the beginning. Was this just a matter of convenience, or does it imply something about how we should view Nina’s role in the show?
- I thought it was particularly poignant that Peter’s birthday should come the day after Walter stood at the grave of his original son.
- As I’ve speculated in the past, I believe that Peter has abilities – whether he has a sort of empathetic skill or the ability to ‘will things to happen’ is up for debate. But I have a feeling he helped to revive Olivia. The Greek and the reference to his mother also deserves further exploration as this wasn’t a meaningless connection, in my opinion.
- Interestingly Olivia remembers that something was trying to stop her from meeting Bell. How would she know this when we clearly see Olivia meeting Bell without the shapeshifter intercepting her? Perhaps Bell told her?
- Amy tells Peter “I think I’ve been waiting for you people my whole life”. Could just be a throw-away comment, but I think it may hold further weight as we discover more about her.
- Peter to Amy: “you’re coming up on your last chance to turn back” – I get the feeling this is the writers talking to their newbie viewers.
Phillip’s previous team was called the “X-Designation”(Thanks to Luana in the comments for the correction). Phillip used to be a colonel.
- Amy’s father was a soldier – more military connections for our Fringies.
- The shapeshifter didn’t seem to be affected by the two bullets Amy put in its back (not to mention the 2-4 from Charlie). Do they have a higher tolerance to pain? Clearly they can leap out of buildings without any problem. Funny, because they appeared so ‘human’ prior to those two moments. (well, apart from the face-crushing).
- I guess the shapeshifter is stuck with Charlie’s identity for a while, seeing as the ‘mouth-plug’ is conveniently “broken” and in the hands of the US Govt. Maybe he’ll try to get new orders through the looking glass?
Goodbye Charlie. You were moody and often cynical, but you loved speaking into the radio and had excellent taste in hats. Most of all, you were there for Olivia – you gave her advice and backed her up, even when you thought she was out of her mind. You were a good friend and a fine agent. God speed.
Best Moment: The opening scene. They’ll have to go some to top that.
Best Performer: Joshua Jackson
Episode Rating: 9/10