Review: 2.03 Fracture


2.03 Fracture

Welcome to the FB review of the Fringe season 2 episode 3 – Fracture. 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 answers and unresolved mysteries, before sharing my thoughts on other aspects which may have been overlooked

THE GOOD

Finally! We're out of Boston! Woo! Oh wait, I left the tap on..

  • Good to see the team getting out of Boston by taking the investigation to Philly and Iraq. The last time we went international the story benefited hugely and this time was no different. Although they didn’t spend long in Iraq (and only one location was used), it was good to get that diversity – they should do it more often, when the story dictates.
  • Walter / Astrid. I wasn’t sure about their Lab scenes at first – they seemed to go on forever without much happening. But on reflection, I appreciated the cosy and light-hearted moments. We got to find out a little bit more about Astrid – that she’s a “creature of habit”, and it was good to see Walter actually taking an interest in this person he surely considers to be a friend. It’s well documented that Jasika Nicole doesn’t get enough screen-time on this show, but I liked what she did with the time that she did get. I get the feeling that she’s made the decision to make the most out of every scene she has, and good for her, she’s holding her own. Also, the watermelon scene was pretty neat.
  • Peter back-story. I liked that we found out more about Peter’s past, particularly his pre-Fringe Division escapades. It’s poignant because we begin the series with Peter in Iraq, which for me is just as significant as Walter starting the show in St. Claire’s or Olivia being ‘betrayed’ by her partner and lover. Because of this, I feel that I have a broader sense of who Peter is, or should I say was, prior to Olivia coercing him out of his past life. They seemed intent on reminding us that Peter was a self-interested person who didn’t care for others – although this was a bit heavy-handed, it helped illustrate how far Peter has come and makes me wonder what has been the primary reason for his change of perspective (I trust there is one?). Hopefully we’ll get to learn more about this aspect of Peter’s past, when the story allows.
  • Olivia’s personal journey. What I love about this subplot (which is more of a central plot) is how much the events from crossing to and from the other reality has affected Dunham. As I mentioned in our Night of Desirable Objects review, Anna Torv’s use of the cane is adding an extra dimension to Olivia. She makes it look so authentic – a physical manifestation of her broken state – whilst portraying a level of determination which is typical of the character.
  • Filming. I really admire the way the show is being filmed and directed this season. There’s a crispness to it. They are capturing some really great visuals, and credit where it’s due, the location titles which were at the heart of so much debate last season are now seamless.
  • “All I Need Is The Air That I Breathe“. Great song choice, I liked how it bridged two very different scenes – echoing the parting of Peter and Walter as they get separate rooms, before leading us in to the healing of Olivia as she instinctively finds her old self, sticking a gun in Weiss’ face like the Olivia of old (she does have a habit of switching like that).
  • The ending. From Gordon’s gravelly narration to the gradual reveal of the Observer to the photos of Walter being watched. It wasn’t just the reveal, but the way they revealed the Observer being connected to these “couriers” that was so satisfying. His trademark hot-sauce sandwich was a nice touch, particularly for the fans who were there for his introduction. Though the reveal posed more questions than answers, it did allow us to get a better grasp on the battle lines and the sides at play. Even if this may be more deceiving than it currently appears (I for one, don’t believe that the Observer is here to “exterminate us” – it wont be as simple as that. But that’s another story for another day).

THE BAD

Maybe if I pretend to be a statue, Gordon will leave me alone?

  • Too Convenient. The fact that one of the “Tin Man” doctors just happened to be working in the kitchen of the restaurant where Peter found Ahmed was kind of ridiculous. Last time I checked a map of the world Iraq was a pretty big place. It’s not like they insinuated that Peter had an inkling that the doctor would be there.
  • I felt the story fell down a bit when Fringe Division chose not to apprehend Diane Burgess. Obviously this was one of those story-facilitating things, but it made little sense to risk Burgess blowing everyone to smithereens – they wouldn’t have got that past Congress! Preventing the detonation of Burgess was surely the most important objective? After all, they knew that Gordon was running out of soldiers, and they would have caught him sooner or later – it wasn’t their “only chance” to find Gordon.
  • Peter’s fight with Gordon. One of the low points of the episode. I’m still not sure how old man Gordon could out-muscle the young and sprightly Peter Bishop? It was purely for drama, but like Peter’s battle with the Mole-Kid last week, this was far from convincing. Oh, and it took far longer than Walter’s “30 seconds at best” for the reaction to take place in Burgess. All shows do that. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.
  • I liked the Gordan character, but his reasoning made little sense. If he wanted to know more about the Observers and their Intel, why blow that Intel up? Why not have one of his former soldiers simply take the briefcases so that he could use the information to find out more about them? With brains like that, I fear for “over here”!

UNRESOLVED MYSTERIES

Express Delivery

  • Why has Olivia been struggling to remember the events from the parallel reality – did Belly put a protective block on her memory, is her mind self-protecting, does the head-first dive through the windscreen have anything to do with it? Also, if it’s purely down to the negative effect of crossing over, would something similar have happened to David Jones, considering he started falling to pieces from mere teleportation?
  • Who are the Observer spies? Are They from the same world as the Observers? Are they themselves Observers? What is their relationship to the shapeshifters? Why are they spying on Walter?
  • How did Gordon know who the Observer couriers were? Who was he working for or with – surely he wasn’t getting his Intel on his own? (he did mention “we” when being interrogated at the end)?
  • Which side is the Observer on? Was it even OUR Observer?

ANSWERS

Murky Past

  • Peter was a civilian contractor based out of Baghdad. In other words, he was a weapons dealer.
  • Gillespie and Burgess were soldiers who served in the war. During that time they were part of a programme called “Project Tin Man”, where they were exposed to a nerve agent developed under Saddam Hussein. ‘Tin Man’ was the name for the treatment in which serum injected into their bodies for “at least a year”. The build-up of this serum solidified and produced mass amounts of energy, causing their bodies to explode when triggered remotely by Colonel Raymond Gordon, using a radio-wave signal.
  • There were over 200 soldiers treated in ‘Tin Man’, only a few of them survived. I wonder what Colonel Gordon would have done once he ran out of soldiers?
  • Ahmed believed that Peter was dead. Ironic.
  • According to Gordon, spies from the other world are here, “collecting data, making observations..” and that’s what was in the couriers briefcases. Gordan was trying to destroy their Intel by using human bombs.

FRINGE THOUGHTS

OK Weiss guy..

  • Sam Weiss’ coaching was about getting Olivia to become one with her newly activated abilities. To become automatic. To have patience. The exact opposite of where Olivia was at prior to her zing! moment.
  • Peter and Walter share a memory from when Peter was 10 years old. Giving us another timestamp as to when Walter may have acquired Peter from the other side.
  • I find it a bit odd that Peter is so concerned for Olivia’s health and yet he was more than happy to drag her half way round the world to Iraq. She was like, THANKS Petah! It wouldn’t surprise me if Peter did a little ‘business’ while he was there..
  • Interesting that this case should somehow have a direct link back to one of our Fringies at the very end. The last time we saw such a reveal the boot was on the other foot for Walter, as he was the one watching Olive post-incident on the grainy VHS tape.
  • Gordan’s voice was perfect for the end-scene. Did they use a synthesizer?

FINAL THOUGHT

Blur to heal

As episode titles go, this is one of the most meaningful. Fracture represents many things – the division between the two worlds. The broken state of Olivia. Walter (reluctantly) gaining independence from Peter. Peter being from another world. Olivia breaking Gordon’s device with her cane. And of course, the human bomb/crystalline plot.

The thing about fractures is they can heal. Although the healing process is often slow and involves the growth of new muscle, the death of others. One wonders whether this will be an allegory for the impending war?

Best Moment: Olivia’s zing! moment / The Observer

Best Performer: Anna Torv

Episode Rating: 8/10

Comments

  1. Sue says

    I agree with most of your review with the exception of this season’s production look and sound. I think it has suffered since the move to Vancouver. And no, I’m no from New York

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  2. says

    Again, absolutely loved the way Olivia was portrayed in this episode – both in terms of acting from Anna Torv and the way her scenes were written. And for someone who enjoys “micro-moments” and character development: great ep!
    Highlights for me:
    ——–
    Olivia / Anna Torv
    1) Can’t praise Anna Torv enough for her work on the show. After confused Olivia from 2.01, and struggling Olivia from 2.02, we’re now seeing anger and frustration creeping into her performance. We’ve reached another stage in Olivia’s recovery process: she’s still hurt and vulnerable, but the “old Olivia” is gaining grounds, desperate to regain the control she’s lost. Great realism. And again: perfect performance.
    2) Olivia unable to tie her shoelaces. Brilliant scene, with the usual tiny details AT manages to insert, even to the shortest of scenes. Look at her lips and how she seem to talk to herself at the start (“Come on”?), or the exasperated expression on her face at the end, ever so discreet and subtle. Kudos as well to Kevin Corrigan (Sam) and the way he delivered his lines: the fries/ketchup, the “bunny ears”… Perfect.
    3) The headache scene. Really convincing as Olivia is on her knees in the bathroom, tears in her eyes. Nice detail with the mug: we know from 2.01 Olivia hands have been shaking uncontrollably since the “accident”. And it’s still the case three episodes later. Great continuity. Same goes for the cane. AT made Olivia using it utterly believable, and it featured prominently for two full eps.
    4) The scene with Peter near the car, when Olivia is lying about the headache. The way AT delivers her lines is spot on: we know Olivia is lying, Peter knows Olivia is lying. Nothing is said (same as when he noticed her hand shaking at the start of 2.02). Minimalist and efficient. Also loved the way the next shot was filmed behind the car window. Great cinematography (the reflections on the glass) and acting (the hand movements: thumb on eyelid, then on lips)
    5) The other two Bowling Alley scenes. “Cut the Yoda crap!”: great line. The frustration increasing scene after scene with the first sign of anger boiling over: “I can’t even walk with that damn cane!” – Then: “I just got here” – and the final one: “I’m not here to bowl, or to try on shoes, or to have you play games with my head. I’m here because I was told that you could *fix* me.” Again, great line delivery. Just enough anger, without going overboard. Utterly convincing.
    ——–
    Other
    1) Nice to mention Peter’s past and to show how much his life and priorities have changed since his days in Iraq – and the start of the show. Smart move to revisit Peter’s past during this episode – while he is ‘overly’ caring towards Walter, and towards Olivia because of her injuries. Nice touch: the way he covers the remains of the police officer on the autopsy table.
    2) Liked Broyles shaking Walter’s hand in the surveillance van. Again, nice touch – and another relationship being explored.
    3) The beef burger exchange… really made me laugh!
    ——–
    The Bad
    1) Too many lab scenes for my taste. Thought they really slowed the pace down and apart from the routine/apartment thread (that was touching), were not that necessary. Would have gladly used one or two extra scenes about Olivia’s recovery instead. Or, see below…
    2) Thought the writers really missed an opportunity in this episode, by not including, at least, a scene between Olivia and “Charlie”. We know what’s coming next. And that would have been that much more poignant if their friendship had been featured in that episode.
    3) Also wondered: “What about Rachel?” – sorry Roco, but I do like her character!! :) – and “What about the ‘super hearing'” – that was not mentioned either.
    4) Liked the “Observer” ending – but not keen on the actor playing the Colonel. Bit too cliché for my taste.
    ——–
    Special note
    Totally agree with Roco on the look of the show. Also think it looks really great since it’s moved to Vancouver. A combination of more locations and outdoors settings (the blurred greens in the background always look great) and the way the shots are framed/filmed. Also, the DP (Thomas Yatsko) has a knack for adding the coolest lighting touches.
    ——–
    Best line of the show: “cut the Yoda crap.”
    Funniest moment: the beef burger
    Best performance: Anna Torv
    ——–
    Fringewatch
    http://www.twitter.com/fringewatch

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  3. Page 48 says

    With “Fringe” filmed in Vancouver, as was “X-Files” for the most part, Canadian actors like Stephen McHattie (Gordon) will no doubt see some extra work tossed their way. The face was instantly recognizable as a familiar one, but I had to do some Googling to place where I had seen him before.

    With regards to blowing up the briefcases, how many innocent people have to die to destroy the contents of a briefcase which is given up without a fuss? Could they not be detonated safely somewhere, or as Roco suggests, confiscated and taken in for analysis? And I don’t know about the Observers, but I’d be in deep doo-doo if I didn’t run regular backups of my data. They can blow up my briefcase if that floats their boat, but I’ve still got my stuff stashed where they’ll never find it. If the Observers are running couriers around Philly for the purpose of dropping off surveillance photos, then hey, why not email them or use a dead drop?

    Speaking of too convenient, how about Olivia finding the serum hidden in the bathroom wall, just after a very well timed puke-flush sequence? If doesn’t get any easier than that. An agent with lesser experience (let’s say Jessup for instance) might have puked, flushed, and looked the other way, which may explain why she rode the bench this week.

    What did Evil Charlie do all week? There isn’t much for him to do, I suppose, since Olivia already trusts him completely and still can’t remember much. Maybe he took in a game at Fenway with Jessup. Maybe he shape-shifted with Big Papi.

    This week’s “47” provided by Walter, who stopped counting at 47 needle marks.

    Turns out Astrid’s spidey senses are a little keener than Peter’s, although, right up until the end, when Gordon was dishing to Broyles, I thought Astrid’s assignment was going to be every bit the wild goose chase that Peter’s worm-boy was. But, lest we forget, Astrid is a trained professional.

    Walter did not mention his pissing habits this week, didn’t talk about his junk and didn’t even conduct an anal probe on anyone, living or dead (although who know what goes on btw. him and Gene when Astrid’s not around). Things are looking up, although the weekly food gag was just too tempting to leave aside for even one episode.

    This was a much more important episode than last week’s wheel spinner.

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    • says

      If the Observers are running couriers around Philly for the purpose of dropping off surveillance photos, then hey, why not email them or use a dead drop?

      Too true! I hope the writers explain this. Although I really loved that end scene, it’s quite glaring how the Observer has all this tech and yet realies on manual delivery. He really IS old skool.

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  4. e says

    I’m giving Fringe a pass on the doctor-in-the-kitchen. I don’t believe that bars like the one that Peter and Olivia were waiting in have kitchens like that. Therefore, they had to wait a few hours while Iraqi contact-man did his search-fu and the kitchen meet-up was in another location.

    At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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    • says

      It’s possible. If it was a different location, couldn’t they have at least made reference to it? Maybe have Olivia berate Peter for having to hobble 5 miles with her injured hip?

      I’m still not not convinced that the meet-up was in a different location, but at least we have a possible explanation.

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  5. jkyarr says

    This week’s episode felt much more “back on point” than the previous 2. While I still feel like there were some terrible weaknesses surrounding the Gordon plot, perhaps thats exactly the point — to only explain a few ideas and then develop it over time. It wasn’t satisfactory to me that Gordon’s MO was attack and destroy with seemingly so little recon of his own. I mean come on! On what basis did he deem the observers enemy combatants? It was all perception and no research. Of course that kind of thing fits well in this show, but I don’t think he could be more catastrophically wrong in his conclusions. Observers the enemy? Hardly… maybe he should have caught more of season 1… lol…

    As for the contents of the briefcase, I’d like to interject a reminder into people’s minds. That is that we already saw Alter-Walter at least once in season 1, Peter appeared in exactly ZERO of the pictures and “Walter” was seen in at least 1 picture wearing a dark suit… something our Walter has never been seen to do. Bottom line for me? I immediately rejected that the pics were of our-Walter. Admittedly I’m interpreting what I saw, but it seems clear to me that we were supposed to conclude that it was alter-Walter.

    It bears worth pointing out that the carriers wore the blacks and grays. Perhaps infantry in the army? Also I would have like to have been shown if the delivery boy in the station was killed or if his body was mysteriously missing in the after-carnage.

    The only moment with which I have a bone to pick in this episode was the “As-an-fbi-agent-draw-your-weapon-on-an-unarmed-civilian-just-because-you’re-angry” moment. I mean come on fhqwgads! So next episode she’s suspended without pay because another civy reported what they saw in the bowling alley? None of the other bowlers called the police? Or were conceal-carry permit holders and subsequently blew her brains out for an act that they surely would have perceived as criminal (seeing as how it actually was!)? Given it was Boston or New York or wherever it may be more common place to see civilian-dressed perps casually convincing other citizens with handguns, right? Why the choice to display lethal force here? Why not just have her grab him by the shirt and pull him up in her face? Why not smack him around a little? Having her pull her gun broke the scene for me. Couldn’t believe it… It interrupted the continuity with a giant “YEAH RIGHT!”.

    I watched the headache scene in slow mo to make sure I saw each red flash. They’re all footage from last season’s finale. During what we thought were the moments of crossing in the elevator and then flashes of bell’s mouth upside down. A couple were pictures of the wall in his office…. No great secrets to be had in the flashes.

    Green scene: Leaving the house of officer “station bomber”…

    My personal theory on the observers is that they’re from a future and are trying to prevent alter-walter’s agenda. An idea that is lent some credence by them coming to our-walter at specific times either for his help (as in “the arrival”) or to help him, as in the car accident on the frozen lake years ago (where I hypothesize that our-Peter actually died and alter-Peter was brought over) or the visit to the beach house and the conversation around the liberty coin. Whoever the observers are it seems plain that they’ve sided with our-walter and can tell the difference between ours and alter walter, whom I believe they have under constant observation. Wouldn’t alter-walter make the ultimate nemesis? The most dreadful perp? He’s already got proper motivation (his son was stolen) to want to destroy our universe…

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    • says

      As for the contents of the briefcase, I’d like to interject a reminder into people’s minds. That is that we already saw Alter-Walter at least once in season 1, Peter appeared in exactly ZERO of the pictures and “Walter” was seen in at least 1 picture wearing a dark suit… something our Walter has never been seen to do. Bottom line for me? I immediately rejected that the pics were of our-Walter. Admittedly I’m interpreting what I saw, but it seems clear to me that we were supposed to conclude that it was alter-Walter.

      I can’t deny that it’s possible. I’m not sure the absence of Peter means that it’s Alter-Walter (Olivia was also missing from the photos), although I agree that it ‘could’ serve as a clue.

      Let’s say the photos were of Alter-Walter. Does that mean he’s over here, in our world? Hmm..

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  6. e says

    It bears worth pointing out that the carriers wore the blacks and grays. Perhaps infantry in the army?

    That idea really appeals to me. I’m intrigued by the observer/courier reveals this week and am dying to learn more.

    Speaking of blacks and grays, that was a very blue shirt that Peter was wearing this week. I love that they’re putting splashes of blue around him all the time. Kind of a human blue flash. :)

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  7. Slurpie says

    “Too Convenient. The fact that one of the “Tin Man” doctors just happened to be working in the kitchen of the restaurant where Peter found Ahmed was kind of ridiculous. ”

    No one said he was at that kitchen, maybe the got to another restaurant. I mean. we were never shown the walking part, right?

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    • says

      Again, it’s a very plausible theory. Although I would think they’d have made mention to the fact that they’d travelled to another location? Maybe the writers had to cut that scene, but a quick mention would have sufficed.

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  8. caelum says

    I have just a few objections in your overall great review.

    One the note of FD not apprehending Diane Burgess because the risk of her blowing up was too great, you seem to forget that the group assuming they would be able to scramble the frequency and nullify the threat relatively quickly and so the risk didn’t appear to be ask great. Only when you include the hindsight that the frequency scrambling didn’t work does it become obvious they made the wrong decision. They thought the could nullify the threat with their scrambling AND get Gordon at the same time. From a tactical perspective, given their knowledge (although flawed) they made the right choice.

    On the note of the briefcases. Possibly he blew up the intel because he was unable to access it anyway. Many briefcases have locks on them, it’s fairly standard. If you are carrying “sensitive” information, you’d probably use them. The Observers technology surpasses ours (or at least appears too) so the briefcase may have security measures he couldn’t bypass. Perhaps, he thought it better that if he can’t intercept it – destroy it.

    Overall, excellent review though. Just thought there were explanations for those two things you indicting as being illogical.

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    • says

      One the note of FD not apprehending Diane Burgess because the risk of her blowing up was too great, you seem to forget that the group assuming they would be able to scramble the frequency and nullify the threat relatively quickly and so the risk didn’t appear to be ask great. Only when you include the hindsight that the frequency scrambling didn’t work does it become obvious they made the wrong decision. They thought the could nullify the threat with their scrambling AND get Gordon at the same time. From a tactical perspective, given their knowledge (although flawed) they made the right choice.

      I fully accept your reasoning – I just feel that Phillip put everything on an untested theory when the stakes were far too high. The fact that they didn’t know the scrambling device wouldn’t work seems like a good reason not to put so much faith in it working. If this was one of Walter’s fringe experiments I could perhaps buy into the idea more. But this was Phillip’s call (granted, based on Walter’s advice), and it seemed a little out of character for him to risk all of those lives, only days after he had received a ticking off from congress.

      Had this gone wrong, FD would have been shut down – would Phillip have taken this risk? I’m not so sure, but I see your point.

      On the note of the briefcases. Possibly he blew up the intel because he was unable to access it anyway. Many briefcases have locks on them, it’s fairly standard. If you are carrying “sensitive” information, you’d probably use them. The Observers technology surpasses ours (or at least appears too) so the briefcase may have security measures he couldn’t bypass. Perhaps, he thought it better that if he can’t intercept it – destroy it.

      I see where you’re coming from, but surely any Intel is better than no Intel. How did he know he wouldn’t be able to access the cases? Even if he couldn’t access to information or understand it, why not just hold onto it? It might have come in handy one day.

      Put it this way, if we found ancient artifacts that we couldn’t decipher, we’d still try to understand them and put them in museums, etc.

      It seems to me like Gordon didn’t think through his strategy well enough. It was so easy to take the briefcases from the couriers – advantage gained..and then he destroys them. Seems like a waste of an opportunity.

      But again, I see your point, I just can’t agree with it on this occasion.

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  9. Pedro says

    Peter seemed like his was fighting with someone that he knew when he stopped the Colonel. That didn’t seem like a fight you have with a stranger. I think that those two have a past from Iraq. I went back and watched the episode again and I believe there is more to that story.

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  10. Craig Moorhouse says

    I am invested in this show, worts and all – but I would like to see a little wort removal here.
    Another point for the “BAD” column, the off-camera expositional dialogue. We see Astrid tell the guys something like ” I’ve come across this interesting case” and then we hear her say in an off camera voice over ” I’ve been working on this program that searches for Fringe like cases”. If you don’t think we are smart enough to “get it” then do the work in production not in post. It kind of feels like that thing they would do on shows like the “A” team. Mr. “T” would shoot a jeep filled with nasty henchmen off the road into a ravine – you would see a quick shot of nasty henchmen crawling out of the upside down jeep and you would hear ” are you okay” – “ahhh yes” in a voice over. This manufactured moment would be deemed necessary because the network producers didn’t want us to think that Mr. “T” was a murderous thug.
    I still love the show – I really wish that Darin Morgan was writting on it.

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