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Fringe: Bound

Fringe is back. Olivia has been abducted. Peter is concerned. Walter is disassociated from reality. Astrid spends the entire episode in search of cheese-steak. Rhinoviruses are really creepy when they’re carp-sized. A double-agent we already knew was a double-agent is revealed to be…a double-agent!

Perhaps in an attempt to out-do Lost, this episode of Fringe had more plots than the CIA in the sixties. We start with Olivia’s abduction, from which she quickly escapes—taking the time to grab some vials, of course. This abduction may or may not have something to do with the creepy giant common-cold thingy that is killing epidemiologists, definitely has something to do with Agent Loeb, and probably has something to do with the sudden appearance of Sanford Harris of Internal FBI Affairs, who is reviewing the Fringe Division, which probably has something to do with budgetary concerns in the new economy…or does it?

Perhaps in an attempt to avoid the fate of Alias (described by J.J. Abrams himself as “literally impenetrable,” whatever that means), we were re-introduced to the series via flashbacks and exposition about Olivia and her probably-dead boyfriend John; Peter Bishop (mercenary hunk with a heart of gold); and Dr. Walter Bishop (crazy scientist cum accent). Oddly, we didn’t get a flashback explaining Agent Loeb, whom we first met in 1.7 “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones.” I’d completely forgotten about him.

We also got some Alias-style family drama, which my optimistic self found touching. My cynical self is waiting for the episode in which Ella the niece is put in dire peril from which only Aunt Olivia can rescue her. It will probably happen in February, which is a sweeps month.

It seems silly to quibble about impossible scenarios in a show where consciousness-sharing with dead people is a key plot element, but a few moments made me say “really?”:

• Two of the three abductors not wearing masks. If they’re going to kill her, no masks are necessary. If they’re not, three masks are. Don’t they watch TV?

• Olivia hiding the vials. She thought help was coming—why bother?

• Agent Harris being assigned such a prestigious position after having been cleared of a sex crime. Yes, he was cleared. But I doubt he’d just bounce right back into favor.

• Olivia being permitted to go back to work after having been abducted, lumbar-punctured, and (later) shooting someone. Doesn’t the paperwork on that sort of thing take more time?

Final conclusion? I’m still not sure about this show. Like any X-Files fan, I love conspiracy theories, and I hope that Fringe develops the hints that Agent Loeb dropped about there being much more to the pattern and Fringe Division’s investigations. The pseudo-science, however, is a bit too pseudo for me, and poor Dr. Bishop has some truly embarrassing lines to deliver in every episode.

I also like the possibilities of a Peter/Olivia romance, however long it may take to develop. The conflict between work and family was compelling on Alias, at least to this female viewer, and that seems like a potentially exciting avenue to explore. Why they haven’t explored it more, already, is perhaps even more mysterious than how a water-tank and some electrodes would enable a dead body to yield its secrets.

Two out of four rhinoviruses.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Josie,

    I really enjoyed reading this review. It made me wish I was still watching Fringe. :) I was turned off by the first two episodes, but I plan to give it another shot when the first season comes out on DVD.

  2. Hi Josie,

    Enjoyed your review. I'm still a little unsure about Fringe. I thought this episode was pretty good...much better than some of the others....but I don't really feel as if we know anything yet...about anything! I just don't feel that involved with the plot and I'm not sure why that is. They are telling us stuff. But it's all just a bit....meh.

    And I agree with you on Walter having some rather stenchy dialogue. It just feels as if they're making him say randomly weird things every episode to reinforce in our minds that he's a bit potty...but you know what? We already know! No need to ram it down our throats JJ.

    I love the character of Olivia, but don't find Joshua's character all that compelling. Maybe it's because he'll always be Pacey to me...or maybe it's because they never have him do much in the show...apart from baby sit Walter. Even when he gets involved in the action it's all a little uninspiring.

    Plus, pretty big gap between episodes 10 and 11. When the flashbacks came on at the start of the show I was struggling to remember half the events. And usually my memory is good on that sort of thing.

    Hope in improves though. I'll keep on watching.

  3. Hi Paul.

    My memory of plot minutia and mythology stuff is usually pretty good, too--I was shocked to realize that I didn't recognize Agent Loeb, because it seemed to point to a real lack of caring on my part. And I usually care out of all proportion.

    I want to like Fringe, I really do, but it's hard. I actually like Joshua Jackson's character best, but that's probably because I've never seen Dawson's Creek, so for me he's just that guy from the poker scene in Ocean's Eleven.

  4. Great review. It summed up my ambivalence about this show. There are bits I really like - the characters and their relationships are quirky and sometimes compelling, I think the acting is pretty good but I find most of the weekly plots and the overall conspiracy clumsy and mostly over the top. I mean giant cold viruses? - more funny than chilling.

  5. I did remember agent Loeb, but probably because he was in "Safe", too. Watching a series via the immersion method has its plus side.

    This was a very Olivia episode. Like they were realizing that her character wasn't as strong as it could be, so they gave her that rescuing-herself action sequence in the beginning and a terrific sister and niece at the end so they could develop her character in two completely different directions at once.


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