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Fringe: The Ghost Network

“Well, I’ll take what I can get.”

The pilot gave us a plane crash with melty people. This episode gave us a bus crash with frozen people. It’s totally different. The frozen people were attacked with something like sarin gas. But this is a different type of gas. John Scott is a traitor, but a different kind than Robert Hanssen. One of the victims was in a clandestine relationship with her traitorous co-worker, which is not different at all from Olivia’s recent situation.

And Walter continues to be a different kind of crazy.

If we take Buffy, Alias, or The X-Files as models for how a genre show should work, then…well, then there’s no real reason to even review this episode. It’s one of the requisite stand-alones from the first season that no one will ever really care about watching again. It even played with its own genre status when the students wandered into the lab. No, this is ‘not remotely’ your standard show.

But really, it is—just like with other freshman entries, we have to watch these episodes to experience the show ‘finding its footing,’ as they say, but we don’t have to love them. We just watch the chips fall where they should, hope for a bit more in later episodes, and let out minds wander.

To wit: I enjoyed the philosophical implications of the correlation/causation debate between Olivia and Nina Sharp (the Massive Dynamics honcho). It was a nice nod to the implausibility of so much weirdness in Boston, but it was complicated by the introduction of Occam’s Razor in the next scene—if this show were a proof, we’d be more confused right now than poor Gödel before he figured out incompleteness.

Speaking of philosophy (because there’s not much else to do during an episode like this), I find it curious that this show—or Walter, at least—focuses so much on the mysteries of the human mind. (Even pop-psychology truisms about the similarities between criminals and law enforcement were trotted out.) It’s certainly a popular topic in science and medicine this day, but it still has that mystique of yet another final frontier. Of course, these ruminations are somewhat discounted by the ground-breaking work that Walter did back when bell-bottoms where still popular—as though his old work exists in a brilliant vacuum uninfluenced by scientific discoveries that have taken place since then. And they’re also discounted by being so easily explicable with optical illusions familiar to most second-graders.

Three unrelated observations:

• Do many villain speak in Latin? Is this a holdover from all those Templar myths?

• I enjoy the repartee between Olivia and Agent Francis.

• Is the Theme of the Week repetition?

Really only two lines of dialogue worth highlighting:

• ‘I like to consider myself to be a fairly good poker player, which requires me to have the ability to read people’s tells, know when they’re bluffing.’ Remember that old saw about how writers should ‘show, not tell’? Yeah.

• ‘When I was nine years old, I wanted to be a brontosaurus.’ That was sort of funny.

One out of four Incompleteness Theorems.

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

4 comments:

  1. I stopped watching Fringe after the first two episodes turned me off so thoroughly. Since I have it on good authority that the series gets pretty good, I'm giving it another try. At least this third episode didn't gross me out like the first two.

    I'm already fond of Walter. Becoming fond of Peter. I like Charlie and Astrid. Olivia is perhaps too much of a girl scout. And the piano was a nice touch. But this was a pretty forgettable episode.

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  2. This review's so down on the episode lol. Not that it isn't warranted.
    I distinctly remember the "He told me he loved me too" line for some reason. I think I may've caught this one every time I was blindly watching TV and an episode of Fringe would be playing. Just always this same damn episode on repeats.
    Something about the opening logo keeps making me expect a child's voice to say "Fringe" at the end of it. Just something about the way the show title's displayed. Must be something from childhood TV. Or like whenever there's a dub all the opening sequences have an ethnic voice saying the name of the show at the end for some reason. "Furinju.."

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  3. Onigirli, I eventually start to love this show and my reviews get a lot nicer.

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  4. I always had a soft spot for this episode. I sympathized with the guy who was haunted by visions from the Ghost Network, and was pleased that he was able to get some closure by helping the FBI. And as someone who took three years of Latin in high school and who used to play piano, those elements were fun additions for me. :)

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