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Fringe: A New Day in the Old Town

“There really isn’t a point where things just can’t get weirder, is there?”

This episode was quite discombobulating for me, the same way that Olivia’s car accident threw her completely off. As Peter summarized when talking to Broyles in The Irish Heather, Fringe Division’s job is to jump in when something weird happened, and then play the clean-up crew. We know, though, that the Fringe Division is operating with only half the facts, at best, and that’s never been clearer than in this episode: we know where Olivia’s been, and probably how she wound up in that car. But Peter, Walter, Astrid, and newbie Agent Jessup were only able to figure out a few of the answers, and didn’t even know to ask some of the big questions.

I was surprised that they took the approach of having Olivia forget her trip to Leonard Nimoy world—and that forgetfulness was the driving force behind the “you’ve just got to go with it” aspect of this episode. It’s interesting to think about who knows what: Walter knows Peter is really alterna-Peter, and suspects the existence of other dimensions; Olivia is in a daze; Peter’s along for the ride; Agent Jessup is just as confused as we are, but seems willing to take a lot on faith. Rather rapidly, too. I don’t trust her.

The typewriter/mirror Instant Messaging is a puzzler. Is it neat? Is it silly? Is it like EPF, but with mirrors and outdated technology? The car accident guy looked in a mirror, too—I think our Theme of the Week is Double-ness. Walter’s still freaked out about alterna-Peter after his “recent trip down memory lane,” too. Not to mention the shape-shifters, who create a “double” of someone, killing them in the process.

Olivia spoke in Greek when she woke up from her coma, and said “Be a better man than your father,” which is what Peter’s mom used to say to him after Walter left. I hope that’s not the death-knell of Olivia and Peter as a couple, especially if she’s acting as a “double” for his mom. They still have sparkage, don’t they? Then again, I thought Olivia’s sister was sending out romantic vibes, too.

Peter is willing to give the federal government to capabilities for super-soldiers to keep Fringe Division going. Isn’t that throwing the baby out to keep the bathwater clean?

What was Agent Jessup doing at the end? It really felt like I missed a few minutes of this episode, but everything seemed to be working fine with my DVR.

The Good:

• Walter: “I’d like to see her face when she eats my pudding.”
Peter: “That’s disturbing.”

• Receptionist at the FBI: “Please feel free to file a civilian request on our website.”

• Agent Jessup: “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of…”
Peter: “Oh, wow. Really? Butchered Shakespeare?”

• Walter: “I love custard, but I hate flan. Which could be an issue of semantics, or difficulty with the French.”

• The awesome X-Files shout-out during the appropriations hearing.

• The cow in the birthday hat.

The Bad:

• Nina Sharp and Agent Broyles kissing. Ewww! That absolutely doesn’t work for me: Broyles is way too young for her.

• The coconut telegraph says that Agent Francis is not long for this world, and being taken over by a shape-shifting alien doesn’t bode well. That’s a real pity.

Confusion aside, this was a really interesting episode. The score was great, and I love some of the new motifs that Giacchino introduced. The previews for the rest of the season look like we’ll get a mix of mythology and stand-alones, which I guess isn’t surprising. And the more I think about it, the more I like the discombobulation.

Four out of four Custards.

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


  1. Hi, Josie

    I think Jessup was comparing facts from the Fringe Division's previous cases to parts of the bible. And, judging by the part she was reading from, it was Revelations. It matches with what you said about this season showing more of the mystic.

    Also, an enemy disguised as a friend? And he has an assassination agenda? I think we saw that in another show of Abraham's of late, haven't we?

    I loved the premiere, and when Olivia was thrown out of the car my jaw dropped. Litteraly.

  2. Hi Gustavo,

    It was a good episode, wasn't it? It gave me hope for this season.

    But...why would Jessup be doing that? What's her secret agenda? Is she planning on writing a Dan Brown novel?

    I guess we're supposed to be asking these questions so we tune in next week for more hints.

  3. I don't think Jessup has a secret agenda. I think her mind was blown by all that information and revelations (no pun intended) knowing about Fring Division (FD henceforth) has brought her. And when you learn about something you don't understand or don't believe, you try to fit into something you already know and believe. Maybe she was religious and that's how she reacted. Maybe I'm doing the same think and imprinting what I know to something I don't fully ubderstand.

  4. Your reviews on Fringe are so harsh. I thought you were no longer going to do them? Perhaps I am mistaken. I don't really enjoy reading them very much.

  5. Hi Jenn.

    I appreciate your honest, albeit rather cruel, comments. I'm sorry my reviews are so unpleasant for you; obviously, that was not my intention.

    But I would also encourage you to re-examine my past few Fringe reviews: the penultimate and final episode of last season received our out of four Keanu Reeves and four out of four Sexy Irish Democrats, respectively. This one, of course, got four out of four Custards. I'm not quite sure about the conversion, given today's economy, but I think that's the equivalent of 7.2 tiny tabbies, or 1000 euro.

    As the numbers indicate, I'm really starting to enjoy Fringe, and I look forward penning more reviews. I am sorry that you will not look forward to reading them.

    And Gustavo: I think we're both right, in that we're both trying to figure out what's going on without enough information. I wonder if Jessup will be in all future episodes, or if she'll just pop up now and again?

  6. Hello, Jenn of the rude comment:

    This is Billie, the site owner. I announced recently that I'm no longer going to do reviews of Heroes and Supernatural. Were you confusing that with Fringe, and possibly confusing me with my brilliant guest writer, Josie K? (Which I would find quite a compliment, by the way.)

    Josie's reviews are well-written, witty, sharply observant, and fun to read. I enjoy every one of them, and I don't even watch Fringe (mostly because of gross-out issues and my general state of wuss). I'm lucky to have her as a guest writer, and I want her to stay here forever and review anything she likes. So there.

    There must be something in the air. Maybe it's Joe Wilson, Kanye, and Serena Williams influencing the rest of the country to be rude like them. Someone told me I was a lousy writer on True-Blood.net last week, too. I expect people to disagree with me; happens all the time. But I happen to think I'm a fairly decent writer. And Josie most certainly is.

  7. This latest string of comments timed out well, because I was just thinking about how I wanted to tell Josie I enjoyed her Fringe reviews, even though I don't watch the show anymore.

    I stopped watching Fringe after the first four or five episodes (except I did catch the one with the little boy Observer), but I started reading Josie's Fringe reviews anyway. It might seem like nepotism or something, as I'm another of Billie's guest writers, but I really do enjoy the reviews. I like the sense of humor you bring to them. I always enjoy The Good, The Bad, and whatever is standing in for That's Ridiculous!

    Perhaps as non-watcher of the show, I'm not in the best position to judge the quality of the individual reviews, but I always look forward reading them. They often make me smile and are a good way to keep tabs on the happenings if I ever decide to jump back in!

    (Also, I happen to agree with you that some of Walter's dialogue just makes me embarrassed for John Noble, not enamored of Walter's kookiness.)

    By the way, Billie, you stopped reviewing Smallville, not Supernatural. You must have Supernatural on the brain! :)

  8. Jess,

    You're right, it's Smallville. Actually, I do have Supernatural on the brain. Jensen Ackles practically lives in the area of my brain where fantasy resides.

  9. Hi Josie,
    thanx for the review! I also liked this episode but I wanted to say.. Weird things aside - so 2 dimensions, shape shifting super soldiers, type writers and custards, all of which I found pretty cool :) - the most confusing for me was the greek spoken by Olivia. And practically to Peter who "happened" to be there when she woke from the coma. Where are they going with this? Did Olivia met the alterna-Peter's mom and came back with a secret message?
    Is it a JJ Abrams thing the greek or latin (lost) on his shows??
    Maria S

    PS. Guys don't get so upset about jenn not liking the review.. She wasn't insulting, and it's only natural that not all people have the same taste. That doesn't mean that there are plenty of people who do like your review Josie..! Big Smile from me :)

  10. Awww...I feel like Tara at the end of "Family" from Buffy Season 5! Thanks to all of you!

    Anonymous, the Greek thing raises so many questions, some of them weird: Why did Peter's mother speak Greek to him? Why did she speak Greek like it was a code that had to be translated? Why did Olivia repeat it? How much of the alterna-world didn't we see?

    I wonder if we're going to get a flashback soon that explains what happened in the moments between the end of season one and the beginning of season two. Maybe it will also answer the question of why Walter isn't off in the ether with the Observer, too!

  11. Now when they said it was Greek, given that the secret squirrels in a previous episode communicated in Latin, I immediately thought "rival organisation!". (Or am I confusing this with another show? Damn you, JJ!).

    I've gradually come to enjoy Fringe more and more, after being uinvolved originally. This was a terrific season opener. And the "I hate custard"/"you loved it when you were young" exchange made me very sad for Walter.

  12. Just thought I'd mention that I'm another one who often reads your Fringe reviews despite not watching it anymore, Josie :-) It's interesting to discover that you think its getting better, and I may return to it sometime based on your reviews.

    Billie are you sure that's where Jensen Ackles lives? Is he rooming with Alexander Skarsgård then? ;-)

  13. You can add my name to the list of people who read your reviews, Josie, even though I do not watch the show. At all.

    Billie, you are an amazing writer; what sets you apart is the minor, yet pivotal details you pick up and highlight, it's great.

    I had a SFU marathon (it was my first time with the show) and you were spot-on almost every time. I’m still not done mourning the show. And that finale? I was in floods of tears.

    I come to this site almost every day and lap up everything and anything I can get - I may not always agree with what's been typed, but I know I'm in for a good read, whatever the ranking.

  14. Mark, what a lovely comment. I've actually got tears in my eyes.

    After the finale of SFU, Dan said he was never watching it again. It upset him too much.

  15. Harry, Jensen Ackles and Alexander Skarsgard are currently sharing digs with John Barrowman. It's quite a group.

  16. Hi, Josie,

    First, I'd like to say I watch Fringe, and I quite enjoy your reviews. In fact, I was just thinking before getting to this page, "Oh, that's right! The fall season has started, and that means more Billie Doux and her guest reviewers! Yay!"

    But I do feel you're all being very harsh on Jenn, who did not insult you either as a person or as a writer. She merely stated that your reviews do not fit her taste. Not liking what you do is not the same as being rude or cruel. When you put your work out there, someone's bound not to like it, and I think Jenn was very polite in expressing her opinion.

    Anyway, I hope you don't think I'm attacking you here either. It's just my perception, and I'm perfectly willing to accept that I could be wrong and/or that you may all see things differently. Just throwing it out there, as they say.

    On a different note, I don't think Olivia's Greek comment positions her as a mother figure to Peter. My feeling was that it hinted Olivia met Peter's real mother from his birth dimension. That would mean:

    A. Peter comes from the same dimension William Bell is hiding in. Did Walter create said dimension to retrieve his alternate son? Is his grief therefore responsible for the oncoming dimensions war?

    B. Peter's mother is still alive in his home dimension, and she's involved in all of this (at least to the extent she would have had to know Olivia was coming to leave her the message).

    C. Though she can't remember it and he doesn't know it, Olivia now has a more intimate relationship with Peter, having earned his mother's trust -- i.e. more sparkage!

    Anyway, thanks for a fine review. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on the rest of the season.

  17. Hi Dimitri,

    I definitely don't feel like you are attacking me: I think you made some very good points, and I really appreciate all the comments and support that I've gotten in this thread.

    Point B never occurred to me, but now that you've explained it, it seems spot-on. I'd been thinking that Olivia was somehow channeling Peter's mother, which seemed off, somehow. But them meeting is a much more elegant solution...plus, as you said, sparkage!

  18. Hi Josie,

    I was wondering if in your reviews you can list if you found the Observer in the episode. I know there it is a small thrill for me if I notice him.

  19. Please Please .. keep up with your superb job!!!!
    And the gratest thanks to Billie... I owe her hours of fun ... she, and her wonderful hosts, help me select and "tune" into new shows.... !
    I read all your reviews right after viewing each episode!1
    Cheers to you all!!!


    PS Billie: I never thanked you for introducing me to BSG with your opening remarks.... one of the greatest series ever.... .

  20. Ok, so Lance Reddick is trying to stop government bureaucrats from shutting down the division he runs while having an affair with a redhead who also helps the team every once in a while. What was that about déjà vu and alternate realities?

    (re: previous comments, I enjoy all the reviews in this site to the point where it affects my production levels, I simply must catch up with all the featured shows)

  21. I am now into Fringe. And I was upset about Charlie. Damn. I liked Charlie. I think my favorite scene in this one was Walter simultaneously eating a Twizzler, kibbitzing on the custard he was making Astrid create, and carrying out an autopsy at the same time. And I liked Peter actually taking charge. He's been along for the ride for too long.

  22. I really liked how this episode built from that near car crash at the end of the S1 finale. We were lead to think the elevator ride is when Olivia jumped to Over There, but now it appears that maybe she jumped at the moment of the near collision. Very cool twist.

    I'm digging the introduction of shapeshifters, although I'm seriously bummed that Charlie was killed and is now a wolf in sheep's clothing. I knew he died at some point, but I wasn't expecting it so soon. I guess once he and Olivia had that great scene in the hospital, in which he showed how well he knows her and what she's going through, I should have expected he'd be dead before the end of the hour. :(

    I can't decide what grossed me out more: Walter eating the Twizzler he was holding with his blood covered latex glove, or Nina kissing Broyles. Both actually turned my stomach a bit. Blech!

    In addition to The X-Files allusion during the committee meeting, I'm pretty sure the first guy attacked by the shapeshifter was watching The X-Files in his apartment. I swear I saw David Duchovny flash by on my screen. Fun!

  23. Both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were visible on the tv-screen in the apartment of the first shapeshifter kill. The whole season was filled with allusions to the X-Files, like for instance the fact that Fringe division was shut down in this episode. The X-Files was also closed and sut down in the first episode of seasons 2 of the X-Files.

  24. I know the thread is old, but I'm just going through Fringe (from the beginning) for a 2nd time and I still don't get this episode :)

    If anyone is still reading this thread, can you explain Olivia crashing through the windshield?

    1. I get the car accident without her. She crossed-over while driving, so the car was empty upon impact.

    2. But people don't necessarily crossover at the same place. Wouldn't it have been more likely that William Bell would have sent her back on the sidewalk near her car? She would have just appeared beside the wreck and thought "oh... that's what happened when I left".

    3. For the hurdling through the windshield to happen, wouldn't she have had to been driving (on the other side) at the exact same spot and gotten hit in the exact same spot, and crossover on impact?

    4. Okay... maybe she was driving at the exact same spot because she was looking for the "soft spot" to crossover, and maybe another 'soldier' tried to hit her, but if that's true then it's lame that I had to jump through all these assumptions to arrive at a crucial plot point.

    Thanks for the help!

  25. Wow, Anonymous--I haven't re-watched this episode in eons, and I don't know what to say. Although the details are fuzzy, I'm tempted to answer with two completely useless responses:

    1. Billie TV Rule #7 ("Never try to apply logic to time-travel stories") also applies to trans-dimensional travel.

    2. Maybe she crashes through the window because windows are a theme, rather than for any specific sequence of events in motion?

  26. Thanks Josie for responding. None of my co-workers watch Fringe, so I'm missing the 'watercooler' musings. I appreciate the interaction despite how old the thread is!

    I can buy that J.J.Abrams sometimes uses themes instead of logical event sequences. It's how I got through some of LOST, so I'll take your advice and apply it here.

  27. Who would have guessed nearly ten years ago when this episode first aired that Agent Jessup would grow up to be a princess? :)


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