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Fringe: Fracture

“We go through our lives unaware. The enemy is among us.”

Bodies turned into bombs. A government divided into warring factions. Olivia’s continued injuries, and Peter’s continued transformation. Even the watermelon didn’t make it. This week’s Fringe is titled ‘Fracture,’ and it’s all about things that should be whole that are broken in to pieces. The real question is, can they be put back together again?

The political implications of this episode are interesting. Basically, the enemy is the US government, or at least top-secret parts of it. The good guys (our guys) are forced to police their own, relying on anti-terrorist technology to save the United States from its own military and intelligence divisions. This is a fracture of the body politic. But there are new terrorists, at least in the view of the hard-liners: the Observer isn’t just observing, he’s planning on using our own technology against us. It’s like terrorist cancer. Yikes!

The Theme of the Week is bodies, and what happens to us when they start to fracture. Bomb-guy’s body fractured into a billion pieces, and Olivia’s consciousness is sharding as her physical symptoms of dimension-hopping and traumatic brain injury manifest themselves. Even the operation (Tin Man) is code-named for a man whose body doesn’t reflect his mind: he wants a heart, but takes a while to realize that he doesn’t need an actual heart as long as he’s good-hearted. Plus, Peter eating a cheeseburger in front of a cow shows us how sometimes we can distance the corporeal from the ontological.

Peter’s Iraqi contact saw him as selfish and self-serving, but we know that he really has changed—it just took a while in the world of fringe science to change him. Or, a desire to re-connect with his father. He’s still the unofficial leader of the Fringe team, too. It seems like our plucky heroes have become almost like consultants: they’re operating very independently, and liasing with the rest of the FBI only when they need more bodies.

Olivia’s greatest strength, as we were told a few times during the first season, was her ability to empathize with the victims and act in their name. But Sam Weiss cured her of her ills not by reminding her of this empathy, but by spurring on her anger. Peter used to have a lot of anger, but now he’s all empathetic and cuddly. What’s going on? It looks like we may get more answers next week.

I watched the first half of this episode on Thursday night, and decided to go to bed in the middle of it. I didn’t work up the urge to finish it until Saturday evening. I almost never stop a TV show in the middle; I’m too much of a completion-fanatic. But this one was too much of a stand-alone, and I’m a little worried that we might never get real answers if they keep dragging things out like this. There also weren’t many good quotes.

The Good:

• I liked Kevin Corrigan as Sam Weiss, Dr. Bowling. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. Or maybe he takes himself very seriously, but ironically.

• Astrid: “Dr. Bishop, what did I tell you about experimenting with fruit?” Mr. Papaya, the friendliest of fruits, you are not forgotten.

The Bad:

• I, too, would like $20,000, a private airplane, and an extra passport. But is anyone giving it to me? Peter’s got all the luck.

• Red tea and vodka? Blech!

• I do not speak Arabic, but I’m familiar enough with it to know that Peter’s accent was truly awful.

• The scene in the Iraqi bar played into just about every single stereotype about ‘the Orient’ and Arab countries.

What Exactly Are We Doing Here? (as Astrid said):

• Olivia and Peter didn’t seem surprised that Diane had been treated the same way that her husband was. Did I miss the scene where they start to suspect her?

• What was in the briefcase? Tiny aliens? Tiny observers? Oh, no—pictures of Walter!

I’ve decided to move our attempts to find The Observer to the forum. Yes, it’s a shameless plug for the glitzy new fun. But if we’re lucky, we’ll start to have a comprehensive list. Also, I can never find him myself (except this week, in which he was quite obvious). Although I do keep spotting Agent Jessup in odd places.

One out of four Exploding Watermelons.

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

4 comments:

  1. Bit disapointed they didn’t do more with Stephen McHattie. Why cast such a great actor for what seems like a rather thankless role.

    Neverthless a decent enough episode. Was sure for certain that it was fake Charlie who was getting the breifcase at the end. Are the Observer and the shapeshifters on the same side or from different factions in this transdimentional war? Hopefully Nimoy will have some answers for us.

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  2. I actually liked how the seemingly stand-alone case-of-the-week suddenly tied into the overall arc at the end. It didn't give us a ton of new information, but it was intriguing, nonetheless.

    I'm not sure you care at this point, Josie, but Diane was not the wife of the fallen Officer Gillespie. She was a fellow soldier in his unit who was treated as part of Project Tin Man. There were three other people (besides Gillespie) who were treated with the serum in Iraq that returned stateside, and Broyles noted in his briefing that they had secured two in protective custody. Diane was the only one they couldn't find, and after learning she had just recently come to Washington, they strongly suspected she was the immediate threat.

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  3. I'm afraid that Sherlock did the "losing the cane without realising it" bit much, much better in its first episode.

    I didn't think this episode was as bad as you seemed to, Josie, but it doesn't rank among my favourites. I enjoy watching the "new" Peter and the "new" Olivia, so I am willing to forgive a fair amount.

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