Friday, September 18, 2009

Fringe Returns With “A New Day In The Old Town”

Photo from Fox

Fringe (Fox) clearly established itself as the new X-Files, both with a quick TV screen view of a soon to be victim watching Mulder and Scully on television, plus the reference to the “old “X” designation“ during Agent Broyles’ (Lance Reddick) hearing about the future of the “Fringe” division. Also like the X-Files, it seems a shape-shifter (as with the “alien bounty hunter”) has been added to the show. It feels good to have an agency that investigates the weird.

The only annoying thing about this episode was that they seemed to move between Boston and New York a little too quickly, and I admit that I was starting to get a little confused as to where they were at times. Otherwise, it was an action packed hour where I didn’t even mind that they were showing a lot more commercials than they had in the show’s first season.

Despite the comfortable and familiar story elements, and the similarities to the X-Files, the Fringe season premiere does not disappoint. It provides many new mysteries: Where or when was Olivia when she visited William Bell and what did he tell her? What is she looking that is hidden and why can't she remember? Why are the shape-shifters looking for this object? Will Walter’s switch with Peter when the real Peter died years ago catch up with him, and with the Greek “code” between Peter and his mother help expose Walter’s switch? Will Charlie’s impromptu story to Olivia about his own shooting be the thing that ultimately exposes him as the shape shifter? What exactly is Jessup up to and what does she really know? It looks to be a great second season.

Here’s is the recap:
The show opens with a car accident in New York City – and it looks like Agent Olivia Dunham’s (Anna Torv) car has been involved. But she’s nowhere to be found. A man who seems to have caused the accident walks away from the scene, bloodied. He manages to buzz his way into an apartment building, and finding another man in the hall, proceeds to force him into his apartment (where the X-Files are on TV) and overpowers him, killing him. He then proceeds to take over his identity, morphing his face. The FBI agents, on the scene of the accident, are perplexed as it seems the driver of the black SUV is nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, back in Boston, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and his scientist dad Walter (John Noble) are grocery shopping, and Walter is insisting on making custard for Peter's upcoming birthday, which he says Peter loved as a child. Peter indicates that he never liked it. Peter then gets an alarming phone call. Before you can say “transporter beam” Peter and Walter arrive at the scene of the accident where Olivia's SUV is still there. It seems as if nothing has changed to the scene from the time of the accident to their arrival. (My husband wants to know how they got there so fast, with the accident scene staying the name. They can’t be that slow to wrap up a accident scene in NYC.) FBI Agent Jessup (Meghan Markle) is on the scene, and while she talks with Peter, Walter plays around with the controls inside the SUV, and when an alarm in the car goes off, and the engine revs, they stand back as the car goes silent. But their quiet is pierced when Olivia comes flying through the windshield and onto the street. Later, as they rush Olivia into surgery, she is unresponsive.

Outside the hospital, Special Agent Broyles stops Jessup and tells her she will be reporting a random traffic accident, case closed. Jessup argues, but Broyles explains to just sign the report. Needless to say, her curiosity is piqued.

Back at the hospital, a doctor tells Peter that they are unable to restore brain function in Olivia, but Walter thinks the situation is relative. He busts into the operating area to examine her, and she is being kept alive with machines. Walter is crushed and apologetic as Peter looks on.

Later, Peter is sitting alone in a bar, drinking, when Broyles joins him. Broyles tells Peter that he has been called to Washington DC and was told that their failure to deliver any usable results is unacceptable. They're shutting down the Fringe Division. (It reminds me of Fox Mulder's words, “They’re shutting us down, Scully." Déjà vu anyone?) Meanwhile, at the New York Federal Building, Agent Jessup is trying to access the Fringe files.

When Peter gets back to the hospital, Olivia’s sister Rachel (Ari Grayor) is there and Peter consoles her. She tells him Olivia liked him. She also tells him Olivia has a living will and she will be disconnecting life support the next day. Peter enters Olivia’s room to say his goodbyes, and as he leans over to her, she opens her eyes, speaks in a foreign language, and screams. Later, she knows who she is and seems to have her brain functions back, but her memory is fuzzy. She says she was trying to get somewhere and someone was trying to stop her, but she went anyway. She says there is something important she has to do and their lives may depend on it. She tells Peter she needs her gun.

At the Federal Building in Boston (these people get around quickly I tell you), Peter is looking for Broyles, and is told he is in Washington. Peter gets the cold shoulder and when the security woman asks for Peter’s ID, she takes it and shreds it, saying it has been revoked. When more security comes, Agent Jessup appears and says she will take over with Peter. While they drive off, Jessup says that the skid marks with Olivia’s car didn’t make sense, because it appeared Olivia was speeding up, not slowing down, when the accident occurred. The driver of the other car was George Reed, from Lexington. She also wants to know more about the Fringe Division. They get to Reed’s house and break down the door, but he’s dead. When Walter gets on the scene, he says the man died from a virus and wants to take the body with him to his lab,. He is excited like a kid with a new toy when Jessup allows it and when he gets to drive along with the body.

The shape shifter who took over another identity come into an old electronics shop and makes a request for a specific typewriter model. When he is told that the model doesn’t exist, he presses the shop owner who seems to know who he is, and he gives him a key to the back room where the typewriter is sitting. On this typewriter, the man types his report, saying his target was terminated. When he looks into a mirror next to him, he percieves invisible fingers typing out a response that his mission was a failure, that the “meeting occurred” and "target still alive." The man requests new orders, and is told to interrogate the target, "Then kill her."

Peter walks into the lab with Jessup, introducing her to the Fringe division, and explains that Walter used to work there on government projects.

Meanwhile, Olivia’s work partner Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) talks with Olivia at the hospital. When she says he is fine, he counters with a story about him answering a domestic disturbance call with his partner who was later killed by the woman, who then also shot Charlie. He knows Olivia is not fine. She can’t recall what happened to her, and can’t even load her own gun.

Back at the lab, Walter is performing the autopsy on Reed while he tells Astrid (Jasika Nicole) how to make custard. Walter's shows Peter the inside of Reed's mouth, where they find three markings, like stab wounds, on the roof of his mouth. He recalls a previous experiment, and shows them a videotape of an experiment, where a woman, with many electrode-like objects on her head, says she saw a man with a machine with three nails that went in the mouth, saying he is from another universe. She describes exactly what we saw the man in the car crash had done before he took over the other man’s identity. She adds, "They can look like any of us."

Back in the hospital, Olivia tries to load her gun, fumbling, and is unsuccessful.

In Washington DC, Broyles faces a government hearing committee, who references the former “X designation” and calls the Fringe Division "indulgences" in the budget. Broyles is annoyed with their flippant attitude, saying that sometimes the threat is "unimaginable" and they should be thankful Fringe Division is there. They are unmoved.

Outside the hearing, Broyles meets with Nina Sharp (Blair Brown), who also doesn't want Fringe shut down. She kisses him and tells him to continue to do what he always used to do, that is, "save the day."

Elsewhere, Peter and Jessup follow up on another body found with three holes in its mouth, which was found two blocks from the accident site. They think whatever it is on the loose is still trying to accomplish its goal. Peter races back to the hospital to see Olivia, thinking that she is their goal. Outside the hospital, the shape shifter is lurking and he startles a nurse.

Later, that same nurse checks on Olivia and begins to ask her questions about her memory. Olivia can only remember pieces, and thinks she was on her way to meet someone, but doesn’t recall whom. She remembers something is hidden, and the nurse pushes the issue a little too much. But when she’s satisfied Olivia doesn’t know what was hidden where, the nurse jumps on the bed and attempts to strange Olivia. Olivia tries to fight back and use her gun, which drops to the floor. As Peter and Jessup race to Olivia’s aid, Jessup shoots the nurse twice in the back, but the nurse jumps out the window that is several stories up, and runs to the basement below. Charlie picks up the chase. When the nurse surprises him, dropping from the ceiling in the basement near the incinerator, Charlie shoots. When Jessup and Peter arrive, the nurse is dead and Charlie is standing over her body. Peter takes a device presumed to aid in the shape shifting, which was on the floor next to the nurse’s body.

Later, Peter brings Olivia a huge bouquet of flowers, and tells her that Walter suspects the nurse was a "shape-changing soldier from another universe" and he thinks that's where Olivia went. Peter deadpans that "Do you think it's a bad thing I can say that out loud and neither one of us thinks I'm crazy?" Olivia tells Peter about feeling that something is hidden, and Peter says Walter will figure it out. Peter asks about the Greek she spoke when regained consciousness, repeating the words. He says it is what his mother used to say to him every night before he went to bed, and it translates to "be a better man than your father." He says it was like a code between them, to keep the people he cares about close. When Peter moves to leave, Olivia asks if it's true they're shutting them down, and he says no.

Later, Peter gives Broyles the broken shape-shifting device as proof he can use for the committee. Peter seems to be determined to force the issues, saying that they're calling the shots now. Meanwhile. Jessup types notes into a computer that seem to reference the Bible, closing a Bible, which sits on her desk.

When Peter returns to the lab, we hear a groan – was it the cow or Walter, I wonder – and he finds Astrid, Walter, and the cow waiting with birthday custard. Still in the hospital, Olivia finally loads her gun. In the hospital basement, we see Charlie pushing a load of laundry toward an incinerator. But that’s not just laundry; we see Charlie’s body being pulled out and being tossed into the incinerator. It seems who we now know as Charlie is really the shape shifter.

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