Friday, October 1, 2010

Fringe "The Box” Recap & Review

Photo from Fox

The second episode of this season of Fringe (Fox) “The Box” brought viewers back “over here” to the universe where Fringe began. But, there is one small problem – it’s not “our” Olivia that is here, it’s the “Alternate” Olivia (Anna Torv), and she’s got her own agenda. She’s assimilating very nicely, with her alternate universe contact Thomas Jerome Newton (Sebastian Roché) giving her homework – reading a book on pop culture – in order to help her to blend in. And she shares a drink – and a dance – with Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) in a bar. Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) is also mourning the death of his colleague, William Bell, and at the same time, working to get his cow to produce chocolate milk.

The Fringe team – Olivia, Walter, and Peter - is called into a case where a family has been bound and gagged so two men can dig up a mysterious box buried in the basement. The family and the burglars are later all killed when curiosity gets the two men and when the open the box, something causes everyone in the house to die. However, another man had already entered the house, unaffected by the power of the box, and takes it. A problem for Olivia is that she only hired two men to get the box and now has to track down who stole this box.

Walter is called to Massive Dynamic for the reading of William Bell’s will, and he and Nina (Blair Brown) are both given envelopes – but we don’t see what is in either envelope and Walter will not reveal it to Peter. Peter also finds out from Broyles (Lance Reddick) that Broyles gave Olivia information about searching the home of one of the dead burglars and Peter is surprised that Olivia didn’t tell him about it.

When Peter meets Olivia at the house, she’s already been looking for the box and she makes the excuse that she didn’t tell him about the search because she knew he would come and felt that Walter really needed his support. When Olivia exits the house, a man watches and writes down her name. He seems to be listening from afar (we later find he’s not listening per se).

At the lab, Walter chooses to show what is in the envelope to Astrid (Jasika Nicole), it’s a key and a letter from Bell which said: "Don't be afraid to cross the line." Walter also figures out that the reason why the people in the house were killed was some sort of ultrasound that overwhelms the brain. Somehow, the person who escaped with the box was not affected. Astrid also prods Walter to talk to Peter about his feelings.

While Olivia is at home reading files on “herself” – the real Olivia has a photographic memory and she wonders how she will pull that off – there is a knock on her door. It’s the man who stole the box, and when he speaks, she realizes he is deaf, which is why the ultrasound from the box did not affect him.

When Walter does have that important discussion with Peter, he tries to explain what happened when he took Peter from the other universe and why, but Peter is not ready to hear it or talk about it yet.

After Olivia gives the box to Newton, she shoots and kills the deaf man. She hears another knock at the door and it’s Peter, so she is forced to drag the man’s body into the bathroom. Peter begins to talk about Walter’s apology, and says he can’t bring himself to give Walter a break. All Peter can see is his image in the blueprint as part of the doomsday machine. When Olivia notices blood from the dead man is creeping from under the bathroom door, she diverts Peter with a kiss, which becomes more passionate.

Newton, meanwhile, has taken the box to a subway and paid a homeless dwarf some money to watch his box for a short while. Of course, curiosity gets the man and he takes the box. Before we know it, the Fringe team is called to the subway to investigate more deaths, just like the ones at the house. Peter knows the box is there and he wants to be the one to chase after it. Walter has an idea to protect Peter from the ultrasound – Olivia shoots her gun next to each of Peter’s ears to render him temporarily deaf. He races down the subway tracks, finds the dwarf and the box, the dwarf’s head exploding in a very dramatic fashion.

Peter manages to disable the box, but when Olivia and Broyles realize not all the subway trains have been stopped and one is on its way to Peter, Olivia races into the tunnel and pulls him away, just before the subway would have flattened him.

Back of the platform, they realize that this is just another piece of the doomsday machine and for some reason, some of the parts are stored in this universe – but why? Peter takes the machine back to the lab to do further work on it.

Walter heads to the back to check out the safety deposit box with the key Bell left him. He heads to Astrid’s home and shows Astrid that William Bell left him Massive Dynamic, and he is now the sole shareholder, holding a large pile of stock certificates.

Olivia sits at the typewriter where she can communicate with the alternate – and her own – universe – and types in the message, "Peter has first piece. He is actively engaged." The reply: "Understood. Begin work on Dr. Bishop."

I couldn’t be happier that Fringe is focusing less on the oddball cases and is focusing on the alternate universe storyline. It is far richer and more compelling than handling their stand-alone, “normal” cases. It’s a story line that continues to engage viewers in and have them anticipate the next episode. I only wish more people would be tuning in to Fringe because it’s one of the best shows on television today, and both Anna Torv and John Noble are excellent in their respective roles. In fact, it is almost as if the alternate Olivia really IS a different person. Hopefully, “Faux-livia” will be discovered before Peter and Walter get in too deep.

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