10 February, 2012

Review: FRINGE 4.12 - 'Welcome to Westfield'


This week's episode gives us a bit of progress on Peter's Machine and reintroduces us to Olivia's dreams of Peter.

Peter and Walter have been working on "the machine" issue and need authorization to test out Peter's ability to control it. In the case-of-the-week world, a highway suddenly loses all power and it causes a jetliner to crash. Then as suddenly as it blows up, power is restored. Spooky.

The team is dispatched to investigate with Broyles, Olivia, and Astrid out in the field. As Astrid tries to communicate with Walter remotely he surprises the gang by showing up with Peter. And the show gets closer to what some people actually want to see.

Anyway, so there is something freaky going on in the town Westfield. Walter, Peter, and Olivia go to an eatery so that Walter can get rhubarb pie but soon Walter is in a fight for his life when he is attacked by a knife-wielding demon-eyed freak. Peter jumps in to help but is overpowered. But Olivia saves the day with a well placed shot to the back. So very brave of her.

Inside the eatery, they find a badly injured man named Cliff who is in need of medical attention. They try to take him to the hospital but find themselves reentering the town over and over. Cliff tells them they can't leave. Apparently they can't. Suddenly FRINGE has turned into SUPERNATURAL.

The gang nurses Cliff back to health and he tells them a tale of the town going schizophrenic. He also tells them that a few townspeople are immune to whatever is going on. As they start to get ready to go and investigate Olivia reveals a memory of a case that Walter doesn't remember, but Peter does. And at this point they should all realize that Peter is in the right universe! But they don't.

They try to start up their car but the elecromagneticwhatever won't let them so they go on a stroll through schizombie town. Not long after going on their brisk walk, Olivia gets infected and begins to mumble and whine so this is just like season 1 now.

Our friends-until-the-end go to the local school where the semi-healthy are holed up. There Walter inspects an infected and discovers that they are duplicating body parts or something, like I give a shit. They also mentally go in and out of the past and present.

Next we actually get a moment between Olivia and Peter where she asks a question one would think she would have asked weeks ago. What is the other Olivia like? Peter's explanation and her reaction to it is a nice moment that almost reveals chemistry between these two. But it also reveals that when given the right moment, and the right material, Joshua Jackson is one badass acting motherfucker and should be given this amount of dialogue in every episode.

Just as the two lovers are getting familiar with each other, a chick kills herself. Walter then explains to Peter and Olivia that what's happening is that the current universe, at least in this town, is merging with the alternate universe of the same town or some shit. Those who don't have doppelgangers in the town on the other side are not affected. Suddenly a time rift opens up and shit starts shaking and rolling.

The towns are attempting to merge! People's gonna die!

Thankfully, Peter comes up with a solution. Father and son team up to find the center of whatever I wasn't paying attention. Olivia says some stuff. Peter and Walter draw on a map. The school gang goes on a bus. A schizombie attacks and Walter mace saves the day. In the end, the producers spend half their budget on a totally pointless world-is-ending action sequence.

The town is totally wiped out minus one bicycle shop that is the "eye of the storm." The FBI then finds some of Jones' devices around a perimeter of the town, supposedly set there to make this all happen. I guess he's testing shit so he can destroy bigger crap later. At least they saved the remaining townspeople. Too bad they will have to murder them all to keep their mouths shut about this whole thing.

As the episode closes out, we get a happy exchange between Walter and Peter, but it is evident that Walter is dreading the day he successfully helps Peter get back to his universe. Spoiler, Walter, he won't. So Peter goes to Olivia's place to check up on her and she is all bubbly and familiar and kisses him, seemingly remembering her life with him. And for some strange reason Peter recoils in horror!

Now, I am a man and I've been in love before, so I understand that perhaps he thinks this isn't his Olivia and so he doesn't want to get any strange, even from the girl who is just like his Olivia, but one would think he would allow himself a bit of indulgence. Come on, buddy! Regret it later! Which you won't since this is the girl you love.

Anyway, if I had to rate this one I'd give it:

89 out of 100

Sure, there were some weak points but by the end we had at least gotten forward momentum, plus some good scenes between Peter, Olivia, and Walter. Not to mention that we are finally getting a payoff. Now, what will that mean to the story going from this point on? We shall see. How quickly will they pull this back? Will Olivia remember everything only to lose those memories? Will Peter continue to not figure out the most obvious answer? Tune in!

At least I am excited about next week. That's probably part of why the score is higher.


29 comments:

  1. I'd give it a 95 out of 100. I thought it was fantastic! Even the case of the week tied into the main plot. This was like a great season 3 episode. I get that you think the characters should realize the obvious but the episode was so good that I overlooked it. Best of the season.

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    1. Not best of the season for me but a very good episode.

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  2. I just hope Peter doesn't do something catastrophically stupid because he's so afraid of hooking up with another not-his-Olivia. Really enjoyed the episode, though.

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  3. Loved it! Best ep of the season! I dug is so much I didn't even mind Peter's reaction to being kissed. Promo for next week has me even more excited!

    FINALLY OUR FRINGE IS BACK!!!!!

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    1. About Peter's reaction to being kissed, it seems Fauxlivia has also left her indelible mark. She has traumatized poor Peter forever.

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  4. Even the friendly guest character of the week was engaging and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that DRJ was behind the whole thing. The case of the week was interesting and it was related to the mythology. Good job! But what the hell could DRJ want? Merge the two universes? It doesn't seem to be working that well, since it's destroying everyone and everything. Does he have a third universe to go to, from where he can watch the destruction of the 2 universes?

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  5. Good episode. I was suprised that they had a character "remember" Peter in this episode since HGF thought the process would happen a little further down the road. I suppose (as someone has already posted) they have something else in mind as the end game of this season and remembering Peter is not the end goal. That was actually some nuance in Olivia rememebering...1) the de ja vu in 4.06. 2) the dreams she had at the start of the season 3) now her having more consistent dreams in all in this episode from past seasons. 4) not to mention Nina and her injections.

    Nuance all round! Now just for Walter to "remember" who Peter is and we can now find out what Jones end goal is. I have a feeling he is just continuing what he wanted to do in season 1 and his goal is to....like I am going to say, hehehe.

    Not a Peter arc, but better than nothing. I would give it a C+.

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  6. Another theory of mine or someone else (I have not checked to see if someone came up with it) is that Oliva's memories returning are not her memories but memories that Nina and David Robert Jones have imported from Peter's timeline/universe's Olivia.

    Maybe as this episode suggests that DRJ and Nina are trying to merge universes or timelines and are trying to bring key people back and if they cannot bring them back whole they use the shape shifters to replicate the imported defected people...and Olivia is the guinney Pig for this whole process.

    Ok that is way out there but whatever. So this still may not be Peter's home and the wild cards Nina and DRJ could put a whole different spin on proceedings...dun dun dunnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. That would be more interesting than the most obvious... but I feel like the writers are aiming for the ability of the majority to absorb the story, so it will be very simple... like Peter is in his world and these are all his people.

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  7. ' Not long after going on their brisk walk, Olivia gets infected and begins to mumble and whine so this is just like season 1 now.'

    that made me lol and snort out cofee!

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  8. 1.1 and a 3.03 million viewers. Do viewers even matter at this stage of the game?

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    1. I don't know. Perhaps. I get the feeling like they are just looking for an excuse to renew it and will use those Live+7 numbers to do just that. Then move the show to another night.

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    2. One thing in their favour is that they have been losing money at a slower rate than Chuck. I mean was Chuck losing shit loads for the WB after season 2 (episode35) ?

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    3. You mean WB? That may be true. I think FOX has been paying more for FRINGE than NBC was paying for CHUCK. So WB could probably stand to lower its license fee a lot for a 5th and final season.

      As I have said before, based on what an NBC source told me, NBC was willing to do more with CHUCK but WB was done with losing money on it. They may not feel the same way about FRINGE.

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    4. I would have loved Chuck to get 100 episodes but this is one time where I am thankful NBC and the WB at least gave us 56 more episodes than they had to.

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    5. I loved that we finally got an episode that moved things forward and the nice twist at the end. Yeah, Peter will figure out sooner or later that he is in the right universe. But what happens when everyone gets their memories back? Does Walternate turn into his former evil self? Does Sam Wiess come back? Does Jones die another horrible death? We have less than ten episodes to find out. FYI - we get two more episodes in February, then Fringe does not come back until 3/23/12.

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    6. TVDIVA, the point of resetting the show in season 4 and getting rid of all the old storylines like Peter's baby and the love triangle and evil Walternate is because they did not have the smarts to complete those stories or characters in a smart and nuanced way. Evil Walternate or anything else that was too difficult for them will not come back. Everything difficult fromt he previous 3 seasons is gone and they will not want them back.

      Because if they do bring them back they have to spend time and effort telling the narrative story. This show does not do narrative stories that well. So if you expect any of that then you will be sorely disappointed. The only stuff that will get merged is the good stuff and that is it.

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    7. They didn't have the smarts? LOL! No, I bet they thought it was a very interesting story arc. They just didn't count on how unfulfilled some fans would feel having the relationship dynamics changed so much.

      And I'm surprised they didn't foresee it since it has been proven over and over to not work. When you change any show too much, the audience often feels tricked and turns on the creators. It happened to BSG in the beginning of season 3. Even though it only stuck around for a few episodes, some fans raged against that change. People not complete idiots loved it. And that small arc actually had the best payoff (it ended up becoming the most Emmy nominated and winning episode of the series).

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    8. The New Caprica arc was BSG's highest quality point, in my opinion, but there is a difference with what Fringe has attempted to do. BSG didn't change the characters, it didn't reset the story and they didn't drag out that plot. In theory, the stakes on Fringe are much higher (fate of universes vs. a bunch of humans and machines), but on Fringe you can only see it through a couple of doubles doing or going through stuff, while on BSG they had freaking concentration camps, torture, terrorist attacks, executions, etc... You could actually live and suffer the fate of the colonial fleet. The writing was smart and deep and the consequences of that story was long-lasting. Just compare the torture Saul Tigh and Starbuck went through to Olivia's. Saul lost one eye and Starbuck ended up committing suicide. Olivia came back from the alternate universe, after going through a lot, but let's be honest, she was more affected by Peter/Fauxlivia, than by having her double's memories implanted.

      S4 of Fringe has been decaffeinated drama for the most part. The writing has been very clunky and the pacing horrible. The parallels between plot A and plot B, that they are so fond of, have fallen flat most of the time. The story has been led by two wet blankets, Olivia and Lincoln, 85% of the time. They eliminated the family dynamics completely until this episode and that was what made the show unique and worthwhile. Walter has been relegated to a whiny disagreeable mess and only now he seems to be going back to his former glory. And it's not like there was any sense of danger to, at least, alleviate all the other failings till DRJ appeared in episode 8. All of this and I haven't even mentioned, what they've done with Peter!

      I'm not saying there haven't been good episodes in the first half of the season, but the show had no heart and without it, Fringe doesn't work for me.

      Another difference is that BSG told a story that could have been drawn out for half a season, but they were smart enough to recognize that bleakness and hopelessness can only last for so long, before people tune out, while Fringe told a story that only needed 6 episodes and drew it out to 11, doing everything possible to make it as bland and emotionless as they could.

      Oh, but they spiced it all up giving Olivia headaches and hinting at a possible Olivia/Lincoln pairing, OMG BUT WHAT ABOUT POLIVIA! See where I'm going?

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    9. BSG is a much better show than Fringe will ever be. I trusted BSG on it's exceptional track record the 2 seasons and mini arc that proceeded season 3. Fringe is in no way as critically acclaimed as BSG or has not or will never win the awards BSG won and is no way are the show runners as smart as Ronald D Moore. So not having faith in these guys hols weight.

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    10. I'm not saying BSG and FRINGE compare as works of genius, I was simply pointing out that ANY show has people like you two, who don't care how good things have been before, once there is a change they don't like, suddenly the writers are complete idiots.

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  9. I don't remember saying they are complete idiots. I have said this season is not working for me so far(I don't think I'm alone in this) and I explained why. I've also said I don't trust them. However, the not trusting part didn't appear suddenly with their choice to delete Peter Bishop and to reset the show, they had been earning it slowly and steadily all through S3 and they lost me completely with how they handled "the Peter doesn't exist" show.

    I have never said Fringe cannot be as good as it was again, either. I can have my doubts about a good enough pay-off, but I prefer to judge the episodes I've seen, instead of speculating how much the rest of the season will suck or how much it will rock and I've actually said in this very blog I've been enjoying most of the latest episodes, either partly or completely. So I really don't know, where you got the idea that I don't care how good things were before or that the writers are complete idiots.

    For instance, I enjoyed myself a lot watching this episode, the good feeling lasted for hours and I think it's rewatch-worthy. However, there is a baffling jump from the previous episode to this one, a lack of development that could explain Walter's sudden change in attitude towards Peter and to going out of the lab without any problems whatsoever. I felt like I missed a whole episode's worth of character development for Walter. Olivia had a gradual change over a couple of episodes, so that was handled much better, but am I supposed to believe she's been having those dreams from the beginning or were they more neutral. It's not that important, but it would help me understand (or not) her behavior earlier this season.

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    1. Season 3 was their best written on every level. How could they have lost your trust unless you really liked the case of the week bullshit every week?

      Peter being deleted was ballsy. I loved it. But when they returned, they played coy with his story for several weeks and that's when they started to lose my "trust." I put it in quotes because I don't trust writers anyway. I just don't get all fuckin' emo about it every week when shit doesn't go my way.

      I don't think the previous episode's Walter shift is all bad. Sure, it is a cheap device writers use on tons of shows to establish a story line in an episode, but it's not like he went several episodes pissed off. He warmed up to Peter in one episode. Then accepted him as his son in another. And in this week's, he is full-blown in-love. That's at least progress not regression.

      If any character has been given the shaft this season it is Lincoln. Where the fuck did he go? It's like the writers suddenly abandoned him in mid-stride. He has like a story arc, or is supposed to, this season.

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    2. I disagree that S3 was their best written. I think the best written arc was between episodes 2.14 and 3.08, but after that it was wildly uneven with dropped plots (Reciprocity), soul magnets and Bellivia.

      I'm happy that you don't get emo every week. Congratulations? Neither do I.

      That's not exactly what happened with Walter. We had that moment, where he talked to Peter reasonably, where he said he'd help him with the machine. He wasn't accepting or loving by any stretch of the imagination, but as progress goes, I thought it was very nice. But then he went back to being positively nasty to Peter in Making Angels. That was regression. Now he's all accepting and it seems he's starting to like him all of a sudden. I am glad that their interactions were much easier in this episode, but I wish it had felt more organic. I think that the writing for Walter has been wildly uneven. They've done a much better job with Olivia.

      Seth Gabel was on leave for personal reasons, when they filmed the last two episodes, I wouldn't worry about his story arc, he'll be back next week. Besides, he has this love story with Olivia going on, I doubt that will be dropped.

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    3. "I disagree that S3 was their best written."

      And yet it is.

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