20 April, 2012

Review - FRINGE 4.19: 'Letters of Transit'


The Observers and the team engage in a battle in the year 2036.

Plot
First, let me just geek out a little bit.

Henry Ian Cusick is in this episode! Desmond Hume from LOST is in this episode! Wow.

Cusick plays a guy named Simon Foster who seems to be a team lead in Fringe Division that is now comprised of agents who essentially police "natives" since the Observers, who we are told took over in 2015, are too busy banging whores and getting drunk on water.

Etta, an agent who has the ability to hide her thoughts from the Observers, is in possession of an amber encased Walter Bishop. An informant apparently found him and two other amber encased individuals, but is killed before he can tell her their location.

We meet old man Broyles who is still running things but taking threatening suggestions from the Observers about the natives.

Simon and Etta figure out a way to get Walter out of the amber, and after some candy munching, discuss with him the Observer problem and how to get rid of them. 20-years earlier Walter created a way to vanquish those pesky bastards before ending up in the amber. The agents are in possession of the plans for this device. Unfortunately for the agents, they quickly realize that Walter is suffering from brain damage.

Etta brings Walter to a wheelchair bound Nina Sharp trying to figure out a solution to their problem. Nina tells them they need to get a piece of Walter's brain from the old Massive Dynamic building, which is within a city full of Observers. MISSION!

At the old Massive Dynamic lab, the gang finds Walter's brain tissue. Walter then goes to sleep so Simon can tell Etta a story about the horrors of 2015 and the birth of the resistance. I don't mind this bit of exposition because Cusick is an amazing actor and he could say virtually anything and make it riveting. This little bit is as good as anything our main characters have delivered this season.

Walter eventually wakes up, having already been injected with his dissolved brain tissue. Now fully himself, he is quickly brought up to speed just as security forces and an Observer descend on the lab.

Inside the lab, as Walter checks out the plans to make his Observer busting device, he tells the agents that September once told him that the planet was ruined in 2609 and that the Observers traveled back in time to take this planet --or this planet in this time- for themselves. As the enemy approaches, the gang makes its escape leaving an improvised explosive device of mass destruction behind to take out their pursuers, and the entire building.

Having made their escape, Walter leads the agents to the location of the rest of his amber encased team. They release Astrid from her 20-year old prison cell, but their extraction device is damaged in the process. When Simon realizes that his tracking device has led authorities right to them, he physically forces Peter out by taking his place. This is done with some trickery as the audience is meant to think Simon saves William Bell, but we later discover the truth, and that Walter has cut off Bell's hand (likely because Leonard Nimoy wasn't available) for use in some future purpose.

At the end we, along with Peter, realize that Etta is Henrietta... his daughter.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Quotables
When a guard stops the agents and Walter and asks for their paperwork, Walter channels Star Wars.
Walter: These are not the droids you're looking for.

After the guard lets them go.
Walter: Move along.

Rating
If I had to rate this episode, and Walter's amber coffin says I do, then I'd give it:

95 out of 100

A shockingly well acted, written, produced, shot, and paced episode where the majority of it is focused on characters we have never met before. While I suspected that Etta could somehow be related to one of our main characters, the moment when she reveals herself to be Peter and Olivia's daughter was effective and emotional. I'd say the same for the whole episode. If there were any missteps, I ignored them because I was intrigued about the direction it was headed. Though, for a few minutes after it ended, I wondered if this wasn't a much better direction to take most of this season, instead of a couple, or handful of episodes.

Anyway, for maybe the first time this season, I am literally DYING to see the next episode. Can this show finish strong after delivering a less than stellar season? Can it pull a LOST season 3?!

Tune in next week.... and yeah, I know I could have quoted more of this episode but my head hurts. Sue me.


41 comments:

  1. Zzzzzz...snore (not your review but the episode) yet another future episode that can change due to the present. What is the point of this episode? If they are cancelled then they have left another unanswered story hanging. This show is such a piece of shit! This season makes Lost season 3. A work of fucking art!What is up with Josh Jackson? This was supposed to be his season yet he has missed half of it and when he is there he is not doing anything. What a crock of shit that Whyman and Pinkner have put on our screens, 2 of the biggest hacks in Hollywood!

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    1. I don't care about Josh Jackson more than I care about a good episode. And this was a fantastic episode. You are blinded by your agenda.

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    2. This weeks Mad Men episode signal 30 was a fantastic episode. One that paid off both character and plot....this? This episode does nothing in the overall scheme of things sadly. A poster commentated on Wallflower that episode 4.08 and 4.09 would be Peter centric and then they would abandon his character. You said if that happened you would call the show out too? Change your mind?

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    3. Oh lord... stop comparing shows.

      And have you been reading my reviews? I've called these writers out several times since then. But I don't have a list of things that must happen for an episode to be great. You do. And that means you rob yourself of the ability to enjoy things when they are good.

      That's your problem.

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    4. This is what the Joshua Jackson fanboys do all day long on Fringe discussion forums everywhere. They are a virus like Chuck and Sarah crazy shippers on Chuck.

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    5. It is not a Peter thing I have or a Josh Kackson thing either. There was a discussion a little while ago by Mo Ryan and Ted Vanderbilt Werffe . Plot versus character. I guess I am pro character and Fringe is pro plot, so it is my fault I am having trouble with Fringe's shitty characters. Give me a scene like Chuck and Sarah had in Tango about his dreams and the emptiness he feels in not achieving them and I will take that over some random bad guy. Give me don and Peggy having it out in the suitcase over some random client and I am in. Give me Brody and Carrie having it out in the end of the weekend about what makes him him over some random terrorist ! I am in! Give me Walt White and Jessie Pinkman in the hospital scene in one minute or the Fly to let us no just how much of an asshole Walt White is and I am aces.


      To be honest random bad guys or limited characters like the observers and just spend time with Peter or Walter and cool but that would take work and Fringe is just zbunch of lazy ass mother fuckers. But as I said it is my problem that they concentrate on plot and not characters.

      Fringe has a formula and sticks to it rigidly because it is easier than going for something more nuanced...fair enough.

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    6. I forgot Lesslie and Ben in little Park. The way she just came out and said I missed you and I cannot do anything about that...for a comedy that got me choked up man! A 22 minute comedy did that...Community does that. Urgh.

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  2. Was at the edge of my seat from start to finish. Should have been episode 1 of the season not 19.

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  3. I didn't realize how much I missed Desmond or Lost until this episode. Agree with your review and grade completely. I was in tears at the end.

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  4. Excellent episode. Enjoyed your review and the grade you gave it. Etta was equal parts Peter and Olivia. Even though she does have a variant of the name of Him Who Should Not Have Been Born, and that means at some point, Peter will have some "splainin' to do," her character was done well. Cusick was great as Simon. Walter was part Obi-Wan (at the start) and part Original Walternate (his sneering commentary and dismissive contempt for William Bell at the end).

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  5. I agree with your comment at the end that this episode made me think that maybe this is the direction this season should have taken from the beginning. In retrospect it feels like they dragged out the whole process of Peter reappearing in the new timeline and I would have been much happier if we had seen this dystopian future earlier in the season and Peter, Olivia and co were on a mission to thwart the Observer takeover from happening. It seems like it would have given the season a better a sense of direction and purpose.

    The Etta thing had me slightly fooled. I was torn between jumping to the conclusion she was Peter/Olivia's child because of the looks or if somehow she was another grown up version of Olivia's niece Ella. Then I remembered Ella doesn't exist in this timeline. Cusick was good but as you said that was pretty much a given. The episode made me want to watch "The Constant"- thank goodness for Netflix instant!

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    1. I went through the exact same thought process about Etta. :)

      As for starting the season this way... I think my overall feeling about this season would be very different had I known that whatever was happening (or not happening) would eventually lead us to not just the answer of "where is Peter" but also to this point in the story where everything has gone to shit.

      Granted, you would have to structure the episode differently if it was the first episode of the season. You would have to hold back some of the Observer info, and maybe even not reveal that the Observers are in charge until the end of the episode, if not much later in the season.

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  6. I don't think this was the best episode ever and I'm still not sure exactly what I watched, but I admit I had a great time. And damn if that final scene wasn't touching!

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    1. Ummm... Desmond was in it. Of course it is the best episode ever!

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    2. Ummm... I never watched Lost, so I don't care who Desmond was. But I did like Simon. He was cool enough to counteract Walter acting as a retarded child, which I find far from endearing. But somehow Simon wasn't cool enough to use an elongated object, say a stick or whatever, to push Peter out of the amber WITHOUT HAVING TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF!

      I think this episode will improve (or fail miserably) retrospectively. S5 will have a say on this.

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    3. There are so many episodes and movies that would have had their drama diminished if someone had just used a stick. :)

      Never watched LOST?

      Suddenly I see you in a very different light.

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    4. And that's why their drama isn't that good ;)

      Nope! I read stuff like: Best show ever! Worst show ever! Love triangle of DOOM! That disappointing finale!... Whatever, I already watched that show and it was Battlestar Galactica. I don't know how they compare quality-wise, but I know I never got hooked, whenever I watched some random episodes on TV.

      Yeah, shoot me!

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    5. I put LOST and BSG right up there with my favorite shows ever so... and both had similar endings in that fans who were watching for answers were disappointed and those who were watching for the characters were mostly satisfied.

      They also both did very similar finales. Big confrontation episode with extended character goodbyes.

      Also, both shows had crazy strong casting from day one.

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    6. I never watched Lost either. I tried one time, but there was some kind of cloud chasing people around, and I thought, enough of this sh*t! Anyway, about this episode of Fringe, I was and still am conflicted about how I feel about it. Olivia was nowhere to be seen, so right away that is a negative for me. Somehow, I kept getting an Olivia vibe from Etta, not sure if it's cuz of how she looks or acts or what, but I guess my feeling paid off when it was revealed that she is Peter and Olivia's daughter, so that was cool. I really like the plot and also think they could have integrated this storyline earlier in the season, but I am very curious to see where they take it from here. As long as Olivia is back, I'll be good to go.
      As to Lost again, I am considering starting to watch that show, as a good friend of mine had recommended it when it was on the air, but I never listened (except for the time I mentioned with the cloud monster thing). She had also recommended Battlestar Galactica to me, but I waited until a couple of months ago to catch it Netflix. What a great show, and I felt bad for having missed out on it while it aired. So now that one of her recommendations turned out to be so brilliant, I think maybe Lost could be a similar case. Anyway, sorry for the rant, great job on the review.

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    7. The smoke monster is a very big part of the show but that shouldn't stop you from watching... especially if you've watched four seasons of FRINGE. :)

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  7. Just scanned the web and found out the reason Josh Jackson has not been in this season for 75% of the time is because he is filming movies...good man. If the wankers who call themselves producers do not want to use him for a decent storyline then it is great he is getting fulfilment from a movie career. Awesome! Godspeed Josh!

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    1. Good for him. I look forward to his future work.

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  8. The nominations for best drama are Breaking Bad, Mad Men, homeland, Fringe....

    Badum dum!

    Er sorry I thought Fringe was a joke....hehehe

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    1. You left out... GAME OF fuckin' THRONES!

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    2. I think the "Er sorry" meant that I interrupted the announcement, I think, lol.

      If I did not interrupt the announcement then GOT and maybe Justified or Dexter or Boardwalk Empire would have been on the list. I just saw the Archer finale again and thought the way Fringe is going that this would be an apt joke to level against a poor season from them.

      Although I have not seen Game of Thrones yet I heard it rocks! So when I get time to read the books I will then watch the series.

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    3. BTW (nothing to do with Fringe) but a show that I love that is airing later today..Parks and Recreation...some wanker has leaked the episode online. What fuckwads!

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    4. Actually, I don't think the episode "leaked." It was just shown in Canada two-days early and then got posted by the usual Canadian groups. It happens with other shows too.

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    5. And JUSTIFIED would get my vote this year for delivering its best season yet.

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    6. Justified had a good season I agree, I thought that it was on par with season 2 mostly because Wynn Duffy kept it there for me (Jere Burns was fantastic throughout!). Wynns reactions to all the shit going down was just awesome and for someone like him to be disturbed (since he is basically a Dexter guy (cuts up bodies)) says something without having to say it....Quarles was a fucking nutjob, lol.

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    7. I liked season 2 but felt like it was too much about hitting beats that were "oh shit" twists. In season 3, they went for a little less of that and more for a story that made actual sense. So we had less running around fighting dumb fires and getting caught up in shit only an idiot would. Not that this season didn't have its share of stupidity, but it mostly felt like a solid drama.

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    8. I am trying to think about the oh shit moments that felt contrived in season 2, I think everything involving Winona brought the season down. Her story about the stolen money was stupid and shit and also Gary was an idiot. Boyd never not makes me laugh, Margo Martindale as Mags was fantastic. The brothers taking on the Dixie Mafia was good.

      Yeah the only thing that really got me was how terrible Winona is but in a way Mad Men has the same Betty issue and Breaking Bad has a massive Skyler problem so I guess we are conditioned to expect one crappy character with a crappy storyline.

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    9. I felt every single big Mags beat was contrived. I didn't believe any of it would actually happen. She was too smart to make so many bad moves that resulted in her own demise.

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    10. Yeah her not taking the land money and retiring was the only thing that got me but it lead to the great death scene so cool

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    11. What the fuck are you talking about, Anon? She took the land money and was retiring. All of her accounts were frozen by the Feds because of her criminal organization.

      She killed herself because her boys were dead (except Dickie who I'm not sure she actually liked), she was going to jail, Loretta (who she viewed as a daughter) hated and shot her. She had nothing left. Mags is a character that will go out on her own terms, and she did.

      Did you even watch the fucking show?

      But, yes, I agree the storyline of Winona taking the cash was unnecessary fodder and contrived. I don't think she's a bad character (they used her well this season), but I think they handle her poorly. She is in no way as bad as Betty. Probably better than Skylar, too.

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    12. Mags sold out to Black Pike.... after all her talk, she was just a greedy douche who didn't care about anyone but someone who wasn't her own blood and hated her?

      Sure, hypocrites exist all over the world, but when you write them into a show, and they profess their belief system throughout and then violate it at the end, that makes all their previous scenes contrived.

      I'm not a fan of contrived plots, even in shows I love.

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    13. Except we knew that Mags was a conniving, self-serving, ruthless drug lord who would do what was best for her interests above all else. We saw that in the way she punished Coover. How she treated Dickie. When she killed Loretta's father. Her selling out to Black Pike wasn't that surprising.

      It became obvious that something of this nature was going to happen when she struck a deal with Boyd.

      Truthfully, her lip service was to keep the people of Bennett County from attacking her while she was making her back room deals. She was playing politician. Completely in character for her.

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    14. Mags was conniving but she supposedly lived with a code. The fact that she didn't made her character pointless to me. I think it was a mistake for the writers to take her down that cheap route. And it was obviously done to amplify the tension late in the season, but that's the pure definition of contrivance.

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  9. Weighing in late on this episode because I'm so far behind, but finally got to see it today. I'm in my own time warp.

    It was great.

    I agree about how it worked despite having mostly new characters. It almost struck me like a "back door pilot" for a spin-off show where you say, "I want to see that show.".

    I've been impressed with Cusick since the first time we saw him on Lost and I rushed to IMDB to see what he'd been in before. Liked his character, too.

    My only disappointment was to see the preview for the next episode and see it doesn't continue the story.

    When I came here and read the negative comments, I was shocked.

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