18 February, 2012

FRINGE 4.13: 'A Better Human Being'

Last week we left off with Olivia kissing Pacey Poof and we jump right into the minutes following that moment. And just as anyone should have expected, they don't decide to jump into bed for special sexy time. But there's definitely something going on inside her little brain that is a bit more serious than a headache.

In the case-of-the-week world, a mental patient named Sean has some power that witnesses, or controls, an evil home invasion murder. When the FBI goes to investigate, Olivia continues to experience some kind of residual flash memories about Peter. Or to be more specific, the previous timeline, before Peter got erased.

This eventually brings her back to Peter's place where she continues to demonstrate a greater memory of that world. In fact, she seems to remember everything. So, naturally, Peter thinks something must be wrong because it couldn't be possible that he's in the right world and that everyone just forgot him. And it couldn't be possible that the woman he loves is this woman because then he'd have to bang her right there and then, making this episode awesome!

Instead, they decide to do brain tests on her. Peter looks at her intensely, all serious and shit, while she stares back at him lovingly, the way a woman does when she can't stand being without her man for another second and needs to just go home and BE WITH HIM! Obviously this means something is wrong with her.

Walter questions her about the series of events that led them to work together and she goes through the timeline Peter remembers. Instead of being all "HOLY SHIT! MY WIFE IS BACK! Walter, get the fuck out, I gotsa snog her" he goes for emobitch instead and shakes his head and waxes idiotically about her being wrong since that's his timeline, like some kid who just watched his sandbox buddy steal his crayons and wants 'em back.

So Walter surmises that Olivia is somehow empathizing memories through Peter's need for his Olivia and no one thinks for a second "Hey, you know, maybe it's just that little Pete here got erased and we all forgot him, but somehow returned and oh hell, let's fuck!"

Nope, Olivia is channeling Peter's memories. Or... wait, Walter was about to figure it out when he lost the thought. Is this better or worse than mashing the reset button?

Lincoln shows up to move the case-of-the-week forward, because anyone still watching this show is really just interested in the least interesting parts. But thankfully, before they go off to solve it, Walter tells Peter that he must be enabling Olivia's fake memories, thereby instilling him with guilt and responsibility.

"Chuck, we can't be together. I'm your handler and you're an asset..."

But I digress.

Case-of-the-week blahblahblah, we get back to Olivia and Peter interacting and she finds an excuse to touch his hand (no pun intended, but that was a nice touch by the writers, as I was thinking "if this were real, she would find any excuse to touch him" and then she did) and of course Walter's mental douche seed prevents Peter from letting the moment play out naturally. Not that I would expect the writers to let it happen quickly, but I'm sure it is tough to put up with this kind of stalling tactic if you are very impatient.

The episode so effectively puts the attention on Peter and Olivia that I am barely able to give even the tiniest bag of fucksticks about the case plot as they go to interview some dude. Jackson makes an interesting acting choice in the scene as Olivia interviews the doc, repeatedly looking at her as if studying her behavior, perhaps for any sign of familiarity, or worry about her state of mind.

Back in his lab, Walter tests Olivia's hair, and finds doses of gjkllfindfhtan (like I'm going to even bother researching how to spell it) in her system and runs to Nina to find out why. She plays dumb but Lincoln and Walter demand to see the storage room where Massive Dynamic keeps their supply.

We are then tossed back into Olivia vs. Peter land as they track down something and they continue to talk about their feelings. This reminds me a lot of season 3 when they had their back and forth discussions about Fauxlivia and what their feelings meant. I think the writers handle these realistically, at least in the way they talk to each other, and about what they would say, but as with season 3, there is also an unnatural stall tactic being utilized that deflates the ever growing weight of these scenes. I get that the writers want to nearly burst that bubble before they give the audience what they want to see, and it probably works for the majority of viewers, but for those who are less patient (or see the obviousness of why these scenes play out this way) it can get maddeningly stupid.

Anyway, Olivia has a memory of something that Peter doesn't and he deduces that Walter's theory is incorrect, since he couldn't be projecting memories or knowledge he never possessed. Olivia seems very enlightened and willing to just let this wave of emotion wash over her, while Peter continues to scowl at the thought of his own potential happiness. Before they can discuss it further, they are attacked, but survive because they are badass. Unfortunately, the doc that has something to do with the pointless part of this episode isn't so lucky and gets pillowed to death.

I guess the case-of-the-week is over, I looked away from the screen for five seconds, but Peter and Olivia get back to talking about their relationship and Olivia wants him in a bad way. And Peter wants his Olivia wet and naked (I am projecting). And yeah, the angst is up to like Chuck and Sarah waking up in each other's arms in the motel room level (can I make more CHUCK references in this review?). Finally Peter admits that he's been afraid of betraying the woman he loves, like he did during the Fauxlivia portion of season 3, but that he knows in his heart that this Olivia is the right one and they kiss. Awwwww.

Olivia responds by running to the bathroom. No one should be surprised when this turns out badly.

At MD, Nina, Lincoln, and Walter find that none of the oblugfffffinfan is missing. But when Walter drinks some like it's fruit-punch, he exclaims it's fakery! Oh nos! The stuff I can't spell has been replaced!

Back at the peepee gas station, Peter discovers that Olivia has gone missing. And soon we discover that she is tied up somewhere with Nina. The real Nina?! Ruhroh, what's real anymore? PRESS THE RESET BUTTON, KIDDIES! We going on this ride again!

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

90 out of 100

This would have gotten a 95 if not for the fact that I knew at every step of the way that something was going to get in the way of whatever progress we were getting. Mind you, I think this is probably a smart move by the writers. It gives Peter something to fight for and the audience knows that Peter and Olivia have accepted their love for each other in this world, or something. Part of the lower score is also my sense that this is still way too early to play out this rescue story line and that we will get some kind of reset of their feelings (or timeline) before long. So, call it an apprehensive 90 that could have been a 95 if not for the plotting being too obvious and my belief that they have to backtrack on this progress soon.

However, if they don't backtrack, I will return and boost this score up to a 95! Woohoo!

What did you think?


  1. I think that I wouldn't have scored this one as high as the previous episode, but it was also very good. The part that didn't work so well, IMO, was the case of the week, although I liked the guy at the mental institution and his interaction with Astrid. I loved that she had something to do, other than supporting Walter or Olivia. But his half-brothers? Boring as shit. That's what you get when you play with eugenics using your own DNA, Dr. Creep! Clearly his sons weren't the best quality.

    I didn't mind so much focus on "Hungry For You!" Olivia and "This Is a Trick!" Peter, because the dialogs were very good and, even better, realistic. That's very rare on a TV show. The best part is that they didn't stretch this back and forth for 3-4 episodes and it all ended on a high note between them... Of course, something horrible had to happen after that, so...

    Poor Nina. Here I was judging her harshly and she had been replaced by her double all along! Mind you, I hope she's in cahoots with DRJ and AltNina, because I think the character works better as a villain and it would be a double mindfuck. Anyway, if Olivia has been dealing with AltNina the last few months, there is something I'd like to tell her: How could you look into her eyes and not see she wasn't the real thing? ;-)

    1. I gave it a high score because I thought the manner in which they told the story was very effective. And though I get very bothered by the obviousness of writer tricks, I have to be fair and score the episode based on how it affected me on an emotional level, which is what they were trying to do. And it was very effective.

      You can see how interested I was by the case... because I didn't even bothering realizing the point of that plot. But the case was virtually meaningless to what was happening on screen. Just like in season 3, the writers and actors put together a solid method of arriving at the emotional release that felt earned.

      If only those CHUCK writers hadn't forgotten how to do it in season 5....

  2. A good episode with some good moments sprinkled in there. I do have a few questions though.

    1) I am constantly suprised that they have a character who did some of the immoral experiments over his entire career continually question Peter over what is right or wrong, lol. I mean it makes sense that in order to stall the story of Peter and Olivia as a couple someone has to bring up the irregularities surrounding the relationship so that the writers can buy time but I did not buy Walter doing it when Olivia returned from the other side in season 3 and I do not buy him doing it now.

    2) Based on Walter's deeper relationship with Olivia sans Peter in this current timeline I can see why he may be a bit cautious to let her get hurt. But I do wonder if Walter is worried that either Olivia will get hurt or Olivia will not get hurt and decide to leave with Peter in the machine and thus leaving him alone or the consequences of all of this is that Walter is put back in to St Claires. I do not fully understand Walter's attitude right now, it is too early to say the writers have lost it and made Walter's attitude to Peter very up and down in the last few episodes but I do think something deeper is going on. I mean he always reassures her that he is doing his job even though he is helping Peter.

    3) Some of the pacing felt a little off. I mean the case just like finished quickly and sloppily and the conversation between Peter and Olivia in the car seemed like something was cut. He went from worried to making a mistake to saying that this Olivia is his Olivia in like seconds. Faulivia was with him for 7 episodes in season 3 and he did not notice and now we are supposed to buy that he just knows and that is all cool and what not.

    4) Cutting off Lincoln and Walters meeting with Nina seemed odd since we do not know what came off of it really. Yes the cortexaphan or whatever is missing but maybe an accusation could have been thrown in there.

    There were some more issues but on the other hand for Fringe this was a good episode. Some forward movement, the Peter arc has not started yet but I doubt it will but right now that is ok.

    A solid 65/100 for me. Good stuff.

    1. Yeah this season has been incredibly uneven in all aspects. The character arcs have been lazy and sloppy and incredibly uneven. The Plot has been convoluted and disasterous(?). The pacing and plotting and plausibility has hit an all time low.

      Some of the episode remind me of the weakest episodes of Chuck season 5, Chuck versus the curse was a huge example for my dissatisifation. The way Chuck went on and on about the curse and how he had to act to avoid the curse...even though none of it made any fucking sense. I get the same feeling with Walter....he is my son, he is not my son, I want to be be happy, I want to be sad, I want to protect Olivia, I want Peter to stay, I want Peter to go. Basically the plot pulling along a character by the hair...and once that happens a show basically is fucked.

      It reminds me of Lost at it worst...what is a theme of an episode?...I am supposed to do this, this is what I am supposed to do...lol.

      It is like there is not subtlety to any of what they do, the writers get an idea and lazily just hammer that point continously with shitty and rudementary dialogue. Come on guys make more of a fucking effort?

      The show runners coming out and adding their own shit on top of the shit that they are producing does not help. Hopefully this is the last set of serialised dramas on one of the main network channels (ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox). Because lets be honest, Cable is so much better.

    2. Two words mon ami..."Mad Men". If you have not watched it all 4 seasons are on Netflix instant demand and that is 4 seasons of consistent emmy winning awesomness. When I say Emmy winning awesomeness I mean they have one most of the major categories not lame ones. As the host said before ...the creator Matt Wiener cares about his characters and I will add he cares about the plot, pacing, plausibility and everything else that make is such a powerhouse. The 5th season starts March 25th, it will make this look ...well just watch and you may never want to watch a Network Drama again.

    3. "I get the same feeling with Walter....he is my son, he is not my son, I want to be be happy, I want to be sad, I want to protect Olivia, I want Peter to stay, I want Peter to go."

      Walter remains the biggest problem at the moment for me. I don't care what it is, hate or love, but for the love of everything that is entertaining TV, settle for one and run with it. Man, he is tedious this season! His scenes with Peter were what I used to look forward to the most, but now I'm dreading them.

    4. I think you guys are purposely ignoring the reason why Walter isn't settling.

    5. I think you alluded to the reason why people are not connecting to what is put on screen week after week and it is what Ryan McGee based his finale review of Chuck on. You (the proverbial you) either feel it or you do not, there is no right or wrong answer as much as we would like to think there is. That is probably why procedurals are huge ratings success, fans in the 10's of millions "feel" what NCIS is putting on screen week after week, whereas what Fringe is putting out fans are not "feeling" in the 10's of millions.

      The sad fact is that we can berate them as not having taste or brains or whatever condescending tone we chose to take but it is what it is. Why do fans not "feel" or acknowlede logically why Walter is the way he is acting this season? Fans just do not buy it...poor writing, editing, acting, directing, etc all contribute to this and I suppose right now we are at an impasse.

      Lets see how this plays out I suppose, something tells me they did not know this season was coming last year and they have struggled to get their shit together.

    6. You say "fans" as if the masses agree with you. You mean you.

  3. Oh and about Chuck? I can see that you are still a little pissed about the ending. The more I watch shows like HIMYM or some procedural I forgive them a little more each day. But I understand your point of view.

    1. I'm not pissed about the ending. The ending wasn't earned. Simple as that. And judging one show's ending by another show is meaningless. You have to judge it based on how it delivered on that show's canon and the lead-up. The ending has to pay off the characters well. CHUCK didn't.

    2. Well the end summed up the laziness of Fedak through the final 2 seasons to be honest. I am a firm believer if you are going to do an amensia plot line with one of your two romantic leads then it has to be done exactly or near exactly like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Now that was awesome! Also they did that under 2 hours, so Fedak could have done this storyline over 2 episodes, but the lazy idiot screwed up on an enemy none of us gave a fuck about and this was just lazy shit ass writing. Ok bad thoughts, bad thoughts, got to stop the bad thoughts....taking a deep breath....Fedak will never live this down so there is that.

  4. OR