05 May, 2012

Review - FRINGE 4.21: 'Brave New World Part 1'

Walter is forced to revisit his painful past when a fringe event causes people to spontaneously combust; the team faces off with David Robert...

The episode starts with some fringe event where about two dozen people experience spontaneous combustion. There are survivors and one of them volunteers to be tested on to create an antidote. Immediately I am convinced she is part of this since 1) she seems way too eager and 2) because it is Rebecca Mader, best known for her work on LOST.

There is NO WAY IN HELL she's coming on the show just to play a bit part.

In Walter's lab, she is about to fry out when Olivia uses her super powers to cool her down and save her life. We've been seeing a bit of Olivia's abilities lately and apparently they are building up to something. At this point I start to think this is all an evil plan by Jones to get her to do his bidding.

We then find out that William Bell has been pulling the strings all along and that Jones works for him. The two discuss chess and sacrificing pawns. Bell tells Jones that in this case, they have to sacrifice the bishop (Bishop is implied). I suppose if you aren't a super genius, it isn't obvious at this point that Jones will soon be dead, sacrificed as Bell's bishop in his master plan.

When Jones utilizes some solar death ray device thingy to cook the planet, Peter and Olivia go to stop him.

They succeed but Peter is attacked by Jones. As Peter is getting his young ass kicked by the much older Jones, Olivia discovers another power, remote controlling, and swings her arms like a goofy cartoon character, defeating Jones through Pacey Poof's apparent pussy arms. I laughed.

Anyway, so Jones dies only realizing at the end that he was the bishop in Bell's chess game. So long, farewell, and thanks for all the fish. Though, if you think about it for two seconds, Bell couldn't possibly have known Jones would get defeated in that manner on the roof. So, either Jones was making a silly assumption, or this is lazy writing.

Meanwhile, Walter and Astrid walk into a trap, Astrid is shot, and Bell meets with his bestest buddy once again.

To be continued...

Jessica: What are you?
Walter: (confused) I'm human, what are you? Is this some sort of alien invasion? Are you part of a strike...
Jessica: (interrupting) No I mean, I mean, what are you doing here? Are you a doctor?

Walter: May I take a blood sample? The discomfort will only be momentary.
Jessica: That's what all you men say.
Walter: You're very brave.

Bell: I'm not sure I ever thought I would see you again. (pause) Hello, old friend.

If I had to rate this one, and Bell's creepy eyes say I do, then I'd give it:

76 out of 100

Penultimate episodes are supposed to be bigger, badder, and better than this. That finale now needs to deliver all the awesomeness this episode didn't.

Some positives: I loved seeing Astrid shooting a gun; it was nice to see Peter and Olivia have an actual sweet moment together... in bed; Olivia's growing power is intriguing; and having William Bell back and as the apparent bad guy at least elevates the possibilities of what is to come.


  1. Yeah not a good episode really, it may be because they thought this could be a series finale and saved the best for last. To be honest Walter at St Claire's was supposed to be all emotional but his time there means shit because he is not there for the same reasons we knew before and so there is a disconnect. Also bell being dead before and now alive makes everything before redundant and his actions before moot

    What I will say is kudos to the Fringe people for getting Leonard Nimoy out of retirement for this episode and any other they can get they must have offered him a ton of money!

    1. Too bad they didn't get him for a better episode.

      There's always next week!

  2. Peter's sudden inability to fight was so awfully contrived! If they needed to show Olivia's brand new powers, they could have done a better job other than that corny stuff.

    Why is it that villains make everything so complicated, when they have to confront the heroes of a show? Surely a gun would have been more effective than a crowbar?

    And why did they have to (seemingly) kill off Astrid, just when they finally showed her acting like an FBI agent?

    I liked "Letters of Transit" a lot, but it took a lot of dramatic impact from this episode. Apparently, "Letters of Transit" takes place in the future (not just a possible one) and Astrid is in it, so I'm fairly certain she'll survive. I'm not even worried about her and I love that character. I don't think that not how a good drama, as Fringe prides itself to be, works.

    1. Letters of Transit is the Empire Strikes Back of this season.

      It's too good and elevates the expectation to a level I don't think the show is going to deliver.

      But I look forward to them proving me wrong.

  3. @Newton

    A good drama? Well there are a few ways to determine if a drama is "good"....

    1) Critical Acclaim (universal)- Fringe has basically been written off by Sepinwall, Finberg, Mo Ryan, Ryan McGee, Myles McNutt, etc.

    2) Winning awards like Emmy's (a lot of them like Mad Men or Breaking Bad, etc.

    3) High Ratings - LOL.

    4) Universal fan love - I doubt it.

    If you think of High School Click's - Fringe does not belong to any of them it is just there like the awckward teenager who does not fit in. Sadly it makes Fringe a little forgettable...like that student no one will really remember when it counts.

    1. Except critics, Emmy voters, and angry fans (or former fans) don't determine how the majority absorb something. That's why, despite critical and Internet opinions, the Star Wars prequels continue to generate tons of cash for Lucas.

      "Good" means whatever people want it to mean.

    2. I agree with other anonymous in a way. The ratings suck meaning that the "majority" have tuned out. I mean I have seen you being a pro Nielsen commentator and assume that you believe in its process. So I guess if the masses prefer to watch NCIS instead of Fringe then it becomes obvious that the masses prefer NCIS and not Fringe. "Good" can mean whatever to whoever but at some point if the Emmy's or most critics or most fans who do not tune in or give it recognition than that tells us something.

      I give it to Lost they had good ratings for quite a bit of its life and it won an Emmy for best Drama in its first season so I can understand that they had something going for them even if fans were upset. Mad Men's ratings may suck but they have won a ton of Emmy's so they have something going for them. NCIS wins no awards but is loved by the masses. Fringe? No such luck, only a few fans who have something positive to say...not much of a legacy huh?

  4. Anonymous,

    1) Most of the articles and reviews have been very positive about the show this season.

    2) Fringe has been winning awards. Not Emmys, of course, but genre-related awards. The Emmys are clearly biased shows, otherwise they would have nominated John Noble for his fantastic performances in S2 and S3.

    3) Does that mean Castle is a better show, since it has better ratings?

    4) Same logic as in point 3. Love from the masses doesn't equate a good product.

    What determines a good drama, IMO, is:

    - Good writing: consistent storytelling, few if any plotholes and retcons, good consistent characterization, realistic dialogs.

    - Good characters: engaging realistic characters with flaws and virtues, that don't overwhelm their characterization.

    - Good emotional/dramatic build-ups and pay-offs: a regular character being in danger or emotional pain should resonate with the audience. Fans should fear for those characters' lives if there is a threat or foreshadowing, that something awful will happen.

    I am well aware that this is subjective. I might not like, what others consider cool and awesome.

    I can't worry about Astrid, because she'll be alive in the future and no matter how hard and frequently they beat me over the head with Olivia's 100% guaranteed death, I can't believe for one second they will kill her off (for more that a few seconds if it gets to that), because:

    - Thanks to their own story, I know she's going to have a baby girl, which she can't do if she's dead.

    - The producers simply lack the cajones. They are cowardly in their storytelling and it shows.

    - It would alienate the small audience it has left. It doesn't make sense to piss off half of the fans in the last season.

    1. If Castle has better ratings then Fringe than yes it is a better show. I heard Bryan Cranston once say that acting was first and foremost for a live theatre audience and that should never be forgotten. If a producer or show runner like Wyman or Pinkner can not find a way to satisfy a large audience and a showrunner on Castle can than why as fans do we write them off for being smart and caring of their audience? Why punish them for actually making their product do what their product should do and that is engage and make an audience happy and willing to tune in week after week. It is a show runners duty to get the most people they can into the theatre or watching tv's to be more specific..if they cannot do that then their show is not that good to be honest. If a show can pick up the best awards like Emmy's and not crappy Genre ones that the sacrifice of fans makes the whole process worth it, if not then they have failed as a show.

    2. Sorry hit submit too soon. Wyman and Pinkner and to a lesser extent Schwartz and Fedak have forgotten who they are making a show for...the fans. They come out in interviews and say we would never apologise for anything we have done, fuck you fans, fuck you! and then they wonder why no one wants to tune into their shows, lol! Respect your audience and maybe they will actually watch your show!

    3. That is a fair point! Whenever fans point to the ratings they say shows like NCIS are for "Joe Six Pack" or for people who are dumb and not smart or mentally retarded fans or some other derogatory comment. Show runners like Wyman and Pinkner and fans of these types of shows believe that they are better than everyone and that if the majority do not understand their logic then they are the ones at fault and not the masses. It is arrogance pure and simple, someone should call them out for being shit at what they do!

    4. Show runners don't make shows for fans. They make shows. Fans just think they should make the shows for them because they are watching. But artists will always believe themselves the biggest fan of the show and so what they think is right.

      Stop living in fantasy worlds where things work any other way.

    5. "It is arrogance pure and simple"

      In some instances, that is true. But the majority loves shit and ignores genius. That's always been the case. Unfortunately, people who like shit that the majority doesn't like often try to take that reality and apply it whenever the niche thing they liked isn't appreciated.

      Obviously, there will be times when fans of what once was considered brilliant continue to tell themselves it is still that good as a way to make themselves feel edgy or cool.

  5. @superdelicious1May 5, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    If we hadn't just had Letters in Transit, this episode might not have seemed as poorly written. It just seemed to lack...something... I liked it, but I didn't love it. What it did have was more depth for Astrid, which was great, although too short. I do prefer this less fretful, more "take charge" (in terms of her abilities) Olivia.

  6. "The ratings suck meaning that the "majority" have tuned out."

    The majority of what? Total viewers at one time? But the ratings sucked when the show was still considered "good" by all those critics. Plus, it is very ignorant to make the above statement when you look at the Live+7 ratings for this show. They may not matter to the advertisers but they are the most important thing in THIS argument.

    I win. Thanks for playing.

    1. Live+7 for this show is like what? 2.5 and 8 million viewers?

      What is castles live+7? 5.5 and 30 million viewers, lol, Fringe is still a joke.

    2. What planet are you from? When has CASTLE ever received 30 million viewers?

      Though, that has nothing to do with anything. I'm talking about viewers dropping between seasons, not comparing how it does against other shows. Especially since CASTLE and FRINGE do not compete, are not on the same hour or night, and on different networks... plus are totally different genres.

      And FRINGE is better than CASTLE many times over.

    3. They are both procedurals and Castle is better because no what time or day it is on...it will stlll have more viewers than Fringe.

    4. FRINGE is not a procedural. Get the fuck out of here.

    5. MOTW/COTW

      Serialised elements at the start of a season, either side of breaks and in the season finale's.

      Yeah fringe has a totally different structure to procedurals...it is an actual story like Mad Men, Breaking Bad or Homeland. fringe has no villains every week, they tell a seasonal story.

    6. To be a procedural the majority of your episodes have to be one offs. Anyone can tune in at any point and not need to figure out what is going on.

  7. Who is Myles McNutt?

    Case closed.

    Fringe made the fucking cover of TV Guide. I think the "right" critics like it, thanks very much.

    1. LOL!

      And there you have the "perspective" argument. :)

  8. Fringe ALWAYS has weird, unbalanced, contrivance-heavy season finales. Does anyone remember the Observer just showing up out of nowhere and dropping a drawing of Peter on Olivia's lap? Nothing could have been more contrived than that. Yet it led to an awesome season.

    Season 4 has been pretty good too.

    I've tried to start watching Lost again - after abandoning it early on. It's well nigh unwatchable. Lost is just SHIT. It plays like a college freshman's first screenplay. Fringe is actually something made by adults. Sorry, I'm not getting on the Pinkner/Wyman hate bandwagon. These guys actually have made an Abrams concept WORK for four years.

    Also, Leonard Nimoy. Last night's episode, whatever its other shortcomings, had both Moriarty and Evil Spock. You need to turn in your geek card if you didn't notice that. (BTW, clearly Nimoy came back because they actually wrote him some cool dialogue.)

    William Bell IS Fringe. He is the personality behind the show's entire theme of mad scientism. Walter, as lovable and moving as he is, merely toils in Bell's shadow. However jarring, it was supremely appropriate for Bell to come back. And for this version of Bell to be not so nice? I like the idea, but remains to be seen how they prove it out in the next installment.

    Fringe is the very definition of a CULT SHOW... the show that the culturally entrenched, fanboy-sellouts (who cream over Whedon's Avenger!) don't like. When did the mainstream EVER love or understand a cult show? Yet, Fringe lives on for a final season. It got through. It passed the test. It will go out as "completed," not "cancelled."

    SUCK ON THAT, FANBOY SELLOUTS. You have lost the thread of true geekdom. You are the establishment now.

    1. I enjoy your passion... your fury... but LOST at its worst is ten times the genius of FRINGE at its best.

      You are exemplifying everything anyone can ever say about fanboys or fangirls.

    2. LOLWHAT?! Lost shits all over Fringe in writing, acting and story telling. Even the finale was better than most Fringe episodes. What are you smoking?

    3. I loved The Avengers and love this show. What the fuck are you blabbing about? Shitting on Lost? The ultimate fanboy much?

    4. Ever seen Walkabout? The constant? Through the looking glass? The end? So, so, so many awesome episodes that shit all over Fringe, Fringe is not 5% of Lost and never will be mor than that. What the fuck are you talking about!

    5. I am actually ashamed to be a Fringe fan right now reading this shit. Lost is in a league all its own. Fringe is good sometimes great but the worst Lost episode is better than 90% of this season.

  9. "Obviously, there will be times when fans of what once was considered brilliant continue to tell themselves it is still that good as a way to make themselves feel edgy or cool."

    Oh BTW. My last comment above could be interpreted as that. But the fact remains is that Fringe deals with basic science fiction debates that are STILL COOL.

    Leonard Nimoy comes back to utter this line:

    "For in the vacuum created by the loss of what is most precious, opportunity abounds. Influence is maximized, and desire becomes destiny."

    Seriously, that is a 100% cool piece of writing, and no other show on television, no other "geek" film being made, bothers with these ideas.

    This is a seriously cool show.

    1. I think the show is "seriously cool" when done right. Like Letters of Transit... if they could pull quality like that off every week, the show would be up there with something as good as LOST.

      But it rarely achieves that level. I thought it did that a lot more middle/late in season 2 and a lot of season 3. This season it has done it maybe three or four times. Too much of it has felt like tired writing. Like they used up most of their good ideas already.

  10. LOST is a piece of shit. I'm sorry, but you people are fucking nuts.

    1. rotflmao.gif

      Would you like some Coco Puffs with that crazy?

    2. You make us non crazy Fringe fans look bad.

    3. What else sucks? BSG? Name all the other awesome shows that suck so you can make Fringe sound better.

    4. I want this person to comment every week... bringing in the hits!

  11. EVIL BILLY BELLMay 9, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Just having Evil Billy show up at the end was worth the few flaws in the writing. I would have given him the evil Spock goatee for added flavor.

    After the series wraps up Walter, Peter, Olivia and Astrid should go sailing on the Massive Dymanic yacht for some nice R&R after saving not one but two universes, be caught in a storm and wash up on the shores of a tropical Island soaked to the bone. Then Hugo (likely unemployed as Alcattraz is likely cancelled) from LOST emerges from the jungle and says "Welcome to my Island, you folks look like you could use a vacation...". Then the FRINGE and LOST spin across the screen LOST style and form the word FROST. Okay what would be silly but fun.

  12. EVIL BILLY BELLMay 9, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Fringes LIVE ratings are pretty bad but it has often nearly doubled its LIVE + ratings when taking into account DVR and On Demand viewing. Of course being aired on the Friday night graveyard cuts live viewings dramatically as most people (myself included) dont often watch live and instead watch it over the weekend. I record it myself and zap the commercials. Its better that way. Another reason why despite such low ratings it got a 13 ep. Season 5 according to rumors was that Warner Brothers drastically reduced their distribution fees. It wasn tas highly rated as LOST but LOST didnt move around various time slots like FRINGE. Even so, the show has lasted 5 seasons - how many shows of this type last that long these days on network TV? Very few. Network TV these days seems to attract mostly empty headed reality show viewers and Cable gets the intelligent thinking viewers - which is why shows like FRINGE to be successful should go to non Big 4 cable networks.

    Some have proposed a new series merging Fringe and LOST - if JJ ever actually this (a summer mini series to test the concept) it should be on cable where shows like Walking Dead and Falling Skies have found success. Sci-fi-ish shows these days die quick death on big 4 network tv.