28 September, 2012

Review - FRINGE 5.01: 'Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11'

The beginning of the end of FRINGE is upon us and its fans squee in earnest. But was it worth the wait? Can this final season live up to the hype? Does this episode kick off greatness or invite the coming of disappointment?

Season 4's failure was in building up to several main points that under-delivered. Peter's attempt to return to his timeline was a silly and total waste of time since it should have been obvious to anyone paying attention that he was already in the correct timeline (as I shouted in virtually every single review last year). And the "death" of Olivia that was foreshadowed by September felt totally void of earned drama when it occurred after we had already seen an episode about the future that made it clear she had to have survived.

Not to mention the weak plodding along of the main storyline and its lazy resolution.

However, within that season there were several interesting developments, the greatest being the takeover of Earth by the Observers and the jump-forward into the future where everything has gone wrong and our heroes have to be collected and released from amber to fight the invaders.

That is where we begin this season and at least I am excited to see where it all goes. I am thrilled that the case-of-the-week element has been vanquished from the show (I know some of you dig that).  So this should be a 13-episode fully serialized story about how these characters either save the world or fail and die.

Spoiler: they will save it.  Not that I know anything but... they will. Come on.

What one has to wonder is whether or not the ride will be satisfying. Do these writers have it in them to deliver something worthy of the greatness of say seasons 2 and 3?  Will we feel like the journey, even with some of the missteps, was done justice when the final curtain is pulled back on the series?

I want to be able to say yes but this episode made me a bit worried even though I did like it.

The fundamental problem with it is that we are given certain story beats as expositions and that rarely works. Something happened between Peter and Olivia (and Walter I guess) where Pacey Poof decided to not join them because their daughter was missing? Yeah, I'd like to have seen that not heard about it. And if I couldn't see it, then don't bother explaining it. Or don't even write it. Unless there is some grand plan to have that pay off in some way later, it is just a strip of dangling drama that used up time that could have been spent on emotional points that weren't utilized enough.

In that regard, why have these writers been so afraid, since the end of season 3, to allow Peter and Olivia to have actual intimacy without having to play with their relationship? How many times do we need them to rediscover each other? Does this show even need that? I'd rather focus on whatever and wherever this story wants to take us toward. Again, unless there is some grand plan for that this season, it is just a waste of time.

Anyway, I liked the Walter interrogation scenes even as I cringed at his suffering. I loved the infiltration sequence though it did go by much too quickly (could have extended it by doing away with exposition talk earlier).  I even enjoyed the search for Olivia even if it was completed (again) much too easily.  And I was encouraged by a few character beats that make me wonder about where Henrietta's mind is at and whether she may be a loose cannon at some point.

I also watched the promo that followed the episode and did feel a twinge of excitement about future episodes.  So, while I wasn't blown away by 5.01, I am also not too down on it. Instead, I am cautiously waiting to be blown away.

If I had to rate this episode, and Walter's scrambled brain says I do, then I'd give it:

81 out of 100

Less exposition, less Peter and Olivia emo-sillyness and more shooting Observers would have brought the score up.


  1. And what's with Walter Pissypants being angry at Peter again? Was it necessary to have them at odds again, when the writers didn't bother with that relationship in S4?

    More shooting at Observers, please, and less "character" stuff, since Wyman cannot write that to save his life.

    1. Walter being angry at Peter was one of those silly TV show moments where the writers are like "Well, we need the audience to worry in this moment. What's going on?! What did Peter do?! And then a few scenes later we have him tell us and it will be totally underwhelming and much too simple for anyone to get that pissy about it."

  2. Fringe is always about the family. It's more a family drama than what it sounds like you're looking for

    1. Where did I say anything that suggests I don't watch it for the "family"?

      I complained about their need to manufacture drama for the sake of drama. That they don't seem to be able to allow for organic intimacy.

      In other words, they have had problems selling "family" since the beginning of season 4. As if they ran out of ideas.

  3. whatever happened to anna torv acting?? She never was brilliant, but at least she tried. Now anna just stands there looking all boring in to the scenes. and also what's with the constant flapping with her hands??

    She delivers all her lines like a robot. What a terrible actress!

  4. Wow! Just Wow!

    I cannot believe just how badly this show is going right now. The expostion was off the walls, the dialogue was as clunky as hell, the actors were like phoning a lot of it in and the story is just so incoherant and out of sorts.

    This season is worse that season 4 so far and it is I bet only going to get worse because they need to establish so much more info in order to build up the stakes and generate momentum so I predict a lot more information dumps in the up coming episodes. They are wasting John Nobles performances and the reset they hit on Peter and Olivia is starting to make me laugh too much, lol.

    I mean how many different variations are there now going for each character? how can you invest in a show that has no consistency or coherancy with either its characters or plot. I think the funniest part was the characters talking about this device and then the observer in the next scene saying that this device is so important to everything! Huzahhhh!!!!!!!

    So now Peter and Olivia are on the outs again, Walter is crazy again, Astrid is still Astro, Afro, Asprin, whatever?.... Watching this versus Homeland explains so much why this show is being pasted by everyone.

    I must admit Ryan McGee went really easy on these guys considering...I have a bad feeling about this final season, I reackon they are going to make Chuck's last season (Which I liked but was still a little weak) look like a work of art. Yikes!

  5. Georgina Haig definately outperformed Anna Torv in this episode. Haig was amazing. What happened to Anna Torv???

    The late 20′s line was ridiculous. Mid 30′s and anna torv looked it. She really looked like she’d aged from the end of season 4.

  6. I think cautiously optimistic is a good way to go. But I agree it would be nice if they gave the quality emotional beats more time to breathe instead of manufacturing drama. Georgina Haig seems to be doing better, I thought she was a bit stiff/akward in LOT but she felt more natural in this episode and she interacted well with both Peter and Olivia. I'm hoping they don't drag out the Peter/Olivia rift either, but considering how understanding Olivia was already I'm hoping it won't go for more than a few episodes. Presumably now that they're reunited with Etta all the old sentiments will come back.

    1. The music they use to play over dramatic scenes is now getting old because those moments are not earned and so we now know every time that music pops up the show is taking a short cut and doing a half assed job. Ugh.

    2. I hate the phrase "cautiously optimistic." You are either cautious or you are optimistic. Being cautious is acknowledging that what may seem positive has a potential negative. Being optimistic is trusting in something intangible to make things better.

      So, when people say "cautiously optimistic" they actually just mean... cautious.

  7. I don't know if this is related to the quality of the episode, but the rating in the first quarter hour was a 1.2 and the last three averaged to a 1.0.

    1. ...also Grimm's ratings went up as the hour progressed.

    2. So people tuned into FRINGE and then suddenly became GRIMM fans?