Man, what a week. I went to an Indian film fest, had a BU reunion with Kirsten S - in from Australia, participated in a career-development panel for interns at Universal, and aside from all that had a semi-crazy week at work. Suffice it to say, I am ready for the weekend, and have been dreaming of the chance to sleep late sans any alarm basically since Monday. And ... this weekend promises to be a fun one, the highlight potentially being that I am seeing CONAN O'BRIEN's live stage show on Saturday night! Can't wait to join my fellow Conan fans for a night of banned-from-TV comedy.
Anyways, I want to talk for a second about TV's hottest scripted series, that being ...
- Amazing - Fringe just aired two consecutive "A" episodes, and now, for a third week in a row, Fringe positively kicked some ass. This week's episode was a little uneven and jumpy in parts, but the good and just-plain-awesome easily outweighed any faults. So no, this wasn't quite in that same elite category as the last two weeks' eps, but man, it was close.
This week, Fringe brought back the otherdimensional shapeshifters from several episodes back, and it made for one badass group of villains. This time, we didn't just see the 'shifters in the guise of other people, but in their rather grotesque embryonic forms. I have to say, the f/x in this ep were just plain fantastic, rivalling many feature-length films. The scene in Walter's lab, in which a captured shapeshifter "hatched" and emerged half-formed from his embryonic cacoon - well, holy crap - it was gross, fascinating, and just plain captivating and mind-bending. Definitely a nightmarish visual for the ages. Huge, huge kudos to the visual f/x team for delivering some truly terrifying and convincing imagery in this one.
Meanwhile, the overarching, otherdimensional storyline blew up in a big way in this episode. We got a real sense of escalation - the war between worlds is now in its beginning stages, and we're beginning to get a sense of just why Peter is so important to its outcome. What's more, this episode hit some of the big, emotional beats that the show has been building towards all season. As always, John Noble was amazing, and it was hard not to feel for Walter as he grappled with his evolving relationship with Peter. The final scene with Peter denouncing Walter, after finally discovering (at least partly) his true origins, was totally devastating, and very powerful. Honestly, John Noble was great in this ep, but Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv were also at the top of their games. It's amazing how both have grown into their roles and really gotten better as actors and in turn made their characters more relatable and compelling.
I do think there were a couple of somewhat abrupt jumps in this episode that made things a bit confusing at times. For one, I wish the ep had done a slightly better job of reminding us about Newton. I guess he's still something of an enigma, but I felt disoriented at first as I tried to remember who, exactly, he and his army of shapeshifters were and what they were after. I also thought the climactic bridge scene was a little confusing - maybe intentionally so, but it was never clear what happened after Peter fell and knocked his head. How did Newton escape the scene, when he was basically surrounded by cops and feds? Didn't anyone try to follow or pursue him? One other thing - I think the show has made the characters a bit *too* desensitized towards weirdness at this point. I mean, I like that Astrid and Olivia and Peter and even Broyles are now somewhat accepting of all the craziness around them, but still ... when everyone was in Walter's lab, watching a half-organic, half-artificial shape-shifter come to life right before their eyes, it almost seemed like the reaction was understated. I mean, that was one of the weirdest things I've EVER seen on a TV show - you'd think Olivia would let out an Agent Scully-style "oh my god!", at the least.
Still, this was a pretty riveting episode of Fringe, with some of the craziest, most imaginative creatures and concepts I've seen on TV. The whole cast was in fine form, and I love that, no matter how insane things got, there was some very interesting and smart science at the heart of what was going on. I love that Fringe doesn't dumb itself down - it has fun with all the science and pseudo-science that drives its storylines. And hey, John Noble makes it all so compelling that there's never any worry of all the geek-talk getting boring. What's more, the show is hitting it out of the park with its character arcs. The dynamics between Walter-Peter make for one of the most compelling and multi-layered relationships on television. At the same time, the action and intensity in this one was awesome. Interdimensional portals, murderous shape-shifting cyborgs, mad scientists, and multiversal warfare. What more do you want?
My Grade: A-
Alright -- time for the weekend, baby. Check back soon for a report on the big CONAN show, and much more.