Fringe is back! And oh, how I’ve missed it. During the winter hiatus, I tried to keep myself busy by watching re-runs and spending many a sleepless night wondering what the alternate universe version of me would be like. Would he be straight? Would he have a goatee and be evil? Probably. Or, more likely, he’d have a goatee and be really sweet and innocent. Jerk.
So, I’m thrilled to have Fringe back, because clearly I shouldn’t be left alone with my thoughts. Going into this episode, if you’d told me that Christopher Lloyd would be perfectly cast as an aging rock star and that he’d give a really moving, subtle performance, I would have accused you of being an alternate and would have encased you in amber. But what do you know? Lloyd plays Roscoe Joyce, former keyboardist for Walter Bishop’s favorite band, Violet Sedan Chair. One night, Joyce is sleepwalking when he encounters his son Bobby, who’s been dead for 25 years. It’s all caught on surveillance tape, as well as Bobby’s interaction with…a Watcher!
So, that’s what brings the Fringe kids into the loop. Walter is understandably thrilled to meet his idol and immediately makes plans to spirit him back to the lab to help him remember his encounter. Meanwhile, Olivia gets a book in the mail from Peter. Technically, Peter sent it to Fauxlivia, so our Olivia does what she does best: extremely restrained, but heartbreaking non-reaction. Oh my god, Anna Torv is so good at that. You can totally see her burying her emotions at every new horror. She’s my role model. Between my Jedi training and my Agent Dunham training, I will soon reach that holiest of states: total emotional unavailability. WOOHOO! Ahem, I mean, woohoo. And you know I’m totally going to read If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! so I can better understand what makes Peter tick.
As good as this show is at the sci-fi and freak-of-the-week stuff, it really excels at the small, quiet moments that make you care about everything else. Here’s another example. Back at the lab, Walter has Joyce under hypnosis. Joyce is playing a quiet, but haunting tune on the piano, while Walter’s soothing voice asks questions and Joyce sort of growls in response, building slowly towards the big revelation. It’s a quiet scene, but fraught with tension, and just as I was feeling slightly hypnotized myself, and just as Joyce is about to have a breakthrough, Olivia’s phone rings! It’s such a small thing, but it manages to destroy the moment and the tension as effectively as if a bomb had gone off. This show is so ridiculously good. Watch part of the scene I’m talking about here:
Of course, if the Watcher is around, that means trouble, and Walter is sure it means Peter is in danger. When is Peter not in danger? I think they do it just so Walter can say “Peter in peril” in that crazy, over-annunciated voice of his. Turns out putting Peter in peril is just a test…for Walter! Clearly, all the pieces are falling into place and we’re heading toward the inevitable clash of the Walters and Peter’s final march towards becoming a weapon of some kind against our universe and the people he loves. I have about a million theories about what could possibly happen and who will eventually end up strapped to that machine. Let me know if you’d like to hear them all. Anyone?
This was the first night of Fringe in its new timeslot, Fridays at 9/8c. It’s a bizarre choice. And it’s not like they’re even trying to build a theme night, since its lead-in show is Kitchen Nightmares. Plus, it’s opposite Supernatural, which has Smallville as its companion show. Clearly, sci-fi/fantasy shows can survive on Friday nights, but do they all have to be on at the same f**king time? I would be really, really upset about this, but I’m going to do my best Anna Torv impersonation and bury all those feelings, so you can only tell I’m dying inside by the fading luminance in my tragically beautiful eyes. (Pretty good, right?)
Fringe is on Fridays at 9/8c on Fox.