Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Fringe: There's more than one of everything

So, I am a little late on my review of the season finale of Fringe but, I also want to comment on the season as a whole as I think that it has become a really strong show as the season has progressed. This article will contain spoilers for the entire season so if you are not up to date then I would advise you to not read any further as I will be discussing some major plot points and what happens in the final scene of season one.

Fringe, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Anna Torv and Lance Reddick

The strength for me in this show lies with Walter Bishop; from his crazy experiments, to his ramblings, to the relationship that has grown between him and his son Peter; he truly is the core of Fringe. John Noble has been terrific as Walter, not that the rest of the cast should be overlooked as everyone has really grown in to their roles. Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham had perhaps the hardest part, she is rarely allowed to smile and at first I found her hard to warm to, but as we have been given more information about the experiments that were performed on her as a child and that she definitely play a larger part in ‘the pattern’ I have found her to be a rather likeable character. The part of Peter Bishop has also expanded from cynical and sarcastic to a more balanced and patient role, yes he is still acerbic to his father at times but the compassion that was demonstrated in both the finale and the penultimate episode (The Road Not Taken) shows how much Peter has grown as a character. I have been a fan of Joshua Jackson since I had a massive teenage crush on him as Pacey Witter in Dawson’s Creek so I am glad that this role suits his tone but also lets him show other acting capabilities.

The supporting cast has now been given the chance to shine, mostly in the case of Charlie (Kirk Acevedo), and hopefully next season this will extend to both Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) who both have good chemistry with the three main characters.

So, the finale did what any great Bad Robot production does; answers some questions, fires another million in the air and has a cliff hanger that leaves you wanting more. For me the most compelling part of the finale is that we finally learnt part of the truth about Peter and why Walter has sporadically discussed his medical state throughout the season. It turns out Peter died in 1985 and that the Peter that is part of the Fringe team is likely to be a Peter from the different dimension (therefore the Walter in the other dimension has had his son stolen, it will interesting if we get to see the consequence of this next year). I loved this reveal and even though I had inkling as to this being what happened from the start of the episode the pay off was a good one and will hopefully lead to some interesting story lines next season.

The other major reveal occurred in the final few minutes with Olivia and us, the audience finally getting to meet the elusive but ever mentioned William Bell (wonderfully played by Leonard Nimoy). The slow reveal of it being another dimension by showing the New York Post with the headline ‘Obama’s move in to new Whitehouse’ was an inspired one, on closer inspection the paper also shows that in this reality JFK has not been assassinated. The even bigger reveal however is that Bell’s office resides in one of the World Trade Center buildings that are still standing in this world. This shot was beautiful and brilliant, and by no means do I think it was tasteless, it just appears that in this world it was the Whitehouse that was destroyed, perhaps by a terrorist attack. The subject of 9/11 is obviously still a raw one and I think that the programme makers handled this with care and caution. The possibilities that this leads to, I think, means that it will be stepping away from many of the X-Files comparisons, and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to this ride.

One thing I really do like about this show is that it does seem to take risks, in not only killing innocent bystanders with no mercy in episodes such as Bad Dreams (I really did not expect any one to fall from that building) and in this finale (cutting a child in two who is playing football) but in the possibilities that this new dimension brings to the storytelling abilities. It also seems to take pride in the special effects and make-up to gross viewers out, which is why I now have to remember to not eat whilst watching it (Bones has the same effect on me). I am also intrigued as to how the production move from New York to Vancouver will change the aesthetics of the show, will there be less city based mystery and more countryside ones, this will be pretty cool and the Vancouver location was one element that gave the X-Files a spooky edge.

I think overall this has been a great season and I am both looking forward to watching them again on DVD (one nitpick comes due to the scheduling, some of the gaps between episodes were too big and it did interrupt the flow) and to season 2.

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