Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fringe: Confusion on the Macro vs. Micro Level

When I first wrote about my feelings on Fringe, it probably wasn’t very encouraging. After the pilot, I just wasn’t crazy about it.

I thought Olivia Dunham took herself too seriously, I thought the second half had a serious drag problem, and I wasn’t sold at all on the Peter/Olivia dynamic.

Seeing episode two this week, an episode that producers tell us is more indicative of the series, I’m now quite excited about the future of Fringe.

For starters, I’m finally drawn into the mythology. I know, I said finally. It’s episode freaking two and I’m saying finally. But it feels like Fringe has been talked about forever. Anyway, I’m on the edge of my seat wondering what in the world happened to Peter as a child. I’m so intrigued by what happened in the Bishop family back in the day. Oh, daddy drama.

Olivia’s also growing on me. When we weren’t dealing first-hand with her issues, I enjoyed her take-charge attitude as well as her interactions with the off-the-cuff Peter. Television relationships always fall into some kind of science/faith dichotomy. For Mulder and Scully, he’s the believer while she’s the skeptic. For Booth and Bones, she follows logic and reasoning, while he follows his heart. Jabrams’s relationships don’t conform to such a clear-cut dichotomy. I mean, how would you describe the fundamental difference between Sydney and Vaughn? They may be a bad example, because they so rarely argued about philosophy. Jack and Kate’s is also less clear, perhaps because their relationship isn’t based on work, meaning that their inherent difference is rooted in social location and not in psychology or philosophy.

For Olivia and Peter, who do work together—basically the same kind of set-up Booth and Brennan have—the difference seems, at this point, mostly located in their personalities. Olivia is very by-the-books, while Peter’s got a roguish attitude about him. (He defibrillated that girl using big pieces of metal and a shocker thing!) Both characters are rather harsh; although, for some reason, Peter doesn’t come across as cold, and Olivia does. Ah, double standards. It’s hard to describe with so little to go on.

I think I’m really going to enjoy this week-to-week thing. I never have to worry about old man babies ever again. (God, that was scary, wasn’t it?) I’m still concerned, however, about the fact that the Others can’t have babies. I never have to worry about last-image eye scanners ever again. I’m still concerned, however, about that glass eye they found in the Arrow. Yet they’re still keeping me on my toes with this whole Massive Dynamic dynamic, all this business about “The Pattern,” and now the mystery behind Peter’s childhood. There’s definitely going to be enough mystery to populate Fringepedia for years, but I’m finally understanding how the “Monster of the Week” idea is going to work.

It even seems like it will work better than The X-Files did. On TXF, each episode could be easily categorized as MOTW or mythology. They were all one or the other. Fringe seems able to do a better job at linking the two—the week-to-week mysteries are part of the long-term mythology, the Pattern.

Now, do we think those dudes in the incubators had anything to do with the Peter mystery?

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