Review: Fringe 2.1 - "A New Day in the Old Town"

The fall TV season is yet again upon us. No doubt most of you have already picked the shows you are going to watch and have decided to give some new shows a chance. I was not as prepared this year as I was last year and I know I'm missing Glee and Vampire Diaries but I am going to try and pick up Modern Family, V, and Flash Forward.

I'll also still be reviewing Fringe, Dollhouse, and Clone Wars for TVZ, as well as a couple others possibly. The fall season took most of us by surprise as we'd all be watching summer shows with much enthusiasm and I think the new shows didn't see that spectacular. I know we've all been surprised a little and I hope V and Flash Forward continue that.

Fringe premiered last week and I have a review pending at TVZ, so make sure you stop by and check it out when it posts. Also, ABC posted the first 15 minutes of Flash Forward and I know it's probably too early to say anything, but I think I'll like this one. Give it a watch, let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, here's the review of the latest episode of Fringe.

...and we're back. A quick recap of the season finale is in order. Thought not a cliffhanger, there are some parts that are integral to the story line in the premiere.

The season one bad guy, David Robert Jones, is dead. He was trying to use equipment powered by a power cell from Nina Sharp's robot arm to open a gateway into another universe. (If I had a nickel...) Peter stopped him by using a "patch" that Walter found in an old beach house. We also find that this universe's Peter may have been pulled from the another when his other version died. Walter mourned him at a grave that indicated he died when he was seven. The Observer intervened, helping Walter find this patch device. Olivia, still bubbling with uncertainty about her cortexifan induced powers, visited William Bell at the top of the World Trade Center.

That's all you need to know for now.

A man wakes up with a cut forehead in a car that's been in an accident. We're in Manhattan. He flees the scene, gains entrance to an apartment building, jumps a guy in the laundry room and drags his body back to his apartment. Once there the man crushes his own face like Playdough. He then takes a tool that looks like a large RF switch with two wires coming out of it, each ending in a three-pronged attachment. He jams one of these into the soft palette of the dead man, the other into his own mouth, hits a switch and begins grunting and shaking. The TV is playing the X-Files movie and we see now that the car wreck man now has the face of the dead man. The FBI and police are investigating the crash and when the agent asks who was driving the vehicle, another agent hands her a print out of Olivia Dunham.

Boston. Walter and Peter are in a grocery store shopping for custard ingredients. They banter, Peter's birthday is coming up, Walter makes a few unintended dirty comments about custard, when Peter's phone rings. They arrive at the scene of the accident and meet agent Amy Jessup (Meghan Markle) who begins grilling Peter as to what Fringe Division does for the FBI. Peter tells her it's all classified and asks where Charlie Francis is. Walter is checking out the car. Peter asks where Olivia is, and Agent Jessup says there was another vehicle out of which a man exited and left. No one was in the SUV licensed to Olivia Dunham. Walter, inside the car, hears static as the electronics all kick on. He gets out, the car revs its engine, the alarm goes off and suddenly Olivia Dunham crashes through the windshield onto the pavement.

Opening credits.

**A quick note here. Shortly after the season finale last spring, Kirk Acevado posted on his Facebook page a note that he'd been fired from the show. In shifting the production company to Vancouver, it seemed like a cost saving move to not pick up the options of secondary characters. Some saw it as a publicity stunt, some marked it up to reportedly common outbursts by Acevado as experienced on other shows, but no one knew if it was true. The production company and Fox said he wasn't fired, but the summer news was somewhat quiet about the matter.**

Dunham is wheeled into the ER at New York General with quite a few injuries. Broyles intercepts Agent Jessup with the "report" of the accident that says nothing was out of the ordinary, and makes her sign it. A doctor comes out and tells Peter and Walter that Olivia sustained too severe an injury to the brain and will likely not regain consciousness. Walter goes to see her, and apologizes, calling her Olive.

At a nearby bar, Broyles joins Peter for a few drinks. He tells Peter he's going to Washington; Fringe Division is being shut down. Peter questions what they were doing anyway, saying they were always too late. Too late to save Olivia. Back at the Federal building, Agent Jessup gains access to Fringe Division's files via a scrap of paper with a number on it. Where she got the paper we don't know yet. Peter runs into Rachel at the hospital who tells him Olivia had a living will saying not to put her on life support and in the morning they were going to unplug her. He goes in to see her, wrestles with emotions, leans in to kiss her and say goodbye when her eyes snap open and she speaks a phrase in a foreign language and then screams and sits up.

Olivia says she went somewhere, but someone is trying to stop her, but she doesn't remember anything. She begins freaking out and asks Peter to go get her gun. He goes to the Federal building in Boston where he finds out his credentials have been revoked. When an agent tries to escort him out, he throws a nifty release move, surprising the agent. Amy Jessup says she'll escort him. She already has the file he was requesting about the accident. The tire marks indicate the other car was speeding up, not stopping. And surveillance cameras got a picture of man they're en route to question. When she asks what Fringe does, he says, "Nothing." They find the body of a man matching the photo, but he's been dead a while. Jessup allows Walter to take to body to his lab. She asks if Walter's crazy, Peter says he is.

The man from the apartment enters a typewriter shop asking for a specific model that's never been made. The shop keep says as much but when the man persists, he says "Oh, you're one of them." It's been six years and he's not waiting around forever. The man takes a key and goes to a back room with a desk, a type writer, paper and mirror. He puts in paper and types, Mission Accomplished, Target Eliminated, In Fatal Car Crash, Meeting Prevented, Request Extraction. Then from the mirror, the reflection begins typing in an odd reverse sound. The message is, Negative, Mission Failure, Meeting Occurred, Target Still Alive. The man types, Request New Orders and the response is, Interrogate Target, Then Kill Her.

Peter takes Amy Jessup to the lab and gives her a little back story. They introduce everyone, Walter asks for custard ingredients and autopsy tools. Amy sees Jean the cow.

Charlie Francis visits Olivia in the hospital, she says she's fine. Charlie recaps a story about a domestic disturbance that went really wrong, in which his partner died and he was shot. He kept telling people he was fine but he wasn't. He was shaken and like him, she probably has a gun under her pillow. She cracks a little, says she's so scared she can't even load it. At the lab, Peter gets Walter to focus on the dead body instead of the custard (which Astrid is making) and they see in the mouth the three holes and it makes Walter remember something. A video tape of an experiment Walter and Bell did with a subject and a lot of drugs. The 30 year old taped subject talks about three nails in the mouth and a soldier from somewhere else that can look like any of us. Peter and Astrid put in a law enforcement alert for bodies matching that description. Olivia frantically tries to load her gun.

(right hand, light on the right)

Washington. A committee says Fringe Division is basically taking too much money and not providing any results. Broyles reminds them he's a colonel and they should thank God they don't see what's being stopped by Fringe Division. Another senator says that without some kind of proof, they have no choice. Nina meets Broyles on the steps and says it's important that the division stay operational. She and Broyles then kiss and she tells him to save the day like he always did.

Peter and Agent Jessup find another body with three holes in its mouth. Jessup reminds Peter that if this shape shifting person is a soldier, they do one thing; stay on mission, that being to kill Olivia. The soldier arrives at the hospital, surprising a nurse on a break. The same nurse shows up in Olivia's room and asks about her memory. She can remember going to meet someone but that's it. She feels like she went somewhere, talked to someone, then came back to the accident. (If you remember episode 1.20, right before she met with Bell, she was almost in an accident that I commented on seemed to have no purpose.) But she doesn't remember who she was meeting. The nurse prods her but she can't remember what she was supposed to do or what this person said. Something's hidden, but she doesn't know where. The nurse jumps on her and starts strangling her. Charlie, Peter and Agent Jessup arrive and put a couple bullets in the nurse who jumps out a window about 60 feet down and flees into the lower levels. The three pursue. The nurse jumps Charlie and he fires a few shots. The other two catch up to see Charlie standing over the nurse. The electronic changing box is on the ground nearby.

Peter brings Olivia flowers and they recap a bit about the soldier and what she asked Olivia. Peter repeats the phrase she uttered when she woke up. She doesn't remember, but asks if it's Latin. Peter says it's Greek and his mother used to say it to him every night before he went to bed. It means, "Be a better man than your father" and was a code between them meaning keep your people close. They smile at each other. As he leaves she asks if they're shutting Fringe down, he says no.

In front of the capital, Peter stops Agent Broyles and gives him the shape-shifting box. Walter had said the technology is not from here and it's proof. The Feds can have it, use it to make an army to look like anyone, but they are not shutting Fringe down. Peter says they're done reacting, they're not going to be too late any more, they're calling the shots. Agent Jessup is cataloging Fringe cases and ties them to Bible books, chapters and verse, ie 7546B-FD - The Beast, R19:19. Peter returns to the lab where Astrid, Walter and the cow surprise him with birthday custard. Olivia loads her gun with a smile.

In the hospital basement, Charlie Francis wheels a laundry basket to the incinerator. He removes a bag of laundry and we see the body of...Agent Charlie Francis. The shape shifter dumps Charlie's body into the incinerator.

(Commercial glyphs spell TOWER)

Was Kirk Acevado partially right? Was he "fired?" His character certainly was. I think, however, his option on Fringe was not picked up but they felt the need to wrap up his character. And wrap it up they must. The Soldier now is without its shape shifting technology, which means it has to be Charlie for a while. It interrogated Olivia but didn't kill her. It also didn't discover anything as her memory was scrabbled via windshield and asphalt. He now has to be close enough to her to find the information he needs without causing her suspicion enough to withhold it. However, how long can this soldier remain Charlie? Does this transfer via the little box change just the physical appearance or does some of Charlie Francis go with it, enabling this soldier to act as Charlie? The length of this character's run is uncertain.

The tone of the show changed at the very end. Peter says they're going to stop just reacting but what that means exactly for their group will have to be seen in weekly installments. We will have to see if Olivia regains her memory of what she and William Bell discussed. We will have to see if the shape shifting Charlie continues to be the killing soldier or if he becomes something more intricate and sustainable.

And what of Agent Amy Jessup? She was brought in rather quickly as though Charlie's departure was a foregone conclusion. Given the Acevado news and her early debate with Peter, you could see the cast list shifting from space. But what will she bring if not another eye-rolling skeptical attitude, playing by the Federal book and only willing to get involved if it moves the plot along. Her itemizing the Fringe cases by scripture was unique to this show. The area of spirituality has yet to be explored by Fringe and my guess is Agent Jessup will become the Christian foil to the group's emerging war on other plains of existence. I'm also wondering where she got that paper with the access code needed to get into Fringe Division's files. Is she a mole? Is someone using her?

I'm disappointed we got roughly 20 seconds with William Bell and now he's a nearly forgotten memory. I'm also a bit disappointed that Nina Sharp and Agent Broyles had to kiss. It immediately reminded me of season two of Heroes and the Petrelli matriarch, and frankly the less I'm reminded of Heroes the better.

I'm looking forward to season two and this episode picked up right where we left off. I liked the nod to X-Files and I'm excited to see more.

Three and a half randomly chosen glyphs.

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