As much as I love that many UK channels now show US dramas at roughly the same time as in the US, it means we have to deal with all the breaks they have in their seasons for football, thanksgiving, pre-sweeps and the rest of it. It’s very trying, particularly so with dramas that have season-long arcs that thrive on pace.
We’ve only seen 7 episodes of Fringe this season and now we’re on a break until sometime in 2012. There’s so much that hasn’t been covered yet in Fringe, or properly set up, that I think this break is going to be more harmful for a drama that has been steadily falling in the ratings in the US and is probably on its last season.
‘Wallflower’, the 7th episode, dealt with an invisible man/Susan Storm Richards figure, called U-Gene, who was killing people to steal their pigment. They could not see him, but he turned them into albinos when he left them. Anyway, he eventually dies, after speaking to the girl he’s had a crush on, because the pigments have been poisoning him – which I think is meant to be sweet and poignant as at least he is acknowledged and recognised before he dies.
I’ve been watching Fringe every week alongside E4’s Misfits, which has shown 5 episodes so far, and I’ve been thinking that they’ve had similar themes about love across time and universes. In last week’s episode of Misfits, an old man had got Curtis’ old power of being able to go back in time, and decided to go back in time to Kill Hitler. What a coincidence that the two main British sci-fi comedy/dramas should tackle the storyline of trying to kill Hitler within the space of a few months. And I think Misfits did it better than Doctor Who, but maybe thats just because I saw Misfits more recently.
I don’t think Misfits has suffered too much from the loss of Nathan this series. I don’t particularly think that Rudy is a good replacement for Nathan and would prefer Robert Sheehan but the loss of Nathan has meant more focus on Kelly. I definitely think Kelly is the main character this series, much more so than Simon, who was the main focus last series. She’s had some killer lines and I’m so glad she was the one who headbutted Hitler to return themselves to their original timeline. Note: the use of an alternative timeline in Misfits ala Fringe (and Community) – there’s definitely something in the tv writers’ water. I thought that it would be Simon who would get the timetravelling powers so that he could turn into FutureSimon who had the power to go back, but I’m hoping that after the comic-book writer episode they’ve resolved that they’re now in a new timeline where FutureSimon does not need to go back in time to save Alisha because she is alive in the presentfuture. Makes sense? Of course it does.
In this week’s episode, Kelly swapped bodies with a coma victim called Jen (like in Freaky Friday – thanks Si) and it was up to Sean, the powers dealer, to realise that it wasn’t Kelly in her body and save the day. But it was also the boyfriend of the coma victim, who was a dead ringer for Ethan Embry, who told Jen in Kelly’s body that she wasn’t his ‘Jen’ and she should swap back. Peter Bishop says a similar thing to Lincoln Lee in ‘Wallflower’ when he explains that Lincoln is free to go after this Olivia (and buys him some new glasses to help) because she is not his ‘Olivia’. In Misfits, Simon and Alisha still have a romance in the alternative timeline where Hitler won the war, and so do Sean and Kelly, strengthening the idea of soulmates (yuk) and love across timelines. But Fringe doesn’t/hasn’t been going down that romantic route and Olivia has had different ‘loves’ in all her timelines.
The romantic storyline in Fringe’s previous episode (6) – ‘And Those We’ve Left Behind’ – was extremely well done. When physicist Kate (played by the actress who plays Finn’s mother (Carol) in Glee)) develops Alzheimers, her husband Raymond (played by Stephen Root – her real life husband – for me best known for his role as Gordon in Dodgeball) uses her theorems to create a wormhole in time to go back to when she doesn’t have Alzheimers. What he doesn’t realise is that this wormhole is affecting others around his radius and unintentionally killing them. I always find Alzheimers stories heartbreaking – Exile with John Simm and Jim Broadbent on BBC back in the Spring was excellent – and Fringe used this story particularly well to parallel Peter Bishop’s frustration that noone remembers him.
So Fringe has had some good episodes and ended on a minor cliff hanger of sorts when Olivia3 is drugged by Nina Sharp. But there are so many dangling plot threads that, to return to my initial point, this season break is going to harm it. We haven’t had any interactions with Walternate this season – very few with Fauxlivia. Does she still have Peter’s baby? I assume not as he doesn’t exist. We’re not sure if there is an original timeline for Peter to return to, but the fact that he’s trying to rebuild that universe-destroying machine could be interesting. But there’s very little human interest in these 3rd universe characters, as I know lots of people are complaining about. What ever happened to Ari Graynor’s character and her daugher, Ella? I know Ari Graynor is probably too busy to star in Fringe anymore – isn’t she in that new Jonah Hill Confessions of a Babysitter movie – but they just disappeared. I’m not really bothered that Nina Sharp is now evil and that Olivia has been drugged again. It’s only been 7 episodes so there is a lot this season could still cover but I wish they’d just get on with it. On the other hand, Misfits only has two episodes (in a 7 episode series) left I presume and I won’t mind because it has been fast-paced, funny and smart. I would happily wait another year for the next series.