This review may contain spoilers.
"Fringe" is back for its third season, ladies and gentleman! It's been far too long, you guys.
The majority of the episode takes place on the other side, where Olivia (Anna Torv) has been experimented on by Walternate's people in an attempt to replace her memories with those of Fauxlivia. The treatments, however, don't work, and Olivia manages to escape from the facility where she's being held captive. Then she pretty much takes a cab driver named Henry hostage, and it's a whole big thing.
Unfortunately, all those less than lovely treatments that don't work actually do work. The catalyst is adrenaline, and since Olivia is on the lamb, the adrenaline's definitely pumping double time. So in an attempt to get out of this world and go back to her life, she pretty much confines herself to this world and the life of Fauxlivia. If she could remember this happening, the irony would probably not be lost on her.
Meanwhile, Seth Gabel returns as Lincoln Lee, who is alive and not exactly well. Major kudos to the make-up department by the way for making him look almost inhuman. It wasn't the typical "Fringe" repulsive look, but it's certainly horrific. Still, there's something about this character's that's so darn likable despite the fact that, unlike the rest of the alternate world, he's not a character that we were familiar with prior. It begs the question of what his "real world" version is like. Is he even alive? Because if he is, then why isn't he apart of the Fringe Division family that we know and love?
And in the last few minutes, we check in on our world, where Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Fauxlivia are in love, and it's so sweet it's almost sickening.
So pretty much, our world is screwed, because when these characters do their job best when they're completely miserable. But at least it makes for quality television, right?
What a difference opening credits in a different color can make. The little touches in the alternate world are still great, especially the sign for "DOGS! Smash Hit Musical Sensation" on the top of Henry's taxi cab and the revelation that Tom Cruise is on television (and presumably not known as a nutcase). They also acknowledged that our Olivia is a terrible shot, unlike Olympic champion marksman, Fauxlivia. And guess what? Shell and Exxon merged to create Shexxon ... but gas prices are still the same.
Henry the cab driver was one of the more interesting non-villainess guest stars, and one of the few that actually warranted and earned an emotional investment from the audience. His story was heartbreaking, despite not being a focal point, and it was so disappointing to see him not follow Olivia as she got taken back with Alt-Charlie. If he doesn't return, it will be a missed opportunity.
Another missed opportunity would be John Noble not getting nominated for an Emmy next year. Seriously.
What Didn't Work
This is just really an observation -- because honestly, this was a great premiere and great episode -- but saying things like "I'm not your daughter" isn't exactly the best way to convince someone (who happens to believe that you are, in fact, his or her daughter) that you're completely sane. It didn't actually hurt the episode, but it did seem like a lot of Olivia's problems really just stemmed from the fact that she said pretty much everything a crazy person would say in this situation in order to argue that he or she is not crazy.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"Olivia" was written by J.H. Wyman & Jeff Pinkner and directed by Joe Chappelle. "Fringe" stars Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Jasika Nicole.
"Fringe" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
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