Fringe, Ep. 5.12-13, “Liberty”/”An Enemy of Fate”: Heavy-handed finale delivers with character, if not plot
Fringe, Season 5, Episode 12: “Liberty”
Written by Alison Schapker
Directed by P. J. Pesce
Fringe, Season 5, Episode 13: “An Enemy of Fate”
Written by J. H. Wyman
Directed by J. H. Wyman
Aired Fridays at 9pm (ET) on FOX
This week, on Fringe: Olivia goes for a final jaunt Over There, Michael goes back to the future, and Peter gets a tulip.
After five seasons of interesting, thought-provoking genre television, Fringe wraps up its 100 episode run with these two installments, aired back-to-back. Throughout the series, character and philosophy have been the cornerstones for what could easily have become a predictable freak-of-the-week procedural and these priorities are clearly evident in the finale. While elements of the plot will leave some viewers puzzled and others annoyed, the crux of the show, its characters and their relationships, is intact, providing a heartfelt, if not wholly satisfying, goodbye.
This week, on Fringe: Donald lays out the plan, Michael has his own plan, and Astrid still has nothing to do
With the series finale looming large just two episodes (one week) away, “The Boy Must Live” has a clear focus, setting the stage for the final push. Much of the episode is spent answering questions the audience, and characters, have been wondering about all season. The gang finally meets up with Donald, make that September, who fortunately is able to lay out the answers. Herein lies the problem with this episode- rather than our characters working all season toward figuring out the plan (perhaps that should be The Plan, given its import over the past year), being active participants in the narrative, everyone sits down in a living room and has it told to them.
If you’re going to sit your characters down and have them told a story, it’d better be a compelling one, and though some will be very happy for the peeks we get of the future and the Observers’ origins, by far the most interesting elements of the episode are those outside of Donald’s apartment and those not even addressed. Windmark and the other Observer’s growing emotional depth is the highlight of the episode. It would appear Michael has a plan of his own, affecting the Observers and bringing out emotion in them. Between that and characters sitting around scheming to send Michael to a specific point in time to an unseen and undefined scientist, it’s clear which is more effective storytelling.
Due to some unfortunate internet issues, this week’s podcast is a Televerse first- we are third segment-less. The DVD Shelf will be back next week, but until then, there’s plenty of TV talk to go around. After going through our Week in TV, including Tuesday comedies (Ben and Kate, New Girl, Mindy Project, Happy Endings, Cougar Town), Parenthood, Top Chef Seattle, American Horror Story: Asylum, Nashville, 30 Rock, Last Resort, Fringe, the Golden Globes, Bob’s Burgers, the premieres of Girls and Enlightened, The Good Wife, Bunheads, and the pilot of The Carrie Diaries, we spotlight the strong season four premiere of Justified, “Hole in the Wall”. Take a listen and let us know your take on this week’s TV!
Fringe has a tradition of doing at least one surrealist episode per season and this year, that episode is “Black Blotter”. As in “Brown Betty”, the noir-inspired musical episode from season two, Walter gets high and the episode around him reflects his mental state. Then it was with a potent strain of marijuana, here he’s on acid. Walter hopes his trip will help him recover the memories he needs to complete his plan against the Observers (so he’ll be able to have Nina remove the pieces of his brain turning him back into his older, crueler self) and, though he’s faced with visions of the lab assistant who burned to death years ago, causing his initial incarceration at St. Claire’s Mental Institution, acting as the devil on his shoulder, and Nina, the angel, he does manage to retrieve some lost memories, for better and worse.
The helpful memory is the password that allows the Fringe team to retrieve Michael, the child Observer, from the protective care of his guardians, a couple who’s adopted him. As for the rest, the episode implies that the original Walter may now be stronger than ever and that Walter may be coming closer and closer to a Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde-type personality split. The rest of the episode, outside of Walter’s POV, mostly serves to get the characters to Michael, though there is a nice shoutout to Sam Weiss, which serves as a reminder of the original timeline, in which Olivia met Michael and shared a bond with him. This naturally comes up towards the end of the episode, as Olivia attempts to reconstruct that same bond, as Michael seems unable to communicate.
Once again the SOS staff have voted on their favorite TV shows of the last 12 months. As per usual, the results reflect our staff’s geographical spread over North America and the UK, with severa key British series sneaking into reasonably prominent positions. Two one-season wonders made it in as well, along with at least one veteran series that isn’t likely to return. Competition was fiercer this year, as making it in required more votes than last year thanks to more contributor voting, but ultimately our #1 won out pretty soundly. For more 2012 retrospective talk, tune into The Televerse over the coming weeks.
As it approaches its series finale, which will air mid-January, Fringe has remained a beacon of intelligent, character-based sci-fi at a time when sci-fi has all but disappeared from network television. Anna Torv, John Noble, and Joshua Jackson gave fantastic performances over the course of the year, bringing nuance and depth to characters we’ve come to love and yet still managing to surprise us. The final season jumped forward significantly, taking quite a risk in the process, yet this transition has gone far smoother than one might have expected, bringing new challenges, both physical and emotional, to our characters while still keeping true to the core of the series as a reflection on family and the choices we make to preserve the ones we love. (K.K.)
23. Bob’s Burgers
It may have taken some time to catch on, but Bob’s Burgers has finally started to get the accolades it deserves, at least among critics. 2012 saw all of season two as well as a significant chunk of season three, including the fantastic three-pack holiday specials “Full Bars” (Halloween), “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” (Thanksgiving), and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins” (Christmas). With inventive voice casting and some of the most infectiously enthusiastic characters on television, the past year has solidified Bob’s Burgers as among the most reliable and entertaining network series going. (K.K.)
Once again the SOS staff have voted on their favorite TV shows of the last 12 months. We knew that, given the fact that our contributors are (principally) spread out across Canada, the US, and Britain, that the results might well be a mixed bag. What we didn’t necessarily expect was the level of consensus surrounding the upper quartile of the list. There was a clear groundswell of support for our collective #1, but competition was fierce for the spots just behind it. Here are the best TV shows of 2011, according to the staff as a whole; stay tuned for The Televerse’s year-end wrap-up, in which Kate Kulzick and Simon Howell discuss their respective favorites – and least favorites – in greater detail.
We’re spotlightless once again this week, with several series airing solid to strong episodes, but none that particularly stand out. After going through Our Week in TV, including several Tuesday comedies (Ben and Kate, New Girl, Mindy Project, Happy Endings), Parenthood, Top Chef Seattle, several Thursday comedies (30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Childrens Hospital), The Vampire Diaries, Last Resort, Fringe, The Amazing Race, Bob’s Burgers, The Good Wife, Treme, Homeland, Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, The Voice, and Revolution. Then Dan Heaton of Sound on Sight and Public Transportation Snob comes back to the DVD Shelf to help us break down Aaron Sorkin’s first series, the unfortunately short-lived half hour dramedy Sports Night.
Fringe Review, Season 5, Episode 4: “The Bullet That Saved the World”
Written by Alison Schapker
Directed by David Straiton
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on FOX
This week, on Fringe: Broyles returns, Walter loves Detective Comics, and Olivia gets her necklace back
With Fringe rocketing towards its series finale (only nine episodes left), something had to happen to kick what has been a solid but somewhat languidly paced season into a higher gear. That happens this week with the death of Etta. Fringe is no stranger to plot developments straight out of left field, but this is a particular surprise given what we know of the season so far as well as the show’s central themes of family and parenthood.
Writer Alison Schapker sets up the surprise by first establishing Etta’s necessity to the group. No one else is able to block the Observers’ scans, a weakness which nearly kills Peter at the beginning of the episode; we later learn that this is an at least year-long process, implying Etta’ll have to be around for a while. We get further solidification of her role on the show by the inclusion of yet another touching scene between Olivia and Etta. Season five has been rife with these and those we get this week feel very similar in tone to the previous ones; Schapker is careful not to tip her hand.
The Televerse #59- Spotlight on Treme/The League of Gentlemen with Cath Murphy
Five more premieres make this the most packed week yet this fall season. After talking through Our Week in TV (Ben and Kate, New Girl, The Mindy Project, Parenthood, 30 for 30, Key and Peele, the Arrow pilot, Supernatural, the Nashville pilot, 30 Rock, the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia premiere, The Vampire Diaries premiere, the Beauty and the Beast pilots, Last Resort, Person of Interest, Grimm, Fringe, The Thick of It, The Amazing Race, Call the Midwife, The Good Wife, Dexter, Homeland, The Voice, Alphas, Revolution), we spotlight this week’s episode of Treme, “The Greatest Love”, and then welcome SoS and Slutty Lemon’s Cath Murphy to the DVD Shelf to help us take a look at British comedy The League of Gentlemen.
Fringe, Ep. 5.03, “The Recordist”: Strong character beats don’t make up for lack of action
Fringe Review, Season 5, Episode 3: “The Recordist”
Written by Graham Roland
Directed by Jeff T. Thomas
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on FOX
This week, on Fringe: The team follows the first, well, third, Betamax and find what is hopefully some red Observer kryptonite
The Great Betamax Hunt is on and this week, it takes our heroes to the forest, which apparently still exists in this overly mechanized future. As in the past two episodes, “The Recordist” favors character moments over action, making it at this point perhaps the most talky sci-fi series since Star Trek: the Next Generation. That’s not to discount the story we get this week, but while the notion of a community of people documenting the human perspective of this new world is interesting, and the father-son story is compelling, it’s hard not to argue that the show is beginning to feel stagnant.
After last week’s pilotpalooza, things have quieted down a bit as we start to get a picture of what the fall network schedule will settle into. After looks at Wednesday’s Nashville and Chicago Fire pilots, we go through a full week in TV, including Ben and Kate, New Girl, The Mindy Project, Parenthood, 30 for 30, the Supernatural premiere, Key and Peele, the 30 Rock premiere, Parks and Rec, Childrens Hospital, NTSF:SD:SUV::, Last Resort, Grimm, Fringe, The Amazing Race, Call the Midwife, The Good Wife, Treme, The Voice, Alphas, Revolution, we split the spotlight between Bob’s Burgers and Homeland, which each had great episodes this week. Then it’s over to the DVD Shelf, with Sound on Sight’s Amanda Williams joining us to look at the ever entertaining, ever irascible House.
Fringe, Season 5, Episode 2: “In Absentia”
Written by David Fury
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on FOX
This week, on Fringe: Etta does some questioning, Peter goes undercover, and Walter carves up an eye
After last week’s tense, action-filled premiere, things slow down a bit with “In Absentia”. We pick up not long after we left off, with the team working to piece together Walter’s former plan. After the rosy reintroductions in the premiere, this week we start to see the cracks in Etta’s thus far squeaky clean exterior. Last week, the world felt bleak. Here, it’s the people.
Writer David Fury brings a matter of fact-ness to the desensitization of his characters. Though the method of torture Etta uses on the Loyalist who stumbles across the team is appropriately futuristic and essentially ages the victim, a Fringe take on the Machine from The Princess Bride, the attitude of both sides of the interrogation is almost nonchalant. The Loyalist is clearly not happy with his predicament and does all he can think of to escape it, but there’s a strong sense of resignation about him, particularly around Etta. The Loyalists and Rebels have an established, known relationship; both sides have become inured to violence and their opposition’s humanity.
Premiere season has begun and with it, the yearly deluge of series pilots and returns. It’s a mega-packed Televerse this week- we begin with a recap of our takes on several of the new pilots, which we discussed at greater length in our Fall Preview (Ben and Kate, The Mindy Project, Last Resort, Elementary, 666 Park Ave.), then take a quick look at the Emily Owens, M.D. pilot which has been released online, and then we get into our week in TV. This week, along with a slew of new shows, several favorites have returned, and one reaches its fall finale. Our show list for this week is: New Girl, Vegas, Parenthood, The Neighbors, Key and Peele, Parks and Rec, Childrens Hospital, NTSF:SD:SUV::, Made in Jersey, Fringe, Doctor Who, The Thick of It, The Amazing Race, Bob’s Burgers, Call the Midwife, Treme, Homeland, The Voice, Alphas, and Revolution. Then, after spotlighting this week’s The Good Wife premiere, “I Fought the Law”, we welcome Josh Spiegel of Mousterpiece Cinema to the show to help us take a longer look at what has been a fantastic season three for Louie.