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Lures and Traps: Night of Desirable Objects on "Fringe"

Don't ever turn your back on a hole in the ground when there's a psychotic mutant killer on the loose.

Last night's episode of Fringe ("Night of Desirable Objects") offered the sort of X-Files tinged suspense that's been missing from FOX for quite some time, even as the solution to the central mystery itself--the truth behind the disappearance of several people in a small Pennsylvania town--was obvious about two seconds in.

This week's installment, written by Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman, had the team leaving the relative comforts of their lab to trek over to Pennsylvania to investigate the aforementioned disappearances. While this is nothing new for a series that has its characters embarking on various investigations on a weekly basis, it was perhaps the first time that newly appointed team leader Peter Bishop took up the reins and sent the team out without getting a dossier or briefing from Broyles.

Yes, proactiveness is the word du jour for the Fringe Division this season and it's nice to see the gang breaking their own pattern and being less reactive in the face of bizarre phenomenon. It's a nice change of pace and one that gives both Peter and Broyles much more to do than stand around and wait for something awful to happen.

While the procedural plot itself was extremely predictable--as soon as Andre Hughes appeared underground, I knew that he was covering up for a family member and as soon as it was mentioned that his wife and baby died during childbirth, I knew it was the son--the episode itself had some nice moments (the police car dropping through the earth, the creepy scarecrow scene in the cold open) and a few emotional beats that were distinct from the overarching plot.

Meghan Markles' Agent Jessup still doesn't nothing for me and I feel like we're supposed to find her possibly spiritual quest for answers enthralling but it instead bores me to tears. I don't even believe she had any dialogue this week but her character has remained even more of a nonentity that Astrid so far.

As for Evil Charlie, I'm concerned about the direction that this is going. After all, the shapeshifter from "over there" didn't know anything about Charlie Francis before he assumed Charlie's shape, so I'm not quite sure how he's pulling off slipping into Charlie's life quite so easily. Surely, Charlie's wife (whom we saw in the first season) is suspicious about her husband and why he doesn't seem to know anything about his life, no? Or am I quibbling? I do love the typewriter scenes between here and over there as the injured shapeshifter continues to receive his instructions but I'm not sure why he didn't just kill Olivia and get it over with before she remembers? But, given the episode's ending, now his employers seem to want Olivia to know just what William Bell told her. Hmmm...

There were some genuinely beautiful moments between Walter and Peter this week. As they investigate a case of a father protecting his son at all costs, it stirred up all sort of unresolved feelings between the Bishops. And seeing that lure--the night of desirable objects--in Sheriff Golightly's office reminded Peter of that fishing trip they never took and how he had bought that lure for that purpose. (Loved Walter's reply asking if "the young man" had given Peter the lure.) Given the slow reconciliation that's going on between the two, I have to wonder about when the truth about Peter's identity will emerge as it's likely to shatter any hope of a renewed relationship between Bishop pere et fils.

Likewise, Olivia is tormented by the fact that she can't remember just what happened to her or where she went but wonders--to Evil Charlie, no less--that maybe her mind doesn't want her to know and is intentionally suppressing those memories in order to keep her safe. (As in safe from him, perhaps.) But she also must come to grips with the fact that she's returned from over there a changed woman. She's seemingly enhanced--with super-sonic hearing--but we all know from experience that these gifts likely come at a cost.

A cost which Nina Sharp is hoping that Olivia can avoid by consulting an associate of hers, a "specialist" named Sam Weiss (Kevin Corrigan), who helped her through some rocky times of her own. Just who is Weiss? That's a mystery for another day but he works at a bowling alley and is expecting Olivia. Something tells me Weiss is no mere bowling alley clerk but an important figure who could hold the answers to unlocking Olivia's memory.

What did you think of this week's episode? Was it as strong as the season opener? How long will it be before Evil Charlie makes his "coffee ice cream" slip-up? Discuss.

Next week on Fringe ("Fracture"), Peter, Walter, Olivia, and Broyles investigate an incident in Philadelphia where a bomb blew up inside a train station but left no trace of any explosive device; uncovering links to a classified military project, Olivia and Peter head to Iraq.

Comments

AllenJ said…
Your review is spot on. The episode did have some X-Files moments, even if the main storyline was somewhat obvious. But, like you, the thing I enjoyed most was seeing Peter take charge and be a leader for the team. I think it really changes the dynamics in a good way and makes him a much more interesting character.

I'm totally not sold on Agent Jessup but I do like Kevin Corrigan as Sam Weiss and look forward to learning more about his character.
wildhoney said…
The early scene with the guy in the field and the scarecrow was definitely tense. As was the scene where Olivia almost shot Peter's head off! So far, I'm loving season two.
Anonymous said…
Great review, I loved the episode and found the tunnel out of the baby coffin creepy!

Was the police chief in PA the actor who played Toad in the American Graffiti movie?

Thanks!
Amie
amischantz@aol.com
Anonymous said…
not bad. Keep loving the typewriter.

Love when Walter ask if he can go on the trip.

Don't care about the new agent, if I don't see her again I wont cry. ;-D.

JP
Page48 said…
@Anon, yes that was Toad (Charlie Martin Smith) from American Graffiti.

I think it's insane that Evil Charlie hasn't already been uncovered as a fake. Evil Francie was placed in Sydney Bristow's life after considerable preparation, but Evil Charlie shouldn't have any clue as to how to function as Charlie Francis. By now, he should have coffee ice cream all over his shirt.

I don't like freak of the week, but freak of the week that isn't even Pattern related just hurts. They have a nice storyline here with the coming war, alternate realities, supersoldiers etc., and seeing it get bogged down in an episode based on "Tremors" is hard to take. Granted, it was very much a throwback to "X-Files", but I liked it better when Mulder and Scully had that angle covered.
Harley said…
Well, Abrams likes to reinvent his TV shows on the fly, probably to assuage the doubts of network executives, and he seems to have done that here. We now basically have X-Files with, one hopes, a more coherent long-term narrative (Oh, wait, Supernatural already did that). And while the motive for their investigation was laughably tenuous -- gosh, folks are missing in Lansdale -- and I can do without some of the unnecessary cutes (Sheriff Golightly!), it was certainly entertaining. And having Charlie Martin Smith and John Savage aboard certainly didn't hurt. And yes, they seem to be paying better attention to the character relationships. But....

I miss last season's desire to be more than an X-Files knockoff, even when it took the show into the occasional cul-de-sac. Pity, that.
WendyWatson said…
I'm not sure why he didn't just kill Olivia and get it over with before she remembers? But, given the episode's ending, now his employers seem to want Olivia to know just what William Bell told her. Hmmm...

I suspect they might want to know what Bell told her themselves, because it's information useful to them.

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