The mysteries of Fringe get partially answered in season two, but never expect to have them fully revealed. Olivia, Walter, Peter, and Astro… err Astrid discover that the threat comes from a place that looks very similar to our own. They’ll also encounter the mysterious William Bell who bears a not-so-passing resemblance to a fellow from Vulcan.If you haven’t seen Fringe season one then you might not want to read the plot description since some things may be spoiled for you. The Fringe division has been set up by Homeland Security to investigate strange events. Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), who reports to Agent Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick), mad scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), his caretaker son Peter (Joshua Jackson), and put-upon lab assistant Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) make up the division.
When we last left Olivia she had gone into an alternate universe to meet Walter’s missing lab partner William Bell (Leonard Nimoy), the founder of the Massive Dynamic corporation. Her return from that universe is not exactly painless as she appears thrown from the windshield of her car that had been involved in an accident that happened earlier.
The driver of the other car is discovered to be a shape-shifter from the other universe and is after her. Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) eventually tracks down and kills this menace.
However others will make the jump over to try and to take out Olivia as well as find the cranium of a mysterious figure that will figure into the destruction of our universe.
The division will also encounter genetic malformations, human bombs, the theft of dreams, mind control, a parasite smuggling ring, brain tampering, deformed townsfolk, an infected office building with our team trapped inside, a 100 year old killer Nazi, the mystery behind Peter, and take a trip into the other universe. They’ll even have time for a lavish musical numbers.
As with the X-Files before them, Fringe has some stand-alone episodes but then have some that are connected with a mythos. The mythos involves Peter and the alternate universe. It is a universe that is very different than ours but full of doppelgangers of the characters that we all know and love but some of them much different than our universe counterparts.
Fringe seems like a version of the X-Files, but in the end it’s the fantastic actors and characters that make the show addicting. John Noble is the main reason that I keep tuning in. Walter is such an oddball, but you can’t turn away when Noble is on the screen.
The dynamic between him and Jackson, as his son, warms the heartstrings as well as propels the main mythos mystery of this season. Walter, for all his loveableness, wasn’t really a nice person those many years ago.
He more concentrated on the science and was apt to experiment on humans if it would prove a scientific point. Through his madness he was made a better person and that dichotomy interests me. His partner in scientific “crime” was Walter Bell and his revelation was a highlight of season one.
Series creator J.J. Abrams cast Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, in the role and it was such a delight to see him pop up in the role. All of the main roles are wonderfully cast and they all interact splendidly. Anna Torv makes a fetching lead and her interactions with Peter also have sparks. Even smaller roles like Jasika Nicole have a moment or two to shine. A show is made or broken by its casting and certainly Fringe scores highly in the acting department.
This season saw some grand episodes and guest stars (more Nimoy, Stephen McHattie, John Savage, Theresa Russell). My two favorites happen to be Robocop himself Peter Weller and Martha Plimpton. Weller stars in the highlight of the season, “White Tulip.”
That episode features heartbreak and poignancy as well as fine turns by Weller and Noble. It’s my favorite. I also liked Plimpton in “Northwest Passage” and found her character a quirky enough foil for Peter that I wished she might show up again.
There are some oddities in that we have a musical film noir episode that although fun, felt a bit out of place. Those watching the show’s run were also confused when an episode appeared that seemed very out of place. “Unearthed” it appears was meant for season one, unfinished, and ended up airing in season two. In this set it’s wisely taken out of the lineup and put in the special features.
Season two ends splendidly with several twists and turns, more alternate universe action, and finales that will have rabid fans tuning in September 24th for the beginning of season three.
Fringe is presented in widescreen (1.78:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include four commentary tracks. “Momentum Deferred” has Jill Fink (assistant to Jeff Pinkner), script coordinator Justin Dobie, music supervisor Charles Scott, and writer’s assistants Matthew Pitts and Danielle Dispaltro.
“Peter” has actors John Noble and Blair Brown joined by TV Guide’s Damian Holbrook. “Brown Betty” has producer Tanya Swerling, music supervisor Billy Gottlieb, composer Chris Tilton, and effects supervisor Jay Worth. “Over There, Part 2” has showrunners Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman, and Akiva Goldsman.
The 26 minute “Beyond the Pattern” is about the mythology and making of season two, the 7 minute “In the Lab” has a tour with the prop master Rob Smith of that set, and the 3 minute “Unusual side effects” is a gag reel. The “Unearthed” episode has also been put in the special features section instead of appearing in the season two run.
There are also a set of “Analyzing the Scene” mini-documentaries for “A New Day in the Old Town,” “Momentum Deferred,” “Of Human Action,” “What Lies Below,” “Brown Betty,” and “Over There, Part 2” (totaling about 20 minutes). “Dissected Files” are deleted scenes for “Night of Desirable Objects,” “Grey Matters,” “Olivia, in the lab, with the revolver,” “Northwest Passage,” and “Over There, Part 2” (totaling about 9 minutes).
My DVR is set for season three, but season two hits it best when dealing with the alternative universe. That’s not to say that there are not some fine episodes here as “White Tulip” was the highlight of this season. The show features some great actors and it’s a delightful sophomore year from the folks at Fringe.
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