Fringe – Season 1


Olivia grieves for the partner she loved and thought she knew, but now knows as a traitor. Instead of the rather carefree, smiling woman we saw in the first half of the pilot, she’s more reserved and serious. And I’ve come to see her as the Mulder of this show, in that she will risk almost anything to save people who need to be saved, even if it requires doing something crazy that she might not survive (and of course she does survive). At the same time, she’s also starting to learn that being the female lead in a FOX show about the FBI investigating bizarre cases means that her character will suffer horrible tragedy after horrible tragedy. I wish she and Dana Scully could have drinks together and talk about all their traumas.

Strange, bald, eyebrowless men who wear suits and hats seem to have been appearing at historically significant events throughout history (at which point I was strongly reminded of Doctor Who) and just watching, leading those who are in the know (now including our Fringe team) to call them the Observers. Before, their appearances were rare, but now they seem to be showing up at all Pattern-related events, too. (In fact, Fringe has its own version of “Where’s Waldo?”, which is to try to spot at least one Observer in every episode. And early in the show’s run, they even showed up in other FOX shows, I’m told, which is pretty cool.) They also talk in strange cadences, say cryptic things, and have a fondness for spicy foods.

The ObserverWhat’s more, Walter calls the Observer we see most often (played by Michael Cerveris) his friend. They do know each other. Later Walter tells Peter that the man saved both of their lives by pulling them out of an icy lake, saving their lives. Oh, and incidentally, the Observers can say what you’re saying at the same time as you say it, or anticipate it and say it when you get too freaked out to actually talk in front of them. It’s kind of creepy, and pretty awesome.

A major recurring villain this season is David Robert Jones. He’s of German extraction, and he’s involved with this shady organization called ZFT. It turns out there’s a traitor in the FBI (yeah, a different one) who’s working with Jones. This man, Agent Loeb, is involved in a plot to kidnap Olivia. He wears a mask while he’s around her during her captivity, so she doesn’t know for a while. Several man strap her down and give her a spinal tap (oww!). Olivia is awesome, however, so she escapes, knocks everyone out, and even procures some evidence of what they were doing to her.

Meanwhile Jones teleports himself out of German prison, from where he has been orchestrating all this, using a device invented by none other than Walter Bishop.

Sanford HarrisAlso, around this time in the show, an incredibly irritating character named Sanford Harris is introduced. He’s an old friend of Broyles, and he’s some kind of Homeland Security bigwig who’s been tasked with doing a review of Fringe Division. If you’ve watched X-Files, you know that can’t be a good thing. He also was put away by Olivia for sexual harassment when she was a Marine Special Investigator, and now he’s had that charge dropped or something and he hates her. Basically, he is a first-class pompous jerk and an idiot and second-guesses everything the team does for the next several episodes. I loathe him and will do my best to mention him again only sparingly until his spectacular exit from the show.

So Harris tries to obstruct Olivia’s investigation of what happened to her, and he says he thinks she’s irresponsible, and blahblahblah I hate him. Instead of Olivia, Loeb himself is assigned to the case, but sooner than we as the audience dare hope, Olivia recognizes it was him back at the warehouse in which she was being held. She and Charlie set up a sting, but even after he’s caught, Loeb refuses to talk much. He just rambles about “what is written will come to pass” and she doesn’t know what she’s doing, and the kidnapping was actually supposed to help her.

We find out as the season progresses that there is evidence (some of it only in Olivia’s head, but still) that John Scott was actually a good guy, after all — he was part of a secret NSA operation trying to take down a bioweapons dealer. There’s not enough proof to change the FBI’s official view of him, since it was a black ops deal and no one can confirm, but it’s enough for Olivia to get closure. Her visions of him taper off at this point, too.

If you get the chance, you should watch episode 14, “Ability”. It is one of my very favorites. Jones comes out of the hiding he was forced to do because of what the teleportation did to his body, and what he wants is Olivia – specifically, to convince her that she’s special. In fact, he shows up at the Boston Federal Building to surrender himself, just so he can talk to her. During the process of dealing with this, Olivia finds out that ZFT is also the title of a manifesto, originally written in German and translating loosely to ‘destruction by advancement of technology’.

Peter uses one of his shady contacts to track down a copy of the manifesto. It’s your basic doomsday propaganda, stuff about how technology has already begun to destroy the world, but eventually there will be war that will truly usher in the apocalypse. It involves traveling between universes, and in fact this war will be between the universes. Only one world can Lightbox testsurvive.

Jones sends Olivia to pick up what turns out to be a box containing is a series of evaluations used to see if certain individuals have certain abilities. If Olivia completes the first evaluation successfully, Jones will tell her how to diffuse the bomb he has set to go off. The instructions are for the ‘recruit’ (that’s how the subjects are referred to) sit in front of a box with a bunch of tiny lightbulbs on a board, and turn off all the lights with his or her mind. Olivia, oddly enough, is pretty sure that’s a load of hooey, but she tries anyway. Nothing happens.

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