X-Men First Class trailer surprisingly good
Friday, February 11, 2011 | Author: Mad Typist
I am forced to concede that the new trailer for X-men: First Class is pretty freaking great. While I'm often guilty of being a bit of a purist, in terms of wanting origin stories in movies to track as close as possible to the source material of the comic book, I must admit that a lot of the suggested plot threads in this trailer look awesome.

Two reasons I'm cautiously optimistic about this movie: one, it's directed by Matthew Vaughn, who did the movie adaptation of Kick-Ass, which was amazing. Vaughn has proven in interviews and in his work on Kick-Ass that he is someone who understands and respects comic books and their fans. So, that's a good sign. The second reason is that the script is based off of work by Bryan Singer, who did a masterful job with X-men 1 and 2, before Brett Ratner came along and screwed up the whole franchise.

In any case, here's the trailer. Marvel at how sexy Michael Fassbender looks.

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Fringe recap: Ep 3.11 "Reciprocity"`
Monday, January 31, 2011 | Author: Mad Typist

Two administrative points: One, while I've been calling Earth-2's Olivia "Alt-livia", the show has decided to dub her Fauxlivia (as in "fake" Olivia, which actually to me isn't exactly correct -she's a real Olivia, just not the Earth-1 version, versus a shapeshifter who would in fact be "fake", but whatever....). In any case, from here on out, I'll roll with the show and call Earth-2's Olivia Fauxlivia. Point two, if you haven't watched this week's Fringe, definitely don't read this recap, since *SPOILER ALERT* you will want to be surprised for the big twist. *SPOILER ALERT*

Now that you've been sufficiently warned....

On this week's Fringe, the Fringe team has finally cracked the encryption on Fauxlivia's hard drive, and it's a treasure trove of intel, with lists of contacts, location data, observations on the Earth-1 Fringe team and a diary of her nights of passion and betrayal (probably with "Mrs. Peter Bishop" scrawled all over the margins). Most importantly, the hard drive contains a list of all the shapeshifter agents in play on Earth-1, which is what drives the plot of the evening - someone has gotten access to that list, and is murdering them one by one.

But before we get back to that subplot, the show opens up with a night time scene at an isolated airplane hanger, which invokes memories of some great episodes from Fringe's spiritual predecessor The X-Files. Remember the giant Peter-powered Universe Destroying Device (PUDD) that was designed to possibly rip apart our dimension and kill every living thing? Yeah, well, Nina Sharp and the Massive Dynamic gang of merry scientists have re-assembled it and are running a series of tests on it. That seems like a great idea and I cannot imagine that anything could possibly go wrong with this scenario.

The Massive Dynamic scientists are frustrated that their attempts to provoke the PUDD have thus far produced nothing. However, the minute Peter walks near the device, his nose starts to bleed and the machine grumbles into life, making a whirring sound that sounds something like, "You look delicious, Peter Bishop. Get in me now. Nom nom nom." Everyone looks surprised and a little worried about this.

Meanwhile, Broyles has other concerns on his mind. Fauxlivia's files are apparently quite saucy in certain places, and Broyles is worried that it will upset both Olivia and Peter if they read what's in there. So, having no one else to really task with this, he's forced to bring Astrid up to the big leagues, where she will actually get to lead a task for once, versus her normal "helper" role (which seems to entail mostly passing Walter tools off the operating tray and fetching strawberry milkshakes). I'm happy that Jasika Nicole finally has something to do other than look bemused at John Noble.

In what should be a giant red flag for viewers who are paying attention, we see Peter creeping back into the house he shares with Walter, carrying a duffel bag. While the front door doesn't seem to wake Walter, the sounds of Peter making a sandwich do. It's sort of like when my cats are nowhere to be found, but the minute I even touch the can of cat food, they materialize seemingly out of thin air. Peter totally lies to Walter about where he's been (red flag #2), but does offer to make him a sandwich. I'd point out the role reversal here, with the way Walter asks, "Can I have one too?" like a child, but really, isn't that how it has always seemed with these two? Peter has always played the role of provider and comforter to Walter. Now he must once again take on the parent role and remind Walter of a valuable life lesson: that you can't always protect the ones you love and sometimes you just need to let people deal with things on their own. This is a small scene, but it's superbly acted.

In any case, dead shapeshifters start popping up, and Broyles suspects that someone is cleaning up before the FBI can use Fauxlivia's files to hunt down the remaining agents. The team quickly realizes that this all started once they put Fauxlivia's files on the FBI mainframe. For some reason they seemed surprised that they might have a mole. Um... didn't you deal with a shapeshifter posing as Charlie Francis for weeks, and then Fauxlivia herself running amok for several months? Why is this a surprise, exactly? And you think they would have put measures in place earlier than now to deal with potential double agents. Shapeshifters can easily be detected with a blood test (since they have mercury blood), and those key figures who are known to having living dopplegangers on Earth-2 simply need to have a safety word installed with trusted people. Jeez, Fringe team....

Olivia offers to help process Fauxlivia's files, even though she knows it may be difficult to read all the juicy details of Fauxlivia's romance with Peter. Peter explains that his problem with that plan isn't just about him wanting to spare her feelings. Rather, as a former con man, he knows exactly how someone like that likely respects (or rather, doesn't respect at all) the marks they are fooling. He's embarrassed and also can't stand Olivia seeing him in that light. Again, this is another small scene, but it's just so well done - it's nice to see characters actually talking about their problems in an honest way, versus the standard TV trope of leaving these kinds of things unsaid.

The investigation turns up more dead shapeshifters - including the lead Massive Dynamic scientist working on the PUDD (whoops!) - and the Fringe team deduces that a human mole must be involved in the killings, thanks to some DNA left behind at one of the crime scenes. Olivia finally realizes that she needs to man up and just read Fauxlivia's files already, because she has unique insight into the woman's brain that no one else has, and it's time to stop letting her girly romantic feelings derail this investigation. This perseverance pays off, not only because Fauxlivia describes Peter in the same way that Olivia would have (thus reminding her why she fell for him in the first place, and inching her closer back to him), but also because she is able to crack the code detailing who the next shapeshifter is on the list of seemingly random names. She and Astrid race off to find the next victim before he can be murdered.

They're too late, however, and it might be the best thing for everyone, because they barely miss the man's murderer - Peter Bishop. Dun dun dun! Both we the audience and Walter learned earlier that Peter was behind it all, but it's still pretty shocking to see Peter execute the man right in front of Walter. Peter coldly explains that he isn't doing anything wrong, since the shapeshifters are 1) soldiers, and therefore ready to die for their mission and 2) technically not human. Walter is horrified and his voice breaks as he points out to Peter that people who truly believe they aren't doing anything wrong don't tend to lie to their friends and families about what they're up to. The Bishops flee the crime scene just in time before Olivia and the rest of the team show up.

Later, Olivia debriefs the Bishops on the details of the case, which of course they already know. Walter makes all these crazy guilty faces at Peter, but luckily Olivia is used to Walter acting squirrely and doesn't seem to notice anything is amiss. It seems for now Walter is going to keep Peter's secret for him. After Olivia leaves, Walter tells Peter that he may know why Peter is acting so strangely lately. Much as the machine is affected by Peter, so too is Peter affected by the machine. In other words, the PUDD is turning Peter into a weapon. And weapons are really only good for one thing (and it isn't dispensing hugs). And with that ominous note, yet another Fringe episode comes to an end.

Well, this makes two great episodes in a row now for Fringe since returning from the break. The show has managed to both move Olivia and Peter closer together, by showing Olivia gradually thawing to Peter's advances, while at the same time adding new compelling (and most importantly, logical) reasons for them to be pushed apart. This latest revelation about Peter is just another lie that will probably come between them, so it'll be exciting to see where the show goes with this plot line. The idea that you cannot affect something without being affected by it in return is something the show has unintentionally shown in many forms already - we see how Fauxlivia has changed Peter, Olivia and all the other people she came in contact with, and the contents of her diary suggest that those same people had unintended affects on her as well (it seems she grew fond of both Bishops despite herself). The same can be said for all the character pairings on the show.

Summary: when writing up your mission logs, do your best not to sound like a giggly, love-struck seventh grader, because you never know who's going to read them.
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My Totally Random Oscar Picks
Monday, January 24, 2011 | Author: Mad Typist
Just for fun, here's my totally random guess at this year's Oscars.

** = will win
(j) = who I wish would win

Best Picture:
The Social Network **
Black Swan (j)
Inception
True Grit
The King's Speech
Toy Story 3
Winter's Bone
The Kids Are Alright
The Fighter
127 Hours

Best Actor:
Colin Firth **
Jeff Bridges
Jesse Eisenberg
James Franco
Paul Giamatti

Best Actress:
Natalie Portman ** (j)
Annette Bening
Jennifer Lawrence
Julianne Moore
Halle Berry

Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale **
Andrew Garfield
Geoffrey Rush
Jeremy Renner
Mark Ruffalo

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams
Mila Kunis
Melissa Leo **
Helena Bonham Carter
Hallie Stansfield (j)

Best Director:
Lisa Cholodenko
Darren Aronofsky (j)
Christopher Nolan
Tom Hooper
David Fincher **
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Fringe recap: Ep 3.10 "The Firefly"
Sunday, January 23, 2011 | Author: Mad Typist

When it was announced the Fringe was moving to Friday night, many had fretted that this was the first step toward eventual cancellation. Coupled with the fact that the show would be off the air for weeks due to the holidays, there was a good chance that many people would simply forget to tune in. So it was absolutely imperative that Fringe come out of the gate strong, both in terms of ratings and quality.

Well I'm happy to report that if the rest of the season is as strong as "The Firefly", there's a good chance the show will continue to retain both fans and critical acclaim. This week's episode features the return of our favorite bald albino non-human, The Observer, as well as a great guest spot from Christopher "Doc Brown" Lloyd, who takes over the mantle of "wackiest dude in the room" from John Noble for this week.

The "previously on" sequence reminds us that even before the Earth-2 myth arc really started taking form, the show had a rich backstory built up around the mysterious Observers, a race of pale bald possibly-aliens who have a knack for showing up just as Pattern events or other major catastrophes are about to occur. More importantly, the main Observer (first name apparently "The") has a history with the Bishops boys, saving Peter and Walter's life when they fell through the ice after returning from Earth-2. By doing so, The Observer played a part in altering the future and was warned by his fellow Observers that he would have to help correct the balance he threw off when he saved Walter and Peter.

The show opens at an old folks' home, where one Roscoe Joyce, former rock and roll star, is wandering the halls at night. The on-duty nurse watches on the monitors, and spots Roscoe chatting with a young man who has appeared out of nowhere. When the nurse catches up to Roscoe, he tells her that he was chatting with his son Bobby. Only one problem: Bobby died in 1985 (probably in a tragic accident involving Libyan terrorists). We quickly learn that Bobby was dispatched to speak to his father by The Observer.

Meanwhile, Walter is busy brewing up some kind of crazy potion in an attempt to restore the parts of his brain that William Bell removed. He tells Peter that he needs to be at the same mental capacity as Walternate, in order to truly determine what his counterpart is up to. Peter reminds Walter that he willingly underwent the partial lobotomy, precisely because he was afraid that he'd be more like Walternate - mad with power, willing to use his intellect for evil. Walter is too busy dancing around to "Ma-nah-ma-nah" and getting the drug-induced munchies to listen though.

While Peter and Walter's relationship is now good, things between Olivia and Peter remain awkward, particularly since Olivia has just received a gift in the mail that Peter intended for Alt-livia. There's no time to dwell on this punch to the gut though, since Olivia and the team have to deal with the Roscoe Joyce situation.

Walter and Roscoe have an instant connection. Not only is Walter a Roscoe Joyce superfan, but both men know the pain of losing a son prematurely, as well as the joy at getting an unexpected second chance to see that son again. Their connection goes even deeper than that, but more on that later. Walter takes advantage of the situation to have some more one-on-one time with his musical idol by requesting that he be able to take Roscoe back to the lab to try to help jar his memory loose.

The scene changes and we see The Observer foiling a robbery in process, as he single-handedly wrecks the robbers. He then saves the poor saleswoman who is bound and gagged and suffering from an asthma attack. You know, for a guy who goes by the name "The Observer" he sure gets involved a lot. Maybe we should change his name to The Participant. Just sayin'....

Walter attempts to help Roscoe remember his conversation with Bobby through the tried and true method of deep hypnosis. While that's going on, Peter attempts to explain the gift (a book, "If You See The Buddha On The Side Of The Road" by Sheldon Kopp) to Olivia. While he was inspired to purchase it after Alt-livia asked him what his favorite book was, the sentiment behind the gift - wanting her to understand him better - was always directed at the true Olivia, the woman he had spent two years with. It's all very sweet, but Olivia's all, "Yeah, I get the intention there, but it doesn't change the fact that you slept with my doppleganger and this book just reminds me of that, so... yeah, not really feelin' this gift right now." This incredibly awkward moment is broken up by Astrid, delivering the news that Roscoe's therapy is yielding results.

Roscoe jams out on the piano, as Walter looks on in delight. He's just about to spill the beans on what Bobby told him, when Olivia's phone rings loudly, interrupting the vibe of the moment. Olivia looks mortified as Walter glares at her, and excuses herself and Peter to go deal with the subject of the phone call: The Observer's latest hijinks. Luckily, after the Drama Twins leave the scene, Roscoe starts back up with his ramblings and reveals that Bobby told him that Roscoe would someday meet Walter Bishop and that he would help him somehow. Everyone is unclear what that means exactly. Fortunately, The Observer pops in to help clarify.

Walter and The Observer take a stroll around Harvard Yard. The Observer again reminds Walter how they altered the future when he stole Peter and then The Observer chose to save their lives. He then gives Walter a mini-lecture about the Butterfly Effect type of consequences - those that you cannot possibly predict, because they're based on such small, seemingly random things. In this case, the Butterfly Effect scenario he lays out for Walter begins with a firefly (titular reference!) that Peter captured, thus denying another child the chance to capture that same firefly, which then leads to a convulted series of events that culminates with the girl's father losing control of his truck and killing a pedestrian in Harvard Yard. Viewers even half awake at this time can guess exactly where this one is going. In any case, The Observer leaves Walter with a final cryptic instruction to "Give him the keys and save the girl." Walter is hysterical at this point, as he suspects that following that instruction will somehow lead to him losing Peter.

Meanwhile, if you guessed that the pedestrian killed in the scenario just described was Bobby Joyce, son of Roscoe, then give yourself a gold star. Walter is devastated as he listens to Roscoe describe how the death of his son destroyed him and lead directly to the breakup of the band that Walter so loved. And so we see that the help Roscoe is intended to provide is not one of action, but rather illustration: a concrete example of the unforeseen consequences of Walter's actions in 1985.

The Observer sets the final part of his plan in motion, as he chats with a fellow Observer about whether Walter has changed. The entire series of events that occurs during this episode is all an elaborate test to see if Walter is still the same man who carelessly changed the fate of two universes. It's unclear who is betting on which outcome here.

It's a little complicated, so I'll cut to the chase here: The Observer intentionally crashes into the police car carrying the woman from the robbery in Act 1, leading all the major players to converge on the scene, where Walter is forced to decide whether he will obey The Observer and turn over his car keys to Peter so he can chase after The Observer while Walter works to save the girl's life. Walter is near tears as he realizes that somehow he's being forced to choose whether or not to fight fate with regards to Peter's life. He finally gives in, and hands over the keys.

Peter and Olivia chase The Observer down, and while it seems for a moment that The Observer may have shot Peter to death, it turns out that Peter is only bruised from the magical airgun blast. Walter is relieved, but confused, at what exactly the purpose of the whole encounter was. And he's right - the test isn't over quite yet. It turns out that the whole point of the exercise was to set up the scenario where Peter, feeling the pain from his injury, takes an aspirin and washes it down with the most handy liquid available to him - in this case, a bottle of milk laced with one of Walter's latest concoctions that he carelessly left in the lab fridge because he was distracted by dealing with Roscoe. Peter nearly dies, though Olivia is on hand to help save him.

Later, as Walter tends to Peter, he realizes that if he had drank the milk as planned he would have died. So, in a way, The Observer saved his life AND illustrated yet again the moral of the story: that you can't predict every single future consequence of your actions, no matter how hard you try. As the episode ends, we see The Observer and the other Observer from before, discussing how Walter HAS changed, because he was willing to take a chance at sacrificing Peter's life. It's all very ominous, for it seems that the endgame the Observers have in mind involves Peter's death somehow.

This was just a great episode that really expanded on themes laid out in other episodes this season. The idea that the universe has a balance echoes in the way that Walter selfishly saved his son, causing another to lose his son - one way or the other, the universe was taking a son away from a brilliant man. It was like Walter simply transferred his pain to another. This episode also echoes back to Episode 3.3 "The Plateau" which also touched on the way that unrelated events can come together in unexpected ways to change people's lives. There's also the notion of sacrifice - whether Walter would be willing to let Peter go in the interest of what we can only hope is the greater good.

It also bears note that The Observer was literally willing to kill Walter if he didn't follow through on his instructions, since he set up a situation where Walter would have ended up drinking the poisoned milk himself if he failed The Observer's test.

Finally, the Peter and Olivia exchange has another purpose, other than slowly moving them back into each other's romantic orbits. The book Peter loves stresses finding the answers within versus from other people, and it also stresses ideas such as accepting that sometimes the only way to have things is to let them go, that you can't control anything, that the universe is random and only has meaning based on what you bring to it. These are obviously major themes the show has explored, given poignant form in the stories of both the Joyce and Bishop families.

The moral imparted here is that you can't fight fate, that on some level you need to accept what the universe has in store for you, because you can't see all the things that come out of your current moment of unhappiness. If you were religious, you might say this has a lot in common with the oft-repeated notion that God has a plan for everyone, even if it isn't obvious. But even if you're not religious, there's a certain zen to the message the show puts forth here. Good meaty stuff to chew on, complimented perfectly by the writing and performance this week. Bravo and welcome back, show.

Summary: When bald time-traveling aliens come dispensing advice, it's best to listen.
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Fringe recap: Ep 3.9 "Marionette"
Thursday, December 09, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body... I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. - Victor Frankenstein
This episode of Fringe was literally a monster-of-the-week episode, as it explored a topic well covered in such classic works as Frankenstein and Re-Animator: a mad scientist attempting to bring a dead body back to life. However the episode also touched on a more interesting theme - the idea that sometimes things can never be the way they used to be, no matter how much we might wish it so. This applies not only to the dead ballerina that the main villain is attempting to revive, but also to Olivia's old life, which has been irrevocably tainted by Alt-livia's actions on Earth-1. Alt-livia's violation of Olivia was pretty complete - there's no place in Olivia's life that isn't tainted by her: Alt-livia's icky body sweat is all over her apartment, she's forever lost the chance to be a giddy new couple with Peter, and even work sucks because everyone knows her shame.

In any case, hearts are stolen, eyeballs are scooped, the dead rise and Walter makes me laugh about a dozen times - in other words, this was a vintage Fringe episode.

The show opens as we see our first unfortunate victim departing a train. A creepy looking guy in a suit follows him, and uses the old Soviet assassin method of applying a sedative or poison by using a hidden injector in the end of an umbrella. Shortly after the victim gets home the poison kicks in and knocks him out. The man wakes back up and discovers he's accidentally wandered onto the set of one of Dexter's kill rooms - he's strapped to a table with plastic wrap and Creepy Guy is hovering over him with a huge needle. I'm going to warn you now: the gore factor is pretty high in this episode, and it starts right here as Creepy Guy stabs the victim in the neck (aieeee!) and then goes about cutting his heart out and leaving him alive with a rib spreader still left propping open his now empty chest cavity (double aieeee!). At least Creepy Guy was courteous enough to call 9-1-1 before he left, so someone can come find the poor guy.

Walter and Peter prepare to drive to the crime scene, but the elder Bishop is distracted by his new favorite topic: namely, the accidental boning of the wrong Olivia by Peter. Walter urges Peter to tell Olivia the truth about his relationship with Alt-livia. There's a touching moment where Walter sadly reminds Peter that his son knows all too well how emotionally devastating some secrets can be. Peter agrees with his father and assures him that he'll tell Olivia as soon as possible. I must say, the Bishop men have a great easy chemistry here, and it really does seem like this new situation has helped bring them closer together.

Of course, when Peter promised to tell Olivia "soon", he really meant "in 3 to 4 weeks when she comes back from leave," so clearly he's a little uncomfortable when she rolls on up with Broyles to the crime scene. Awkward! Luckily, there's organ theft afoot to investigate, so Peter is able to delay that conversation for now.

I was going to make the tin man joke here as they discuss the victim's empty chest cavity, but Walter beats me to it. Walter is excited when he hears the report that the victim was alive for some time even after his heart had been removed.

Because the chest is nice and open and really lets the light in, the team is easily able to note that the man had recently been a heart transplant recipient, so it's off with Peter and Olivia to see the transplant doctor. While they're waiting for the doctor to see them, Peter and Olivia have The Talk. Here's how it goes:
Peter: "Yeah, so I kind of noticed that Alt-livia smiled more and was less uptight than you, but I just wrote it off as part of our new relationship. Also, she was totally more fun than you, so... yeah, didn't really want to dig too deep into those weird ticks I noticed about her."

Olivia: "By applying logic and facts, I can justify how no one realized I was gone, not even you. IN NO WAY DOES THIS BOTHER ME bwahahahahaha... *sob*"
I may be paraphrasing a bit, but you get the general idea. Olivia lies (badly) and tells Peter that she understands completely and it's no big deal. Peter continues his campaign of self-denial and seems to drop the issue for now.

The investigation presses on, so the awkward conversation will have to wait till the third act of the show. The team quickly realizes that several other victims have had their organs stolen in the same fashion and more importantly, all the stolen organs came from the same victim - a 17-year old ballerina named Amanda. After talking to Amanda's mother, they learn that Amanda was clinically depressed and despite trying everything from medication to various depression group meetings, she still ended up committing suicide.

Awkward advertisement of the night: Peter stepping out to take Astrid's call. Hello product placement! Did you know that you can do video chat with your fancy sprint phone? Because you totally can. Witness Astrid's giant head fill the screen, as an inset of Peter hides in her afro. Don't you wish you had a fancy Sprint

Totally awesome advertisement of the night: the decision to place an advertisement for the new Natalie Portman film Black Swan in the middle of this episode. Creepy ballerinas - they're the new black!

The team realizes that there's one more organ recipient still left out there but they get to him too late. In a scene I can never unsee (no pun intended), the guy turns and we see that his eyes were nailed open and then scooped out. Arrrgh. If there's one thing that gives me the willies, it's violence done to eyeballs.

If you thought that was unsettling, you'll love the next scene, where we see that Creepy Guy (nee Roland Barrett) has stitched Amanda's body back together and strapped her into this creepy and horrific contraption that allows him to make her limp body dance. Roland weeps as my skin crawls at the whole macabre sight.

Peter sorts through the files on the various groups Amanda attended, somewhat coldly remarking, "You'd think someone working that hard at being okay would get some pay off." Olivia looks upset at the comment, as she's spent an earlier scene weeping in her apartment as she hysterically stripped the sheets off her bed and attempted to wash Alt-livia's stank off of them, only to find Peter's clothes in her washing machine. Peter, of course, misses this reaction. Jesus, read the room, Peter!

Peter then fails to react to Olivia's passive aggressive observation that whoever is out there fighting to give Amanda back her life clearly loves her. This is really the crux of Olivia's grief here - the realization that while she was trapped on the other side, Peter wasn't fighting for her at all, he was just giving in to the easy manipulations of her doppleganger. Compare that to Roland Barrett, who the team discovers in the roster of one of the depression groups Amanda belonged to and who fits "I love you enough to re-animate you!" profile to a tee. The team takes off to go find Roland.

Roland revives Amanda, but she's not exactly brimming with gratitude for her savior. Mostly she just drools and rolls her eyes crazily around. Roland is upset that the meat puppet formerly known as Amanda isn't what he expected her to be, but he doesn't have a lot of time to do much about it, since the Fringe team picks that moment to break into his house.

After a tussle, Olivia captures Roland, who grieves because even though all the pieces are in place, it's not Amanda, just a shell that looks like her. His statement "I looked into her eyes and I knew it wasn't her" really hits home for Olivia.

This comment sets the stage for Olivia's final confrontation with Peter as they close out the crime scene. Olivia weeps and tells Peter that while logically she knows that Alt-livia was trained to replace her, she still can't forgive him for not realizing that it wasn't her. And really - Alt-livia was pretty much the world's worst liar, so there's so merit to Olivia's grievance here. Still, there's a world of difference between Roland realizing that a floppy, brain-damaged, franken-version of Amanda isn't the same person, and Peter's inability to realize the the sexy and fun identical twin of Olivia isn't actually her. In that sense, Olivia is being a bit unfair with the apples and oranges comparison, but it is what it is, and Olivia can't let it go. And so, before Peter and Olivia's relationship can even truly begin, it's over, because Olivia doesn't want him anymore. It's all very sad and emotional. Anna Torv just knocks this scene out of the park.

The episode ends on a high note, as we see that our favorite baldy The Observer is back. Yay! Looks like the Observers will be playing a larger part in the upcoming episodes, as he watches Walter Bishop from afar and reports on him. Unfortunately, it seems we'll have to wait to see where this new plot takes us, as there are no more new Fringe episodes until January 21st, when the juggernaut that is American Idol steals the Thursday time slot and pushes Fringe into the Friday night slot (a.k.a. "the slot that killed Firefly", a.k.a. the "oh god the show's gonna get cancelled slot!").

While I enjoyed the last eight weeks of alternate universe hijinks, this week's episode reminded me of what I had been missing from the earlier seasons. Alt-livia/Olivia were always the focal points by necessity in the first eight episodes, but that ended up drawing away attention from characters like Walter who had more of a background role than I would have liked. This week he was back in rare form and I felt like his scenes with Peter had a nice flow that was lacking up till now. It's nice to know we'll be back with our good old regular Earth-1 team for the foreseeable future. Overall, this week was really well done - very effectively creepy, well directed and plotted with just the right about of gore to make you jump.

Summary: if you're going to steal an organ from me while I'm still conscious, just please don't let it be my eyeballs.

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I don't think you get the point here, Josh Duhamel
Monday, December 06, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
If you hadn't heard, the actor Josh Duhamel was recently kicked off a flight after refusing at least 3 requests from flight attendants to turn off his Blackberry. Duhamel ignored them and continued texting, until they ended up turning the plane around and escorting him off.

In a bit of follow up, here's a headline from a Today show article, which reads: "Josh Duhamel says 'lesson learned' after being kicked off flight".

The article blurb goes on:
Josh Duhamel is humble about a Dec. 2 incident on a flight bound for Kentucky, which resulted in him being escorted off the plane after he refused to power down his BlackBerry. "I learned that it's best to always turn them off," Duhamel said from a benefit for The Trevor Project in Los Angeles.
See, that's funny. I thought the lesson learned would have been: "Don't be a giant dick and/or act like an entitled celebrity jerkwad."

Oh, Mr. Fergie... I used to love you on All My Children, but this whole thing is very disappointing.
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Fringe Recap: Ep 3.8 "Entrada"
Thursday, December 02, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

Welcome to the purple episode of Fringe where blue and red universes finally collide.

There have been 50 episodes of Fringe aired so far, and this one easily ranks in the top 5 that the show has done. Olivia and Alt-livia finally make their ways back to their respective universes, but both women will find things a bit changed since they last left. Olivia may eventually notice that Peter seems to already know his way around her bra clasp, meanwhile Alt-livia may find it a bit strange that her boss has just stopped coming to work for some reason.

The show opens right where we left off last time, with Peter receiving the tip-off that Olivia is still trapped over on Earth-2. Before the credits have even rolled, Peter has already gotten busy snooping on Alt-livia's laptop, tricked her into revealing herself, and gotten himself paralyzed as Alt-livia drops all pretenses and pulls a gun on him. I guess after teasing us for eight weeks with "When will Peter figure it out?" the show didn't want to waste anymore time with that. The Greek phrase Peter uses to trip Alt-livia up was the same one that Olivia blurted out to him when she returned from her first trip over to Earth-2 at the beginning of season two, and alert fans will recall that for Peter and his mother the phrase was a code meaning roughly "Keep the people you love close." It's brilliantly appropriate in this situation.

We flip flop back over to Earth-2, where it sucks to be Olivia. Brandon the lab geek and Walternate discuss the fact that Alt-livia is ready to come home. Walternate suggests that they simply swap two things of equal mass - in this case, Olivia and Alt-livia. Remember in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones swapped out the golden idol for a bag of sand that weighed the same amount? Well, Brandon would like to do that, except in this case he'd like to put bags of sand where Olivia's brain and other vital organs are, and send her body back over. Creepy! This just goes to show you - if you let the nerds rise up they will just turn and murder us all so they can study our innards. That's why I try to wedgie a nerd at least once a week. In any case, the proverbial gun in Act 1 isn't the actual gun that Alt-livia pulls on Peter, but the factoid about swapping things of equal mass, so keep that in mind when we get to Act 3.

Over on Earth-1, the Fringe team races to catch Alt-livia before she crosses back over. Along the way they discover the typewriter repair shop that houses the Selectric 251 typewriter, as well as a charming little pastry shop in the Bronx. Peter is clearly mortified about the whole situation, and Walter doesn't help things by blabbering to everyone about how Alt-livia has tricked Peter with her wicked carnal manipulations and her "vagenda". There's one particularly funny part when Walter mournfully regards his fried dough treat and laments that Alt-livia tricked him as well by appealing to his stomach. Ah well, the Bishops shouldn't beat themselves up too much - Alt-livia's cookie, both literal and metaphorical, is too hard to resist.

Meanwhile on Earth-2, Broyles weighs his long-held belief that Earth-1 people are all evil monsters who want to destroy his universe with the fact that he totally owes Olivia for saving his family from the Candyman. Eventually, Olivia's pathetic pleas for help, along with a gentle push from his wife and a semi-heavy handed comment from a bartender about Earth-2 needing heroes, inspires Broyles to help. They escape just in the nick of time before Brandon can begin carving her up like a Thanksgiving turkey.

At this point, the episode really picks up steam, as the Fringe team closes in on Alt-livia at Penn Station in Newark, just as Broyles is driving Olivia to Walternate's old lab at Harvard. Luckily even though there's a huge block of amber just outside and the lab is clearly closed for business, Olivia can still refill the sensory deprivation tank, because apparently on Earth-2 people just leave big bags of rock salt lying around and the water turned on in abandoned buildings. Olivia manages to jump back over just before the Earth-2 authorities bust in and capture Broyles.

Cornered in the station by the cops and Fringe division, Alt-livia attempts to escape by taking a hostage, but Peter outsmarts her this round by correctly figuring out that the terrified woman in her arms is actually a shape shifter ally. Captured, Alt-livia tries once more to apply her feminine wiles to Peter by implying that while she initially may have slept with him as part of her normal business she eventually developed feelings for him. Peter doesn't buy it, though he later discovers that Alt-livia had packed a strip of photos of the two of them to take back to Earth-2 with her. Peter makes this sad face and I think we're supposed to interpret this as a sign that Alt-livia really did care for him on some level. I personally think it's just as likely that she was taking the photos as some sort of weird serial killer-esque memento of her time of mayhem, murder and sex on Earth-1, but who knows?

This victory is short-lived, however, since the shape shifter managed to inject Alt-livia with the harmonic implants needed to vibrate her horrible lying face back over to Earth-2. If you were wondering how Walternate was going to take Broyles's betrayal, you're about to get your answer, as Alt-livia's scrawny self vibrates away back to Earth-2 and is replaced by an object of equal mass. How many Alt-livias it takes to fill up one Philip Broyles? The answer is: 1.25, as we see that Broyles is not only dead but missing a leg and part of his arm. Aw, R.I.P. Earth-2's Philip Broyles. We will miss you and your form-fitting black t-shirts.

Though it looks like we may be taking a break from Earth-2 for awhile, that's okay, since there's plenty of fallout on Earth-1 to deal with for the time being. However, there are still plenty of interesting tidbits at the end of the episode that I suspect we'll see again. First, there's the stolen piece of the Doomsday Vacuum that Alt-livia had sent to a mysterious new man before she jumped universes. Who is he, and what does he plan to do with the component? Second, there's the fact that the Earth-2 Fringe team has not been filled in on the fact that Walternate sanctioned the execution and postmortem mutilation of Broyles. Not even Alt-livia, who benefited the most from this decision, seems to know what happened. How will the team react if and when they find out about this betrayal of one of their own? Finally, which daytime talk show will Peter take Olivia on for the big "I slept with your doppleganger" reveal?

Summary: I suspect we haven't seen the last of Alt-livia's vagenda.
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