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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I will make you love Terriers if it's the last thing I do
Friday, November 19, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
Honestly people, what do I need to do to get you watching FX's excellent show Terriers? I've blogged about this show before, but I wanted to again remind you to tune in. The last few episodes of the show have been simply wonderful - Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James have an awesome chemistry and have proven adept at both comedy and drama. MRJ in particular simply killed his scene last week when he tearfully resolved the dramatic situation between Britt and Katie. Devastating and heartfelt.

Need more convincing? Check out Televisionary's excellent Open Letter to FX to Keep Terriers.

I'm also posting to pass along a recommendation: if you haven't caught up on the show and you can't hunt the episodes down online, you can read the Couch Baron's excellent recaps of the show. I've been a fan of his recapping work for some time, so I know he'll do a great job with this show.

For those of you who are already fans and want to know how you can help, compose an email to user@fxnetworks.com, make sure the Subject line says ‘Save Terriers’ in it, and let the network know how you feel about the show.
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Fringe Recap: Ep 3.7 "The Abducted"
Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

This week's episode was a real thriller - not only was the prime case supremely creepy and well done, but the episode ends on quite a cliffhanger, as Olivia's attempt to get back home to Earth-1 proves less than successful.

The main plot involves a serial kidnapper dubbed the Candyman. On Earth-1, the Candyman is a large black man played by Tony Todd in the movies (films that incidentally emotionally scarred me for life as a child). Here on Earth-2, the Candyman is a scary bald white guy who likes stealing children from their bedrooms at night so he can harvest the sweet youthful nectar stored up in their pituitary glands.

The show opens as the Candyman collects his latest victim, Max, age 9. It's like my worst childhood nightmare given form in this scene, as Max's mother assures him there's no monster in the closet, exits the room, and then the door suddenly swings shut to reveal the Candyman standing there in the darkness, clad in a creepy silver mask. Max only has time to gasp as he's whisked away into the night. My inner 9 year old weeps in terror.

We cut to the next morning. I suspected that cab driver Henry Higgins (Andre Royo) would be back to take part in Olivia's escape from Earth-2, so I'm pleased to see him return this episode. Welcome back, Henry! Olivia pops into his cab, all like, "Hey, remember that time I kidnapped you, made you lose a day's worth of fares and then threatened to murder your family? Good times! So, wanna grab breakfast?" Henry is apparently a very forgiving sort, because he agrees to hear her out. Over waffles and coffee, she explains that she needs his help to pilot a ship out to Liberty Island, where she plans to break into the DoD lab there. Henry doesn't like the idea, but offers to borrow his cousin's boat to help her out. Maybe he's just trying to spare another poor Earth-2 soul from being a victim of Olivia's never ending crime spree, since her original plan involved just stealing some random boat.

Apparently on Earth-2, business is booming for the Beeper King, as we see Olivia receive a page on her beeper instead of her fancy ear phone notifying her to head to Max's house. If you were wondering how they knew that the kidnapping was Fringe Division worthy, well the answer is they didn't. However, thanks to the Peter Bishop Act of 1991, all kidnapped child cases are treated as a Fringe Division case. In this instance, that pays off, as the team quickly determines that they recognize the pattern left behind. It seems Fringe Division has encountered the Candyman before.

We head back to Fringe HQ for more exposition about the case. The good news: all the previous victims were released after 48 hours. The bad news: they all came back with massive internal injuries and strange physical aliments such as cancer. Now the clock is ticking on poor Max. Olivia notes that each victim had the same injury at the base of their skull along the spine.

Broyles and Walternate discuss the case. Walternate looks really upset (for good reason) about the idea of a serial kidnapper on the loose that they are unable to stop. It turns out that Colonel Broyles and Walternate have a lot in common. Both men know what it's like to have a child abducted from their home. It seems that the Candyman abducted Christopher Broyles several years ago - a trauma that neither Christopher nor his father seem to have recovered from. Walternate offers Broyles a chance to beg off on leading the investigation, given his past history with the Candyman, but Broyles declines. He frets about being stuck with Olivia, versus Alt-livia who he actually trusts.

Eventually, Broyles will come to appreciate that Earth-1's Olivia, though not as fun as Alt-livia, is still a pretty awesome agent. But at first he refuses to soften up to her, especially once she pushes to interview Christopher about his abduction, since he's one of the two victims who recalls two captors (one young, one old) being present. Broyles doesn't respond well to this request.

Eventually, Olivia mostly puzzles out that the Candyman is stealing youth by draining the children's pituitary glands. Broyles finally relents to let her interview Christopher (thanks to some gentle prodding and a well timed beer from Mrs. Broyles). We learn a few interesting tidbits here: one, that Christopher is an Olivia fanboy, two, that he has cataracts, and three, he remembers a religious phrase uttered by the kidnapper. This phrase ultimately leads the team to a small church in Queens, where the man in charge, Reverend Marcus, helpfully turns over a list of congregants to them. The team breaks up to start canvassing the names on the list.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: a red headed female FBI agent enters the home of a squirrely looking white guy. She spots a clue that tips her off to his true identity, he gets all sweaty staring her down before retreating back into the hidden part of his lair. After a cat and mouse game through the dimly lit room, they fire upon each other at the same time. Her bullet hits home, while his misses and shatters a window in the background. A beam of light streams into the room. I swear, this scene was like an abbreviated version of the ending of the Silence of the Lambs. In any case, the Candyman (a.k.a. Wyatt Toomey) is dead, Max is recovered and Olivia is the conquering hero of the day. Hooray.

Lincoln invites Olivia to grab a celebratory beer after work but she's ready to go home. And by "home" she means "back to Earth-1". She heads off to meet Henry at the docks. Unfortunately, just as she's about to get in the boat, she comes to the sick realization that Toomey, an unskilled laborer, couldnt have been working alone. His mentor Reverend Marcus, a former doctor, was in cahoots with him - and oops, Broyles accidently mentioned to Marcus that his son could ID him. Now we're in a recreation of Red Dragon (a.k.a. Manhunter), where there's a blind person stalked, a child and wife of the lead investigator in danger, etc etc. I swear I'm not making this up, people. Olivia bails on her escape plan for the moment and calls Broyles, who rushes home just in time to save Christopher and shoot Reverend Marcus.

Olivia checks in with Colonel Broyles later at the hospital, where he expresses gratitude for what she did for him. Olivia then stops by to visit with Max (now I swear the show is just messing with me, since it looks like he has a stuffed version of Precious the poodle with him). Max tells Olivia that he remembers her shouting "FBI" when she came into the room to save him. Unfortunately the FBI doesn't exist on Earth-2 any more. Doubly unfortunate is that Broyles overhears all this. He calls Olivia out on the fact that she is conscious of the fact that she is not Alt-livia. However, given her actions in saving Christopher, he simply walks away and doesn't turn her in. Aw, it's nice to see that Broyles is cool no matter which Earth we're on.

The escape is back on, so Henry drops Olivia off at Liberty Island. It wouldn't be an episode of Fringe if Anna Torv weren't wet, so she dives off the boat and swims ashore. She breaks into the lab, preps the tank, injects herself and plunges in. She crosses over and for one glorious second thinks she's done it, before realizing to her horror that she's about to shift back. She manages to get a message to the rather surprised cleaning woman standing there, before she's pulled forcefully back across to Earth-2 and out of the tank by Walternate. Now we've come full circle to the first episode, with Olivia trapped once more, screaming and pleading with Walternate to let her go home. Dun dun!

While poor Olivia suffers yet again, horrible Alt-livia is warm and comfy back on Earth-1. She gets to snuggle in with Peter snuggle to watch Casablanca in bed. If Peter was suspicious before about Alt-livia (she incorrectly guesses that Casablanca stars Ronald Reagan and has a happy romantic ending), then he's 100% sure something is terribly wrong now, as he gets a call from the cleaning woman, who passes along Olivia's message that she's trapped over on Earth-2. His expression is one of horror as the full implication of that statement sinks in. Peter, you are literally Sleeping With the Enemy. Looks like Peter will be the next guest star on the "I banged my girlfriend's doppleganger by mistake" episode of Springer. Double dun dun!

Fringe continues it's strong season this week, as we take another huge step forward in the main storyline in both universes. Over in Earth-1, Peter now knows about the traitor in their midst - the question is, how will he deal with this news and will he take Alt-livia down before she puts a bullet in him? Meanwhile, things look dire for Olivia on Earth-2 - will she figure out how to tap her universe traversing powers on her own, or will she need her friends from Earth-1 to come across and save her? If Peter crosses back over to save Olivia, is he just playing into Walternate's hands? After all - you can't fire up your special universe-destroying vacuum without your giant human battery, right?

If you're like me, you're thrilled to find out what happens next. Tragically, here on Earth-1 we celebrate Thanksgiving next Thursday, so that means we have to wait two weeks to find out what happens next. Oh FOX - why won't you send me advanced screeners?!?!

Summary: On Earth-2, the lambs stopped screaming a long time ago. Do you see?
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NFL Week 10 breakdown
Monday, November 15, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
Okay, so I kind of dropped the ball on weeks 8 and 9, but here's my week 10 thoughts:

My totally random thoughts on hair. In the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah, the mighty Samson is stripped of his great strength after he allows Delilah to cut his hair. Now consider the once mighty Jared Allen: last year he tallied 14.5 sacks while sporting a magnificent mullet. In the offseason, he got married and as a concession to his bride, agreed to cut his mullet for their wedding. This season up to week 8 he had only 2 sacks. Coincidence?

Meanwhile, Tom Brady has steadfastly refused to cut his hair, despite the fact that everyone has ruthlessly mocked it. Even Justin Bieber has gotten in on the act. Again, the love of a woman comes into play, as Brady claims that his wife (the incredibly hot Giselle B√ľndchen) won't allow him to cut his flowing locks. Well, this season the Patriots are again on fire, despite having no-name receivers and no running game to speak of. Brady went berserk last night on both the sidelines AND the field, totaling up 350 yards and 3 TDs (while adding a fourth TD by rushing). Again, I ask you... coincidence, or a testament to the power of the hair?

Change is good. This week new Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett took the drastic measures of actually expecting players to hustle in practice and show up on time to meetings. *Gasp!* Well, the team actually seemed to respond, behaving like professional football players for an entire 60 minute game, shellacking the surprised NY Giants in the process. While Garrett deserves credit for motivating his team, I suspect that this was partially a matter of good timing/luck - the Giants always have one or two games like this where Eli plays poorly and the defense looks sloppy, and the Cowboys have one or two games that remind us that they are stacked with individual talent. In this case, both of those yearly occurences happened in the same game.

With the Cowboys having success replacing an ineffective head coach, you have to wonder what it's going to take to get Zygi Wilf to follow suit and fire head coach Brad Childress. There are countless reports that the players hate Childress, and they are now 3 games out of first place in the division, sitting at 3-6. Childress put all his proverbial eggs in the Brett Favre basket at the beginning of the year, sending 3 players down to Mississippi to literally beg him to come out of retirement (increasing his salary by a cool $3 mil as enticement). This decision is obviously not paying off - Favre has only thrown 10 TDs and has 16 INTs this season, and hasn't exactly been a model of a team player. While people got excited last week when Favre brought the team back for a thrilling win, they forgot to mention the most important fact about last week's game: their opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, really really really suck. That they needed a wild comeback against a lowly team like that sort of sums up their whole season.

It's fairly well known around the league that the Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is highly respected and will likely be a head coach very very soon somewhere in the league. It seems crazy that Wilf wouldn't insert him in at the head coach position. This is a change that makes sense. Another change that would make sense is benching Favre and letting Tarvaris Jackson show whether or not he's the answer at QB moving forward. This is a lost year for the Vikings anyway - better to start Jackson and find out if he's the guy or not than to wait till next season and then find out the hard way.

There are no dominant teams this year. But boy are there some exciting teams. This week the NY Jets won their second OT game in two weeks in thrilling fashion. The Cleveland Browns have been surprisingly fun to watch, especially with the poised Colt McCoy at the helm and Peyton Hillis running like a total beast this year. And you'll be hard pressed to find a more exciting play than the hail mary play by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders are starting to look like a team to watch - if they can beat the Steelers next week they'll have to enter the discussion for top 10 ranking as well. Lastly, the San Diego Chargers are exciting in both good ways (a dynamic offense with Philip Rivers playing absolutely out of his mind even with scrubs filling in at WR) and in bad ways (with a special teams unit completely willing to spice up the game by failing to block, well.... anyone).

Brother, can you spare a QB? So, the details of Donovan McNabb's new contract came out today, and boy howdy is that some crazy money. $40 million guaranteed over 5 years for a QB who just turned 34? Sounds insane, especially given the drama of last week where McNabb was benched for Rex Grossman. However, consider the state of available QBs around the league right now, and suddenly the deal doesn't look quite as insane. There aren't that many QBs worth starting in the league. Consider the plight of the Miami Dolphins who went from having two Chads that could start (Pennington and Henne) to having no Chads and only Tyler Thigpen left to play. When they went to sign new QBs to serve as backups the only options were Patrick Ramsey (who they signed), Chris Simms, Tom Brandstater and JaMarcus Russell - not exactly a murderers' row of gunslingers there. Meanwhile, Tennessee also has a MASH unit where their QB unit should be - both Kerry Collins and Vince Young are struggling with injuries, which means they're not really able to take advantage of newly acquired Randy Moss.

Studs of the week. A lot of people forget, but Troy Smith was going to be the starter for the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. In the final week of the pre-season, he got very sick and was out of commission. In the interim Joe Flacco came in to start and the rest is history. However, I'm glad to see Smith getting a second chance in San Francisco, where this week's performance (17/28, 354 yds, 1 TD) should help solidify his bid to keep the starting job. Roddy White and Andre Johnson have several things in common: both are low drama hard working players, and both had stellar weeks (White, 12 rec, 138 yds, 2 TDs; Johnson 9 rec, 146 yds, 1 TD). This week Tom Brady finally broke the 300 yard passing mark in a game this season, but his studliness was more about the fire and motivation he showed, both in his own performance and the way he inspired his team than mere stats (30/43, 350 yds, 3TDs, 1 rushing TD). Finally, Michael Vick... there are no words to describe the way he personally dismantled the Redskins DEF this week.

Duds of the week. Knock the ball DOWN, not sideways, Glover Quin. It's bad enough that you're kind of a douche, Jeff Reed, but your kicking is pretty poor this season too. Nick Folk also has a case of the yips this week, missing 3 FGs and making his team have to win the hard way in OT.

Teams I like this week. Obviously, you have to like the way the Denver Broncos AND the Philadelphia Eagles dropped the hammer on their divisional rivals this week. You also have to like the Buffalo Bills (but just a little bit) for finally winning their first game of the season and avoiding the dreaded 0-16 record. I also like the New England Patriots, who remind us that no matter who they have on the roster, they can find a way to win against any team. The Patriots are a team that is intimidated by no one. Finally, I love the Atlanta Falcons, who have quietly gone about earning the best record in the NFC. This is important, as they are just ridiculous at home. Matt Ryan is 18-1 lifetime at home. That is just insane.

Teams I don't like this week. I don't like the Minnesota Vikings and I think you know why. I also don't like the Detroit Lions this week - after starting the year with fire in their bellies, they've looked too soft and too much like the Lions of old in these past few weeks. Jim Schwartz has made some very questionable calls as a head coach as well. Finally, a big old hate goes out to the Washington Redskins, for utterly failing to show up on defense. Yes, the offense struggled a bit early, but the defense looked scared and frozen in place trying to stop Michael Vick.
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Fringe Recap: Ep 3.6 "6955 kHz"
Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

It's good to see Fringe return to form after last week's disappointing episode. Whereas last week suffered from its stand-alone "Monster of the Week" format, this week is chock full of continuity goodness as it ties together strands laid out over several previous episodes and gives the overall season arc a big kick forward.

We open back on Earth-1, where a group of ham radio enthusiasts - including a crusty lighthouse operator in Maine, a young Chinese man in New York City, and a blond folksy-looking mother in New Hampshire - eagerly IM about some kind of broadcast they've been waiting to come on. It's clear they're expecting the sequence of numbers that start rattling over the broadcast. It is equally clear that they weren't expecting the brain searing signal that accompanies it. There's much moaning and clutching of the head, before they snap out of it and find themselves suffering from what appears to be total memory loss.

Fun fact #1: the frequency they were tuned into - 6955 kHz - is one of the most popular frequencies for pirate radio broadcasts.

Anyway, we jump to the next morning, where Peter is busying serving Alt-livia breakfast in bed. It's unclear how much time has jumped since we first saw Alt-livia seduce Peter for the first time, but from their banter about the morning paper and their easy interactions, it's pretty clear they've done this sleepover business several times before. I wonder what kind of jelly a no-good murdering boyfriend-stealing doppleganger takes with her toast. Hmm. Peter continues his campaign for boyfriend of the year by presenting Alt-livia with tickets to see U2 in concert. As you'll recall from an earlier episode this season, Alt-livia may like Patsy Cline, but she has no idea who this Bono character is. Nevertheless, she feigns excitement.

The morning snuggle fest continues and I think I'm going to claw my eyes out at the indignity of it all, but luckily it's finally interrupted by two phone calls. The first involves Walter freaking out that Peter is working on Walternate's Peter-powered universe destroyer behind his back. Peter deflects Walter's concerns, but his morning is still ruined by the second call, as Broyles summons them to investigate the ham radio memory loss victims.

The team heads up to New Hampshire to investigate the blond woman. They get up to speed on the fact that the woman was part of a group that was working on decoding a signal from a "number station". They discover two important clues. The first is a recording she made of the signal. The second is a list of people in her group, one of whom is Edward Markham, who you may recall is the proprietor of the used book store where the first copy of the ZFT manifesto was introduced way back in season 1. Hooray, continuity!

Fun fact #2: Number stations are in fact a very real thing.

We jump to Nina Sharp's office at Massive Dynamic, where she provides more exposition about the number stations. Walter makes a lot of passive aggressive jabs at Peter about exploring technology without concern for consequences. In other news, the kettle would like you to know that the pot is black.

After Walter storms out and Peter chases after him, Alt-livia clumsily attempts to manipulate Nina into convincing Walter to relax about Peter working on the device. I can't say for sure that Nina Sharp knows something isn't right here, though she pretty much explicitly states, "Gee, this is highly out of character for you, Olivia, given that you and Walter are so close and all." Alt-livia makes crazy guilty faces at her in response.

Boy, this episode shifts locations like crazy. Before we can blink, we're with Broyles and Alt-livia as they head off to investigate the radio station that broadcasted the signal. Inside there's a surprise waiting for them: two dead bodies and one creepy ass floating silver box. They carefully disarm the box and discover a set of fingerprints on the outside. They ship the box off to Walter for more investigation.

Yet another jump, as we head back to the Harvard Lab, where Walter is using a wah-wah pedal to process the audio signal. He discovers that under the signal broadcasting the number, there's a pulse that is the cause of the amnesia. Peter wanders over and looks pleased, before realizing that Walter has taken advantage of the situation to dismantle Peter's work on Walternate's device. After some more fighting, Peter and Walter have a heart-to-heart of sorts. And by "heart-to-heart" I mean Peter talks while Walter just listens while he rolls a joint.

We finally meet the guilty party, one Joseph Feller (who you may recognize as Marshall from Alias). Joseph has creepy eyes (one blue, one black) and enjoys murder and electronics in his spare time. He's busy preparing another silver box for broadcast. We see him soldering a microchip onto a circuit board before he fires up the box.

Fun fact #3: the text on the chip is written in Polish and translates to "domain effect". Time domain effects have to do with copying a signal and then overlaying it with the original, but slightly out of phase.

If you have a fear of flying, you probably won't like what happens next, as a pilot accidentally hears the second broadcast and crashes the small plane he's piloting. Oops.

Back at the lab Walter is frustrated. Astrid gets more lines of dialogue than she has in the last 5 episodes combined, as she attempts to help him work through his mental block.

Meanwhile, Peter and Alt-livia visit Edward Markham at his bookstore. After finding out that his former ham radio friends were memory-wiped, he panics a little. He gives them a 19th century book about "The First People," an ancient race of people who allegedly pre-date the dinosaurs. He claims they are related to the source of the number station. Markham frets about being targeted for memory erasure himself.

As they drive home, Peter flips through the book and of course just as he's ready to declare it drivel, he spots an interesting diagram. Peter asks Alt-livia to recite the number sequence from the broadcast and Alt-livia breaks out in a cold sweat, since she isn't equipped with the photographic memory power of her counterpart. However, she manages to recall enough of them for Peter to match the pattern to one printed in the diagram.

Back at Harvard, Nina and Walter chillax on the quad, as they smoke pot and reminisce about their rebellious scientific days. Awesome. Nina tries to convince Walter to let Peter continue his research. Walter quite correctly infers that Walternate's plan involves getting Peter to fix the device himself. Nina urges him to have hope that even if that's what Walternate wants, it doesn't mean it will work out the way Walternate planned.

The team gets together back in the lab for some more mythology from the book of the First People. The book explains that the First People had some kind of technology that could create a super vacuum that held the power of both creation and destruction. So... a Dyson, then? As he tinkers with the silver box, Peter finds the soldered chip, realizes that it's military grade and therefore probably has a paper trail attached to it. He runs off to investigate. Alt-livia looks shifty and takes off abruptly as well.

Astrid stays behind and works on breaking the code with Walter. She identifies the key to breaking the code, and it involves some kind of matrix math. This is like my own personal mind-crushing signal, as I start having horrible flashbacks to the computer science class that almost destroyed me in college. No... more... matrices... ever!

It turns out that Alt-livia knows Joseph Feller, because while Olivia is stuck investigating random crimes in Earth-2, Alt-livia is of course wrapped up in every single nefarious plot going on over in Earth-1. Joseph foolishly trusts her, because he hasn't gotten the memo yet that Alt-livia's main hobbies involve sneaking around and betraying minions who work for her. Just as the Fringe team shows up with the cops, Alt-livia shoots him and throws him out the window. The pool of mercury around the body indicates that Feller was a shapeshifter, but Peter's attempts to salvage Feller's butt-brain module are for naught - it's trashed from the fall.

At the lab, left alone and forgotten by everyone as usual, Astrid toils away. Miraculously she has something to contribute this episode as she deciphers the code - the numbers stand for coordinates around the globe. The closest one is in New Jersey, so the team heads off to visit the land of Snookis and Situations.

As they wait for a crew to excavate whatever is buried at the site, Alt-livia prods Peter to admit that he would sacrifice Earth-2 in order to save his own universe. However, Peter refuses to play her reindeer games, insisting that there has to be a better solution than sacrificing billions of innocent lives, one that would save both universes. Alt-livia, looking like a gigantic selfish jerk for clearly preferring the "Screw 'em, save your own" solution, isn't happy about that answer.

Meanwhile, Astrid finishes breaking the code and realizes that the last location was Milton, MA, where the first part of Walternate's device was found. She calls Alt-livia to report that it seems that Walternate's Peter-powered universe destroyer and the First People's vacuum machine are one and the same. Alt-livia thanks her but doesn't exactly translate her exact message to the Bishops. Hmm... the fact that Astrid is finally dressing sharply, has oodles of dialogue and actually contributes to the plot scares me. Usually when a former background player gets suddenly featured on a show like this, it means they're being set up for something horrible to happen. It's like when poor Amber Benson finally got a spot in the show credits for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and then they killed her off that very episode. I bet dollars to donuts that Alt-livia will attempt to eliminate Astrid at some point in the near future.

Prior to that, though Alt-livia needs to check in with Earth-2. She returns to the Selectric 251 typewriter and reports back to Walternate that the next piece of the machine has been uncovered. Walternate instructs her to initiate phase 2. Man, even when he's not in the scene, Walternate gives me the willies - I credit John Noble's performance for that.

The episode surprisingly jumps back to Earth-2 for the final scene, where Olivia is in the shower. Boy, this show just keeps coming up with ways to get Anna Torv wet, doesn't it? Show producer: "Say, Anna, this next episode Olivia is going to investigate a series of mysterious murders at the local YMCA swimming pool. What size bikini do you wear?"

Olivia gets a call from Brandon, who informs her in the creepiest fashion possible that she won't need to report in for her dunk tank session anymore. She looks worried, and Petergeist pops up to stroke that fear some more, as he tells her that there's only one reason they'd cancel her sessions indefinitely: they've extracted whatever dirty scientific secrets they can from her and now she's become expendable. Petergeist urges her to escape and go back home to Earth-1 as fast as she can.

This episode was great on a lot of levels. The main mystery was sufficiently creepy, and would have worked even as a stand alone episode. There's now a strong sense of momentum, and by showing both universes you get the impression that we're finally driving towards the point where Olivia is going to return to Earth-1, where the plots will finally converge. The mythology behind the Peter-powered universe device just got a lot more interesting as well - who are the First People? Are they related to the Observers? Are they aliens, or visitors from a future timeline? Do all the other sites marked by the signal contain pieces of the device as well? There are a lot of clues doled out here, and I suspect that this will be an episode fans will want to revisit again.

Summary: when your ham radio signal starts to make your brain hurt, maybe you should take off the damn headphones and walk away.
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Fringe Recap: Ep 3.5 "Amber 31422"
Thursday, November 04, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

Welcome back to Fringe after that one week break. I'd say that I hope you enjoyed the World Series, but judging by the ratings, apparently most of you were watching something else. In that respect, Fringe has a lot in common with baseball. Anyway... for those of us who still loyally watch the show, we're back this week in Earth-2 with our Olivia.

The "previously on" reminds us that people trapped in the resin that Fringe Division uses to seal up cross-dimensional breaches (substance Amber 31422) have been declared legally dead by the courts in Earth-2. We quickly find out that isn't true, however, as the show opens at a quarantine zone in Brooklyn, where two men free one of the people trapped in amber and successfully revive him. Not so successful, however, is their escape plan, as one of the men (the one who isn't an identical twin to the trapped man) ends up getting trapped behind as the zone reseals with amber almost immediately. The twins (who you might recognize as real life twin brothers Aaron and Shawn Ashmore of X-men and Smallville fame) run off into the night.

Agent Lincoln Lee is back again and finally healed up from his burn. He, Charlie and Olivia are dispatched to investigate the breach at the quarantine zone. There's some exposition about various events that required quarantine (including video footage of an impressive black hole in the middle of the Central Park lake). The Fringe team quickly realizes that they're dealing with more than just someone trying to steal money or jewelry out of the amber and head off with the face imprint left behind in a chunk of amber.

Meanwhile, Walternate meets Broyles in a bar and discusses the situation. Walternate admits that he is well aware that the people in the amber are alive. Broyles is shocked but, ever the good soldier, accepts Walternate's assertion that freeing the people from quarantine would cause the amber to destabilize. Walternate gives this hilarious "I intend to restore balance to our world" speech that couldn't have been more Emperor Palapatine-ish if he had pulled the hood of his robe up and screamed "Unlimited powerrrrrrr!"

For a such a world-shattering secret, they seem awfully comfortable just chatting about it in public spaces. Later Broyles just strolls up to the team when they return to HQ and tells them about the amber victims still being alive, even though they're in the middle of a crowded room. I mean, I realize that people working in the building probably have clearances, but still... if your trusted agents weren't even supposed to know, then the random lab techs strolling around probably don't need to know that stuff either.

As the tale of two brothers proceeds, we learn that one of the twins, Joshua Rose, was a bank robber who used some kind of Fringe-esque technology that caused rifts to open each time he used it. The technology described is a rather clever call back to season 1, episode 10 ("Safe"), which featured a similar device used to rob banks as well. In any case, eventually Joshua got caught up in the quarantine zone at his final crime scene.

At least that's how it seemed, but in a surprising twist we learn that it was really Matthew, the good twin, who ended up trapped after showing up at the crime scene to try and stop his felonious brother. Joshua assumed his twin's identity while he worked on getting him out. The resolution of the story proceeds as expected - Fringe team gets closer to discovering the truth and eventually Joshua sacrifices himself by intentionally provoking another quarantine zone so that Matthew can remain free on the outside. It's a fairly pedestrian plot by itself, and the show has certainly given more interesting Monster of the Week stories in the past. It felt like a lot of effort just to be able to cast some rather obvious good twin/bad twin parallels between the brothers and Alt-livia/Olivia. I felt like this story should have had more emotional impact, especially with the reveal that the victims inside the amber are aware and experiencing their last thought on a never-ending loop. But this plot just fell flat for some reason.

What redeems the episode really is the B plot, where Walternate is busy putting phase 3 of his evil plan into place, as he sweet talks Olivia into participating in a series of tests that will help unlock her cross-universe traveling abilities. Olivia agrees, but the minute she's alone, we see that Peter is still haunting Olivia like some kind of wacky sarcastic ghost. Petergeist articulates the doubts Olivia is feeling about her own sense of identity and pushes her to accept that she's not really Earth-2's Alt-livia. She shuts him up by taking a heavy dose of medication.

Olivia is finally ready for the tests to begin. We see that the Tank is back, but a lot nicer looking than the old metal version. Not to keep calling back to Star Wars, but it looks a lot like the tank they put Luke in after he got frostbite on Hoth. In any case, instead of a practical outfit, such as a bathing suit or wetsuit, Olivia is dumped into the water wearing a sheer white dress for some reason. After 4 hours they haven't accomplished anything other than turning Olivia into a giant prune. Eventually Walternate gets impatient orders what sounds like a LOT of psychotropic drugs pushed. It does the trick, as Olivia jumps over to Earth-1, landing in a gift shop somewhere in NYC. She inadvertently gets a cute little boy in trouble after she jumps back, just in time for his mother to find him standing next to the snow globe Olivia shattered.

After Olivia visits Matthew to let him know that she knows his secret, and then assures him that the case is closed, Petergeist pops back up to whisper in her ear again that the reason she let Matthew go is that she sympathized with him. Petergeist rattles off a bunch of facts about Earth-1 that Alt-livia couldn't possibly know, prompting Olivia to rush back to the lab to demand to be put back into the Tank. This is a nice shoutout to Season 1 Olivia, who did the same thing when she was searching for answers about John Scott. This time, she's going in to try and save herself.

Brandon the lab nerd is there and notes that some kind of artificial chemical in her brain activates as she attempts to jump. This is very likely Cortexiphan. Olivia jumps back to the gift shop and confirms what Petergeist has been whispering in her ear - that the Twin Towers collapsed in Earth-1, that her niece Ella is still alive and is celebrating her 7th birthday. When she slips back to Earth-2, Olivia falsely reports to Walternate that she didn't successfully jump over. Because Olivia is just a terrible liar, though, we can also see that Walternate doesn't really buy that at all.

So, now the stage is set for the next few Earth-2 episodes: will Olivia find a way to activate her latent abilities on her own before Walternate gets impatient and decides to crack her head open to get at the sweet, sweet Cortexiphan juice inside? Will the sexy specter of Petergeist push Olivia closer to the truth or drive her deeper into what looks like a growing drug addiction?

While I enjoyed the story this week, I can't help but wish that the Earth-2 stories were more focused on the season long arc of Olivia returning home, and less about random one-off Fringe stories of the week. I would have enjoyed this more if they had spent the entire episode just on the B plot. We don't get enough time with Walternate, who could be a much more compelling character if we were allowed to see more of what makes him tick. John Noble is such a tremendous actor - he's able to imbue Walternate with this incredible sense of lurking malevolence - that I really wish he got more screen time to show off his stuff.

Similarly, I feel like we're spending a lot of our time spinning our wheels with characters that you know aren't going to be around much longer - can you really care much about what Charlie or Lincoln are thinking or feeling when you know that eventually the show will have to abandon Earth-2 and merge Olivia back into the Earth-1 plot?

One final observation: if Earth-2 technology is capable of opening rifts, then is it possible that several (if not all) of the events suffered around Earth-2 might not be random, but rather linked to someone using Fringe technology? It bears noting that Walternate states that the first time they used the amber, it was at Harvard Yard. And we all know that a certain mad scientist had a lab there in both realities. It's not much of a stretch to think that Walternate might have caused that particular rift himself while trying to open his own portal to Earth-1.

Summary: If you and your twin brother find yourself trapped in a Cain and Abel type scenario, it pays to know which twin you're supposed to be.
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NFL Week 8 breakdown is coming
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist


For those of you who read this blog and actually enjoy my football musings, don't panic... I plan to recap this week's action. However, this week, the Walking Dead recap was the priority, so the Week 8 breakdown will be a day late. Lo0k for it later today.

Also, post here in the comments so I know you're actually reading these NFL breakdowns. I want to know if it's worth my time to do them.
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The Walking Dead Recap: Ep 1.1 "Days Gone By"
Sunday, October 31, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
Zombie stories are almost never about the monsters themselves, when you get to the heart of it. Zombies have no personalities, no real reason or motivation for what they do (save for a love for tasty, tasty brains). What they provide is a framework to see how regular people respond to a specific set of parameters: a high-danger, post apocalyptic world, where your loved ones can turn on you at the drop of a hat. Zombies aren't the villains of these types of stories - WE are, because we're forced to do horrible things to each other in order to survive. You can rationalize all you want, but it's still a terrible thing for a character to be forced to shoot his wife between the eyes, while their son cowers and cries in another room.

The reason you see so many zombie stories out there is because they provide a framework to tell a multitude of stories. I'm not tired of zombies yet, because I think there's still a lot of new and interesting ways to examine those stories. That's why it's a bit disappointing to see the pilot episode of The Walking Dead repeat a lot of tropes we've already seen many times before.

Pilot episodes are burdened with having to set up the universe and establish the main characters. Still, I'm not convinced that The Walking Dead needed to take 90 whole minutes to set up what should be fairly familiar to audiences. Sheriff deputy Rick Grimes was already having a no-good, very bad day. His partner Shane is an idiot whose views on women begin and end at the sentiment, "Bitch, are you too stupid to turn off a light bulb?" He's having marital troubles with his wife Lori. Then to top it all off, he gets himself shot, because apparently in Georgia, engaging in idle chatter with your partner is a priority over clearing the crime scene. He then wakes up in a hospital some indeterminate amount of time later (a la 28 Days Later) and quickly finds out that a zombie apocalypse has occurred while he was sleeping. I say "quickly" but really, it's 30 minutes into the 90-min episode before Rick actually figures out that the shambling, rotting things in the street are zombies.

Look, just because certain shows on AMC are slow and methodical, doesn't mean ALL the shows have to follow that model. I think the show could have benefited from getting to the action a little faster. Did we really need a sequence where Rick's saviors - a man and his young son - dance around the issue with Rick for at least 5-10 minutes, with lots of nonsensical yelling and using ambiguous terms like "walkers"? In the original graphic novel, this bit of exposition is wrapped up in just 6 panels, with the actual explanation happening "off screen." Zombies are a well-covered topic in American pop culture, so I'm pretty sure that no one would have a problem with a character going, "Oh, didn't you know? There was totally a zombie outbreak and now the world has gone to hell. Don't forget to shoot them in the head, which you should probably already know, since this has been covered dozens of times over the past 20 some years of cinema."

However, despite these quibbles, there's plenty to like in this episode as well. There are some lovely sequences, such as when Rick returns to find the female zombie he first encountered after leaving the hospital. Andrew Lincoln does great work here showing the compassion and sorrow in Rick's face, as he commits an act of mercy by putting down the pathetic creature, who has been reduced to an emaciated torso and head only. Another gorgeous shot involves Rick literally riding into Atlanta on horseback, a duffel bag bursting with rifles and shotguns strapped to his back, his deputy's hat fixed firmly on his head.

In addition, the last third of the episode introduces some nuggets that are interesting enough to pique interest for where the story is going to go. The most immediate and terrifying plot point involves Rick trapped inside an abandoned tank in downtown Atlanta, with zombies literally swarming over the tank and feasting outside on the remains of his poor horse. We end the episode there, just as a mysterious voice comes over the CB radio, chiding him for stupidly getting stuck in the tank.

Of course, Rick is only in that situation because he's in Atlanta looking for his missing wife and son. Luckily for Rick, they survived the apocalypse and are safe outside the city in the care of his partner Shane. Unfortunately for Rick, Shane's definition of "caring" seems involve shoving his tongue down Rick's wife's throat. Even worse - Lori seems to welcome the attention. Uh oh.

Again, I wished they had covered a little more ground, instead of dwelling on establishing whatever atmosphere they were shooting for. There are only 6 episodes in the season, so a little more sense of urgency would be nice. For those of us watching because we trust AMC and we know the source material, waiting an episode or two isn't going to be hard, but I'm not sure that as a stand-alone episode this really did a good job grabbing a more neutral audience. Overall, though, the quality of the show was evident, and the leading man was compelling enough that I'm looking forward to seeing where Rick's story goes from here.
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New TV For Your Consideration
Friday, October 29, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
So, there's been much wailing and gnashing of teeth out in the blogosphere about the state of network television. Yes, I'm as horrified as the next person about the fact that mediocre shows like Outsourced, The Event and Chase have been given full orders, while awesome shows like Parks & Recreation remain in limbo.

However.... there are several shows out there that I'd like to submit for your approval.

The Walking Dead. DVR ALERT: This show premieres this Sunday at 10pm on AMC. You must record and watch it. Why? One, because zombies are awesome. Two, because the graphic novel it's based on is excellent, which means there's a high probability that the show will also be excellent. Three, because it's on AMC, which is 2-for-2 so far in terms of making interesting quality shows (Breaking Bad and Mad Men). Four, because I'm flirting with recapping it, and my recaps are much more fun if you actually watch the show.

Quick summary, for those of you who haven't heard about the show: zombie apocalypse goes down, rag-tag group of survivors must make their way through the world. If the show follows the plot of the book closely, expect a lot more examination of the relationships between the various characters than zombie action. The zombies are certainly a concern for the characters, but the first two volumes of the graphic novel were more about the group coming together, experiencing conflict with one another, and dealing with logistics such as lodging and food. I'm not sure how much violence the show will actually put out there, but rest assured - people will be chased and eaten by zombies too.

The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at pm on AMC.

Terriers. This is hands down the best new show of the season so far. It's one of those shows that suffers from both incredibly poor advertising decisions by the network (FX) and the fact that it's a very difficult show to "pitch" to friends. On a surface level, the show is about a pair of private investigators, Hank and Britt, played by the excellent Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James (Rene from True Blood) respectively. Both men have pasts that make them good at what they do - Hank is a former cop and Britt is a former thief. Each week they investigate different cases.

Move past your initial impression of the show, however, and you find that the show has a richly realized universe that it exists in. The recurring characters are excellent - particularly Hank's sister (played by Donal Logue's real life sister) and Britt's girlfriend. While sometimes the focus might be on a one-off plot, there are really interesting and complex subplots weaving across multiple episodes. There's a dark undercurrent of drama, balanced nicely by the lighter moments (Donal Logue is a funny dude when he wants to be). In many ways, it reminds me a lot of how FX's Justified evolved over time. Like Terriers, that show felt like it was going to be a mystery-of-the-week show before the larger world and story arcs emerged to make it worthy of a Season Pass in my DVR. In fact, this show makes a natural pairing with the sensibilities of Justified, and might have had a better audience if FX had waited till Justified returned, in order to pair the shows up as timeslot buddies.

In any case, I love this show, it's on the bubble, and I really urge you to check it out while you still have a chance.

Terriers airs on Wednesdays at 10pm on FX.

Raising Hope. My final suggestion is a show that I almost skipped because I saw a couple of poor reviews before it premiered. However, I went with my gut, and my gut says that anything starring Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt can't be all bad, so I tuned in anyway. I loved the pilot episode, and subsequent episodes have made this one of those shows that I make a point to watch the same night it airs.

The show centers around Jimmy (Lucas Neff) and his family of low class, but lovable, misfits who unexpectedly find themselves raising Jimmy's infant daughter after her serial killer mother is executed. Yes, you read that right. It sounds like it should be a horrible concept, but the show manages to make the image of Jimmy holding Hope (nee Princess Beyonce, as her mother originally named her) on his lap while the mother gets zapped in the electric chair the most hilarious thing I've seen all year.

Now, to temper your expectations, let me say that I'm not selling this show as the greatest comedy of all time (or even of the year). But it's a solid source of laughs each week - on par with another favorite of mine that I've urged you to check out: The Middle. If you liked My Name is Earl (Greg Garcia created both that, and this show) and/or Malcolm in the Middle, I think you'll really enjoy this show. It's funny, and it can go to some dark sounding places, but it's never mean spirited. Martha Plimpton is excellent as Jimmy's mother (the math works out, since the show explains she had him when she was 16 years old). The baby they've cast is absolutely adorable. And much like My Name is Earl, the show seems to be building a larger world than just the home that the main characters reside in.

Raising Hope airs on Tuesdays at 9pm on FOX.
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NFL Week 7 Breakdown
Sunday, October 24, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
And then there was one. There's nothing worse than going an entire season without a win. Just ask the Detroit Lions what that did to their psyche. The Carolina Panthers took advantage of Alex Smith's injury and pulled out the tough first win of the year for them. Credit to coach John Fox, who prematurely benched QB Matt Moore earlier in the year, for admitting his mistake and reinserting Moore this week.

So that leaves on the Buffalo Bills as the lone team who hasn't won yet this year. You can't really fault the offense, however. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played magnificently (29/43, 374 yds, 4 TDs), as he did in a close loss against New England earlier in the season. However, as the saying goes, "Good teams find a way to win, bad teams find a way to lose," and that was true yet again. Great players like Ray Lewis know how to force the big turnover when the game is on the line. Bad players commit devastating penalties, such as the Bills player who took his helmet off after Lewis forced the fumble, drawing an unsportsmanlike penalty. The 15 yard penalty pretty much moved the ball from the 45 yard line, where the defense MIGHT have made a stand, to the 30 yard line, where it was well within field goal range.

Of old men and young whippersnappers. Kudos to Kerry Collins, who proved why he's one of the best backups in the league right now. The 37 year old QB is one of the few players who can come into a game cold and run an offense without a hitch. At the same time, he's very clear about the fact that he's just the backup and has no intention of challenging Vince Young for the starting position. That creates an ideal situation - you've got a veteran who can come in and have instant trust with the other guys in the huddle, but won't rock the boat in terms of creating a QB controversy.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the age spectrum, you have to love the youth movement the Kansas City Chiefs have going. This is a team that's going to be scary for a long time. I think they could make the playoffs this year, though I don't predict a postseason win for them yet. While I love the speed they show on offense and defense, they still could use a seasoned old man to help guide them - I remain unconvinced that Matt Cassel is the answer for this team at QB. I dislike his throwing motion, and am not sure that he has the leadership required to make this team a true contender.

Studs of the week. This week was the sort of game that showed what the Raiders were looking for when they drafted Darren McFadden (196 total yds, 4 TDs) in the first round. After the Redskins DEF got raked over the coals last week for not being able to catch a ball, DeAngelo Hall responded this week with a dominating performance (4 INTs, 1 returned for a TD). Kenny Britt had an amazing day for the Titans (7 catches, 225 yds, 3 TDs). Consider that those gaudy numbers came in a game where Britt was benched for an entire quarter for off-field problems. Roddy White doesn't get as much attention as other WRs, because he's pretty much the anti-diva. All he does is keep his mouth shut and perform week after week. This week he was devastating, posting 11 catches for 201 yds and 2 TDs. Finally, how great is Peyton Hillis? He touched the ball at least 10 times in a clock-crushing drive in the 4th quarter, not only ripping off touch runs, but even throwing a pass at one point.

Duds of the week. I love Drew Brees, but boy, did he kill his team today with 4 INTs (two of which were returned for TDs). I don't love Brett Favre, and he has hurt his team much more than he's helped them this year. You can look into his eyes and see this "Jesus, my ankle hurts and my head hurts and I am too old for this crap and man why didn't I stay down on the farm?" expression in his eyes.

Teams I like this week. I like the Atlanta Falcons, who are sitting on top of a pretty sweet 5-2 record at this point, for sole possession of first place in the NFC South. I also like the Cleveland Browns for playing tough on defense and showing some guts and ingenuity in their play calling. I also really like the Washington Redskins who keep finding ways to win, even they are UGLY wins. However, the knock on this team is that they find a way to play up to the level of better teams and play down to the level of worse teams, so with the Lions due up next week, we'll see if they can head into the bye week at 5-3. Finally, I like the Oakland Raiders for coming out huge on the road, putting up 31 points in the first quarter alone.

Teams I don't like this week. The St Louis Rams need to win games against teams like Tampa Bay. Next week's matchup at Carolina will tell us a lot about whether the Rams have what it takes to make a run for the playoffs in the second half of the season. I also don't like the Philadelphia Eagles, who let Old Man Collins tear them apart. Is it finally time to acknowledge that this is more than the usual "slow start" for the San Diego Chargers?


Photo credits:
*Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis strips the ball from Buffalo Bills tight end Shawn Nelson during overtime in an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010. The Ravens won 37-34. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

*Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) runs with the football as Denver Broncos defensive tackle Ronald Fields (91) gives chase during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010, in Denver. (AP Photo/ Joe Mahoney)

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NFL Week 6 Breakdown
Monday, October 18, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
Welcome to 10 Easy Ways to Lose a Football Game - the week 6 edition.

1. Fail to make the easy interception. Yes, good for the Redskins defense for forcing 3 fumbles. But the defensive backs were simply terrible last night, dropping not 1, not 2, but 3 INTs. The first drop by Carlos Rodgers (who has the worst hands in football) would have given the Redskins the ball at midfield. Instead, Manning converted the first down on the next play, and then proceeded to lead the first of many time consuming, point producing drives that ended making the difference in this game.

2. Play undisciplined. The Cowboys could have beaten the Minnesota Vikings, but yet again were undone by penalties and stupid turnovers. Yes, I know the celebration penalty is stupid, but since the Cowboys' Marc Columbo got that called on him last week (a penalty which ended up largely costing them the game), you'd think that the Cowboys would have been smart enough to avoid any sort of activity post touchdown that might draw a yellow flag (spoiler: they weren't). The Cowboys had 11 penalties called on them yesterday. To me, that reeks of a team lacking in discipline.

3. Play poorly on special teams. The San Diego Chargers have one of the elite QBs in the league, and they're ranked #1 in both total offense and defense. Unfortunately, they also have given up 4 TDs on special teams, had 9 fumbles, several blocked punts (one of which resulted in a safety) and pretty much been eaten up by the opposition. Makes you wonder just what they were thinking when they let special teams ace Kassim Osgood go.

4. Suffer too many injuries. Last year, it was the Atlanta Falcons who were the highly touted team that seemed unable to overcome injuries to key players. This year, it's the Green Bay Packers, who seem to have lost half their key starters to some kind of injury this season.

5. Have a rookie QB start his first game against the Steelers defense. Honestly, Colt McCoy showed a lot of promise in the loss to Pittsburgh, so that's good news for the Cleveland Browns. But they still lost because QBs forced to start before they've had time to sit and learn usually don't have what it takes to beat a halfway decent team. Again, McCoy showed a lot of promise, but the original plan had been to "red shirt" him a year behind veteran QBs so he had time to fully absorb the game.

6. Allow your QB to get hit too much. Poor Jay Cutler was sacked 9 times against NY two weeks ago, before he was finally knocked out of the game with a concussion. You'd think that Mike Martz would have come up with a way to fix the protection scheme in the two weeks since. However, it was more of the same this week, as Cutler returned to start, only to suffer through another 6 sacks against the Seahawks. At this point, Chicago is going to lose a lot more games, especially since Cutler will only be MORE prone to panicked throws (leading to INTs) the more he gets hit over the course of the season.

7. Fail to pressure the QB. #6 points out that you will lose if your QB gets hit too much, but the inverse is also true - if you DON'T hit the opposing QB, he is able to just sit comfortably in the pocket and wait for one of his receivers to eventually get open. This applies both to the Redskins last night (yet again, Peyton Manning's pristine white jersey doesn't need to washed at all after the game) and the Atlanta Falcons, who only managed to get to Kevin Kolb once the entire game. Kolb played lights out against Atlanta, which handicapped what they were able to do offensively, as they were forced into passing most of the game due to the early points deficit.

8. Be a team from California. Really, that's the only explanation I have for the poor performances this year of the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers. The only reason one of them won yesterday was because they were playing one of the others (in this case, San Fran triumphed in a dreadfully boring 17-9 game).

9. Fail to consistently run the ball. Matt Forte has had some amazing games this year, but he's also had several dreadful rushing games this year. Part of his gaudy stats in the wins were due to catching short passes out of the backfield, but when forced to be a traditional run attack, the Bears are woefully inconsistent. I've harped on the Broncos lack of a running game as well, and yet again it took inserting Tim Tebow to finally get a decent run and score from the run attack. The Broncos' backs are poor runners, and suffer from injury to boot. Expect to see more Tebow as the year progresses.

10. Play against better teams. Yes, it sounds simple, but it's true. Sometimes teams benefit from a weak early schedule and seem better than they actually are (see: the 2008 Buffalo Bills, who got out to a 5-1 start against terrible teams). This year, it seems like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were who were thought they were - a young team with some talent that still needs to grow more before they can run with the big boys in the league. They started strong, but against weak opponents like the Bengals, Panthers and Browns, but against the Saints and Steelers, it wasn't even close.

Studs of the week. Don't look now, but there's another QB controversy in Philly. Kevin Kolb was brilliant this week (23/29, 326 yds, 3 TDs). Matt Schaub (25/33, 305 yds, 2 TDs) brought his team back in the 4th quarter with a great comeback. They may not be well known among NFL fans yet, but if Chris Ivory (15 rushes, 158 yds) and Ryan Torain (20 rushes, 100 yds, 2 TDs) have a few more weeks like this one, they will be.

Duds of the week. This week the duds are the players who took what looked like really cheap shots at an opposing player. Brandon Merriweather may be getting hit with a suspension this week for a nasty hit where he clearly launches his head into Todd Heap's head. When Bill Bellicheck, your own coach, is upset enough about that hit to bench you, you know that it's not kosher. Similarly, James Harrison knocked out not one, but TWO opposing players from the Browns. Look at the tape - you'll see that Harrison is clearly leading with his head, his arms pinned down at his sides, because he has no intention of attempting to wrap up a tackle. He just wants to hurt someone. He's admitted as much in the press. He won't get suspended, but he sure deserves to be.

Teams I like this week. Kudos to the NY Jets, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers for showing why they're the teams to fear this season. Can't say there's an NFC team playing nearly as steady as these three contenders. New England may be a little up-and-down sometimes, but they can beat any team in the league on the right day.

Teams I don't like this week. Pretty much anyone who got called out above qualifies this week, though special anti-kudos must go out to the Dallas Cowboys for yet again failing to wrap up a game they had well in hand.
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Fringe Recap: Ep 3.4 "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?"
Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." - Kurt Vonnegut.
Tonight's episode is entitled "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?" and much like the Philip K. Dick story that inspired the title, the episode is concerned with the question of what it means to be human. The episode explores the notion that faking an emotion for long enough can have the effect of causing an actual real emotion to form, even in the most hardened of hearts (synthetic or otherwise). It brings up the question: who is more human here? The artificial Ray, who sincerely felt love for his family, or the organic Alt-livia, who can only fake affection for Peter and who uses the appearance of emotion to forward her own sinister goals?

In Dick's story, because the androids lacked empathy, their responses were noticeably slow and emotions could only be feigned at best. Ironically, in the Fringe universe, it's the flesh-and-blood Alt-livia who best fits this description, not the synthetic shapeshifters. While Thomas Newton is able to remain emotionally detached from the meatbags around him, other shapeshifters under deep cover on Earth-1 aren't so lucky. This epsiode introduces two shifters who, having been under deep cover in a single identity for years, have formed actual emotional attachments to the people in their lives.

This week's Fringe returns us back to the blue universe of Earth-1. Peter and Olivia are at dinner playing the game where you invent stories for what the other couples in the restaurant might be up to. At one point Peter mentions that another couple in the restaurant are clearly working up to their first intimate moment. There's some awkward glances between Peter and Alt-livia at this. Alt-livia knows where this is going and she doesn't look happy about it. She has a mini freak out in the ladies room, though it's unclear whether she's bothered by the thought of developing feelings for Peter or is just grossed out by the idea of having sex with him.

We cut to a scene with the good Dennis Van Horn: U.S. senator, loving husband to Patricia, good friend to one Philip Broyles, and newly revealed shapeshifter. We've seen Van Horn in previous episodes, so it's quite shocking to realize that this whole time he's been working for Walternate and Newton. I suppose it goes a long way towards explaining his involvement with Fringe division. In any case, this is the last we'll see of Senator Van Horn, as he is gravely injured in a car crash, and then Thomas Newton shows up to murder both Van Horn and about a dozen other people at the hospital where he's being treated.

Meanwhile across town, new CEO Walter Bishop is busy holding court with the scientists of Massive Dynamic. Walter horrifies the crowd with some inappropriate touching and spontaneous stripping. I guess these eggheads are more used to a boss who takes his morning coffee with a dash of Splenda, versus a massive dose of hallucinogens. Peter and Nina Sharp laugh at the whole thing, because that is, like, so Walter. Luckily for the HR department of Massive Dynamic, Walter and Peter are summoned away to deal with the Van Horn situation before it can get too sexually harrass-y in the room.

Fringe team gets debriefed by Broyles, who is pretty upset that he fell for Van Horn's doppleganger. Alt-livia is pretty upset too, but for a different reason: she's got this expression on her face that screams, "Curse these fool minions! Must I do everything myself?" While Walter and Peter work the body, Alt-livia goes off to grill Newton via cell phone about what Van Horn knew. Newton gives Alt-livia a lot of sassy attitude, as he questions her commitment to the cause and intimates that Peter Bishop probably suspects that she's not his Olivia, before admitting that Van Horn pretty much knew all about Alt-livia's mission and was in fact the one who compiled the "Idiot's Guide to Being Olivia Dunham" file that she was studying.

Walter is already starting to get a crazy, not good gleam in his eye when he talks about using the resources of Massive Dynamic to reanimate the shapeshifter. Alt-livia comes in just in time to see the shapeshifter start to twitch back to life. The naked panic on her face is crazy - I half expected her to whip out her gun and murder everyone right then and there. While that would have been amusing, I suppose it would not have boded well for future seasons of the show.

Astrid "Astro" Farnsworth shows up at Massive Dynamic with a box full of Walter's things. Key items include a strip of candy dots, an issue of "Hump" magazine and a framed photo of George W. Bush. Feel free to insert your own dirty masturbation-related joke in here. There's what appears to be a throw away line about how Walter finally gets Astrid's name right, but you could certainly make a case that there are subtle hints that Walter is already being changed by taking over Massive Dynamic. In the previous scene he was clearly thrilled at the power at his fingertips now that he owns Massive Dynamic. If he pretends to be like William Bell, does that mean he will actually end up like him - coherent enough to finally remember the help's names, but also prone to the same ethically gray scientific practices as well?

Alt-livia and Peter head off to investigate the Senator's office. Or rather Peter investigates while Alt-livia is frantically trying to hide any incriminating evidence. A little misdirection occurs when Peter pulls out a locked box that has Olivia's picture in it, and you think maybe the jig is up for Alt-livia. But then it's revealed that the entire Fringe team has dossiers in the box. Alt-livia looks relieved, but also a little disappointed that she didn't get an excuse to shoot Peter in the face.

Ray the shapeshifter gets activated by Newton. Newton orders him to get Van Horn's body back and then take a new identity. He makes an ominous statement that Ray should leave "no traces left behind", which probably doesn't bode well for his wife and young son.

Walter briefs the Fringe team on his theory that pretending to have feelings caused real ones to form for Van Horn. There's a fairly unsubtle cut to Alt-livia as that line is uttered. Alt-livia tries to derail this train of thought, but she is just the worst actress ever (Alt-livia that is, not Anna Torv, who is absolutely killing it this season) so she fails. The team decides to go ahead with the plan to bring in the senator's wife to jog his mercury powered memories.

Back from commercial, Ray the shifter clearly has doubts about his mission. There's some interplay with the son and a parable about monsters with hearts of gold and it's all very sad. Pity the poor shapeshifters, with their tiny ass-brains and giant throbbing mercury hearts.

Patricia Van Horn helps the team and agrees talk to her husband. He pops back to life, but only to rattle off a series of places he had planned to go with his wife on their anniversary. Again, Alt-livia is spared the need to commit mass murder, as Walter sadly declares that there's no way to recover Van Horn's memories.

Alt-livia gets a text from Ray notifying her to clear the building, because the killin' is about to start. She thoughtfully takes the Fringe team with her, distracting Walter with promises of cafeteria food. Unfortunately, after Walter is left alone with Astrid, banter about animals crackers leads into talk about dinosaurs talk which leads to Walter getting a brilliant idea about how to recover Van Horn's memory. Did you know that the stegosaurus had a brain above its butt? Well, you do now. In his rush to get back to the lab to test his ass-brain theory, he ends up on the same elevator as Ray.

Peter is totally being a chick here, as he calls out Alt-livia on being different lately. Unfortunately, Peter just thinks it's a result of whatever Alt-livia saw on the other side, versus him actually figuring out that in a universe with shapeshifters and doppelgangers, you might want to be a little more suspicious about that sort of behavior. God, Peter. At this point, I'm predicting that Olivia's 8 year old niece will assemble this puzzle before the allegedly brilliant Peter Bishop. In any case, this line of inquiry has to wait, because they realize with alarm that Walter has disappeared.

Ray tussles with Walter in the lab and absconds with the memory disk. While Peter tends to his father, Alt-livia halfheartedly pretends to give chase. She probably just stands outside the office stomping her feet so that it sounds like she's running off in the distance.

Ray heads home, where Newton tricks him into revealing that he had no intention of giving up his family. Again, it's sad and ironic - Ray's spent his whole existence as a shapeshifter feigning real emotion in order to pass, and yet in the end it's his inability to hide emotion that is his undoing. Newton shoots Ray in the head and shoves his body in the trunk. Peter and Alt-livia show up just in time to get into a car chase with him. Did you know that the Ford Taurus is an excellent vehicle for driving on wet surfaces, making quick evasive maneuvers and running down errant shapeshifters? Because it is.

Newton wrecks because he is not driving the excellent Ford Taurus, and Alt-livia scurries overs to search his unconscious body while Peter calls for backup. She retrieves the memory module at the last minute.

Later Alt-livia visits Newton in prison and slips him the shapeshifter version of a cyanide capsule. See ya, Newton - it was nice knowing you. Before he offs himself, Newton again mocks Alt-livia about her emotions and how they will prevent her from completing her mission. Alt-livia looks disturbed as she walks away from Newton.

The next thing we know, she texts Peter to come over and then promptly seduces him when he shows up at her apartment. No, Peter, don't do it! There's melancholy music on the soundtrack, as scenes of Alt-livia and Peter getting busy are intercut with scenes of Newton dying, his silver brains slowly leaking away, just like the last of Alt-livia's morals.

This was a very thought-provoking episode, with some major implications for Peter and Olivia's relationship moving forward. However, I'm a little tired of the constant ping-ponging between Earth-1 and Earth-2 every week. It's starting to disrupt the narrative - just when you start to get into the groove of what's happening with the team in one reality, you're forced to shift focus the next week to the parallel plots of other universe and you lose some of the momentum gained from the episode you just saw. This is about to be compounded by the fact that now it's time for baseball (go Yankees), which means new no Fringe until November. During the break I'm going to watch the Earth-1 and Earth-2 episodes together, to see if it flows better. I suspect it will.

Summary: Careful - that twinkle in your lover's eye might just be his mercury blood catching the light just so.
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