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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