Artificial Continuum

Sunday, September 26, 2010

After a shocking and thought provoking season finale, Fringe has returned to television. The show that originally started as an uncreative X-files rip off has evolved ove the course of its second season into a mythologically driven and morally complex drama that is quickly becoming one of the best shows on television. This season opener is no different.

Last season Fringe ended its universe crossing arc with an incredibly unsettling twist. The Olivia we had come to know and love had been replaced by her alternate universe counterpart, leaving the series's central character locked away in a prison in an alternate universe.

The third season opener, simply titled Olivia, follows the show's title character as she attempts to escape her paranormal prison, while eluding the efforts of her captors. The concept is simple, but in classic Fringe fashion has more then its fair share of twists and turns. Olivia's plight and isolation is incredibly disturbing and surprisingly claustrophobic. The all encompasing isolation and the effects of her enemies experiments upon her create an unsettling predicament that builds to an incredible climax.

Anna Torv continues her string of excellent acting in this episode as Olivia. Although her character lacked depth in the first season of the series, Olivia has become a relatable and empathetic heroine that the audience has come to love. This makes her plight all the more disturbing and heart breaking. Torv alongside her coactor Joshua Noble also is tasked with playing two characters at the same time. Both succeed excellently. The contrast between Noble's sinister Walternate and his more childlike Walter is fascinating and an incredible acting achievement, making his recent Emmy snub all the more frustrating.

Also worth noting is Andre Royo's guest appearance as the cab driver Henry. While his appearance is brief, Henry is a scene stealer and soon becomes one of the most memorable and heartfelt guest appearances on the series.

The alternate universe continues to be fascinating to watch. The subtle differences between culture, technology, and character act almost as easter eggs for an increasingly vorocious fan base. For only appearing in three episodes, the alternate world feels incredibly detailed and fleshed out.

Olivia defies convention for some many ways in the series that at the end the audience feels as lost and hopeless as the cahracters. The rest of the season and even the future of the series feels incredibly uncertain, but at the same time incredibly intriguing.

Score: A