Screencaps from the episode Bloodline. Another awesome piece of work!
This week’s Fringe should have come with an advisory: DO NOT WATCH IF YOU ARE PREGNANT. The harrowing pregnancy of the alternative-universe-Olivia was the coursing vein running through the episode titled “Bloodline.”
Early on, it was disclosed that Altivia was a likely carrier of “viral propagated eclampsia,” a condition, we were told, that usually resulted in the death at birth of either the mother or the child. (The other Olivia’s sister had died in childbirth from “VPE.”) Eclampsia is an acute complication of pregnancy; a propagated viral form of it is, thank goodness, something that exists in the minds of Fringe writers who know how to unnerve viewers effectively.
The kidnapping of Altivia, the needle injection that would speed up gestation of the fetus, the race to find her by Lincoln Lee, Charlie Francis, and our favorite cab driver, Henry (Andre Royo) — all of this made for a swift, tense episode. Once Altivia’s tracking device was removed, Lee suspected an “inside job,” a phrase that would be repeated later in the hour by Walternate, in an attempt to throw Lincoln off the trail of clues.
Fringe used this alt-universe episode to establish a strong new bond between Lincoln and Charlie. They’ve mutually acknowledged that Lincoln “has a thing for Liv” (he would later declare his love for her when he thought she was dying). And after Walternate told Lincoln that the baby is his grandchild, as well as a few mind-blowers about the “other” Olivia, they agreed they need to wonder “what else we don’t know.” It’s a good set-up, to have these two agents working together (with the alternate-Agent Farnsworth, unwittingly/wittingly/instinctively sussing out information they need). Once Altivia had been diagnosed with VPE, she was scheduled for “the procedure,” which I assumed was an abortion to save her life. Thus Walternate’s staged kidnapping (for that’s what it turned out to be) prevented yet another prime-time abortion, with all the controversy that can attend such an operation on network television, but with Fringe, this wasn’t a cop-out — it was a way to heighten the stakes for everyone involved, not only Altivia and her son (for that’s what it turned out the baby was).
“Bloodline” was a beautifully modulated hour, written by Alison Schapker and Monica Owusu-Breen, that took care to establish the anxiety felt by Altivia and her mother, Marilyn (Amy Madigan) about the pregnancy, freighted as it also is by the fact that the father is not the Alt-Olivia’s boyfriend Frank, but Peter Bishop. Marilyn’s barely-held-in-check disapproval, balanced by worry over her daughter’s health, was enacted well by Madigan.
So let’s tote up some of what we know. Walternate had forbidden any experimentation on children, which we’ve interpreted in previous episodes as a humanitarian impulse. Brandonate reminded us that “Peter is uniquely suited to power the machine”… but is that still true, if he has a son whose bloodline is potent enough to make the same connection to the machine? And why would Brandonate have phrased it this way, if the plan was already in motion to get the baby birthed and confirm its DNA potential? He and Walternate must have had a theory that Peter is not unique in this sense, that his heir could “power the machine,” no?
Indeed, we can still interpret Walternate as a not-evil man — after all, as alternate-O said, she and the baby’s lives were both saved because “the virus didn’t replicate as fast as the pregnancy.” But the elaborate kidnapping to gain the baby’s blood sample was necessary… why, exactly? To distance Walternate from whatever happens next in the assembling of the great machine?
I’m still so flushed with relief that Fringe has been renewed for a fourth season that I’m going to let you sort things out as far as the future is concerned (on our side, did Peter come down with sudden, inexplicable urge to go out and buy some cigars to pass around to his dad and the gang?). As far as this week’s episode is concerned, I was shaken and moved, as well as amused (Astrid’s reaction to Sec. Walter Bishop being grandfather to Agent Dunham’s baby: “Oh. I see.”). Have at it below, please.
• The Observer, with his “It is happening” communication to his fellow Hairless Wonders, was busy standing still, witnessing history.
• The birth date of Altivia’s son on the blood-sample card is “14/02/11?; assuming over there they print dates in the European manner, flipping the month/day as we do it, that would make this… Valentine’s Day?
• In the alt-universe, Francis Ford Coppola directed Taxi Driver.
• Over there, a new season of The West Wing has started! I wonder how the ratings for Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip are these days…
• Charlie had a date with Mona, that cute “bug girl.”
Fresh off the fourth season pickup from Fox, show runners Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman talk to THR about what it means, the show’s mediocre ratings and question whether Nielsen boxes actually exist.
Fresh off the fourth season renewal of sci-fi drama “Fringe,” which had the Internet buzzing Thursday night, executive producers Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman have a lot to be happy about. Despite disappointing ratings in recent Friday airings, the Fox series — which, until yesterday’s announcement, was widely viewed as a bubble show — will be back for another round.
With the Season 3 finale right around the corner, Pinkner and Wyman talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the surprising — though they’d beg to differ — full-season pickup.
The Hollywood Reporter: How surprised were you by the renewal?
Jeff Pinkner: We might be foolish but no, we were not surprised. [Laughs] Fox has been supportive throughout this process, from the beginning and certainly this season, wall-to-wall. They told us they were thrilled with the show creatively, the number wasn’t exactly what they would’ve hoped for but they know the audience is deep and loyal and returns, and that’s valuable to them. The critics have been so supportive and they were up front when they were moving us to Friday night that it wasn’t one step closer to the door, it was actually a, “Hey, if the audience follows us to Friday night, we’re in great shape.” And the audience did.
Sorry, had forgotten to add those. Stills from Bloodline!
As you may already know, I have on the sidebar a list of upcoming episodes and the airing date. Here are the episodes, I don’t really consider episodes titles to be a spoiler themselves as in Fringe, there’s always so much more to every title, name and situation, so, pardon me if you think that way.
If you live in the US make sure to watch the episodes live if you can. Social life on fridays is overrated, why would you want to go out? Pfft! Stay home, chill out and have Fringe fun! 😀
“Fox Renews Fringe” was trending on Twitter yesterday. It’s the power of the fans!
Don’t forget to twit tonight during and after the episode of Fringe. “Anna Torv”, “Fringe”, “Walter”, “Astrid”, “Peter Bishop”. Anything and everything. Let’s get our show and Anna on trending again!
blockquote>Full disclosure: I was originally going to preview tonight’s episode of Fringe for you, but honestly, I’m in such a pleasant mood over the renewal that I say we move on to bigger matters, like episode 19, airing April 15.
Before the big news, Jeff Pinkner and Joel H. Wyman hopped on the phone with me to tease an episode I’ve been dying to know more about ever since I heard a rumor that it would be Astrid-centered, which, it turns out, isn’t entirely the case. Oh, I’ll just let them explain.
JP: It’s kind of nutty and adventurous and really fun and emotional and character driven storytelling but…
JW: Just in a way you wouldn’t expect.
EW: Well John Nobel said at a convention, I think, that the core three are incapacitated in some way…
JP: [laughs] He’s a very clever man. They are incapacitated in some way. And yet we still follow their story.
EW: That’s a mean tease.
JP: It’s a very trippy episode.
EW: That’s a fair thing to say about most Fringe episodes.
JP: This one, more than some others.
JW: You know how “Brown Betty” was sort of a departure? It’s kind of like that.
JP: Minus the singing.
JW: No singing, no.
Bonus scoop for those of you dying to know more about tonight’s episode: There’s not much I can tell you other than this quote from executive producer Jeff Pinkner. “It will take place back with Bolivia and some very monumental life experiences occur.” Cool? Cool.
In any universe, this is the Best. News. Ever: Fringe has been renewed!
A Fox spokesperson confirms to TVLine that the acclaimed (yet ratings-challenged) drama will return for a fourth season next fall — and a full season (22 episodes!) at that.
The news was announced on Twitter this evening by executive producer J.H. Wyman. “Fringe was picked up,” he wrote. “Thanks Fringedom!”
The pickup comes despite last Friday’s episode hitting a series low 3.85 million viewers. Fox, however, points out that the show still ranks as Friday’s No. 1 series among adults 18-49.
And with that, TVLine’s Renewal Scorecard has been updated.
Get the party started in the comments section! And while your at it, with Fringe out of harm’s way, how about throwing Nikita some support in our “Renew Our Show” Bracket Tourney? It’s the right thing to do people.
Go vote for Fringe in the TVLine.com Renew Our Show Poll. I do love Nikita too, but let’s have Olivia and Fauxlivia kick her ass! 😀
The news that Fringe has been renewed for a fourth season came as a shock: When was the last time a network saved a quality cult show it had heretofore shown little sign of even understanding, let alone promoting? But then, the renewal is in keeping with the spirit of the series itself, with its themes of life everlasting and hope springing eternal.
Whatever the combination of factors that went into this Fox decision (my guesses are, in order: the devil we know may be at least as good as Terra Nova; we can’t only renew just our 20th Century Fox-produced shows, can we?; those pesky critics and more people than those who watch Smallville and Supernatural seem to like this damn thing; why not generate some publicity as kindly, benevolent suits instead of clueless, heartless ones for once?), the bottom line is, a glorious mindf— of a family drama got the nod, and I wonder what the admirable Shawn Ryan is thinking now about the chances for his interesting The Chicago Code, given Fox’s limited prime-time space?
So what can we expect from the producers’ opportunity to play out toward Fringe‘s endgame? Beats me, I say happily, with qualifications. What I mean by that is, I’m not invested in the games of “here’s what the show needs to do” or “here’s where the show is headed” for my pleasure. I like to let a show I love wash over me every week, like a piece of new music or the next chapter in a novel I’m enjoying. In those last two examples, I don’t sit around with my finger hovering over my latest iPod song download or fretting in the midst of reading a long piece of fiction, pondering what I want the musician or the author to do, trying to second-guess the creators — I just get on with it, and enjoy the critical thinking afterward, not measuring whether the show/music/book has lived up to my predictions/wishes/dreams for it. Like the best pop culture, Fringe compels all of us, not just me and my colleagues, to respond as critics in the broadest sense — as discriminating consumers who like to tease out the meanings of what gives us pleasure (or frustrates us) in the show.
With this in mind, I feel as though, as an Observer has said, “it has begun” — that is, I’ve no doubt Fringe is well on its way to doing what few other TV shows have done. It deals in common realities and fantasies in a form that provides immediate pleasure; it is vital aesthetically, as a work that rewards both casual viewing and repeated investigation.
We each like Fringe for different reasons. You might be invested in the Peter-Olivia relationship, while others are happy just to tune in and see how eccentrically amusing Walter is going to be this week. Some fans want their Fringe more hardcore sci-fi, and to place it in the context of the history of speculative fiction, both literary and pop-culturally. (There are, for sure, papers to be written about Fringe as the inverse of the Robert Heinlein approach to sci-fi, or the layering of its Philip K. Dick/Samuel R. Delany/Cyberpunk synthesis.)
Me, I’m in it for the show’s persistent fascination with real history — with its overarching metaphors for the ways that the baby-boomer, counterculture-leaning generation as embodied most assiduously by Walter Bishop altered America’s thinking, and the rewards it gave, and traps it set, for future generations (i.e., Peter and Olivia’s, and perhaps their child’s).
Any way you look at it, however, Fringe has 22 fresh chances to make us think differently, not just about its own characters and its own stories, but our own characters, and our own lives.
Oh, and not to seem ungrateful or churlish, but one more thing: Fox, if you’re going to leave the show on Fridays next fall, will you please give it a more compatible lead-in than Gordon-bloody-Ramsay?