by Lynette Rice
It was arguably the best, most original episode of Fringe to date. Too bad so many of you missed it: Only 5.1 million people tuned into the Fox drama Thursday night, which was also down 5 percent in adults 18 to 49 (1.8 rating/5 share) from its most recent airing on Nov. 18. If this genre series were on AMC (or featured zombies), the media world would be calling it a monster hit. Sadly, the threshold for success is far different on broadcast TV, so Fringe will always be viewed as a niche performer with a small but rabid fan base. Let’s hope it finds a far more comfortable home on Fridays where it’ll face less competition.
It has only been two weeks since the last “Fringe,” but it feels like forever. In the break, I traveled to Iowa, which is a lot like getting stuck in a parallel universe. Things are similar but not exactly the same. I was cut off from the people I’m used to seeing in my daily life. Everything is a little less Blue and a little more Red (though more in a sociopolitical way than actually colors). Luckily I made it back to Los Angeles just in time to see Olivia make it back to our universe.
“Entrada” picks up right where “Fringe” left us before going on Thanksgiving break. Peter received a midnight call from a Liberty Island cleaning woman who saw Olivia cross over into our world. The helpful custodial worker delivered Olivia’s message. She’s trapped on the other side. Peter gets this call while lying in bed with Bolivia, who has not only taken our Olivia’s place, but also apparently stolen all the blankets.
Peter may have been blinded to the fact that this isn’t his Olivia for the past eight episodes, but he more than makes up for it. He searches her belongings, checks her computer and tests her with a Greek quote. Bolivia knows she fails, so she forced Peter to drug himself before escaping into the night. Bam! All before the opening titles (an awesome mix of the Blue and Red). For a show I once complained didn’t “get to it fast enough,” “Fringe” hasn’t pulled any punches this season, especially as we come to the end of the Journey Home storyline.
Spoilers for last night’s episode of Fringe coming up
While it may not have been the high point that the emotional “Peter” from earlier this year was, “Entrada” was a pretty excellent action-focused episode, in which the dimensional swap between Fauxlivia and Realivia came to a head. In the process, it demonstrated that Fringe’s writers have made a compelling world out of Over There in a relative few episodes—and it was another example of what a strong series Fringe has become since its committed fully to its clash-of-the-universes storyline.
While I get the sense that some fans have been divided on the approach of switching between the two universes episode by episode this season, I for one have loved spending time in the parallel Land of Amber. (And I get the sense that Fringe’s writers have genuinely loved creating and populating it.) Still, it was probably about time to end the hunt-for-Olivia storyline and bring Realivia home.
And it was testament to the strength of the recent episodes that the event largely turned on the moving sacrifice of a character—Other Broyles—whom we’ve only very recently come to know. Even though this was a different man, with different experiences, from the Broyles we know, it was still thrilling to see him driven by conscience to Pulp Fiction Olivia with adrenaline and help her escape becoming a brain donor. (It was also a strikingly tender—if strikingly odd—moment seeing Broyles closing the eyes of his “own” corpse.)
Above all, though, “Entrada” was a strongly paced hour that used tension well throughout, from Peter’s unmasking of Fauxlivia by using the Greek quotation to his identifying and shooting the shapeshifter “hostage” outside the ladies’ room after challenging “her” to recall her daughter’s name. It also gave us the requisite dose of tech fetish, as the Fringe crew finally discovered the Magic Typewriter (by means of the Telltale Pastry Fauxlivia had bought for Walter) and used its ribbon to find Fauxlivia’s rendezvous point. And while it wasn’t as Walter-centric as some outstanding Fringe episodes, it gave him an all-time classic line: “She tricked my son with her carnal manipulations and he fell right into her vagenda!”
I’ll miss Fauxlivia as undercover agent, but I doubt we’ve seen the last of her, and it’s good to have our Olivia back. All in all, a satisfying hour and a good demonstration of how Fringe—one of the most improved shows of the past season or so—has grown into one of TV’s most entertaining dramas.
Uploaded a truck load of screencaps. I couldn’t help myself. Too many. AMAZING EPISODE.
by Jeff Jensen
“It’s all kicking into gear,” says Anna Torv about tonight’s pivotal episode of Fringe, entitled “Entrada,” in which the season’s epic tale of conflict between parallel worlds reaches a major turning point. Peter Bishop — shell-shocked by the revelation that he’s been sleeping with the “over there” enemy Olivia Dunham — is roused to mad-as-hell action, while the “over here” Olivia, currently trapped in the alt reality, makes her move to get back home. (To read EW critic/resident Fringe recapper Ken Tucker’s rave review of the episode, click here. And have you seen the movie-style trailer Fox produced to promote the ep? If not, see it here — and begin to dream about the potential for a Fringe feature film in the future.) Prepare for an episode that deviates from the season pattern of one episode largely set “over here” followed by one episode largely set “over there.” Says Torv: “It was the first time we were playing both worlds in the same episode. A lot back and forth, and a lot of let’s-get-cracking momentum.”
Torv has been given the challenge of not just playing two different Olivias this season, but playing one Olivia pretending to be the other Olivia and playing the other Olivia as someone who’s been brainwashed into thinking and acting as someone she’s not. (I would say she’s more than risen to the task — and I hope Emmy voters are taking note.) Torv says the work “has been fun” but that it hasn’t been easy, especially since she’s learning the story and her character(s) arc(s) as the scripts come in. “It’s not always easy to see where they’re pushing things,” she says. “I try not to get too frustrated that we don’t have the time of a feature film to sit down and plot out and plan out every beat of the character,” she says. ”I often rib myself: ‘Ah! I forgot about this! I could have that!’” One of the choices she made last season when the “two Olivias” idea was introduced was to create a different kind of physical demeanor for “over there” Olivia to help distinguish her from “over here” Olivia. Not just adopting a different hair color for Fauxlivia (brunette), but a different way of holding herself — “a different silhouette,” as she puts it. “She’s got a little firefighter, a little military in her.”
In “Entrada,” Peter will confront Fauxlivia about deceiving and seducing him. Assuming that Peter will be reunited with the real Olivia sooner than later, what will be the relationship between the two characters? I told Torv that I like the idea that these past few episodes were designed to basically satisfy the curiosity of what a Peter-Olivia romance would look like, but that their ultimate destiny is to not be together. “I think that would be kinda fun, too,” says Torv, adding that based on where the show is in its production cycle, she doesn’t yet know what lies ahead for the would-be lovers, “so I’m just speculating along with you and everyone else.” She says that from Olivia’s perspective, Peter’s romance with Fauxlivia should have troubling implications. “The thing for Olivia coming back, and learning what happened between Peter and the other Olivia, you’d think she’d have some questions. Who am I? How could you not see who she was or who I am? Does that mean I only exist to you in the external — what I look like? What about my spirit? To have someone fall for someone they only think is you — that’s hauntingly heartbreaking.”
Fringe recently introduced a new mythological idea that portends to open up a new chapter in its saga (Who are “The First People”?) and has now reached a crossroads in the parallel world storyline. Does that mean the show is about to leave the alternate reality concept behind? “I don’t think we’ll be throwing that away — we’ve invested too much in that, and one of our lead characters, Peter, actually comes from the Other side, and much about him remains unresolved,” says Torv. As for what lies ahead [SPOILER WARNING!], Torv hints that there’s more intrigue to come about the doomsday machine that Peter is linked to, and teases that everyone’s favorite band of bald-headed, hot sauce-swilling mimics will be returning to the saga. “I know The Observers pop back up, and we’re still trying to work out their function in the big picture of things. I don’t think we’ve seen much of The Observers ‘over there,’ have we? So I’m interested in seeing how all that interconnects.”
Next week’s episode will be the last Fringe outing of 2010. When the show returns early next year, it will air on Friday night. While the timeslot was the original home of The X-Files back in the day, it hasn’t been too kind to sci-fi series on Fox since the David Duchovny-Gillian Anderson show left the airwaves. (See: Firefly; Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.) Asked how she feels about the move to the so-called “death slot,” Torv pleads ignorance — but expresses confidence that Fringe will be fine. (A sentiment shared by the show’s producers.) ”I’m Australian, you know? I have no preconceived ideas about the network TV landscape in America,” says the 32-year-old Australian actress, for whom Fringe is her first U.S. work. “But I also think we have a solid, supportive fanbase that will continue supporting the show. I’m just excited we still get to make the show.”
The new episode of Fringe on Thursday night at 9 p.m. promises to be a pivotal outing in this sensational if (criminally!) under-watched season, electric with ideas and emotion. When we last saw Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), he had just been tipped off that the Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) he’s been swapping spit with isn’t exactly the Olivia Dunham he thinks she is. Meanwhile, in the “over there” parallel world, “over here” Olivia, now operating with awareness of her true self, was busted by “Walternate” (John Noble), who now knows that she knows who she really is.
And so we come to a turning point in the season’s saga, and to properly mark the occasion, Fox has created an appropriately grandiose movie-style trailer for the episode, making its premiere exclusively here in this space. I think this exchange sums up the intense vibe. Fauxlivia: “Are you going to kill me?” Peter: “No. I’m going to get answers. And if I find out you’ve done anything to Olivia? Then I’m gonna kill you.” Also, the bone saw? Chilling. Those of you skilled and equipped to decipher reverse-recorded audio messages, get ready to decode — and please, share your findings in the message board below.
While the crew readied a fake cadaver downstairs, Fringe stars Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson and John Noble gathered in the master bedroom of a swanky Vancouver home where they were shooting part of their December 9 winter finale to discuss doppelgangers, romance and Olivia’s long-awaited homecoming.
TV Guide Magazine: So, how is our Fringe family?
Noble: Well, you see three very happy people. We’re very privileged. The show keeps getting better.
TV Guide Magazine: John and Anna, what went in to creating your alt-characters?
Noble: Mine has been pretty easy because I decided who he was years ago. I thought how Walternate would be and got to play him [in the “Peter” episode] so it was just the matter of adding a few things. It’s cool, because he has such a different way about him.
Torv: Playing Olivia and Bolivia as each other has been tougher. But I just went, “I never do anything from the outside in,” so I decided to try that, see if I could change her silhouette and her hair… And that changes how you move and how you think.
TV Guide Magazine: Was it like having a new leading lady, Josh?
Jackson: If you think about it, Peter never really met Bolivia. He fell in love with her, but he thought she was Olivia. Dumb smart man. Little head doing the thinking. [Laughs] Noble: I think that worked, because Peter was falling in love with her and a couple of times, we played that there was something different about Olivia. But he was so preoccupied with his own stuff, that wasn’t registering. Until it’s finally revealed to us and then it becomes “how could they not have known?”
Torv: I’m curious about that, too. How do you think Peter and Walter missed it?
Noble: There had been such a traumatic event — we’d all crossed universes — so when we came back, we were all in different places. Our relationship had shifted enormously, Peter had chosen to go over there, we met William Bell, all sorts of things had happened, so a personality shift was to be expected.
Torv: Also, when you start a relationship with someone, they actually do change.
Jackson: Very true. And there is a bit of arrogance that goes with falling in love. You think you’re bringing out a different side of them.
TV Guide Magazine: Josh, how has it been playing the Peter-Bolivia romance with Anna after two seasons of platonic on-screen action?
Torv: Well, it wasn’t really a love affair. [Laughs] Jackson: It got a little aborted. If there was more time, it would have broadened and deepened.
Torv: I think Josh is right, if we had more time, what would have been fun to play with the Peter-Bolivia relationship is them actually getting together for each other. But things happened so quickly, we were going back and forth every other episode, it was, what three episodes?
Jackson: Not even…
Noble: I bought it.
Torv: It became, on my part anyway, the question as to whether there was enough time for her to really [fall for Peter], or is this a selling of her soul? Honestly, I had been assuming in Bolivia’s mind — because she didn’t have information about that kind of stuff — that Peter and Olivia had been f—ing forever! [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: Do you think there is a romantic future for Olivia and Peter?
Torv: Not for a while, no. [Laughs] Of course, you root for them. I think they satiated that bit of what the fans wanted, then turned it on its head. Now we’ll see what they do with it.
Noble: When I see them on-screen, the romantic in me comes out. How could they not fall in love with each other?
TV Guide Magazine: And how is it to finally have the real team reunited?
Torv: It’s been so much fun. Especially having been on the other side. When you come back it’s like, this is home.
If Fringe gets cancelled this year, it’s all FOX’s fault. Granted, the network kept the show on for a year longer than I thought it would. But the fact of the matter is, FOX just hasn’t realized that all these two-week breaks they’re just throwing into the show’s schedule are killing the shows. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look back, starting in season two, just to see how network television’s best show has been affected by these breaks.
Take, for instance, what happened between the episode “Dream Logic” and the episode “Earthling.” “Dream Logic” aired on October 15, 2009, just before Fringe took a two-week break. No big deal, right? Wrong. “Dream Logic” had been about average for the season thus far, landing about 7.57 million viewers. When the show returned with the episode “Earthling” on November 5, the show had lost 2.62 million viewers. The show didn’t recover from this loss until the episode “Unearthed,” which only improved because it followed House, a more solid lead-in for the show than Bones.
The show managed to build itself up over its January run, and four episodes later, it was back up at 7.41 million viewers with its winter finale, “Jacksonville.” Not wanting to have dodged that bullet, FOX decided that it was about time for another break, and took the show off the air for two months.
I think you can guess what happened next.
Fringe returned on April 1 with “Peter,” which was its best episode up until that point — but it had lost one and a half million viewers. The show tried to recover but in the end just couldn’t, and ended its second season with 5.68 million viewers.