Fringe, “Entrada”

Stupid scheduling mishaps have led to me not writing about Fringe for at least the last couple episodes and maybe three episodes. That’s unfortunate, because you all know that Fringe has been awesome in almost every way for the first seven episodes this season.

Well, make that eight episodes actually, because “Entrada” is another damn fine effort, even if I had a few issues with it.

And let me get those issues out of the way up front since they’re probably stupid or at least misguided. I think I was only a smidgen disappointed with “Entrada” because I have been reading for two weeks about how epic of a conclusion to the over here, over there plot framework it was, how it was the best episode of the series ever, blah blah blah. That got to me. Do I think “Entrada” is pretty freaking awesome? Sure do. But it’s not head and shoulders above any of the first seven episodes in such a way that I can’t contain myself with excitement or enjoyment. It’s a wonderful episode of television and yet another example to point to if FOX has to mercy kill the series for tanking on Friday nights, but it’s not the best-ever episode.

Moreover, I found the episode to have a few plotting issues where the balance between both universes didn’t always work as well as it could have, which is perhaps only a problem because this is the first full episode to toggle back and forth throughout the running time. Right? I think so.

But any event, it’s hard to complain too much about “Entrada,” because it does serve as a very, very nice conclusion of the Olivia/Fauxliva displacement saga and does a nice job of not getting caught up in too much mythological development, but instead continues to focus on the great characters in both universes. And as usual, the episode is a major showcase for Anna Torv, who gets to play multiple emotional beats for two different characters throughout this episode and though it’s perhaps not her “best” performance, it’s still wonderful. I actually found Joshua Jackson’s performance to be top-notch here as well, as he played Peter with a complex combination of hurt, confusion, rage and concern without letting any of those emotions overtake the others. Peter is good at internalizing all his problems and Jackson plays that with relative ease.

And finally, some praise has to be thrown out there for Lance Reddick, who has of course been sorely underutilized throughout Fringe‘s run, so it’s been nice to see him get a lot more to do with the altBroyles, who is still the same guy, but with a lot more pronounced traits and tendencies. I’m sad to see altBroyles go, but I have to imagine that “our” Broyles’ view of his counterpart’s death will spur him on to some interesting decisions and choices in the future. I’m just guessing, but that makes a lot of sense from this vantage point.

What I really enjoyed about this episode is how it cut into what seems to me, as the biggest issue of this inter-universe war: Fear. Good science-fiction isn’t always about fantastic planets, crazy gadgets or aliens, it also includes a focus on the fears that come from within. What are the problems that “we” have brought on ourselves and what not, stuff like that. And it’s apparent that the people in the alternate universe are just like the people in our universe, they’re just scared by all the awful things that have happened to them and Walternate and presumably the rest of the government are now trying to give them someone to blame: the other versions of themselves! And a lot of alt-Universe people would probably react like altBroyles: skeptical, but ultimately realize that if they can trust human beings in their universe, there really isn’t any reason why that same rule shouldn’t apply between universes.

Though this is supposed to be something of a mid-season finale, I think “Entrada” really kind of serves as a catalyst for a number of interesting things to come. As audience members, we don’t really know how both Olivias will deal with returning to their home-universes, or how people like Peter and Broyles will deal with the aftermath of this situation. I think these first eight episodes, while very awesome, provided less mythology and more character-building moments, which is a good thing. But that’s why I also think they were actually just part of a massive set-up for some real great stuff to come in episodes 15-22. I’m sure, as evidenced by the promo for next week’s episode, that we’ll depress back in to some more traditional procedural episodes primarily set in “our” universe, but the people on the other side will still be working to bring everyone down and I suspect they’ll pop back up next spring for all sorts of drama. And I can’t wait, Fridays be damned.

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