TV REVIEW: Fringe Season3: Episode 11: Reciprocity

 

 Now this episode has raised a question. Fringe is fairly serious and po-faced with some moments of comedy often courtesy of Walter along the way (incidentally John Noble does an excellent comic turn in this episode.) Does that seriousness and maybe the intellectual history of things like the X-files and Dark Skies which shadows Fringe hide something, something older? 

Spoilers may well haunt the dark of this review.

I ask this because I’ve been looking at a lot of Lovecraft and Lovecraft derived material lately, and while I haven’t been put off seafood or started to like cats I have found occult parallels in the Fringe and the writings of Paranoid from Providence.

 

Consider the facts .We have for instance the antediluvian technology of the ‘First People’ this can rift on such influences as Robert E Howard’s pre-history, stories of Fey Folk and of course such Lovecraftian creations as the Elder Things and the Great Race of Yith. I don’t think it’s clear the first people where, erm, people per say.

Consider also the body horror and hidden nastiness that inhabits the Fringe universe, the insanity that claimed Walter and alien nature of nearly human the Observers and Shape-shifters – perhaps the Ghouls and Deep Ones of the Fringeverse?

This first people technology is instrumental in the plot of this episode and is also potentially instrumental in a development of an established character. I have told you of the dangers of spoilers and feel it best to repeat that warning now. If you should wish to avoid them, pray park this review and retreat to the safety of a new dark age of ignorance until you’ve seen the episode.

Alongside the research into the technology which involves Olivia facing up to her fears of Fauxlivia’s taking her place with Peter there is a race to stop an assassin taking out shapeshifters with a callousness and efficiency we expect from Walternate’s agents.

But it isn’t one of Walternate’s agents – or is it?

I am of course here doing my least favourite thing in a review. That is concentrating on the plot. But this episode stands and falls on the plot so on I go.

The assassin who has taken out the agents and torn out their records with such brutality, always one step ahead of the team – is Peter. This raises question as to whether he has been altered by an encounter with the machine which is Walters fear. I however think their might be something else going on here. The rationalist point of view is that peter was an agent and fixer before the Fringe team and this ruthlessness was always part of his nature. It is only with having processed the betrayal of Fauxiliva that this now comes to the fore. The lovecraftian view is, as so often with the dreamer of Rhode Island, down to ancestry. Peter is not Walter’s son, he is the son of the more ruthless and stern Walternate. Going ‘’Mossad’ in his approach is just a case of Peter’s blood coming out, He is his father’s son and the inadequate nurturing of our Walter can’t change that. When push comes to shove of course he’s going to turn to methods of violence and stealth – it’s in his genes.

Does the twist work? Yes. In fact once the initial discovery was made, it made perfect sense. The fact it works on 3 different levels (at least for me) further shows one of the great strengths of Fringe, and where while I think it owes him an immense debt it shows why Fringe is more effective that Lovecraft, it has depth.

Speaking of depth the cast continue to amaze making one wonder why the sleep walked performance that dominate so much of our telly (and yes Outcasts I’m including you with the soaps here;) are tolerated. Of course Anna Torv and John Noble lead the way though for obvious reasons Joshua Jackson has some heavy lifting here and does very well with it.

Again we find an efficiency here while so much of genre telly (Chuck stop trying to hide at the back, Outcasts yes you again too) treads water for most of a season every episode of Fringe drives the plot and/or the character arcs. I understand the first season was more monster of the week but at this point the plot is advancing with the impact of a Panzer Division through the Ardennes.

Niggles, I can’t honestly think of any the only thing stopping this being a 5 star review is that it’s not quite up with Fringes very best and I think it’s fair to review Fringe against it’s highest moments.

4/5 stars

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