Fringe Season3: Episode 12: Concentrate and Ask again

Continuing to juggernaut plot into what are essentially monster of the week episodes this episode of Fringe kick-starts with a truly wonderful element of body horror.  A very Cronenbergian series of assassinations lead the team through a rogue Cortexiphan patient to a weapons research project and affected ex-Special Forces contractors.

We also go to see Olivia in a dress – she pretty – in part of nail biting, suspenseful conclusion.

However, that’s not what this episode is about.

This episode is I think about history and pre-history.

I hope I’m not repeating myself. I know that I have reflected on how the Walter-Peter relationship seems to speak on a very deep level, to me at least to me, of that point were you start to be responsible for your parents rather than them caring for responsible. In this episode there is a examination on the Fauxlivia-Olivia-Peter love triangle which I thinks speaks to a very common and human experience.

Aside first love, we all tend to enter relationships with history. Whether it is Ex’s, unrequited love, a history of dispassionate, impersonal one night stands, clap clinics, children from earlier relationships, whatever, we bring baggage. Whether we like it or not, we lug with psychological dead-weight on our shoulders when we enter a new relationship. Not knowing   what our new paramour is thinking (curse you imperfect words, and curse you imperfect self knowledge that impairs our expression,) we blunder through a maize of misconception and misperception.

To me when you find someone with whom you’re prepared to battle through all that and communicate, it’s called love.  Others might argue love is a sublime position where the communication just flows; I’ll beg to differ from my personal bashing off the adamantine surfaces of reality.

What’s this you ask, an agony aunt column? – What’s this got to do with Fringe?

Well, I’ll tell you.  Here Olivia cheats. Doesn’t sound very Olivia does it? But she cheats and why does she cheat? Her feelings for Peter and the history he has with Fauxlivia is racking her.  Olivia’s one failing is he uptight nature, her failure to communicate feelings,  it limited her in realising her relationship with Peter and perhaps explains in moments of stress she seems to got ‘Tara Chase’ and find a glass of malt in her hand.

To be fair she does try and address these issues with Peter directly. However, whatever his cosmic significance Peter is human too and from a desire to protect her or guilt or a lifetime in covert operations means he fails to communicate.  So Olivia cheats and in a few brief scenes alongside a high paced adventure story punctuated with some lovely body horror I think get an insight in relationships that shows that seem devoted to nothing else often fail to deliver with their mechanical plotting and random characterisation.

I get all this from a silly show about alternate dimensions, monsters and mad scientists. Truly we are living in an golden age.

Performances are excellent, I think I saw some freshness in direction and that was nicely rounded by an impressive guest turn which reinforced the stellar efforts of the regulars.

Of course this wouldn’t be Fringe with the main plot arc being advanced which is where the pre-history comes in. Character arcs are all very well but we can’t just tread water can we? It’s not Smallville after all.

What does happen with a minor character making a revelation blows one my pet theories out of the water, but should make for very interesting times.

5/5 Stars – can’t fault it. Not just impressive genre drama, impressive drama.

Clarkythecruel is just one of the many aliases of Kehaar, one half of the Dissecting Worlds podcast duo. When not arguing about the social science in science fiction, fantasy and horror he can be found writing, playing with toy soldiers and debating role playing at or running his current RPG game in an alterative 1938 Britain details of which are held here . Or follow him on twitter at @clarkythecruel. Rumours that he has an even more monstorous invisiable twin brother are grossly exaggerated.

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