Fringe Season 2 Episode 9 ‘Snakehead’

A more episodic edition of Fringe this time. This is not the first bit of genre media I’ve come across that has used ‘snakeheads’ Chinese people smugglers as a plot device. An old Big Finish UNIT audio used them and I have to say Fringe wins – out despite the pictures being better on audio. So why did it work so well?

Firstly Fringe is much grittier. Okay it’s not ‘The Wire’ but it’s a world away from the ‘occasional winks to camera’ school of Warehouse 13 and far less glossy than say the new Knight Rider. This suits a story that deals with real world crime organisations and peril to innocents.

Secondly the fact that Fringe willingly draws from a broad pallet and therefore for this episode can use a more credible version of fringe science means it can pick a phenomena that suits the story – and it does so here particularly well in it’s combination of something very real world, very modern and very Chinese. Other genre TV would be limited by something either too mundane (BUGs, Crime Traveller), too formulaic (Warehouse 13?) or too fantastic. Oh and it has a nice euck factor as well.

Thirdly the soap element continues to be played deftly. I have complained about the lack of things to do for Astrid Farnsworth – this episode gives her a lot more to do and she plays it very well. Maybe it’s natural in a program with two glamorous investigators, an eccentric boffin and charismatic boss that it’s choice moments in episodes like this that Astrid will shine. I think I will be happy with that. Olivia Dunham’s maternal side is also hinted at.

However the core relationship of this episode is Peter and Walter. Walter’s quest for independence forms the emotional core of the episode and the perils and pitfalls are well noted. He also comes up with a very elegant and very Walter solution.

All in all a top episode and ideal as a jumping on point being mythology and ‘big bad’ free.

GS Reviewer: Andrew

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