Fringe: Season 3 Premiere ‘Olivia’ (Review)

Fringe: Season 3 Premiere “Olivia”

FringeWhen it premiered 3 years ago, many people (including myself) were skeptical of Fringe. Any previews or blurbs strongly suggested that it was going to be nothing more than an X-Files rip-off. After the first few episodes, however, Fringe proved it could stand on its own. Taking the best of The X-Files and adding its own mythos centered on an alternate Earth similar to our own but with its own unique flavor, has made Fringe one of the best sci-fi shows this decade.

Last year ended with one of the better season finales that I’ve seen in the last few years. After two years of hints and delving into the relationship between our Earth and Alt-Earth, Olivia (Anna Torv), Peter (Joshua Jackson), and Walter (John Noble) found themselves trapped in Alt-Earth. In a fast paced episode where they meet their alternate selves, they’re finally able to make it home with the help of Walter’s former partner and founder of Massive Dynamics (this show’s Acme Corporation) William Bell (Leonard Nimoy). Or so we believe…it’s not until the final scene that we realize the Olivia that escaped back into our world is not the real deal.

The majority of the episode takes place on Alt-Earth where Olivia finds herself isolated as much as any one person can be. Held captive by Walter-nate and the Fringe division, she resists their advances on brainwashing her to believe that she is, in fact, the Olivia of Alt-Earth. Escaping after another injection her alternate’s brain cells, Olivia spends the rest of the episode trying to find her way home. This trip provides us with just how different this world is from our own. “Show Me” cards instead of licenses, JFK still alive, no Massive Dynamics and, of course, the trademark Air Ship. Every attempt of Olivia to find anything to help her cause only provides a siphon which slowly drains her hope. Anna Torv does a wonderful job in this episode showcasing an emotional edge that was often lacking over the past two seasons. Still, despite the seemingly hopeless situation, we have a good idea that Olivia will find a way out.

Or maybe not…

There aren’t many times that I can say a show surprises me but this episode did just that; in a very nice twist, the injections of Bolivia’s brain cells eventually take hold until she is no longer the Olivia Dunham of our world but that of the Alt-Earth. This development provides a blank canvas for a plethora of questions. How long will the brainwashing of our Olivia last? Will Bolivia start to behave more like our Olivia when dropped into the latter’s environment and exposed to the same stimuli? How this psychological and sociological science project ultimately ends will be a major component of season three’s success and, quite possibly, the continued momentum of the show as a whole.

The last few minutes of the episode finally shift to our world. Peter is relaying a governing body as to the events of their trip into Alt-Earth and Walter-nate’s end game. Panning to the steps outside are Walter and Bolivia. She is confident and at ease in her surroundings, allaying, for the moment, the suspicions of her companions. Only when Peter kisses her (returning their kiss from the season two finale) does Bolivia stumble, but she quickly rights herself, walking away in Peter’s embrace. While we’ve yet to see her in the company of Broyles (Lance Reddick), Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and others, Bolivia appears to be the perfect mole for whatever nefarious plans Walter-nate has for destroying our world.

Of course, that is if she doesn’t go native.

Grade: A-

– Darryl (Follow @djasper07 on Twitter.)