The final two episodes of “Fringe” should be incredible. Flat out awesome. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about the final two episodes of “Fringe,” but rather its antepenultimate episode. That allows me to use big words like “antepenultimate,” which is fun and all. But the episode itself was less so. For those that thought “Brown Betty” was the show spinning its wheels, they must have found tonight’s episode even more infuriating. In essence, the episode was one long fake-out designed to give Peter food for thought before the cliffhanger turned his world upside down.
[Full recap of Thursday's (May 6) "Fringe" after the break...]
Tonight’s episode played out like a combination of “The X-Files” and “The Fugitive,” with a now nomadic Peter winding his way through America. Running away from his past without any particular place to go, he finds himself in a diner in Noyo County, Washington. He still has Boston on his mind, as evidenced by his selection of pecan pie (the last thing he offered to make with Walter). Krista Manning works in this diner: the kind of impossibly adorable waitress that makes mix CD’s for customers based on their aura. Reminds me of every trip to IHOP, personally: a bottomless cup of coffee and the latest Kings of Leon to listen to on the way home.
A mysterious call to his hotel room (sounding like the static heard in “The Man from The Other Side”) pricks up Peter’s Spidey senses. And when Krista ends up missing (with Newton mysteriously appearing on the scene), Peter decides to stop running and start hunting. He pairs up with two local law enforcement officials, one of whom is played by Martha Plimpton and one of whom is not. Plimpton plays Officer Mathis, who more than likely watches “The X-Files” when not on-duty. She wants to believe…except when it’s staring her straight in the face.
Peter’s convinced that Krista’s disappearance (and the subsequent disappearance of Mathis’ partner Ferguson) is tied into Newton’s phonecalls to Peter, a way to triangulate his location for…some unknown purpose. In Newton, Peter sees answers. So rather than allow Mathis to call the FBI and help, he suggests they work together to trap Newton. Peter’s reasons are both plausible (if the FBI descend, Newton could split) and personal (he doesn’t exactly want to be found, and makes Broyles promise to keep his location private from Walter.) When Ferguson goes missing, Mathis sees Peter as her only hope for finding her partner in crime and in bed.
But his attempts to be the Mulder to Mathis’ Scully don’t quite have the effects he intended. Talk of temporal lobe removal and shapeshifting call Peter’s sanity into question, and his lack of sleep doesn’t help things, either. Further complicating things are Newton’s newfound ability to seemingly appear and disappear as he chooses, thanks to his unnamed associate who has a cellphone that can apparently phase them in and out of sight. (Does the iPhone have an app for that?) Furthermore, a third victim appears, seemingly having no connection to Peter at all. Like The Beastie Boys, he thinks he’s losing his mind this time. This time? He’s losing his mind. And you can’t front on that.
Meanwhile, in Boston, Walter’s losing his mind completely: the house is unkempt, there’s no food in the fridge, and he’s shouting to the high heavens about, “Delicious, strawberry-flavored death!” in supermarkets. The man who was labeling everything in his lab last week is now a frumpled mess, worried that Peter’s absence will mean an inevitable trip back to the mental hospital. (His fear isn’t entirely unjustified: Broyles’ non-answer to Olivia on this matter is an answer in and of itself.)
Walter eventually realizes that he could find Peter by creating a device to measure the “shimmer” emanating objects from the other side, in essence creating a Peter radar. But at the last minute, he subverts the experiment, which Astrid immediately recognizes. (She is all sorts of awesome, taking care of Walter and intuitively knowing him better than he knows himself at this point.) For Walter, finding Peter and still not being forgiven is worse than never finding him at all. But after Olivia arrives with knowledge of Peter’s whereabouts, Walter steels up to visit him anyways.
Too bad he’s too late. The case in Washington wasn’t the work of Newton, but merely a deranged owner of an abandoned dairy farm. He just wanted to be “close to them,” which is pretty much Psycho Killer 101, along with the jars full of organs from past victims as well. Before departing, Mathis offers Peter advice that might come in handy in a few episodes in the form of an anecdote: she became a cop to avenge the murder of her family, but found a home instead of revenge in the police force. Interesting advice, in that immediately after Newton gets the drop on Peter and introduces him to “The Secretary.” That man? The Walternate, of course: the man that walked across the bridge, the man from the other side, now here to take his son home. And, in the process, possibly end all life in this universe.
A few bullets from tonight’s episode:
I sort of scoffed at this line by Mathis: “You’re looking for meaning in things that have no meaning.” How very meta. Am I watching “Lost” again? Isn’t this Thursday, not Tuesday?
I would definitely watch a show in which Peter Bishop went from town to town, solving bizarre mysteries with the background of an impending apocalypse hanging over each week. But I’m pretty sure that “Supernatural” already is running with this idea. Still, I like the idea of “Droppin’ Mad Science,” which is the title I just gave this Peter Bishop anthology-series. Make it so, FOX. Make it so.
That Bazooka Joe comic (with its “You Can’t Get There From Here!” punchline) was a little too anvilicious for my tastes, but then again, this entire episode was an exercise in reteaching Peter Bishop the value of unusual families in unusual times.
I can’t wait to find out what the Walternate is Secretary of, exactly. Defense? Science? Interdimensional Buttkicking? Does “Secretary” even mean the same thing over there as it does here? Can’t wait to find out.
Another shout-out from “The Man From The Other Side,” in addition to the pecan pie: Peter’s cartography skills getting another workout in triangulating the possible location for the medical facility used to extract body parts from his victims. With the tendencies in shows to rely on Magical Technology to solve problems (both literally magical and the type of magic employed by “24” where people can whip up programs on the fly with ease), it’s nice to see a low-tech solution to problems employed.
I realize that these shows have budgets, but they couldn’t have picked a better song for that mix CD? I would have put The Doors’ “Break on Through” as Track 1. Guess the rights to that were too expensive.
After the masterful build-up after its long hiatus, culminating with Peter’s realization of his true origin, “Fringe” has largely stood in place over the last two weeks. Last week’s noir-themed mindscape was a fun (albeit late in the game) diversion, but this week’s episode really felt like padding before the final push. The misdirections involving Newton didn’t feel clever so much as manipulative, with the entire point simply to bounce him around until the final, “shocking” reveal. Given that the identity of The Secretary wasn’t that hard to guess, I suppose only that he appeared tonight could be classified as a surprise. Charles Dickens once wrote a tale about two cities. “Fringe” is writing a tale about two fathers. I’m on board for what’s to come, but it’s taken us a little longer than I expected to actually get there.
What did you make of Peter’s Pacific detour: necessary to set the stage or simply a waste of time? Is Peter’s importance defined by his two fathers, or by something intrinsic within himself? What songs would you have put on Peter’s CD? Leave your thoughts below!
Final five, bitches! Alexandra is ready to flatten some skinny competition! Jessica is ready to use her face to fierce it up! Krista is on a “high high” after being picked first last week! Octomom, I mean Angelea, is starting to show her jealous stripes with onetime friend Krista.
9:01 p.m. Wait. Did Ryan Seacrest just sign up for FourSquare one minute before the start of a Wednesday (May 5) "American Idol" results show? That's what his Twitter account seems to be indicating. [Note: I follow Seacrest on Twitter because every once in a while he tells me important things like when he saved the season by heroically rescuing Crystal Bowersox from her insecurities. He, however, does not follow me. You suck, Seacrest! No, I kid. A little. Maybe.]
9:02 p.m. Yes, Feliz Cinco de Mayo to you as well, Ryan.
9:02 p.m. Ryan says that 32 million votes were cast last night. That number isn't going up, Ryan. You may wanna stop mentioning it. It only exposes the show's overall decline, since it isn't hard to go back and check out voting totals from past seasons.
[Full recap of Wednesday's "American Idol" results after the break...]
You know it's going to be a packed episode when there's no time for a "previously on" montage at the start of the show.
My entire Twitter reaction to tonight's episode: "Oh, my. OH, MY. You hear me, 'Lost'? I SAID OH, MY."
The show started cold this week with Locke in TIMELINE A waking up in recovery after being operated on to repair the damage done when Desmond ran him down. The first thing Locke sees after waking up is Jack, who wants to discuss the emergency surgery with him and to inform him that there's a good chance another surgery might restore his ability to walk. "You're a candidate," he tells him, and Jack's excited to share the news, which makes it more confusing when Locke tells him that he doesn't want any more help from Jack.
Helen shows up, emotional about Locke's close call, and she starts to profusely thank Jack for saving Locke. As she does, we jump to TIMELINE B, where Jack wakes up on Hydra Island, having been saved in this timeline by AlternaLocke and Sayid.
Meanwhile, in Widmore's camp, the rest of the Lostaways are being herded into the polar bear cages, and Sawyer decides he's not getting back in one of those cages, no matter what. He snatches the gun away from Babyface and tells him he's not doing it. Widmore walks out and puts a gun to Kate's head. When Sawyer tries to call Widmore's bluff, Widmore explains, "I have a list of four names. Kate Austin is not on it." That does it. Sawyer backs down. As they're all being locked into the polar bear cages, Widmore asks his people about the fence and when it will be ready. They tell him it'll be about an hour. "We haven't got an hour," Widmore responds. "He's coming."
Indeed he is.
At least they didn't take the easy route and cover Joan Jett.
In the aptly named episode "Bad Reputation," everyone's got one -- or if they don't, they're desperately trying to get one. Unless they're Will Shuester, whose about to get what's coming to him for getting cozy with both Elphaba AND Galinda in the span of two weeks. But look who else is triple teaming her dating profile -- Miss Rachel Berry, who gives those Puckleberry fans something to coo about and puts those Broadway-ready emotional facial muscles to good use in one of the better finale numbers in recent memory!
But the real unsung heroes of Episode 17 of "Glee?" They're names are Olivia. Vanilla. Stanley Kirk Burrell. And the indomitable Miss Bonnie Tyler. Let these names not be left behind in the annals of pop culture… even if music in the '80s and early '90s did kind of suck.
[Full recap of Tuesday (May 5) night's "Glee" after the break...]
So, yeah, "V" kind of headed in a direction that felt vaguely interesting as it opened tonight's episode. I was down with the idea that we were being dropped into the story in medias res. I didn't need to learn just why the Fifth Column members were taking out a V shuttle. I knew that because I'd WATCHED THE SHOW BEFORE. And while the promos for the episode completely spoiled the big twist here - the shuttle was full of HUMANS - I still liked the way the series stuck with the characters as they realized they'd become everything they least wanted to be. If they didn't value human life, what made them any better than the V's? It's a provocative question to build an episode around, and it suggested that the series might be willing to dabble in philosophical weight given enough time.
But then the episode brought up the text "12 Hours Earlier," and I groaned.
[Full recap of Tuesday's (May 4) "V" after the break...]
Once upon a time, "American Idol" used to shift from single performances to doubles when the contestants reached the Top 5. That meant 10 performances and "American Idol" used to magically do that in an hour. Unbelievable, right?
On Tuesday (May 4) night, "American Idol" could only find time for five performances in 61 minutes. And how could you possibly do more when you have two clip packages -- one for mentor Harry Connick Jr. and one for Frank Sinatra, whose songs made up the night's theme -- and a five minute filler conversation, plus one commercial break before the first song?
Credit is due to Connick, who arranged the Sinatra songs specially for the Top 5, brought along several representatives from his band and even joined them himself on the piano and organ. At least that guy was a committed mentor.
But did his efforts pay off? Or did the "Idol" singers turn me into the Chairman of the Bored?