This year there is no Lost. Battlestar finished a while back. Caprica has been delayed. V and FlashForward both failed to ignite the bellies of sci-fi fans around the world in their debut (and only in FF’s case) seasons. By the end of season 2 Fringe had positioned itself well ahead of most competition for best sci-fi on telly, and arguably had a better year than the mighty Lost anyway. It is fantastically placed to continue its upward curve after last year and has the potential to become a long-term classic. This year is important. It has the opportunity given its position in the schedules and the show’s mythology has ramped up massively allowing for an even greater breadth of arc this year than last. This opening episode carries on from where we left it – in the Alterniverse – and eases us back into the world we left last May. A gentle beginning then, but suggestive of the intrigue ahead, of which there is plenty what’s occurred.
Season two ended with our Olivia being supplanted by her alternate, totally unknown to Peter and Walter. The bulk of this episode shows our Olivia trying – unsuccessfully – to return to our world whilst Walternate forces a drug regime onto her in an attempt to replace her memories with those of her alternate so that she will be compliant to his demands. He wants to learn her dimension hopping skill so he can send an army to destroy our world (as Peter believes is his aim, or rather take it over in order for his people to live there, something more likely in this reviewer’s mind).
The drugs work, eventually. Olivia is lost in the alterniverse believing she is from there. Peter and Walter oblivious to her fate in our world, with Peter extremely excited to be getting the chance to live life alongside Olivia at last. She is, after all an attractive lady – our Olivia or theirs. In normal circumstances that would be that. In a TV show often something contrived would occur and Olivia would work it out from her end and Peter from his – cue fight to right the situation and much interplay between the two worlds. This may happen in part; we have no idea how the scenario in our world will play out given the limited time we spent there (a couple of minutes at most). In the Alterniverse however, Olivia was using a taxi driver to help her get around Manhatan (alterni-spelling) and a relationship was built over time with a belief in Olivia’s wild suggestions about her circumstance forming in Henry’s head. He knows something isn’t right and he will drive us towards Olivia’s reawakening, at least in part. An easy way to handle the situation in order to eliminate the need down the line for a Deus Ex Machina, but very well done.
In closing, this was a calm opener which hints at many things to come in future episodes – we’ll learn more regarding Walternate’s plans, more of the Alterniverse, more about Peter’s role in things through Olivia from the other side. We knew we’d get much of this from the end of season two, though. Not a great deal happened here that was new but it was fun taking in the atmosphere and spending time in the Alterniverse, especially given time there last season was much more hectic. There’s a long way for this season to go, and a lot more that should come from the episodes as a piece of entertainment as well.