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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Recap: Fringe Pilot Episode (101) ... Part 1

I can remember when the commercials for Fringe first started coming on I was already drawn to the show.  It seemed like it was going to be so interesting and right up my little love of strange shows alley.  It surely didn't disappoint.  I do wish I would've thought about writing about it as it first came on, that way I could write about it without knowing what was coming.  But having said that, it is kind of cool to watch it from the beginning and see how seemingly meaningless details are really a glaring sign of something that happens later.

 I haven't quite decided what, if any, kind of format to try to follow with these posts so I'm sort of winging it.  I think they are going to be partly an episode recap, some of my thoughts about it, and well, whatever else makes it to the keyboard.


Fringe - Season 1, Episode 1 (1x01)

Even the first few seconds of this show was captivating with the plane flying through the storm.  It's almost like you can feel the electricity in the air and feel the turbulence.  I think the pilot would've been great to see in a theater.  Well all the episodes are like mini-movies with killer effects so any of them would be good in a theater. 

Just the theme song of Fringe brings a smile to my face.  I think The X Files used to do that too.  It's like you know you are about to embark on some crazy ride that is going to make you suspend your powers of disbelief and you are more than willing to take this journey and keep your hands and arms inside the car at all times.

After the horrific opening sequence complete with vomiting face melting people the scene switches to a motel room and we meet Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and John Scott (Mark Valley) who have apparently just finished bending the rules of the FBI and the mattress springs of the bed.  John tells Olivia he loves her and I am under the assumption that it must have been the first time for that and although Olivia looks quite pleased at this, she doesn't say the big "L" word back.  And as what is going to become a continuing occurrence in this show, a cell phone rings at an inopportune moment and the two lovers have to go back to their roles as FBI agents.

The incident that Olivia was called away about is about what we saw in the opening.  Now here, I would like to interject this ... I love the way this show marks their locations with the name of the place they are at or going to appearing to just hang in midair, sometimes straight up and down, sometimes sideways and sometimes flattened out.  The camera will sometimes move through the letters.  I don't know if it was ever done anywhere before on television or movies but to me it felt new and inventive.

Olivia meets up with Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo)  at Logan Airport in Boston and Charlie explains to her that the plane has landed using autopilot and there are no signs of life.  John Scott arrives on the scene and as he exits his car he is finishing up a cell phone conversation.  He greets Agent Dunham as though they have not just been playing ring around the rosie between the sheets.

A man drives by in a van and as he leans out to talk to one of the officials we see that he is one of the people that were on the plane.  One of the melting people on the plane, yet here he looks very normal and non-drippy faced.

Special Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) arrives and in his no-nonsense manner announces, who he is where he's from and what he expects from the people he is now in charge of.  Olivia is not given clearance to get on the plane with her fellow team members Charlie and John so she follows Broyles to question him about it.  As they stand in front of one of the plane's engines that has a Massive Dynamic logo inside (I picked that up from the DVD commentary) Broyles disdainfully acknowledges he knows who Olivia is, in a way that makes us think there must be more to it than just hearing her name around the law enforcement channels.  He tells her to get a hazmat suit and participate in researching the inside of the plane.

The agents open the plane up and start making their way through the carnage.  The scene changes to the Federal Building in Boston (the camera makes it's way through the 2nd O in Boston) and we are shown a room buzzing with people talking about the flight, trying to figure out who was sitting where and in the background there are news accounts being broadcast from TVs on the wall.  Olivia has another conversation with Broyles that has condescension dripping off his words before he dismisses her with a "Yeah, honey, would you mind?" to go check up on a lead of someone seeing something suspicious at a storage area.

Olivia leaves and meets up with John at the storage area.  They discuss Broyles's jerkiness and John's earlier admission of being in love with Olivia.  She admits she isn't very good dealing with emotional things but with John she feels like she can and she tells him she loves him also.  They share a quick smooch and head off for a romantic dumpster diving (literally dumpster diving, that's no euphemism) session. 

They find empty canister tanks that once held ammonia, then John picks a lock on one of the storage sheds and they enter it.  There are some animals in cages in the shed and one of them to me looked suspiciously like a hairless cat, although I wouldn't swear to it.

Olivia leaves the shed to get better reception on her cell while John continues to explore.  Across the way another shed's door rolls up, revealing the man who drove by in the van/should be dead on the plane.  A foot chase between he and John Scott ensues and John manages to call Olivia during it to tell her about the runner.  Olivia catches up and now they are both pursuing van/dead man.  Van/Dead man stops and pulls out what looks like a cell phone from his pocket and we can hear numbers dialing, or some kind of electronic code beeping.   Olivia realizes that something really bad is about to go down and yells John's name, then there is a huge explosion that blows Olivia back against the dumpster and knocks her out.  That was a great scene by the way.  I don't know if they used wires or what to get her to fly backwards like that, but it looked awesome.  At this point we don't really know what happened to John we just know there was a huge fireball right about where he was.  Mr. Van/Dead man is still standing where he was when he detonated the explosion and he looks relatively unscathed.

Between snippets of white screen and blurry overhead hospital lights plus with a helpful voiceover by one of Olivia's doctors we learn that Olivia is lucky to be alive but John Scott has now been exposed to some kind of chemical in the explosion.  I love that as soon as Olivia comes to she yanks out her monitoring devices and treks off to go find John.  They allow her to mask up and put on sanitized clothing and go in to see him where he is being held in a drug induced coma in isolation.  We get our first look at John post-blast and chemical exposure and boy, is he a sight for sore eyes.  His entire body is blistered with black spots and his skin looks translucent in some places.  Olivia sheds a tear as she looks down over his mangled body.

Later Olivia is in her office and using the FBI equivalent of Google (I'm sure there's a much more professional, technical name for it, but that's what I'm going with) and starts looking up information about John's condition.  A man named Dr. Walter Bishop comes up.

She dashes up the stairs to Broyles's office, composing herself before walking over to him, probably mentally preparing for another lovely conversation with him.  She explains who Dr. Walter Bishop is and we find out that he is currently residing in a mental institution.  And during this conversation it comes out that Olivia is on Broyles's bad side due to a past conflict she had with one of his colleagues.

Broyles basically shoots down Olivia's idea to talk to Dr. Bishop and they discuss that the only person who can actually get in to see him is his son.  It turns out that his son is currently residing in Baghdad Iraq (again the pinpointing of where they are with the name of the city and country over the actual city) and in another helpful voiceover (that's not snarkiness, I like the voiceovers, they are a good exposition tool) Olivia gives Broyles the lowdown on Walter Bishop's son.  She reveals his I.Q. is higher than what is considered a genius, he has lived quite a rambling life, held many types of jobs but none for a long period of time and managed to get a few papers published before it was found out that his degree from M.I.T. was falsified.

And ... enter Peter Bishop (played by the always lovely to look at Joshua Jackson, yes I'm a fan) getting out of a cab and taking off his sunglasses in that I'm a BAMF way.  In Peter's first scene he comes across right away as a smooth, confident guy.  Quick-talking, thinking and good at wheeling and dealing.

As he leaves the meeting with his contacts Olivia gets his attention after he descends the stairs.  She brings up the Hamburg 627 (the melted people) flight and brings up his father.  Peter does not respond well to her bringing up his father as he has no desire to have contact with him and in what will become true Peter fashion becomes sarcastic, then he informs her that "I just got here, honey" with extra snideness on the honey and he didn't plan to hop a flight back to Boston.  I tell ya, Olivia is getting no respect, first Broyles is throwing the word honey at her and now here's some stranger with a chip on his shoulder calling her the same thing.

Olivia tries the being vulnerable approach and explains that she needs Peter's father's help to possibly save someone she deeply cares about who is dying.  Peter looks for a moment like he is considering it, but then tells her he can't help her and starts to walk away.  Olivia drops the vulnerability and informs Peter that she has a supposedly non-existent file on him.  As she basically tells him he has to come with her or she will let his location slip to certain people he glances around the room, possibly considering his options.  Then he plasters one of his charming Peter Bishop smiles on, even though it's a forced one and says "When do we leave?"

I think I am going to break this up into parts.  It is taking longer than I thought but I am enjoying it.  I am stopping here for part 1.  Stay tuned for part 2.

Part 2 is now available. 

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