Friday, September 25, 2009

Fringe 2.02: "Night of Desirable Objects"

“It’s brilliant! He’s created a super baby!”


Before I get into the meat (pun not really intended) of last night’s episode of Fringe, I’m afraid I have to go on a bit of a rant. Especially because this rant caused me to call my mother in the middle of the episode. Twice. While she’s on vacation in Maine. Ladies and gentlemen not familiar with the Philadelphia metro area (where I was born and raised, although hey stalkers, I haven’t lived there full time for seven years and haven’t lived there at all for three)…um…I hate to tell you, but Lansdale is not, as my mother put it, Kansas. My mother worked in Lansdale for over twenty-five years. Trust me. She would know. About the only thing accurate about Fringe’s depiction of Lansdale was the fact that there are indeed railroad tracks that run through the town, and freight trains do indeed run on those tracks pretty regularly. At least they did when I worked in Lansdale myself for a few summers while I was in college and would occasionally have to stop at a railroad crossing for way too long while I waited for a train to pass. Lansdale is pretty much your typical outer Philadelphia suburban town (or Borough, as we strange Pennsylvanians like to call it). It’s got brick row homes, housing developments and semi-abandoned industrial parks. Lansdale is a little heavier on the abandoned industrial park side of that equation than a lot of the Philly suburbs, but still. Definitely not corn fields and scarecrows. And, as one of my college friends who isn’t even from the area astutely pointed out, probably no hungry scorpion/human hybrid teens looking for dinner, either!

I like to call this the “Signs” effect. Which, in a way, was even worse considering M. Night Shyamalan is actually from the Philadelphia area and should have known better. As a final point in this (kind of longer than I anticipated) rant, I’d like to share a few pictures. In this episode of Fringe, the local law enforcement is the “Lansdale Sheriff’s Department,” because, of course, every good hick town in the middle of nowhere needs a Sheriff. Never mind the fact that, at least in Southeastern PA (I can’t really speak to Central PA since I only went to college there, even though that region is probably much closer to the town depicted in this episode…except that they have hills and sometimes even mountains), there are only Sheriffs on the county level. Anyway, here’s a picture of Fringe’s “Lansdale Sheriff’s Department.” Here and here are pictures of the actual Lansdale Police Department. Note that the real building is much bigger, and it’s surrounded by brick row homes and parking lots instead of corn fields.

I’ll be honest, my alternating hysterical laughter and semi-outrage at a repeat of “Signs” kind of distracted me from the overall plot of this episode. I imagine people unfamiliar with the area wouldn’t have this problem. Instead of more fully recapping the plot like I’ve been trying to do in my more recent post-show posts, I’ll hit the highlights of what I liked, since you’ve already heard plenty about what I didn’t like. Or, at least, I’ll hit the highlights of what I noticed in between the aforementioned fits of hysterical laughter and semi-outrage.

I like that Olivia is experiencing physical side effects from her trip to the Other Side (aka the parallel universe where JFK is still alive and the World Trade Center is still standing). This plot is developing very differently from how I thought it would. It never occurred to me that Olivia would completely forget that she met William Bell. I thought we’d get right to the all-out invasion by the Other Side’s soldiers. I like that things are being drawn out a little, although I’ll get antsy if the plot is drawn out for too long. When Olivia had a bout of super-hearing while in her apartment bathtub, I definitely had sympathy for her. I could imagine being suddenly bombarded by the sounds from every other apartment in my building, and it wasn’t pleasant. Although it kind of confused me at first (before I realized Olivia was having dimension-jumping side effects) when Nina Sharp recommended that she see somebody for her condition, my confusion was quickly cleared up in a very interesting (good kind of interesting) way. I thought it was fascinating when Olivia arrived at the bowling alley to see Sam Weiss. He was sufficiently creepy and intriguing to make me curious about where this plot is going to go.

I liked that I jumped and was a bit creeped out when Olivia and Peter finally encountered the actual human/scorpion hybrid (whose dad had genetically engineered him so he could survive gestation despite his mother’s Lupus). The scene was gross and scary, and I expect a little of that each week with Fringe. The rest of the episode had almost been a bit too neat and clean (except for the suicide of the creature’s father...that was pretty disturbing, especially when he was bending the wires to make a noose) up until that point.

Finally, I loved the scene between Peter and Walter about fishing near the end of the episode. It was especially touching because Peter told the story about how, when he was a child, he wished he could go fishing with his father, as a fairy tale that happened to “a young boy” instead of something that really happened. Walter’s reaction was tragically adorable. With a shy, expectant look on his face, he wants to know if he can come along on Peter’s upcoming fishing trip with his “friend.”

Overall, I was pretty neutral about this episode. I like that Fringe is attempting to inject a little of the mythology even into “Monster of the Week” episodes like this one, but I think what made Fringe really take off late last season was a very heavy dose of mythology and fewer kind of cheesy Monster of the Week episodes. I still anxiously await next week, though!

1 comment:

  1. I live in Hatfield and work in Lansdale, and I kept asking myself "Is there another Lansdale somewhere in the middle-of-nowhere PA?" The Canadian National train was a nice touch too! LOL.