FRINGE: One World, Two World, Red World, Blue World

FRINGE (2010) – Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2: “Olivia” and “The Box” – Starring Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nicole, and Lance Reddick.

Episode 1 of Season 3 of FRINGE takes place in the Alternate Universe. Episode 2 of Season 3 of FRINGE takes place in the Original Universe.

The Alternate Universe has Original Olivia, a menacing Walter Bishop, and no one ever smiles. The Original Universe has Alt-Olivia, a crazy Walter Bishop, and there’s plenty of smiling in between cases that haven’t made their way to the basement of the FBI, yet.

The Alternate Universe has some young guy with really ugly skin from being burned last season, a headquarters at the base of the Statue of Libertry, and Alternate Charlie, or as I like to call him, Still Alive Charlie. The Original Universe has some young guy with nice skin who was stolen from the other world, a headquarters at Harvard, and a cow, or as I like to call her, a cow.

This back and forth is apparently going to continue all season, which is already getting old and doesn’t fill my cockles with warmth and cheer.

The problem is the Alternate Universe which, despite its hovering zeppelins, is a depressingly serious, instead of cool, place. Walter (dubbed Walternate by folks on the original side) is a super-serious, super-nutjob Secretary of Defense and Fringe is a military organization. It’s still run by Lance Reddick, but in this universe he wears baseball hats and tight t-shirts when he scowls because … well, maybe it’s because he can’t grow a mustache.

“Olivia” takes place almost entirely in the Alt-verse and centers around Original Olivia escaping from prison on Liberty Island. Walternate is having her drugged for nefarious purposes (because Walternate probably butters his toast for nefarious purposes). He’s trying to inject Alt-Olivia’s memories into her head because he wants Olivia to think she’s Alt-Olivia in order to drive everyone who’s still watching completely daft.

It’s an awful episode, with Olivia’s mind slowly succumbing to the programming and becoming Alt-Olivia dragged out and without sufficient pay-off. “Olivia” is as bad a way to open a season as I can imagine, and I’m bored with this alternate world already. It’s great to have Charlie back, of course, but an extended stay in Dour City watching Olivia try to escape or wonder who she is or watch people figure out she’s a phony … thhhpppptttt.

If I want to watch too-serious people in a too-dour world I’ll stick to Haven. At least Haven has … um … well … that is, Haven is … kinda … sorta …

Yeah, okay, bad example. Haven totally blows and no matter how dreary FRINGE’s Alt-verse is, it’s better than watching Haven, even if no one talks like a Pepperidge Farm commercial.

“The Box” takes place in the Original Universe and focuses on Alt Olivia stepping into Original Olivia’s shoes. This is the far more interesting episode and universe. For starters, Alt Olivia is awesome – she’s a secret agent, she bosses creepy people around, she shoots deaf people in the back of the head IN HER OWN APARTMENT, and she’s totally getting physical with Peter simply because it helps her cover.

Mostly, though, the Original Universe is a superior place because these are the people we’ve watched grow over the past two seasons. Walternate and Bad Ass Fringe Division are neat change-ups, but I don’t want a steady diet of them. If it were up to me, I’d just bury Original Olivia over there and drop in on her for hit and runs every couple of episodes. Olivia should like it better over there anywhere, since she’s dour and serious, too.

It doesn’t say much for Peter’s observational skills, either, that he’s so easily fooled by Alt Olivia. Even though he’s already noticed that she’s different (Alt Olivia actually expresses an interest in music and dancing – not to mention face sucking), and even though everyone knows there’s an Alt Olivia in that other universe, Peter just plows ahead, blindly accepting her rationale that “meeting another version of myself has made me think about my own choices,” even though we can see that what’s really blinding him is the opportunity to touch Olivia’s boobs.

Man, how disappointed is Peter going to be when the Original Olivia gets back and she’s a hundred times less awesome in the sack than Alt-Olivia, who uses her sexuality instead of repressing it?

“Do you want to try-?”

“No.”

“How about if I-?”

“No.”

“What about-?”

“That makes me uncomfortable.”

“Listening to music while we cuddle, fully clothed and laying on top of you bed, makes you uncomfortable?”

“Did you remember to DVR Human Target for me?”

I’ve really enjoyed FRINGE for two seasons, but Season 2′s finale was a letdown, and Season 3 has started off as a downer, too. They’re going to need to introduce an Alt-verse plot to hook me pretty quick, or I’ll be checking out when I see the red-colored opening (which denotes an Alt-verse episode), and checking in when I see the blue-colored opening (Original-verse).

There’s already something like 50 shows backed up in my Hulu queue, and I don’t see any reason to sit through stuff that bores me.

Right, Haven?

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