'Fringe': Cool new promo teases cameo by 'Lost' dude. PLUS: Is 'Fringe' preparing for the end? -- EXCLUSIVE

Jorge-Garcia-Fringe-exclusiveImage Credit: Liane Hentscher/FoxIt may be a down week for Fringe, but Fox is trying its best to make sure we don’t forget about its Friday night sci-fi saga. The network’s promo department — which has been turning out cool, clever work for the buzz-y, but ratings-challenged, cult fave all season long — has produced another must-see 90-second spot, this one an atmospheric summing up of the season’s War of the Parallel Worlds story that points to a cataclysmic climax. I’m convinced the commercial also contains a few Easter Eggs. At least one is easy to see: Hurley! Yep, Lost alum and Face of Weezer Jorge Garcia — who has been cast in a new J.J. Abrams-produced series called Alcatraz – will be making a cameo in next week’s episode, playing (SPOILER ALERT!) a Massive Dynamic employee. The spot also includes quotes from certain critics who’ve praised Fringe’s fine third season, as well as one nutty media person known for being a crazed fan of the Bad Robot brand of cryptotainment. Behold:

With no new Fringe to preview or ponder this, let’s process last week’s outing, “Subject 13,” which contained major revelations about Walter Bishop’s backstory and begged some big questions. How come Olivia and Peter can’t remember their childhood encounter in the tulip field after she went all Firestarter? And given how tight Olivia and Walter were during her days at The Bishop School For Gifted Youngsters (despite all that cruel, frightening, Paranormal Activity-esque testing), how come the Cortexiphan-enhanced world-hopper doesn’t have greater recall of her mad scientist father figure, who tried to make her troubled homelife a little better by bullying her abusive stepfather into good behavior? Here’s my current theory: Remember how William Bell extracted memories out of Walter’s head? I think Bell performed similar mnemonic lobotomies on Olivia and Peter, as well. The clue: That video footage of Walter trying to trigger Olivia’s latent abilities. Do you remember for whom Walter was making those videos? William Bell. We heard Bishop ask his former partner if he would review the tapes and look for things in Olivia he might missing. I think Bell did see something, something he could needed to utilize or exploit, be it for righteous or self-serving purposes, and doing so required mind-wiping Olivia and Peter.

I thought “Subject 13″ was extremely significant to the larger Fringe saga in another respect: It seemed engineered to help bring the series to an end should Fox ultimately decide to not renew the show. For me, the big picture Fringe story is about two things: 1. Walter and Peter repairing their fraught father-son relationship; and 2. Olivia and Peter making sense of their peculiar connections to multiple worlds of Fringe-y weirdness so they can move into the future as fully-realized individuals, and possibly together as a couple. I think Fringe can effectively accomplish both narrative missions in the remaining episodes of the season — especially in the wake of “Subject 13.”

Before last week’s episode, Walter possessed a moral ambiguity that was tough for Olivia and Peter (and us) to forgive. As recently as the Feb. 4 episode “Concentrate and Ask Again,” Peter was guilt-tripping Walter for the human wreckage caused by his Cortexiphan testing. But now we know that Peter and Olivia don’t know — or for some reason can’t recollect — the whole story of their shared past, as well as Walter’s motives and heart. We used to think Walter wanted to keep Peter for himself and his wife after saving the boy’s life in order to replace the son he lost. Now we know that Walter was desperately trying to return Peter to his home world and his true parents, and that Walter was trying to cultivate Olivia’s powers not to make her into some kind of super-soldier for a future war, but to re-open the portal between worlds and send Peter home. Yes, Walter and his wife deceived Peter about his origins, but we learned they did so in large part to help Alterna-Pete stay both sane and breathing. Given Peter’s dangerous angst over feeling so profoundly alienated from his fake family and fraudulent Green Lantern/Los Angeles Dodgers culture (do you think he was prepared to die if his plunge into “the world at the bottom of the lake” didn’t work?), Walter and his wife felt their only recourse was to basically browbeat him into believing a lie. And they paid a dear price for that.

I really enjoyed “Subject 13.” And it was a great showcase for John Noble, who deserves serious consideration from Emmy voters. I’m going out of my way to emphasize my love for the episode because I fear what I’m about to say may sound like a criticism. It’s not — it’s just an observation. As I saw it, “Subject 13″ effectively reduced the tricky, defining tensions of Fringe into one big horrible misunderstanding — one that has produced profound, destiny-shaping pain for many people that can’t be easily forgotten, but becomes easier to forgive once everyone knows what we know. Especially Peter and Walternate. If Peter knew that back in the day, Walter was doing all he could to give him back the life he was supposed to have — a life that he would have lost, anyway, if Walter hadn’t saved him — then I have to think Peter’s frosty regard for a man he refuses to call “Dad” would finally, permanently thaw. As for Walternate, we must now wonder if this “over there” Javert would reconsider prosecuting his miserable war against the “over here” world if he understood the mitigating circumstances of Walter’s motives. He won’t, of course — at least, not until his master plan has proceeded past the proverbial Point Of No Return.

Regardless, in the battle between endearingly misunderstood father figure Walter and toxically bitter wife-neglecting Walternate, “Subject 13″ made it easier for us to pick a side — and easier for Fringe to resolve its grand epic, if need be, with a concluding sweep of episodes in which secrets will be revealed and sins will be forgiven, culminating with a series finale that will give us what was inevitable from the beginning: A heroic, redemptive, sacrificial death for Walter Bishop.

But I hope I’m wrong.

Thoughts?

Read more:
‘Fringe’ recap: Olivia and Peter as children, Walter and Walternate as equals

Comments (131 total) Add your comment
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  • henninggirl

    It’s “Massive Dynamic” not “Massive Dynamics”

    • G8rfan

      After all that interesting insight, that’s all you got. How shallow. Must be nice to be perfect.

      • Tarc

        Not perfect. When all you’ve got going on upstairs is a sixth grade mastery of spelling, you skip *thikning* and nit spelling or typos instead.

      • Nick

        Or maybe she’s just holding the journalist to a standard of integrity. It’s not shallow to ask professional writers to write professionally, which includes fact-checking, spelling and grammar. Oh, and Tarc? It’s “nitpick” not “nit.”

      • Donnie

        You’re going to cite journalistic standards in the comment section of an article about Fringe? You really came here hoping or looking for that? I mean I feel dumb enough asking that but I’d feel worse if I spent the day trolling entertainment web sites looking for or pointing out spelling and grammar mistakes in a silly (but entertaining) article. I’m sure most of us are intelligent enough to understand what was being said that we can overlook the mistakes.

      • Shawn

        OK, while grammar/spelling police might be a job best left for fools and trolls – what’s the alternative? Just expecting, accepting and tolerating typos and misspellings? Go rent ‘Idiocracy’ please.

    • Ambee

      I was in journalism for years and have never cared for people being a little too picky about typoes, but perhaps this person was just trying to be helpful. I like helpful.

      • Bigmouth

        I’ve been a writer for a long time, and I welcome it when people correct my grammar and typos — provided they aren’t jerks about it.

    • Grumpster

      Ah…ever since Doc forgot to give us LOST PART 3 Review (remember he promised it over and over again…as recently as December) he has been a slacker. Doc…I only saw the teaser headline…and now I know it’s you, I’m not reading it. Go away!!!

      • Carson

        SERIOUSLY!!!! It’s painstakingly aggravating.. at least an update cmon doc!!

      • Bette

        Doc says : ” With no new Fringe to preview or ponder this, let’s process last week’s outing, “… How about giving the faithfull readers the promised LOST re cap, which would fit in nicely with the Jorge Garcia story.

    • Zakry

      No joke! That’s really all she got from that??

  • Chris

    Fringe is done after this season. I don’t care what Fox says or does, they set the show up to fail by not putting it behind American Idol or letting it air after the Super Bowl. If they truly supported the show, they should have already renewed it.

    It’s all about American Idol and that Glee garbage. Whatever. Network TV is a dead landscape at this point.

    • James

      What do you mean, you don’t care what Fox says or does? If one of the things they do is, I don’t know, renew it? Would you care then? Or would it still be dead?

      A post-Super Bowl episode? Are you crazy? For a show this mythologically dense?

      • Dave

        Fox gave The X-Files the post Super Bowl slot once back in the 90s. There’s no reason they couldn’t have done it for Fringe.

      • Roy

        Agree with Dave. It could have been done. They wouldn’t have had to explain EVERYTHING, but write an episode sufficient to whet the appetites of people who have never even given the show a chance. They write episodes like that to air after long hiatuses anyways. In any case, what sense did it make to air a show that is already a hit in the post-SB slot? What did they have to gain except marginal increases in viewership? Golden opportunity to pimp a show that really needed it wasted.

      • Chris

        When I said I don’t care what Fox says or does, I’m talking about all of the statements they’ve made about how they support the show. Those words are meaningless coming from a network that has historically cancelled shows without giving them a chance. Glee doesn’t need the ratings boost from a Super Bowl episode. It’s already a hit. Just like it doesn’t need to be renewed early, because we know it’s coming back next season. Giving that commitment to Fringe would allow the show creators to plot the story they want to tell, rather than having to hedge their bets in case they’re going to get cancelled.

      • Hunter S Tomboy

        No.
        post-SuperBowl spots are bad.
        Not everyone watches the superbowl, so not everyone knows when it ends,
        so not everyone knows when the show starts, etc, etc.
        Just quit playing it parallel to Supernatural. Supernaturals doing well in a Fri slot, better than it was in Thurs.
        No need to put the TWO shows wearing the mantle of “The Next X-Files” on at the same time.

      • forrest

        what little I remember about the post Super Bowl Glee is that they were able to pimp Chevrolet heavily with a musical number. I’m sure that didn’t come cheap. Would have been impossible to do with Fringe – it’s all about the money….

    • Thor

      I actually think Fox has really done a lot for Fringe, and while I would hate for Fringe to be cancelled, I wouldn’t be one of those irrational, rabid fans lashing out at Fox and slamming it for not giving Fringe enough chances.

      • Roy

        Yes and no. Yes, in that is is promoted. No, in that there have been multiple timeslot changes.

    • Jesse

      I really hate naysayers like you. Don’t rain on the parade, buddy.

      • Trenton

        I’m curious to see if Fox promoted Firefly, Terminator SCC, or any other show b4 they canceled it? I’m guessing Fringe gets another season w/ a smaller budget. My guess is Fox has to cancel Human Target, Lie to Me, any number of their comedies b4 axing Fringe. They have that new SciFi show coming out next year and it would seem like a perfect lead in or follow up to Fringe. It’s how TV Execs think. You pair shows off together for symmetry also, b/c similar shows tend to get similar advertisement commercials. And the largest point is that while overall ratings are right at 5 million, their demo is strong…usually winning the timeslot against CBS… so its about as simple to figure out as peter and olivias relationship, past, and future on a bender of Brown Betty

    • boscobel

      I agree with you Chris. I wish another network would renew the series that would give it a better time slot, and not bounce it around or temp. take it off a week or two in a row. I hope it comes back next year, somewhere.

  • Margaret

    Hurley! Woohoo!

    Let’s hope nothing is being cancelled.

  • James

    For all you Fringe fans wishing more people would watch, here’s one more. I just watched the whole series (initially out of boredom, but once I hit season 2, I couldn’t stop) in about a week, and now I am hooked for good.

    • Sean

      Welcome aboard the Fringe bandwagon!!!

    • Johnification

      I did the same thing a couple months ago…the first 10 episodes or so were tough to get through (and those extra-long season 1 episodes were DEADLY to pacing, man), but once the show hit its “back nine” in the first year I was hooked. Seasons 2 and 3 have been even better. Another new fan for you!

      • Cris

        Exactly, but what show — especially one that sets up a mythology like Fringe — doesn’t take time to find its footing. I completely agree that the first nine or 10 episodes were very up-and-down, and some were indeed tough to get through.
        But now, Fringe is probably the only show on my MUST list. Every episode this season has been spectacular.
        Let’s just hope it doesn’t end with a black smoke monster…

      • forrest

        Agreed. Being a weekly viewer since episode one, the 1st 10 of season 1 were a real beating of “monster of the week’ stories. With the introduction of the alternate universe, Fringe has found its dramatic voice. I just hope they don’t try to turn it into Grey’s Anatomy with the relationship storyline. Balance is key, IMHO.

    • Gemini

      I was pretty much the same way….saw the beginning of 6B, decided not to watch because I hadn’t seen any other episode and didn’t want to watch out of order…watched the first season in about 2 days, then went out and bought my own dvd’s and watch season 2 in a day and a half…now I’m just watching Subject 13….I’m freaking hooked…love the show and I have no idea why it took me so long to start watching

  • Jacob

    Fair criticism, but I don’t think at this point that it’s detrimental. If this had been revealed earlier on, then I could understand, but I truly believe Walternate’s rage has gone far beyond him losing Peter: he’s genuinely upset as to what our world has done to his world. Sure, it’s a misunderstanding, but sometimes that’s all it takes.

    As for Peter, Walter and Elizabeth felt it best to lie to Peter as opposed to constantly telling him “Well, we’re trying to get you back!” because that would create a false hope and he would never accept his new home as anything but a temporary place. It’s a complicated matter, and they did the best they could.

    I think Peter will be quick to forgive Walter, but I don’t think Walternate will be so easy.

    • Trenton

      It’s never the crime, it’s the cover up. Walter did what he did, and Peter would have accepted it…but the cover up is the issue. I think walternate is traumatized by losing his son. If it was purely do what it takes to survive he would have allowed way more evil doctor to experiment on children. But to walternate that is the bridge too far…so I think in the end it all goes back to that initial rage.

  • Ryan

    Maybe this is just me, and troubles me w/ regards to the ratings for the show…but does anyone actually know anybody who has Nielsen box? I know I don’t…

    • MC

      I did last year and was giving fringe ratings, but nielsen doesn’t follow you when you move, even when you’re in the 18-34 demo, so unfortunately, i’m no longer giving fringe any ratings.

      • TQB

        MC is the first person I’ve heard, in person or over the internet, claim to be Neilsen. How is this a reliable system?

      • Ryan

        That’s exactly my point…I’m actually kind of shocked there hasn’t been some sort of expose on the effectiveness of Nielsen, I mean what good is a system that maybe 1% of the population is being studied from…

      • Des

        It is actually much less than 1%. FWIW, according to wikipedia it is 0.02183% of the population in the US.

    • Darrin

      I had a Nielsen diary for a week last year, but of course it was after the networks had made the decision to cancel half the shows I liked and summer reruns were kicking in.

    • Marty

      I know one person that does, but they don’t speak english.

    • Kaiulani

      I’ve done the Nielsen diary twice in the last 20 years. The last time was about 4 years ago. Not sure how I got chosen. I also got selected for the radio Arbitron ratings diary too.

      • Jasmine

        I did too. We were chosen twice, and did the radio one too. When we moved we weren’t ask to do the Nielsen, but we did the radio once at our relocated home.

  • samara

    “As I saw it, “Subject 13″ effectively reduced the tricky, defining tensions of Fringe into one big horrible misunderstanding — one that has produced profound, destiny-shaping pain for many people that can’t be easily forgotten, but becomes easier to forgive once everyone knows what we know.”

    What do you mean, “reduced”? It’s a story. It involves missed chances, complications and misunderstandings. It doesn’t affect the impact of Walter and Peter’s story at all: they grew up distant BECAUSE Walter didn’t bond with him right away (Walter apparently only became obsessed with him as “my son” when he was in St Clare’s). Peter has never felt like Walter was a real father to him, and this certainly explains why.

    When we saw Walter and Peter bonding last season, they were bonding for *the first time*. Second-chance family. Beautiful!

    • Trenton

      I have to disagree with you. If you look back at the season 2 episode “Peter” In this universe it was Walter who was at the bed of his child b/c he loved him. Over there it was Elizabeth…that tells you something about which father figure was more a devoted parent. Peter had issues w/ his father b/c on some level he knew it wasn’t his real father. He accepted the “lie” but he knew and that feeling and anger found a way out. I think Doc J’s meaning behind “reduced” was that most shows have it’s characters do things for definitive reasons. Smoke Monster did all it did to kill Jacob’s replacements. But in Fringe there was no initial deviousness…just people trying their best and failing and in the end not being able to set things right. Walternate misunderstood what happened to his son…he didn’t see that Walter saved his child’s life as was unable to return him, all he saw was his child was kidnapped…and that shaped the prism he viewed our world with.

    • Ames

      If in fact the story was “reduced” I actually prefer that. I don’t like it when shows turn characters into “The Chosen One” (like they did in Alias). To me it threatens the relateability and humanity of the characters. I do not like the arc where the first people chose Peter to… well, whatever they chose him to do. I want Peter to just be a guy making human decisions in a complicated world.

  • Cass

    Good commentary. But I certainly hope FOX gives FRINGE another season. I faithfully watch, and faithfully recruit others to watch. Oh please, oh please, let it continue! And I can’t bear the thought of Walter dying right now. No, no.

  • daviddavid

    Great thoughts … as always Mr. J.
    FRINGE is and has been a great, great epic TV-show. I truly hope it does come back for one more season, but consdiering it’s on Fox … that’s a major, major leap forward. Great promo too.You’d think that after all these great promos, Fox would keep it, but, you know Rupe!

  • daviddavid

    Meant to add: SUBJECT 13 … brilliant episode revealing the mystique behind the mythology.
    Akiva Goldsman … brilliant!!!

  • Pamela

    Great review & thoughts. Looking forward to seeing Jorge. ‘Subject 13′ is an excellent episode. Love Fringe & am anxiously awaiting word of the 4th season. It’s too bad we cannot count the international fans. This show is popular worldwide. I’m hoping TPTB take the international fans into account.

  • tracy bluth

    Yay!!! But I am still depressed their is no new Fringe tomorrow.

  • Pamela

    Also, EXCELLENT PROMO!

  • TQB

    All really good Sci Fi shows are essentially about people and relationships. The subtlety with which Fringe has allowed all of these personalities to evolve over the years is masterful and makes an episode like Subject 13 so very rewarding. It’s a terrible shame that the one show you can trust to never let you down in terms of authentic story telling may be forced to wrap up early. As Doc says, I’m sure they would do so artfully and in a meaningful way – but at least one more year would allow Fringe to really get somewhere.

    • Cris

      Very good point. I remember referring to Peter and Olivia as “Pacey and Cate Blanchette-light” in the early episodes because I just didn’t like the characters’ personalities. But they’ve quickly become two of the most realistic, fascinating and endearing characters on TV.

  • Leah

    Oh Doc Jensen. Why must you post such intriguing articles that end with predictions that MAKE ME WANT TO CRY?!

    • Olivya

      As I have posted what feels like a trillion times, Fringe deserves to be renewed!

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