"A New Day in the Old Town" (2.01) - season premiere

Fringe opens its new season with an amazing premiere, and I honestly think that it is better than the finale last spring, and that's saying a lot, because the finale really left a mark on me, despite my utter disappointment that Jones was killed off so dismissively (he had better be back; there is still an alter-Jones, after all). As much as I may love this episode, though, and as epic as it may be, there are definitely problems that I have with it, as well. For starters, when I read a vague synopsis a while back, I was immediately fearful that this would not be very original, but I will discuss more at a later point in regards to that. Like I said, though, for the most part, this really impressed me. I was expecting an excellent season premiere, because it's Fringe, but this is even better than I was expecting, and I give it ten shape-shifting soldiers from another universe. Anyway, before I begin discussing the episode, I do warn you that this entry does contain spoilers, so if you haven't seen this yet but would like to see it, then please, do not read any further.

What I mainly like about this episode is the development that we get out of Olivia's character. Anna Torv's acting in this episode is beyond superb; in my opinion, she is right up there with John Noble in this episode. She really impressed me. There are a lot of emotional scenes between her and Peter, and there is a lot of hinting that there will most likely eventually be a bit more than a friendship between them, at least from my perspective, anyway. For example, when Peter and Rachel are talking in the hallway of the hospital when they're under the impression that they're losing Olivia, Rachel tells Peter that "she always liked you," and my interpretation of that was that she meant as more than just a friend. These scenes would definitely not be as emotional, though, without Anna's stunning acting ability. Needless to say, I think that if there were ever anyone saying that Olivia's bland, one-dimensional character throughout the first season is due to Anna Torv's acting, I think that Anna definitely disproved them. She even had the best line of the episode ("Go get that bitch!"), in my opinion, even in comparison to Walter's "I want to see the look on her face when she eats my pudding," and I don't think that that is ever the case in the first season.

There are two scenes that really surprised me in this episode. Firstly, there is the kiss between Nina and Broyles, and I was not expecting that, not even in the slightest. I never, in a million years, would have seen that coming, and I don't think that anyone could have. I don't really know what to think of it, but Nina does say something rather mysterious. After she kisses him, she says, "Do what you always used to do, Phillip; save the day." This was obviously mysterious, because what is she talking about? In what way did he "save the day" for her? I am really hoping that that is explored further later in the season. You see, my theory regarding Nina is that she had a prior relationship with Walter and that she is Peter's mother, and if I turn out to be right about that and she also has had a prior relationship with Broyles, then I suppose that that really complicates things, especially since we don't know if anything happened between her and Bell, either.

The other scene that really surprised me is obviously the ending. Then again, I really shouldn't say obviously, because when I talked about this with some fellow Fringefans in the Fringe Podcast chat last night, some people said that they found it to be relatively predictable, which surprised me, because it shocked me. Obviously, what I'm talking about is the scene in which it is revealed that the shapeshifting soldier has killed Charlie and is now impersonating him, consequently throwing his body into a furnace. This scene is extremely dark and even disturbing in a way, because I still can't believe Charlie is dead. What is it with J.J.'s shows being condemned to their Charlies dying? Then again, I don't think that Alias's Charlie died. Anyway, Charlie was Olivia's best friend; she trusted him and told him everything, and I am not looking forward to the scene in which she finds out about this. It's really going to break her, which is definitely not what she needs right now.

So, as I said previously, I do have some complaints about the episode, as amazing as I thought it was. For starters, I feel that on some levels, it really did lack a bit of originality, which is something that I feared when I first found out that it would involve a man who could shapeshift. To me, the whole idea of a shapeshifting soldier seems to be a combination of the two primary conflicts in the X-Files, but I'm not sure what to think, because first of all, according to what someone said in theFringe Podcast chat last night, this is commonly used in science fiction, the concept of the "bad guy" being able to mold his body into any appearance he chooses, and plus, the concept is a bit different from X. With the X-Files, the shapeshifters are alien bounty hunters, and they can willingly become anyone they want to at any time they want to. Apparently, the guy in Fringe needs a victim, so he is more like a "body snatcher," if you will. Still, the similarity kind of bothers me. Then again, it could have been intentional. Jeff Pinkner said shortly before the episode premiered that there would be an X homage, possibly two, in the premiere episode and that it would be "obvious." Obviously, there is the scene near the beginning of the episode in which we see Mulder and Scully on the television, but perhaps, he was talking about this, too.

Something else that disappointed me about this episode is that I was under the impression that Bell was going to be in it. I recently saw a promo in which Olivia asks him for answers, and he says something to the effect of, "It's too late for that, my child." I had a theory very early on in the show that Bell is her biological father or possibly even the stepfather that she shot twice, but I don't think it's the latter, because it seems to me that when she sees him in the season one finale, she would recognize him, even considering that it has been quite a few years. There is definitely, however, some sort of relationship between the two of them, even if it's not biological. Don't forget what he says to her when she visits him in the finale. He says something like, "I have been waiting a very long time for this." Anyway, I really like Bell, even though we only see him for a few seconds in the finale. I'm assuming that what I saw in the clip will be in an episode in the very near future, but I thought that the deal was that Bell was going to be in the finale and the first few episodes of the second season (hopefully more, eventually).

Lastly, I'm not so sure how I feel about this Amy Jessup character. She is pretty cute, but as David Wu (the Fringemunks) said, it seems like her role in the show could be filled by Astrid's character, and I agree with him. Astrid desperately needs some character development, so why push her to the side and bring in a new female character? It just doesn't make any sense to me. My guess is that she was brought in to replace Charlie when the mole is compromised, and this is actually hinted at near the beginning of the episode when Peter is expecting to talk to Charlie and instead gets her, as if she has replaced him. I just feel as if her purpose on the show needs to be made clear quickly, or else I'm honestly not going to feel anything for her anytime soon. One question I still have in my mind even after watching the episode twice is what is going on in the scene at the end where she is seemingly leafing through Fringe Division files on the computer while consulting the Bible; that didn't make any sense to me, and I feel as if I must have missed something. Maybe it's something that wasn't supposed to make any sense?

It is quite obvious to me that Walter is feeling guilty about something. He knows something, quite possibly a lot of somethings, that he's hiding. One way in which I know this is that at the beginning of the episode, it seems as if he knows how to bring Olivia back. He fools with the car a little bit and then voila, Olivia comes flying out of the front window, and while he is fooling with the car, he awkwardly says, "Oh, my" to himself. Additionally, he sees her while she is in the hospital and apologizes to her for something. Plus, we already know that he most likely had something to do with Peter's death at a young age and then either cloned him or brought alter-Peter over to his reality, and he's expressing guilt about that. There is the scene at the beginning when he tells Peter that he is going to make him custard, and when Peter says something like, "I don't like custard; I have never liked custard," Walter responds by saying that he did when he was a young boy but that he had forgotten, and the look on his face after saying that is quite obviously an expression of guilty knowledge. Finally, there is the scene in which Walter is about to present the video of the blonde woman talking about the soldiers who "can look like any one of us," when beforehand, Peter says that Walter has been looking at pictures of Peter as a young boy a lot lately and that he has also been frequently making sure that he's not dead when he's asleep, which is "creepy," and Walter then immediately changes the subject.

All right, so I do have some hopes and expectations for this season, and firstly, I want more Jones. I still can't believe that they killed him off in the season one finale, so I am really hoping that we get to at least see alter-Jones this season. I'm sorry, but Jones is a very cool bad guy, and I'm hoping that we haven't seen the end of him. There is also someone in the Fringe Podcast chat who speculated that these super-soldiers are ZFT, but I really doubt this, and this is why; unless this one particular soldier is rogue (which I doubt, because as Peter and Jessup discuss, soldiers have a mission that they need to carry out, which gives me the impression of a collective motivation), their goals don't add up. If you recall, in episode 1.14, "Ability," Jones tells Olivia that she is very important, and he actually seems somewhat protective of her, which leads me to believe that ZFT's goal is not to kill Olivia but instead to possibly recruit her, unless, of course, Jones is the one who is rogue, which is a lot more plausible.

Secondly, as stated previously, I would really like for Peter's past to be explored further, because I would really like to know exactly what happened to him. He obviously died, and even though I'm sure it was at Walter's hands, we don't know what happened yet. My guess is that he was experimenting on him, since it is heavily hinted at throughout the first season, and the experiment went very terribly wrong. However, something else tells me that it seems as if the writers would be more likely to come up with something more elaborate and more shocking than that, because at this point, I don't think that I'm really discussing anything profound here, because I'm pretty sure that this is what just about everyone is thinking. For now, however, I think I have covered just about everything that I wanted to cover. As I said, this episode blows me away, and it gets a well-deserved score of ten flying Olives. Be sure to watch the second episode of the new season next Thursday at the same time, "Night of Desirable Objects," which is definitely a bit uncanny if you ask me.

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