The Fringe Season 3 Premiere Review

The subtitle to this review should be: ‘Why Fringe Will Save Television,’but I’ll spare you my fan-boy inspired hyperbole even though it just may be true. I just finished watching Fringe’s third season premiere episode, ‘Olivia'[Premiering on FOX Thursday, September 23rd at 9/8c], and I feel like I just saw the impossible happen Fringe’s creative team already sat a land speed record for taking Fringe from good to mind-meltingly awesome last season , this year Fringe sets the bar for appointment TV. Fringe has outdone Fringe. Let’s break this down.

What’s it All About

I promised no spoilers, and I intend to stick to it. That said, it’s probably pretty apparent what the episode is about: it’s about Olivia. ‘Which Olivia?’, you ask and by asking you pull into focus what makes Fringe so unique. ‘Which Olivia?’, is exactly the question you should be asking. We know one is in the ‘Alternate Universe’, while the one originating from the alternate universe is in ‘our’universe. The concept feels a little gelatinous in the brain, doesn’t it?

The best thing about ‘Olivia’is that in the gap between the Season 2 finale, and the Season 3 premiere, you’ve probably had a pretty good idea of what the plot is going to entail and you are wrong. If you thought the focus of season three was going to be ‘how does Olivia get back,’get ready for a surprise.

Is It Still Fringe-y?

The only thing certain with Fringe is the uncertainty, and in that sense the Fringe Season 3 premiere is true to what you’ve come to expect. Watching Fringe can sometimes feel a bit like having your brain thrown on a taffy puller, and ‘Olivia’is no exception. Nothing notable has changed in the sense of the style of the show, although the premiere is certainly a fine example of the Fringe brand in its perfect state.

Your DVR No Longer Has Value

If you are like me, Season 2 of Fringe was gotta-watch-it-live TV. The overarching plotlines, particularly the suspenseful thread of Peter finding out his over-there-ness, demanded your attention. The characters were never more detailed, and the dramatic issues at hand were absolutely riveting. Fringe really proved itself as a dramatic vehicle, and not just another gimmicky sci-fi flash in the pan. The morality plays involving Walter and William’s drug experiments on children (did the ends justify the means?), and Walter’s kidnapping of Peter from the other dimension which, as it turns out, not only serviced a grief stricken father’s sense of loss, but also saved Peter’s life are on par with anything else on television in terms of dramatic metal. This is solid stuff, and yes I am aware of Breaking Bad and Mad Men. At its core, Fringe is a show about ethics and the sage writers room has mastered the groove of feathering the edges of the concept of ethics, and playing it for all the ambiguity it can contain. Fringe has become a moral safari that leaves you dizzy trying to wonder who is right and who is wrong.

The season three premiere of Fringe escalates this sort of play considerably. It is more of an adrenaline packed episode than a philosophical brain-teaser, but the writing very elegantly takes us down from a fight/flight story-line involving Olivia that you probably expect, to a tantalizing wink towards something you most likely would never predict. Give your DVR a break on Thursdays, Fringe’s third season is something you’ll want to watch live.

Character, Character, and More Character(s)

Anybody who ever said that Torv’s Olivia was scantly drawn will be beside themselves with this episode. As you can guess, the episode focuses almost entirely on Olivia who was last seen confined in a dark cell in an alternate dimension, the plaything of The Secretary, A.K.A Walternate. What you get in ‘Olivia’is some development for the titular character that comes via the very unique lens of Fringe’s alternate universe playroom. Here we get to examine Olivia’s character by contrasting how her own past clashes with the ‘road-not-taken’world of Over There. The episode is busting with well-crafted bits of subtext that flirt with notions of identity, all amplified by the fact that we are observing Olivia as two different people with two different histories. To say those histories collide is an understatement, the way in which they collide is a bit of plotting that further galvanizes the ‘Fringe’brand of story-telling.

The episode is light on the other core characters, instead introducing us to a new character that is bound to become an instant fan favorite, Andre Royo’s Henry the cabbie. All I can say is I hope FOX had the foresight to book Royo for a substantial arc because the former The Wire star really cooks in the premiere. Royo’s Henry is essential to Olivia’s plight in the alternate universe and the scenes between him and Anna Torv are a master class in craft as they bring the sheer absurdity of her situation into totally genuine human dimensions. Don’t worry, you do see the other characters and there are numerous surprises there as well.

Bottom Line

Want to see a perfect blend of action, brain rending science fiction, and compelling character drama? Tune in to Fringe’s Season 3 Premiere and you’ll get it all and more. Fringe returns totally in shape and ready to take all comers.

Fringe is extraordinary television. It would be very fair realistic in fact to say that Fringe weathered a critical and ratings storm to get to where it is now, and the show is paying off anyone who held faith by continuing on a track of mystery, moral ambiguity, and sheer thrills that is distinctive in the current crop of TV shows. With LOST in the rear-view mirror, Fringe is poised to take its own unique place in the annals of television of the fantastic. A++

Fringe “Olivia” Premiers FOX Thursday, September 23rd at 9/8c

  • Taylorlyn

    I was freaking excited before but now…


    And I'm more than a little nervous. *crosses fingers and hopes for the best*

    September 23rd is going to blow my mind, I fear.

    • Dude

      Yo. Don't fear the fringe

      • T W

        Fringe is awesomeness in every way! People who are not watching this are seriously missing out! The cast is great, the writing is great, a true masterpiece in my opinion!

  • Anonymous

    Oh my god what an AWESOME review of a TOTALLY AWESOME show! I am absolutely addicted to FRINGE and have been since Walter announced in the pilot " I knew someone would come……eventually". This show has the most creative and BRILLIANT writing team……and hands down should win every award under the sun! The actors are also BRILLIANT.I cannot wait for season 3 to start. The wait is absolute torture…..and for we aussies the wait is even longer. I want to scream in total frustration…and excitement

    • Dean

      I couldn't agree with you more. In my top 3 shows of all time! Hopefully it starts to get the recognition it deserves. A true masterpiece of modern TV. Hopefully GO! fast track it soon although I will be finding someway to watch it next Friday.

  • Anonymous

    I'm rewatching the S2 finale tonight in preparation! Who else thought it felt like Heroes done right when we saw everyone in the Massive Dynamic Rehab center?

  • Smperreault

    I love Fringe! What a great show! The writing and acting are exceptional!:) Talk about being on the edge of your seat!!!!

  • Karmachic28

    I'm glad I rewatched the end of season 2 or I might get lost

  • Anonymous

    Dean….i finally found someone from Australia who watches FRINGE! I know there are OBSESSED FRINGE fans over here….its just that i havent met any yet. None of my friends watch Fringe and it is so frustrating not to be able to talk about this AWESOME show! I love Fringe so much that i have just returned from a months holiday in Canada. Didnt manage to catch the Fringe team filming in Vancouver. BUT there is always Comic-Con 2011 and my return trip to Vancouver to look forward to. I want to live in the FRINGE world. Vancouver is my Alternate Universe!

  • Junifer T. Turtur

    I love this show, one of the best in my opinion.

    I just hope we got more seasons to come and not end it with season 3.

    FRINGE all the way.

    Thanks for the review very convincing, if I'm not a fringe fan-boy I might think you're overreacting or being paid to publicize this show using this review, but since I am, now I'm itching for more spoilers/review and can't wait for the 23rd.

  • Lalipop921

    This show is so incredibly fascinating! I can't wait till next week! I am so glad its continuing and keeping us on the edge of our seats!

  • Sandra Bolivar

    I watched season 2 ending last night. I'm happy I did because I thought I had. I would have been lost. I have watched this show from the very beginning. At first it was hard to follow and I could get what was connected to what; didn't get the story line. But it all came together last season. Olivia really grew on me. I couldn't feel her dimensions, she seemed somewhat robotic. But now, she has a depth that obviosly has many layers and it seems we're going to get to experience her even more this coming year. Thank goodness Fox stuck by this show. It's smart, intriquing, suspenseful and well worth watching.

  • Vvanicek

    Fringe is, in my opinion, the BEST TV show. Period. I fell in love with the parallel universe (the science elements) concept but also with the high quality acting. What bothers me is that the quality of this show has not been recognized yet by the Emmys. At the very least John Noble should have won by now. But I am so happy Fox decided to stick with it, I can't wait for season 3 to start!

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