Olivia meets a girl who might have clues about The Observer's prophecy
Destiny versus self-determination. That old chestnut reared its head on tonight’s “Fringe” in an episode that essentially put all of its mythology on hold for a Season 1-esque standalone episode. Sure, bits and pieces moved along on the periphery, but this was an examination of two women that felt isolated due to childhood traumas that defined their lives. Putting aside my issues with Season 4 as a whole, was this a good hour of television? “Forced Perspective” was…fine. Perfectly perfunctory. It was also, unfortunately, fairly dull. Forced, you might say.
I look back on those Season 1 standalones with a certain fondness now, even if those episodes aren’t particularly good. But they were definitely exercises in cookie-cutter storytelling: “Fringe” had an almost immutable formula within which it worked. Start off with a scene in which something freaky/grotesque happened, put Fringe Division on the scene, have Walter realize what happened was somehow tied into experiments he did with William Bell, and Olivia would save the day in the nick of time. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It’s also what passes for continuity these days on FOX as a whole. Look at “Alcatraz,” a show that seems like a complete repudiation of the serialization that blew hardcore “Fringe” fans away even as it sent casual fans fleeing for the hills. If you saw “Touch” this weekend, then you saw a similar approach in which an overarching premise is doled out in morsel-sized bites to invite the unwashed masses to occasionally check in on the series. This isn’t an evil way to produce a television series, but it’s certainly not the most interesting way. “Fringe” embraced serialization, but it also put that on the backburner in favor of character study. The show followed the characters, not the plot.