Fringe: Season 3
Creators: J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Cast: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Nobel
Review by Brian M. Sammons
I’ve said it before, but in many ways Fringe seems like the spiritual successor to the amazing (well, at least the first 7 seasons) X-Files. Sure there are no supernatural elements, on the contrary everything in Fringe is based on science, no matter how crazy that seems, but the feel and vibe remain the same. You have a small group of investigators (in this case three instead of two), an engaging, over-arching story, crazy standalone episodes, some romantic tension, a few genuinely creepy moments, and some good old fashioned conspiracies to explore and uncover. But comparisons, no matter how good, will only get you so far. Unless a TV Show can not only stand on its own two feet, but run at a good clip, it isn’t worth the lengthy time investment of 24 hours for a season.
So does this third season, brand new out on Blu-ray, of Fringe sprint like a champ, or stumble and fall like a chump? Let’s find out.
Just in case you have yet to catch this show, let me give you the rundown. A female FBI agent named Olivia has some special powers that she can’t explain and is thrust into a world of weird, theoretical science that would be more at home in an old sci-fi pulp than a college textbook. To help her sail the rough seas of “what if” she gets some help from genuine mad scientist named Walter who has, unbeknownst to Olivia, a direct connection to the mysteries surrounding the woman’s life. But as I said, Walter is a bit mad, so to help control him, and make sense of his often insane ramblings, is his son Peter. And yes, as if you couldn’t guess, he plays a pivotal role in the unfolding story. Ok, now that you’re all caught up with the basics, let’s get on to Season 3.
Oh, and yes, there will be SPOILERS below.
At the end of Season 2, the Fringe team went to a parallel universe, to another Earth that is not only literally falling apart, but at war with our own world for survival. After some high action, sci-fi hijinks, the trio safely returns home … well almost. Olivia had been captured and replaced with her double (yes, everyone over here has a double over there) with Walter and Peter none the wiser. That is where Season 3 begins.
Now trying my best to not give too much away from this season, you could probably guess that Olivia won’t be enjoying her stay on the other side, nor will she remain there indefinitely. As for the “other” woman, she and Peter get a bit closer than the original Olivia ever thought possible. In addition to the dramatic flourishes, both the action and threat continue to mount with the discovery of a very real doomsday machine that has the power to wipe out one of the two universes once and for all.
In addition to this season-spanning story, where every episode is set either in our universe or the alternate universe, there are several individual, stand-alone episodes that make this show really stand out. There’s the one about the mentally challenged man who can do terrible things through his unique understanding of cause and effect. The real world mystery of numbers stations is used as the jumping off point for a story of fatal code that kills anyone who tries to decipher it. A madman rips people’s hearts out of their chests while another sends creepy and deadly, dolls to his enemies. Bugs eat people from the inside out and cat burglars defy gravity, literally, to pull off their cappers. These are just some of the cool, strange, and most importantly; memorable stories to be found in Fringe.
Complimenting this very good season of this very fine show are a nice selection of extras on this 4 disc Blu-ray set. While only two of the episodes have audio commentaries, that’s still two more then you’ll find on a lot of TV season collections. There are eight featurettes of various lengths covering special effects, plot elements, and best yet – exploring the deeper history of some of the mysterious factions in play on the show. While there always could have been more goodies collected here, these discs certainly weren’t lacking in the extras. In fact many TV shows could learn a thing or two from this collection. Yes I’m looking at you, Dexter.
This is the part where I say how much I liked the show and that I highly recommend it, and while all that is true, I honestly can’t recommend it to neophytes to the series. Why? Because of the over-arching plot that makes this show so good, it may be a bit much to comprehend for those just dropped into the middle of the thing without previous background knowledge. But if you are up to date with your Fringe viewing, then by all means pick these discs up, you will not be disappointed.