Fringe Season 3! And an Olivia Dunham-centric episode…

Another show that we welcome back this week with open arms – [[Fringe (TV Series)|Fringe]]. A show that revolves around a motley rabble of scientists and FBI agents looking into weird phenomena that falls under the classification of “Fringe Science”.

When last we left our heroes, they’d been to the alternate universe to rescue Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), but returned to ‘our’ world with the wrong Olivia. It quickly transpired that Alt-Olivia was a plant – unbeknown to the rest of the group – and that ‘our’ Olivia was captured and incarcerated at some detention facility under the direction of Walternate.

Hell, I can imagine those fresh to Fringe balking at how ludicrous this all sounds. But if you’ve been following the series through its past two seasons, you’ll be as engrossed as I am in this story.

When we return to the alternate universe, Walternate and his staff are trying to implant Olivia with the memories of her alternate. Exactly why is something Walternate isn’t ready to reveal, but we don’t need all the answers upfront anyway. He earns his ‘unscrupulous bastard’ stripes when he opts to give Olivia (Anna Torv) a further treatment, despite the warning that it may kill her.

This being about Olivia Dunham, it doesn’t take her long to fight the two scientists and escape the facility – it turns out she’s on Liberty Island. So she has to endure a lengthy swim to the docks, then hijacks a yellow taxi. Even though she’s threatened the cab driver and his family with death if he double-crosses her, she still totally abuses his goodwill by making him drive her all around the city while she works out her next steps.

We discover that Massive Dynamic doesn’t exist in the alternate world. No Nina Sharp, no shady-but-possibly-sympathetic scientists to help Olivia home. And the theatre that was the gateway for Dunham and company first time round has been quarantined by the mysterious amber stuff that the alt-worlders are so fond of. I wonder if they stuff it in the tail pipes of people’s cars for practical jokes?

All in all, though, there’s no a lot of development in this season première. It felt a little bit like Olivia was taking advantage of a taxi driver for a leisurely drive around NY. The aimlessness did lead to something though – her breakout triggered the memory transfer and she gradually lost parts of her personality. By the end, it appeared that our Olivia had been replaced with the abilities and memories of her alternate. Sad times.

The last thing we see is Olivia driving away with Charlie Francis, but being watched from a distance by the taxi driver. Inexplicably, he merely drives off instead of following Dunham and Francis.

There’s an all-too-brief glimpse of what’s happening back on home turf, with Peter answering questions about his trip to the other world and some standard footage of evil Olivia (EviLivia?) with a ravenous Walter (John Noble). All that’s clear from this footage is that she’s integrated herself well and the Bishops have no idea that she’s a wolf in Dunham’s clothing.

Charlie Francis: The guys at Screencrave lament the fact that Charlie was killed off in the first place if they were going to keep bringing him back as an alternate. I hated the decision to kill Charlie off as well, but I’m glad he’s back, even if he’s on their side. And from an alternate universe point of view, he seems like a reasonably sound bloke, doesn’t he?

Nice touches: We’ve seen the airships floating above New York before, but there was a cyclist on a penny farthing, and a poster advertising the hit musical Dogs. Not to mention that all-red title sequence – that was new, wasn’t it?

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