Fringe, Season 3, Episode 9 Review – Marionette

After the events of Entrada, you’d think Olivia Dunham would be taking things easy. But no, the stalwart [[Fringe (TV Series)|Fringe]] agent wants nothing more than to be back at work.

We return in part to the “case of the week” format, which tends to be reassuring familiar territory for Fringe after some big plot developments. However, the case – which involves a riff on Frankenstein’s monster via organ donation – provides a poignant metaphor for the real story here, Peter’s relationship with Fauxlivia.

If Anna Torv deserved a round of applause last week, her portrayal of Olivia Dunham explored new territories – the confusion and devastation that comes by being betrayed, even when the person doing the betraying had no idea that he was cheating with her parallel universe alter-ego. It feels stupid to write that sentence, but fans of Fringe will know what I mean! Olivia knows that she can’t really be angry with Peter, because he was being fooled by an exact duplicate of her. Yet, at the same time, she was mentally falling apart at the idea of it.

You could see it in that embarrassed, manic smile that Dunham kept flashing at people. Even a timely intervention from Astrid couldn’t persuade Olivia that the situation was alright.

On to the story – classic Fringe here, with an obsessed depressive genius running around harvesting body parts from live donors. The twist is that he gives them something which keeps them alive temporarily, even when vital organs are missing. The pinnacle of this is the first victim – a man without a heart – but anything to do with eyes makes me squeamish, so the man who had his eyes removed while awake was really disturbing.

It all starts to make sense when the pattern is discovered – the man is rebuilding a girl who committed suicide and whose organs were seeded out to donors. In a sick twist, he has her trussed up like a marionette and makes her ‘dance’ with a system of pulleys and levers. He manages to briefly revive her, but realises that the reanimated girl is not all there. Luckily, the experiment fails and the girl dies soon after.

The crucial lesson here is that the psycho recognized that it wasn’t the girl he was obsessed with. He saw it in her eyes. And so Dunham cleaves to this revelation as evidence that Peter should have realised he was sleeping with the wrong Olivia. It’s a touch unreasonable of Dunham, but she’s in a fragile mental state. The other point here is that romances on Fringe are rare. The last time was saw Olivia loved up was back in Season 1 with John Smith. We can only speculate whether the show is trying to backtrack on making Peter and Olivia a couple or if they’re trying to delay the inevitable.

Of course, we get plenty of insights into how invaded Olivia feels after returning to find out someone else was living her life. After living in an alternative universe, she expects normality, but she’s discovered that things haven’t stayed still on Earth-1. Watching her cry as she realised that Fauxlivia had been doing her laundry was very sad. Anna Torv really draws you in and makes you empathize with her character.

Fringe has decided to go on its Christmas break on a bleak note, but Olivia, Peter and the gang will return mid-January for the latter half of the third season!

The cast of Fringe are: Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), Walter Bishop (John Noble), Colonel Broyles (Lance Reddick) and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole)

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