FRINGE “Marionette” Review

FRINGE “Marionette” Season 3 Episode 9 – After the last two episodes full of action and suspense, you’d think the FRINGE folks would take it easy this week and maybe do a holiday episode (perhaps Walter helps Santa deliver presents?). But you don’t want that, this is a JJ Abrams show, we want crazy messed up Sci-Fi for the holidays.

It looks like this we are done universe skipping for now, but that doesn’t mean the Fringe team isn’t investigating the weird and unexplained. This week Fringe looks into who is pulling the strings behind a heartless crime, and Peter is trying to figure out what to do now that Olivia is back in the right universe.

What Happens in “Marionette”

The episode starts with a man being kidnapped, except the kidnapper takes his heart and calls 911. When the paramedics arrive they find the body on the operating table that looks dead, until it wakes up and asks for help before dying! The Fringe team comes in to investigate; with Walter discovering that the body isn’t as dead as it should (the body is not decomposing). Peter finds medications belonging to the body, which lead him and Olivia to learn from a doctor that the victim was a heart transplant patient. Which makes everyone wonder, who wants a heart that bad?

Back at lab, Walter figures out that the dead body’s resistance to decay is very similar to a serum developed by him and William Bell in the 70’s. When Peter asks why would the killer try to preserve the body, Walter postulates that it was because he felt bad for the victims. Broyles informs the team that there have been similar organ stealing cases recently, and all the organs taken came from one donor, Amanda Walsh.

The one organ that had yet to be stolen were the donor eyes, but the Fringe team arrives too late to stop the thief. Still, the victim is alive and able to give the Fringe team some details that could help them. Olivia and Peter visit Amanda’s mother and learn that the girl was being treated for depression when she killed herself. The focus of the investigation turns to Amanda’s fellow patients, leading the team to Roland Barrett, who left treatment the same day Amanda died.

Roland was apparently a brilliant researcher who had discovered ways to slow down cell decay and reanimate dead tissue. He had stolen Amanda’s body before it could be cremated, and had spent the interim time putting her body back together in one piece. In one of the creepiest scenes of the season we see where the meaning of the episode’s title. Once all the organs are back in Amanda, Barrett connects her to a contraption that lets him control her body movements, similar to the puppet master pulling the marionette’s strings.

Barrett actually brings Amanda back to life (which scared me half to death), but something is not right. Right then, the FBI bust in and catch Barrett, who confesses to Olivia that when he looked into Amanda’s eyes he didn’t see the real her anymore. Peter and Walter search Barrett’s house and find Amanda’s dead body in the basement, finally at rest.

The other major storyline this week was how Olivia is handling being back in our universe. Things seem to be going well, until Peter tells Olivia of his relationship with Bolivia in the most uncomfortable and awkward conversation possible. This starts a snowball effect for Olivia, realizing her alter-verse doppelganger infiltrated every part of her life while she was gone. Near the end of the episode she becomes upset at Peter for not realizing that Bolivia was not she, and that she can’t be with him. It’s a hard emotional scene that shows us how fragile Olivia is at this time.

At the very end of the episode we get a parting shot of an Observer who is watching Walter and Peter, an indication of things to come?

What worked and what didn’t work in this episode?

It may sound like a broken record, but Anna Torv is doing an amazing job this season with Olivia. I thought this episode we wouldn’t get as much of Anna since she had two very heavy episodes, but it was one great scene after the next. The highlight for this week was her conversation with Peter about his relationship with Bolivia. Torv was able to project that level of uneasiness and awkwardness with the conversation topic so well that it seemed completely natural. Kudos to Joshua Jackson for his acting in the same scene, the two of them complemented each other perfectly.

I really enjoyed the writing for tonight’s episode. It’s impressive how the writers were able to create such an interesting case of the week while balancing the emotional story of Peter and Olivia. While the story itself was a little gory, it was still entertaining to see how it all played out, especially the climax with Barrett and Amanda.

If there’s one thing I didn’t like about this episode was that it was shown in 2010 and not 2011. To me it seemed like last week’s episode, “Entrada”, was the perfect midseason finale with the wrap up of the multi-verse arc. After seeing “Marionette”, I think it would have been a good episode to come back to in January, not really critical to have it be shown right after “Entrada”. Perhaps the Fringe show folks wanted to try to build momentum going into the mid season break? Maybe Fox wanted them to burn another episode in 2010? Not sure of the why, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this was an excellent episode.

Will Peter and Olivia be able to put their relationship back together? Do you think the alter-verse will try to strike back? Let me know in the comments section below.

This is the last episode of Fringe for this year, but it’s back with new episodes on Friday, January 21, 2011 at 9 PM on FOX. It may just be a coincidence, but the midseason premiere episode is titled “Firefly”, potentially a shot at the network heads who moved the show to Friday nights?

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