Fringe “Nothing As It Seems” Review

Fringe "Nothing As It Seems" Review

One of the more interesting side effects of how Fringe has changed things around is that there is the possibility of revisiting past stories and characters while still keeping them fresh since this timeline is still “different” from the previous three seasons. We’ve already seen this happen this year with the different type of shifters and the return of David Robert Jones. What we never had was a case the Fringe team had handled previously occur in the new timeline, that is until tonight’s episode.

Hey this all looks way too familiar…

The way “Nothing As It Seems” opened, I wouldn’t have blamed you if you thought you were tuning in to a rerun. In fact, it was almost a direct copy of the opening for the Season 1 episode “The Transformation”. The big difference is that Marshall Bowman does not change into monster in the airplane lavatory that leads to a plane crash. Instead Marshall controls himself just long enough to be detained by TSA and then go berserk on a pair of agents before dying himself. While Peter recognizes that this is the same case he helped solve before, there are elements that lead things in a completely different direction.

I thought this was a great case from the past for the Fringe writers to change and play with the outcomes. In Season 1, the team was more focused on stopping the sale of the serum than on the why someone would want to transform into a huge porcupine like monster. This time we get to dig deeper into the motivations of those involved and it leads us into some interesting places.

But Peter and Olivia (and the combined memories of the two Olivias) should nail this right? They already know how this story ends.

Well there is a little hiccup when it comes to Olivia. With her recent memory loss the FBI is not exactly keen to have her work on cases, regardless of how many tests and shrinks she’s seen, and places her on leave. Is it me or was the scene with the FBI shrink kind of weird because of how calmly she was taking in Olivia’s entire situation? What, did this psychiatrist come from the same place the shrinks from Awake come from? I will give kudos to the writers for baiting the viewers with the information about Olivia’s sister, just to pull it out from under us in the next scene. It was a good mix of the familiar and the sudden surprise at whats changed.

Olivia’s exile from the team ends quickly, when Peter contacts her to jog her memories of the original case. The good news is that Olivia is able to come up with a lead, Marshall’s partner in crime from the original case. Unfortunately, her involvement may have led to Lincoln getting slammed into a wall by a porcupine monster, previously Marshall’s accomplice. The scenes in the house with the monster were the best parts of the episode building up the suspense until the monster first attacks Lincoln (and I jump three feet in the air).

When you need help translating ancient Sumerian, who you gonna call?

While the team was too late to stop Marshall’s partner from transforming, Walter provides the team with new lead, a tattoo on Marshall’s body in ancient sumerian. This takes Peter and Olivia to visit Edward Markham (played by Clark Middleton), the rare book seller, who was a friend of Peter’s in the past, though this will be the first time they meet in this timeline. After some preliminary flirting between Ed and Olivia (sorry Ed she’s taken), Markham connects the tattoo to a cult like group looking to force the evolution of humans to a higher level through mutation by design.

We see the evidence of Ed’s theory when the monster appears in a woman’s apartment, and instead of screaming and gory things happening, the two embrace. The couple are cult members working on transforming together, which is just weird and disgusting. There is a certain Beauty and the Beast vibe in these scenes (the late 80’s tv show, not the Disney movie), but instead of living in the sewers, the Beast in this case can fly around the city with huge bat-like wings. By the way, I thought the wings were a nice unexpected touch, it made the monsters seem that much more dangerous that they could drop out from the night sky.

Is Lincoln developing a “prickly” personality? (sorry thats a bad pun)

As has been Lincoln’s luck this episode, he gets his cuts sewn up by Walter only to find out he may have been infected by the porcupine monster. He remains in the lab under observation for the first symptoms to appear, which involves eating all the bacon from Walter’s PB and Bacon sandwiches. This tips off Walter that the monster transformation involves a cravings of fats, which leads him to make up a cure for Lincoln and the team to a high rise plastic surgery office since that’s an easy source of human fat. Okay the idea that finding out about the fat craving leading to the surgery clinic was little bit of a leap, even for Walter, but it’s the biggest plot hole this week so it’s permissible.

I really felt for Lincoln in this episode. You can tell he steps up reluctantly to fill in for Olivia and then is reminded pretty much the entire episode of how good Olivia and Peter are as a couple and how much more he is basically a fifth wheel in all of this. His scenes with Walter this week were a nice comedy break to all the suspense in the episode, and Seth Gabel is always good, but do you get the feeling the writers are preparing to write him off?

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to kill monsters we go!

Peter, Lincoln, and the FBI SWAT team hunt the monster in a darkened clinic, giving us flashbacks to Silence of the Lambs. At the same time, Olivia and Walter figured out that porcupines are nocturnal, hence the monster would hate lights and try to warn Peter. This is the time when the monster finds Lincoln and continues the beating where it left off. Peter saves Lincoln by turning on the clinic’s lights, which lets Lincoln take down the monster. Peter then stops the monster’s girlfriend as she attacks Lincoln (this has not Lincoln’s episode has it?). This scene had a little bit of everything for everyone, Lincoln fans see him go all Dirty Harry on the monster, Peter gets to save Lincoln (twice!), and it’s a great scene that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Well glad thats over with.. we can all be safe to never see nocturnal flying porcupines, right?

Well then this wouldn’t be Fringe would it? During their investigation, the team had learned that David Robert Jones was behind the monster hybrids, though the reason behind it is unclear. The last scenes we see show Marshall’s sister and her boyfriend shooting up the serum, and turning into a pair of monsters. These are locked up in a cell on a ship with other weird and crazy hybrid monsters (I swear the thing from Cloverfield was in one of the tanks), a literal Noah’s Ark of monsters.

So what in the world does David Robert Jones need a bunch of hybrid monster for? While I can see the connection to his beliefs of forced evolution of mankind, its not really clear what the endgame is. The mise interesting question is where is the ship? Is it in our universe or the alterverse?

My Favorite Parts from “Nothing As It Seems”:

– “I work in Fringe Division. Weird is a matter of degrees.” – Olivia
– Walter’s presents for Peter commemorating his missed birthdays.
– Lincoln picking the lock to the suspect’s house (he can be the bad boy sometimes)
– “Did you find his genitals, son?” Walter to Peter
– Walter’s peanut butter and bacon sandwich, soon to be tried by yours truly
– “If you’re 60% of the Olivia I knew, you’re still better than 90% of the agents I’ve ever worked with.” – Broyles

This was another excellent week for Fringe and hopefully it’s reflected in the ratings. I think we are seeing more evidence that exposure to Peter is driving the rest of the Fringe team to their original selves (except maybe Lincoln). Still, with only a few episodes left this season, where is this heading? We spent the first half of the season thinking Peter needed to leave to get back home, and now that we learn he’s been home all along, what is the next step? Also, what did you think of the writers bringing back a story from a previous season and putting a new spin on it? Let me know what you think will happen in the next episodes in the comments section, I look forward to hearing from you.

Next week’s Fringe is in the alterverse (almost forgot about them) and a vigilante shapeshifter that may be after one of the Fringe team members. Make sure to tune in to FOX next Friday at 9 PM to see “Everything In Its Right Place”.

About The Author

Jose has enjoyed television ever since he was a little boy in his native Puerto Rico, learning how to speak English from watching Saturday Morning cartoons. That love of television was nurtured on a steady diet of Voltron, Saved by the Bell, and Cheers. He enjoys a variety of shows, but sticks to science fiction and comedy when possible, including the occasional Sponge Bob episode. He despises poor writing, and has an ever growing collection of shows he likes but were cancelled after only one season. His wish is for J.J. Abrams to get Alias back on the air, and for the cast of The Vampire Diaries to come down with an incurable case of laryngitis.