This week, a shorter than average TV EYE looking at a great episode of FRINGE, an even greater episode of DEXTER, and a really lame episode of THE EVENT. I know, I know, where’s CAPRICA? Where’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE? I’m guilty, I cop to it, but next week, I promise more…A LOT MORE. Anyways, here’s a look at this past weeks episodes of FRINGE, DEXTER, and THE EVENT.
FRINGE (Ep. 46 “The Plateau”) This week; we are back in the alternate universe where poor Olivia has been unknowingly assimilated into a life that is not hers. Walternate’s plan to integrate Fauxlivia’s memories and personality into Olivia has taken hold, but we see that things aren’t as air tight as Walternate might think, and his Vulcan mind meld might be slipping. This week’s episode, like lasts, goes back to the case storytelling that Fringe began with, the only difference being that this week we are in the other universe. Well, that’s really not the only difference. The best part of this season so far has been the exploration of what separates the two worlds. Differences are abundant, and the very nature of the Fringe Division itself is one of the most striking. In the prime universe, Fringe is a very small division of the FBI, and a very secretive one at that. Their offices are the dank confines of a Harvard basement, their force, nothing more than a handful of select FBI agents, Peter and Walter. In the alternate universe, Fringe itself is an entire branch of government, a wholly concentrated body of agents overseen by the Director of Defense, Walternate. Everyone knows what Fringe is; it’s no secret here. As we saw this week, their base of operations is anything but a basement, but rather, a huge architectural skyscraper dedicated to the Fringe branch alone. The epicenter of this building is the Fringe war room, where scores of agents in camouflage suits closely monitor everything on massive, sophisticated computer screens. It’s a lot like the police station in Demolition Man, if you can remember that gem of a 90’s flick. Anyways, the protagonist of this week’s episode is the savantiest (new word) of all savants, a man whose brain is so calculating that he can predict chain reactions of even the most infinitesimal event. This is not Rain Man, this is freaking Monsoon Man. The world is this guy’s chessboard, and people and probability, his pieces. Using his ability to create elaborate murders, where probability is more the killer than he is, he seeks revenge on a specific group of doctors, and pharmaceutical reps that made him the way he is. Yes, another big pharmaceutical company has been testing strange mind-altering drugs with grandiose results in the Fringe universes. Olivia and her partners investigate, and she is the only one able to outsmart the man, as she is missing the key sensory information that would drive the instincts of someone born in the alternate universe. Checkmate. Some more fun facts we learn about the alternate universe are that avocados are rare, air quality can be compromised at any place at any time, and small pox is on the rise. What’s the deal with the air quality thing? Any ideas? At the end of the episode, Walternate lays out his plans to dip Olivia back into that wonderful sensory deprivation tank the Walters love so much. His hope is that she can seamlessly cross from universe to universe, without doing any damage to her body or the universes themselves. Looks like Olivia’s about to embark on another bad trip.
DEXTER (Ep. 51 “Practically Perfect”) Dexter is an empty man. There’s always been emptiness there, emptiness he tries to fill with the knife. Rita’s death has left him even emptier than I thought possible, and this week, his attempts to fill in this void were undermined by his awareness of the void itself. Dexter aligns his next kill, Animal Control officer Boyd Fowler, an artificially motivated serial killer with a chilling propensity of taking what he wants. It’s Dexter’s first premeditated kill since Rita’s murder. The innocent man he killed in a rage in the season premiere was just a symptom of his grief. The therapeutic element in Dexter’s murderous exploits is the ability to control every element of them, while doing what he perceives as a favor to society. He is killing bad people, and controlling the intricate wheels of justice with his own perceived right of trial, and execution. The kill room, Dexter’s therapy couch, is a room of his own controlled variables.
Well, this week, the control was backstage for Dexter’s performance of preoccupation and paranoia. Perhaps the steps of the grieving process, which he conveniently skipped, are seeping back into his life. Loneliness was evident as Dexter found himself saddened by his empty apartment. Looking at his son Harrison, he became increasingly guilty and afraid that he would grow up to be just like him. Luckily, his actual therapist comforts him with the fact that Harrison is too young to have been cognitively affected by his mother’s murder. Then, without missing a beat, the little guy pops the head off of a Ken doll. Dex denies this grief, itself a stage in the process, which led to some irrational behavior on his part. Setting up his kill in the middle of the day (against Harry’s warnings), Dexter aligns himself with failure. He injects the sedative into Boyd’s neck as Boyd turns around to shoot him in the stomach with his tranquilizer dart. Surprise! Waking up side by side in an ambulance, the men find themselves in a race against suspicion and fear. Dexter finally triumphs, sloppily killing Boyd in a makeshift kill room with newspaper covering the walls instead of plastic. In killing Boyd, Dex receives an ominous warning from him, moments before his death; you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. I bet that the self motivation guru Boyd was obsessed with, Take It Now’s Jordan Chase, is behind Boyd’s killing spree somehow or another. Dexter didn’t do his homework. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. At one point in the episode, Harry appears with a warning; if you make it mean something, you’ll mess it up. Dexter’s first calculated kill since Rita’s death is a failure. Trying to fill the void, he’s created a huge mess. In the most shocking moment of the episode, hidden in the attic above Boyd’s apartment, Dexter finds a young female prisoner, who has witnessed his kill. Will Dexter kill another innocent? Will his grief reach the upward stages before its too late? It’s going to be another crazy season on the greatest show on television.
THE EVENT (Ep. 3 “Protect Them from the Truth”) Maybe The Event shouldn’t have been so quick to answer the two biggest mysteries they had going. Honestly, there’s not much left to entice a steady stream of viewers. The cast is decent, but there are no amazing performances, nor is there room for any in the writing. The characters are all one-note clichés. The story, well, it’s been done over and over again. V is currently doing pretty much the same story over on ABC, and they’re doing it better, with a far more interesting cast. The biggest problem The Event has is its epically boring pacing; an issue that brings yawns in a genre that should be delivering gasps. This week’s episode started with Sean tending to an injured FBI agent in a motel room. This led to a pointless jumble of scenes going forward and backwards in time to reveal that a group of ruthless assassins posing as US Marshals are hunting Sean. This structure makes it seem like the writers lost the script in a windstorm, and were too lazy to put it back together in any meaningful way. Crafty structure only works if you’re telling a compelling story with equally compelling characters. This isn’t fucking Pulp Fiction. Get over yourselves. I don’t hate this show. Really I don’t. I just think the whole government covering up aliens among us plotline has been exhausted in shows like this. There is little creativity in the writing, and little high-concept in its delivery. The end of the episode was interesting, posing a new mystery that had me marginally relieved to find my eyebrows raised instead of eyelids sagging. The dead passengers from the plane, all laid out in a temporary military morgue started choking back to life, one after another. After scene after scene of the doldrums, finally, here was something marginally interesting. Too bad it was too late for me. The episode was titled “Protect Them from the Truth,” but all I was left thinking was, “protect me from falling asleep before this episode gives me enough to write about.”
Next week, more FRINGE, DEXTER, and THE EVENT, along with CAPRICA, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and more. Stay tuned.