Fringe Episode Review: The Transformation ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Episode Review: The Transformation

      Email Post       2/04/2009 12:00:00 PM      

After last week's mild letdown, I was optimistic that The Transformation would be a return to form. Luckily, I was right.

The Transformation was a successful hybrid between a standalone mystery and a serialized story. We got a fascinating Freak of the Week, plus new layers to our beloved characters and a few hints of mythology. J.R. Orci and Zack Whedon did a great job incorporating all of the above into fifty minutes, and Brad Anderson's direction was masterful. Especially that long take of the plane crash, starting with the reflection in the minivan window.

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"A taser won't do anything..."
JJ Abrams and Co. do not look kindly on the airline industry. Or nosebleeds, for that matter. Marshall Bowman's Jekyll/Hyde routine was fun to watch, and I'm glad the director only showed us a few quick frames of the monster in action before the title sequence. Anything more would've been hard to swallow. Was anyone else reminded of Shyamalan's "Tartutic"?

I was hoping Walter would elaborate on the "transformation" itself. We know Bowman's genes were rapidly altered by the virus, but I was interested in the details. What physiological changes did it cause, and why was the virus designed to cause them? I suppose Conrad's just a modern-day Dr. Moreau, which "happens" to be Conrad's last name.

The Exchange
The best sequence of the ep was undoubtedly Olivia and Peter's undercover exchange with Conrad's men. Talk about tension. How appropriate that Brad Anderson, who helmed a few eps of The Wire and The Shield, was behind the camera.

The exchange sequence was also nice way to get Peter involved, which I hope becomes a regular occurence. I was impressed by his improvisations, and by Olivia's resolve. These are smart characters, and that's one of the reasons they're so much fun to watch. Olivia's quip to Conrad at the end was an especially nice touch.

Dead Man Talking
FRINGE: John Scott (Mark Valley) returns to Olivia during her dreamscape in the FRINGE episode The TransformationThose of us rooting for John Scott to be a misunderstood hero were rewarded tonight with a big reveal. He wasn't a traitor after all, just a devoted agent working undercover to expose runaway scientists like Conrad Moreau. Olivia's sudden flashes of John's memories were a nice touch. It was also interesting to take another trip to the whitewashed halls of Massive Dynamic, where Nina Sharp's motives are suggested to be entirely benevolent and transparent. Do you think that's all she was doing with John's body?

I'm still a little iffy on the dreamlike tank sequences. I like the idea; it's cool when Olivia watches herself in the past. But the logic is a little funny. When John interacts with her, what exactly is happening? Is a part of John still alive inside Olivia's brain? Is it only possible because of the cryogenic chamber his body's in at Massive Dynamic? Or are we really just watching Olivia's subconscious cope with her conscious emotions?

The concerns I had after last week have been washed away. The Transformation was a fun ride, and deftly handled the notion of a procedural/serial hybrid. The biggest questions: what's with those glass discs? And where do John Scott and his colleagues fit in the "two sides" scheme of Mitchell Loeb? Maybe next week's ep, which features the return of Jared Harris' wonderful Mr. Jones, will offer some clues.

Stray Thoughts
  • Chuck fans: did Olivia's flashes of memory feel familiar?
  • I loved Olivia's intercession during Hick's transformation, when she won't let Walter administer the antidote until Hicks talks.
  • What's with the poofy black vest-slash-life-preserver Olivia wears in the tank sequences? To quote Back to the Future, did she jump ship or somethin'?
  • John and Olivia's scene by the lake was fun to watch, knowing that the actors are married.
  • Astrid still isn't quite working for me. I'm looking forward to seeing her become a real character instead of a plot device.
  • The overhead shot of Chicago? You could see the building I worked in last fall.
  • It was funny to see the "archer" from Garden State play Conrad's man, Gavin. And I'd have been suspicious too, if Olivia took such long pauses before answering any of my questions.

Adam Morgan is a writer for both the page and screen in Chicago, and blogs daily on writing, film, pop culture, and strange news at Mount Helicon.


tallone said...

I really enjoyed this episode. In particular the parts where Olivia walks into John Scott's memories. These are so cool and he sees her in the memory. Great stuff.

Rosalind said...

I agree, this was a great epi. One of the best moments for me was when the FBI were listening to the black box recording of the plane going down. The camera panned to Lance Reddicks face, which showed a perfect mix of fear and horror at what he'd just heard. Great acting.

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