Episode Review: Dream Logic ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Episode Review: Dream Logic

      Email Post       10/17/2009 11:49:00 PM      

Hello fellow afringionados; it's good to be back. After last week's almost-perfect foray into Fringe's growing mythology (Momentum Deferred), this week's episode was a fine example of the things that are worrying me in Season 2.

Fringe works best when it's a half-breed between a serialized (think Lost) and a procedural (think Law & Order) drama. In one of these hybrid episodes, our beloved characters will tackle an individual threat while simultaneously uncovering the greater mystery and following their own personal story arcs. Yet this season, clearly, Episodes 1 and 4 grapple with the show's mythology, and just as clearly, Episodes 2, 3, and 5 featured "standalone" storylines with no larger stakes or consequences.
It's not that these standalone eps are bad--the direction this season has been top-notch every week--it's that they feel irrelevant. Maybe the show will prove me wrong, and the Colonel from Episode 2.03, for example, will turn out to be a major player in the Last Great Storm. That would be great..I love Stephen McHattie! But regardless, three out of the first five episodes of Season 2 have felt irrelevant.
In Dream Logic, our disposable villain was a brilliant sleep researcher with multiple personalities that becomes addicted to the vicarious experiences of his patient's stored dreams. Apparently, he's so addicted, he doesn't even wait for his patients to fall asleep before taking a hit of the ole neural cap. As a result, they enter a waking dream state. But can someone explain why this causes them to consistently experience waking nightmares? And then respond to them with extreme violence? When's the last time you were physically violent in your dreams?
The last-act twist revealing Dr. Nayak as the villain was a bit trite, since we all saw that coming from the character's introduction. Our patience was tested even further by the unfortunate return of Bowling Alley Yoda, Sam Weiss, who wins my vote for the worst series character. Olivia's not the only one who feels like time is wasting every time he opens his mouth. And this week, the Magic Business Card Word Jumble was hands-down my all-time least favorite part of the show.
A few other gripes. What happened to Agent Jessup? Why feature her so prominently in the season premiere? We haven't seen her since she stumbled upon a bible in Episode 2.02. And the new-viewers catch-up dialogue is getting pretty distracting, like when Walter felt the need to remind Peter that St. Claire's was the mental hospital in which he was interred. Another problem this season: characters have a new habit of telling us about their past in long monologues, which never makes for riveting television. If it's relevant information, we should see it, like we did with Peter's dream/memory at the end of the episode.
Gripes aside, I was intrigued by that scene, because it's not at all how I imagined Our Walter stealing Their Peter and bringing him across the divide between realities. Jerking him from bed? Why? Hopefully we'll revisit Peter's past soon (and not in a monologue). I also loved the humanizing scene between Olivia and Peter featuring a toothbrush.
Our next episode, Earthling, will hopefully bring us back at least tangentially to the War Between Realities. With more shapeshifters out there, and with their Ralph-Fiennes-Lookalike leader now re-embodied, shouldn't the Fringe Division be focused on finding them to the exclusion of all else?
Stray Thoughts
  • Jasika Nicole rocks. Use her.
  • Dr. Nayak's grad assistant, Zach Miller, was a shout-out to two of Fringe's new writers, Zach Stentz and Ashley Miller, who wrote last week's stellar episode and the upcoming adaptation of Marvel's Thor.
  • Has the science been dumbed down a bit this season? It seems like most cases are being solved by force (Peter or Olivia's fists) instead of Walter's brain these days.
  • I wish Olivia's business cards had spelled "Can I get a box of tissues?" instead. We miss you, Kirk.

19 Comments:

DocH said...

Sorry. Not buying the premise that 203 and 205 were standalones.

205 - Dream Logic. Touched deeply on the mythos that Peter is from the alter-verse... and that Walter was a knowing participant in the falsehood that he carries thru to this day. Livvy also completed the story-arc of her long time friendship with Charlie (aka. too expensive for Vancouver Kirk)

203 - Fracture. The continuing story is not just about Olivia regaining her special ability... the saga about 'special projects' (pattern events) is fed to us too. McHattie is awesome... but he knows so much he is not telling... the Observer is the one receiving the intel from the couriers... you can't get more mainstream fringe mythos than that.

Maybe, since they have cut 7 minutes from each episode, we are just getting smaller doses of 'overall' plot mixed in with our seemingly standalone stories.

Judith said...

Not buying that premise, either. And disagree that the show has to be like LOST to work, or has to be mythos heavy to count.

The Lost crowd don't have a monopoly on Abrams, et.al., and it feels unfair to Bad Robot for reviewers to keep demanding Fringe be only about the mythology, and unobservant of them not to notice that the mythology involves Peter and Walter too, and not simply as appendages to Olivia.

For me, each episode has gotten stronger this whole season, I'm more and more impressed as they go along.

PostErgo said...

In Peter's Dream at the end of there is a poster on the wall of the Space Shuttle Challenger with the text "Challenger Mission 11, June 28 1984" Challenger (in this reality) first flew in 1983, and broke up on the lunch of it's 10th mission in January 86.

Lux Lea said...

Spot on! I thought this ep was middling myself. It seemed very static and it didn't propel the mytharc forward. I was disappointed.

The end scene, however, almost redeemed the episode for me.

I don't miss Jessup, though, I'd be happy if I never saw her again. BORING!

Dani said...

This ep wasn't the best in my opinion, but Peter's dream was pretty awesome.
I wish they'd use more Astrid too, and I miss Charlie! Hopefully Kirk'll come back as Scarlie some day soon.
The new-viewer-catchup thing is getting pretty annoying, yeah. Hopefully they'll stop as the season goes on.

Dennis said...

This episode reminded me of "The No-Brainer" from last season where people's brains were getting liquefied. It seemed to be just a rouge scientist who's work was for selfish reasons, and completely unrelated to "The Pattern"

amcorrea said...

I still don't understand why this information is part of this episode's summary:

"As these puzzling occurrences continue, the team tirelessly explores strange and creepy links to dreams. In pursuit of additional information, Agent Broyles has a disconcerting meeting with enigmatic Massive Dynamic executive Nina Sharp that leads the investigation in an unthinkable direction."

Was part of the central story cut *out* of this episode?

DocH said...

@ amcorrea - The 'episode summary' comes from the official FOX press release. They do it about 80% tease, and about 20% spoilerish (normally).

That said... I agree - FOX missed the mark on this one. Fancy 25-cent words like "disconcerting" and "unthinkable" were way out of place. I asked myself the same question - was part of the central story cut? (good catch!)

@ everyone else. re: story arcs... some of the standalones may seem frustrating - but - how do you start a new, over-arcing plotline unless you plant a tiny seed... way back when? I trust Bad Robot to walk me thru a complex tale, be it three seasons, seven, or ten. Abrams is pretty much hands-off at this point. He'll do season openers and finales, maybe a sweeps month episode or two... and keep a rein on overall story-telling, but he has pretty much relegated production to Pinkner and Wyman. Just like LOST... ask him a question about that and he will shrug and say that you have to talk to Cuse and Lindelof to get the details.

Jamie said...

I think they are doing great. Each ep is a little piece of a large puzzle. Walter repeats himself because he is forgetful not to annoy anybody.

Capcom said...

Good article, and I'd agree for the most part.

Heck, I have dreams about cooks frying up arms all the time! ;-)

I love Stephen McHattie too and was very pleased to see him appear in the show. Hopefully he'll be back soon.

I thought that the cemetary jumble was a bit contrived, but I did get a little ferklempt when she finished it, I'll miss Charlie too.

Rebecca said...

Am I the only person who thinks Sam Weiss is a cool dude? And I'm not gonna lie, I teared up at the end when Olivia did the jumble.
I also hope Agent Kashner returns. He was so adorable! He and the last scene about Peter were the only really cool parts of the episode. I hope he sticks around instead of Jessup.

Chris Tilton said...

While the original review's complaints about not liking certain plot points, or certain characters is fair game, I think that if you are watching a network television show for the primary reason of getting answers to an overall story/mythology, then you are watching for the wrong reasons, and are better off waiting until the series is over, and watching a highlight reel.

Dennis said...

I agree. Joss Whedon said it best:

"Movies are an answer, TV shows are a question. Because if you give a definite answer, what the hell is your next episode about?"

Melissa (from Idaho) said...

The one thing that I've noticed is that even if there are standalone episodes, there's always something about them that will lead back to the central plot of the show. However, I've noticed that sometimes that's not entirely clear. I know last season I had about ten "DUH" moments looking back at all the little clues I'd missed in seemingly unimportant things.

But I can't say that I can complain about Jessup not being featured. I'm not much of a fan of that character.

I hate the recaps, but I think they're trying to get more and more new fans. I know that when I was explaining last season to someone who had never seen it I kept saying, "Oh, you'd have to see the first episode to understand." But it's still annoying, that time could be used for at least one more Walter one-liner!

DocH said...

Kids' Humor. (true)

Youngest Daughter: Why were they grilling people's arms?

Middle Daughter: To get the arm hair off.

Oldest Daughter: ... I wonder if they serve the arms with Fringe Fries?

alberto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luz M. "Mariita" said...

Oh, I miss Charlie/Kirk Acevedo too!! I almost cry with the business cards... Bring back Charlie!- from alternate universe!!** :D

Sba said...

Spot on review. I'm I the only one that misses the Boston FBI HQ setting? What happened (didn't have the money to move the HQ set to YVR)? I mean Fringe Division is still intact and presumably Broyles has other agents to supervise, suspects to interrogate, etc. It seems Broyles is in a different place every episode...park bench, bar, hospital, car, etc, etc.

The series works best when there is one or two constant and familar area's to fall back on when you need a pause or break in the storytelling. Walter's lab is certainly one and (at least) last season so was the Boston HQ.

fringefreak said...

I find it interesting that they find out that there are people in our universe who are a few steps away from destroying it and they go running off to Seattle like nothing happened.

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