Fringe, Ep. 4.09, “Enemy of My Enemy”: Strong villain lends seasonal direction
This week, on Fringe: Both Universes unite against a common enemy, Asptrid thinks Peter’s cool, and Walter gets a surprise visitor.
**Quick rundown of current Fringe nicknames: Olivia/Fauxlivia, Walter/Walternate, Lincoln/Linclone, Astrid/Asptrid, Broyles/Foeyles
After a strong outing last week, Fringe is just as great this week, if not better. There are several nice moments, but the episode’s biggest strength is the wise decision to bring back David Robert Jones, and by extension Jared Harris, in a big way. While the season has been mostly good thus far, “Enemy of My Enemy” illustrates what has been sorely lacking- a strong villain. There have been stand-alone threats, but all of the serialization has come down to Peter’s struggle and his interactions with the various incarnations of his friends. The reintroduction of shapeshifters felt like a disappointing rehash at first, but if that’s what it took to get us to Jones, then the earlier, less-than-inspiring episodes have been more than made up for.
Jared Harris is a fantastic actor, very memorable in his season one episodes and excellent in his utterly different role on Mad Men, and his scenes crackle with energy. Particularly strong is Peter’s interrogation of Jones. Harris shows Jones’ transition from egotism to curiosity to anxiety well, all of course maintained under a calm façade. Joshua Jackson plays off of him well, allowing Peter to relish in Jones’ confusion while never forgetting the threat he poses. The scenes with Jones and Foeyles are also interesting- the viewer can see in Harris’ performance that Jones knows this is an act, but Lance Reddick plays Foeyles absolutely straight- viewers who missed the previous episode, or the “Previously On”s, would be forgiven for not realizing he’s a mole/shapeshifter.
The other standout scene takes place between Elizabeth (Walternate’s wife) and Walter. As she was last week, Orla Brady remains a warm presence on the show and, considering how isolated many of the characters are, the heart and forgiveness we see in their scene goes a long way towards humanizing what can be a rather detached series. While Fringe is almost always interesting and smart, its best episodes are its most personal ones, from “White Tulip” and “And Those We’ve Left Behind” to the one-two punch from season two, “Jacksonville” and “Peter”, which kicked the series into gear and elevated it from a show with potential to one of the best genre series in years. Though the developments this year have been well-executed, the relationships have been backtracked- hopefully Walter’s new willingness to work with Peter will signal a change, at least for them.
Watching Fauxlivia and Linclone work together, tiptoeing towards their eventual realization that Foeyles is working with Jones, is fun but also frustrating- hopefully the writers won’t drag it out overly long. This group is too smart to not discover such a blatant intel leak, assuming things continue as in this episode. Though she gets very little to do this week, as ever, it is nice to see Asptrid get some character development, even just the tidbit that she thinks alternate timelines are cool. Now that Lance Reddick has something else to do besides be authoritative and competent, can we get something for Jasika Nicole to do besides read out percentages or handle Walter?
There’s no mention of The Observer this week or his ominous prophesy to Olivia, though assumedly that’s his blood she wants analyzed. The revelation that Nina is working with Jones, preparing Olivia (via spinal injection) for Phase Two, would indicate that the two are related, but how this ties in with Peter is anyone’s guess. Uniting the two Universes against Jones makes for a far more interesting story than repeating the Us vs. Them dynamic of season three, but while Jones is a compelling villain, there are still 13 episodes left and it will be difficult to maintain this pace for such a long time. If they keep knocking out episodes like this though, they’ll be well on their way.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Did you enjoy the episode-ending Dual Universe conference? Do you think there’s any chance Peter will get back to his timeline this season? Post your thoughts below!