Fringe redeemed itself this week, turning in a solid episode combining the odd with the right amount of running plot. While Leonard Nimoy hasn't returned yet as William Bell, he was mentioned, and we got a bit more confirmation that Massive Dynamic might not be as benevolent as suspected. This was also the most endearing and heartfelt episode of season two as Walter shows another side of himself that is nothing short of sweet.
Olivia, Peter and Walter are brought onto a kidnapping case involving the 15-year-old son of a prominent doctor at Massive Dynamic. The problem is that the kidnappers are leaving a string of dead bodies in their wake and the ability to control everyone, making them do things against their will with deadly results. When the it starts to appear that Tyler is the one controlling everything, Peter's life is put in danger as the boy decides to take him along for the ride.
This was an action-packed episode with fantastic storytelling, plain and simple. While it was a bit obvious that the bait and switch aspect of the story would be Tyler as the mind controller, I had a blast watching him make people do terrible things and play the innocent kidnap victim. Olivia was on her game this episode, always being two steps ahead of everything, but this was really Walter and Peter's episode so fans of their characters should have been pleased. I've always praised John Noble's performance on this series but here he swung for the fences. His various reactions to things just seemed so genuine and heartfelt. His awe and fascination with the “massive” Massive Dynamics headquarters was fantastic. It also lead to a complex discussion with Peter about how William Bell played matchmaker to the scientist and his wife. It gives the audience something to think about, Bell became this huge, world-renowned genius while Walter is the laughingstock of the scientific community who ended up in the looney bin. It's was an unspoken aspect of the episode that was just amazing, and it led Nina Sharpe to give Walter the spark of confidence he needed to find a way to save Peter. The other stellar performance from Nobel came when he though he would lose Peter. His aggressive confrontation with Tyler's father about putting his son in danger was perfect as the audience can feel his pain. He can't stand to lose his son again, although we still don't know the facts of the first time, and his needing to make crepes for his son at the end, “the perfect cure for an abduction” confirmed any doubts left about his devotion to his son. The action with Peter and Tyler was great as both were more alike than different. And who didn't love that ending? Nina Sharpe typing up some sort of letter to Bell about an experiment involving different Tyler's and mind-control, only this time one of the boys went looking for his mother? Who else was yearning to learn more about that?!
Olivia really seemed to take a backseat this episode to the Massive Dynamic team, Walter and Peter. This kind of brings up the issue of whether she's a strong character to head this show. Her acting can be a bit spotty at times but really this season has thrown Peter and Walter into the forefront. Also, I'm a bit skeptical that the running plot line, which should be returning next week, will prove inferior to the individual episodes. These are issues I'm constantly having with this series but they were pretty heavy this week.
This week was smart, engaging and entertaining as hell. A solid episode and plenty of sweet father/son moments and a phenomenal performance by John Noble. This week gets a 4/5.