I don't...I can't remember. I'm sorry

Last night's Fringe really delivered. Not only did we get to see Michael Cerveris' ominous Observer again, but we got a cameo from Clint Howard, as well as the very satisfying death of the show's most irritating character.

What I love about Fringe is how many allusions it contains within one episode. The show assembles very familiar imagery and icons of sci-fi, then constructs a new, rich fiction from not just its plot, but also the audience's recognition of its allusions. Pop culture allusion is the show's bread and butter. For instance the Observer is obviously a shout-out to the bald, mostly silent Watcher of Marvel Comics, but his presence, meaning, and origin within Fringe's universe are entirely new, and founded within the show's own mythology.

Not convinced?

For a better example, last week's episode "Inner Child" referenced E.T. and 2001 very directly within the same scene to great effect. The E.T. reference arrives as Olivia uses Skittles to bond with the subterranean child, recalling E.T. and Eliot's shared love of Reeses Pieces. Twice during the episode when characters are having conversations behind glass, the child seems to understand them, much like HAL silently observed the plan to destroy him in 2001.

The purpose of these allusions was not just to provoke "oh look at that" moments of recognition; by referencing cinema's most iconic benevolent alien and villianous technology, the show poses a question to the viewer: Is this child a misunderstood being capable of love, like E.T., or is he a sign of the dangerous future that awaits our characters, echoing HAL's inhumane pursuit of progress. By recalling these two iconic film characters, the show can convey this dynamic without relying on dialogue or exposition.

You don't have to get the show's references to understand the story (it is rather self-contained), but recognizing these allusions enriches the story through the secondary narrative of the show's engagement with the iconography of the sci-fi pop culture world.

Smart TV is good, no? I'm pumped to hear that it shall be returning in the fall for a full season.


John Noble's performance as Walter Bishop has become so moving. His navigation of the character's broken and haunted psyche has layers of depth that are just beginning to reveal themselves. The scene in the diner with Olivia last night was heartbreaking.

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