Spoiler Heavy Reviews: Fringe: “Making Angels”

by Kevin on February 4, 2012

This week’s Fringe was a bit of a head-scratcher. After last week took some time off from the main storyline to give us a few quiet character moments, “Making Angels” took a similar approach, forgoing heavy action and pursuit for more dialogue and story, but the story was richer, more focused on our characters. It was rewarding, but flawed.

The highlight of “Making Angels” was the compelling work of Jasika Nicole, who finally got a real chance to shine as both our Astrid and “Austrid” (the Fringe-verse nickname for Earth-2’s Astrid). Nicole has been terrific for the duration of the series, and her portrayal of Austrid, based on Nicole’s sister with autistic spectrum disorder, has given her a chance to shine outside of the structure of case-based episodes and Walter’s lab. Bringing the two versions together could only be enjoyable.

It’s unfortunate, then, that so much of “Making Angels” simply didn’t make a lot of sense. It was bizarre that Walter jumped immediately to mythical Egyptian potions as soon as he ruled out Ebola, and even stranger that Austrid would “scientifically” conclude that something godlike must have occurred to cause the chemical compound our killer is using. The leaps were poorly written, but necessary to move the plot forward. But I guess I’m picking nits.

Once we got past explaining how our Freak of the Week—essentially a more cynical version of Walken in The Dead Zone—is killing his victims, the episode became more familiar. And it turned out that our killer, Neil, was using a device owned by our most familiar Observer, September, to see all timelines the way they do and select his victims. Funny, then, that the episode ended with the Observers only just now figuring out that September’s device was missing and that Peter is back. I thought they could see everything?

“Making Angels” was an example of how strong the cast of Fringe really is. What could have been a much weaker episode was strengthened by the way the cast played off each other, or in the case of Nicole, how she played off herself. It was touching and occasionally moving, in spite of having one of the most bizarre FotW episodes I’ve seen in a while. A different show wouldn’t have pulled this episode off nearly as well.

Kevin’s Grade: A-

The Good

  • “Dr. Bishop, your Astrid is summoning you.”
  • I love the way Fringe develops its characters by pairing them up in different ways, exploring how different versions of them would play out. Giving Walter a chance to encounter Austrid and re-encounter Fauxlivia just makes for great television.
  • Walter makes a good point about Long Island iced tea.
  • Oh, T.S.A. You’re always useless.
  • “Shiitake Happens.”

The Bad

  • I’d have gone with B+ but I think there was a lot in this episode to like, and the weaker FotW story didn’t bother me that much. Paired up with a stronger story, however, it could have been one of the best episodes yet.
  • The stereotype of the Asian parents screwing up their kids with pressure is a little played out, don’t you think?

The Weird

  • Coffee is rare and expensive in Earth-2. I’d like to know more about that.

Things to Think About

  • How much of a role are the Observers going to play this season? We’re seeing more and more of them, but they never seem to give us anything substantial. The tie-in with Reiden Lake, other than a way to put Neil in touch with the Observers, might be foreshadowing for later. Or it might just be a plot device.

Next Week: 4.12 “Welcome to Westfield,” where the laws of physics are running amok and turning people into mutants or something. Sound familiar?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Oru February 4, 2012 at 7:16 pm

It isn’t the first time that they mention the rarity of coffee in the other universe. It was first made clear in the episode “Jacksonville” from season 2 and mentioned again in several other episodes, like “Entrada” from season 3.

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Kevin February 5, 2012 at 8:42 am

Nice, I guess I never caught those, or just forgot.

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