The latest episode of Fringe, The Abducted, brings the show back to full force. After last week’s episode, which was this season’s worst one so far, I’m glad to see the show got back into rhythm quickly; the contrasts between the last two episodes shows why Fringe has had more improvement than any other show in the last six or seven years. While 6955 kHz was distant and impersonal, The Abducted had heart, tragedy, and moral dilemmas. Even the cold opening of this episode was very well done. Without a great intro to our villain, calling him Candy Man might have seemed very silly. Okay, really it was silly, since you have adults fearfully talking about someone named Candy Man, but that aside, this is one of the better villains of the show.
While Candy Man, or perhaps I should say “men”, weren’t that interesting or compelling themselves, the situation was. As we learn there is a serial kidnapper that takes children and brings them back internally aged, we also learn Broyles’ son was one of the victims. The incident has now left him blind and Broyles seems more emotionally hurt about that than his son does. The scene between Broyles and Walter shows that both men are still in a lot of pain due to what happened to their sons. Between all of the alternate characters, it’s hardest to see the difference between the two Broyles. It’s clear that Olivia and Charlie seem more lighthearted but murderous, Walter is sane, and Astrid is almost a robot, but Broyles appears to be about the same. Perhaps that is due to his superior moral fiber… or because he has been written somewhat bland so far. Either way, it’s nice to see him get more of a spotlight and for the actor, Lance Reddick, to show off his acting chops that we fans of The Wire know he has.
As the Candy Man case unravels, the reasons why our Olivia is the better one starts to shine through. Once again, she’s the first one to notice the investigative details and solve the mystery. Her challenging Broyles to allow his son to be interviewed again shows that she’s a leader, not a soldier. Olivia also gets a lot of “hero points” from me for still caring about the people of the alternate universe. It seems like it would be easy for her to just focus on arranging her escape and contribute the bare minimum to the case, but she tries to solve it as if it was for her home universe. This is highlighted when she chooses to help Broyles save his family rather than sneaking in the lab.
The confrontation between Broyles and the second Candy Man is one of my few complaints about this episode. Of course, it makes sense for people with guns to end their fights in a matter of seconds, but that doesn’t necessarily make for good television. This show has had some pretty good action scenes, but never any good fights. People watching Fringe hoping for fight scenes around the same quality of 24 are wasting energy, since that’s not what this show is about. However, that doesn’t mean that most of their confrontations should be a protagonist giving that week’s villain a fatal gunshot wound in less than eight seconds.
With all that our Olivia did for Broyles this week, him being honorable enough to recognize that was great to see. He always seemed to talk about her in a disgusted type of way, but it looks as if Olivia’s actions have opened his eyes that we’re not all his enemy. To a degree, the Candy Man case seems like a plot device for Broyles to like our Olivia, whether that’s the case or not, it would have been nice to learn a little bit about the motive of the doctor/preacher and his partner stealing youth. With everybody safe, Olivia takes her second trip in the tank, but sadly, it doesn’t permanently get her home. Her getting a message to Peter should prove useful… at the very least he’ll stop having sex with the wrong Olivia. It will be interesting to see if Broyles will lend any further assistance to Olivia, now that she has been revealed to know about her identity and captured. The promo for the next episode said that it will be the resolution for Olivia getting home. Now that both Olivias’ cover have been blown, the pending fallout should be a delight to watch. The only bad part is that we have to wait two weeks… stupid Thanksgiving.
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