Fringe: Pilot   Rewatch 
June 10, 2014 2:10 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

An international flight lands at Boston's Logan Airport, its crew and passengers dead from a mysterious flesh-dissolving toxin. When Special Agent Olivia Dunham's partner, John Scott, is critically injured by the precursor chemicals of the same toxin, she recruits Dr. Walter Bishop, a mentally unstable researcher in fringe science, and his estranged son, Peter, to help her save John's life. They discover a cure for John's condition, but learn that the mass infection was but an experiment, and part of a larger mystery called "The Pattern."

Due to the self-referential nature of the series, and development of certain themes, I'm scheduling this as a rewatch. The show is available on Amazon and Netflix.
posted by the man of twists and turns (69 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Only just now watching this show for the first time, and am currently two episodes in on Season Two. Am avoiding spoilers like the plague.

Obviously I can't participate in these threads right now, but wanted to say that I do greatly appreciate your posting them. When I'm done with Season 5 in a few months, I'll come back and comment.
posted by zarq at 2:36 PM on June 10, 2014


Well, I couldn't tag them "Third watch" or so for myself, but I'm open to a "first watch" run, as well as people-who-are-not-me posting them.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:37 PM on June 10, 2014


Ooh, I could definitely go for a rewatch of Fringe. SSN 1 was so delightfully weird, and blossomed into something really cool by the end of the season.

Fringe was also the TV series where I started watching episodes at 1.15/1.18x playback speed. Really makes it pop!
posted by carsonb at 2:42 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll definitely participate in this. FRINGE quickly became one of my favorite television shows, and it is so wonderfully rich, with resonant characters and a mythology that learned from the failings of LOST to end up with a story that was complete and total. Also had some of the best and most successful moments of everyone just going for broke to come away with some of the most fantastic material in science fiction. Gotta grab my DVDs from the shelf!!!!
posted by theartandsound at 3:10 PM on June 10, 2014


Olivia Dunham is one of my favorite characters ever. Yes, she's one of the strongest female characters in the history of genre television, a shining example of what it means to make an on-screen woman formidable and tough without making her masculine. But that's not why.

Here's why:

You know how, so many times you'll be watching a genre show and you think to yourself, "Why don't they just shoot this motherfucker?" I'm not talking about Dirty Harry/Death Wish style murdering, I mean when it's situationally appropriate. The villain has the kidnapped kid by the scruff of the neck and he's screaming his threats and demands and you think, "I am almost positive they could just shoot this fucker right now." But, for dramatic reasons, the hero dithers, equivocates, backs down.

Olivia Dunham shoots the motherfucker. Every. Single. Time.

It's not that she's violent or takes killing lightly. It's that she has near total clarity of purpose and in situations where lesser genre heroes fret and second guess, she puts two bullets into the fucking creep's head. Not out of rage or brutishness. Just because it needs doing.

As you watch this show again, watch for this. It happens over and over.

She shoots the motherfuckers who need shooting. And while in life I may be a pacifist who is terrified of guns, watching genre tv, I find this tremendously, tremendously satisfying.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:00 PM on June 10, 2014 [30 favorites]


I am excited. I was watching this show a lot last year and sort of fizzled out, this is a great excuse to start over.

Olivia Dunham is one of my favorite characters ever. Yes, she's one of the strongest female characters in the history of genre television, a shining example of what it means to make an on-screen woman formidable and tough without making her masculine

See, Fringe is the JJ Abrams content I'm most familiar with, so every time the Trek movies come up, or it's announced that he's in charge of Star Wars, and everyone's all "Oh boy, JJ Abrams hates the women and this is gonna be so sexist", I'm like "but what about Olivia Dunham I'll just be here in my corner being quiet I guess"
posted by Hoopo at 4:05 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oooh Fringe rewatch, nice. It's one of those shows that started out kind of trapped in the shadow of its predecessor (on which note, I've been meaning to do my own personal X-Files rewatch for a while now), but once Fringe eventually pushed beyond that and became its own thing it became awesome and wonderful. And then it just kept right on pushing the envelope and getting even more strange and wonderful.
posted by mstokes650 at 4:09 PM on June 10, 2014


Start perfecting your strawberry milkshakes now, people!
posted by MsVader at 5:24 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I stalled out on Fringe in the 5th season - a rewatch could give me the impetus to finish it off. And yes, Olivia is one of the reasons the series is so great, I think.
posted by fever-trees at 8:12 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've really been hoping for this, and I look forward to watching Fringe for the first time with all sorts of hints and spoilers. It seems like a show I should love, but I never watched past episode 1 a couple of years back.
posted by moira at 8:25 PM on June 10, 2014


Are we mixing first watch and rewatch I the one thread? Don't want to go opening my trap before I know where people are at. This is one of those shows where the spoilers be spoiiiilery! Not like "oh, wow, you mean they used to be married?" but real, meaty, world shaking spoilers. Also, yay, Fringe!
posted by Iteki at 10:14 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Man, I've tried this puppy a few times and it's just never clicked with me the way something like, say, The X Files did. We're on like our what feels like yearly rewatch of the Files right now on those first five seasons are still great, plus the few episodes Gilligan gets his writing hands on in the later seasons.

I dunno, I guess maybe this deserves another try. I should get one of those lists of the premium "mythology" episodes, plus the outstanding standalones.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:51 AM on June 11, 2014


Oh man that banner. Bishop looks like he's right out of the Fallout 3 character creator.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:52 AM on June 11, 2014


Man, I've tried this puppy a few times and it's just never clicked with me the way something like, say, The X Files did. We're on like our what feels like yearly rewatch of the Files right now on those first five seasons are still great, plus the few episodes Gilligan gets his writing hands on in the later seasons.

I dunno, I guess maybe this deserves another try. I should get one of those lists of the premium "mythology" episodes, plus the outstanding standalones.


Fringe gets the X-Files comparison a lot, but IMO the further it strays from trying to be The X-Files, the better it gets. Season one is a bit X-Filesy and until it really goes its own way towards the end of the season, it's a shadow of what it can be.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:43 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Start perfecting your strawberry milkshakes now, people!

I think you meant "homemade psychedelics" there, yes?

I'm sort of doing a rewatch and am nearly through season 1, myself.

So, the pilot! I think it does a good job of mixing monsters and mythology. And I love how Olivia doesn't take any shit from Broyles after that initial lee-aay-zohn he throws at her. Delightful.
posted by rtha at 6:18 AM on June 11, 2014


I'm not up for an ongoing re-watch because I'm preparing for the July bar exam, but Fringe is one of my favorite shows and I'm glad you are doing this and I'll probably dip in and out of the threads as I have time.
posted by gauche at 7:00 AM on June 11, 2014


rtha, you say tomato, I say tomato.
posted by MsVader at 7:43 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I had forgotten that Daniels Broyles was such a jerk at the beginning. And that he wasn't FBI, but rather DHS.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:31 AM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm watching the Wire for the first time, and experiencing serious cognitive dissonance every time I remember that Daniels isn't actually Broyles. I like to pretend they're the same character in two different phases of his career.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:50 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've re-watched the X-Files lately and that show had a lot of problems I was willing to overlook when the show first aired. I mean, that whole desert scene--how did Mulder even get out of there?--and the Native American healer guy...I'm cringing just typing this. When it was "monster of the week" rather than the overarching conspiracy storyline it was much better.

I do understand why the shows get compared, but I feel like Fringe pulled it off much better. For one thing, the characters eventually learn to trust somewhat in Walter's crazy ideas, unlike Scully, whose skepticism in the face of Mulder's ideas became a bit hard to understand as the show went on.
posted by Hoopo at 9:26 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I started watching Fringe for the first time during the missing MH360 crisis. Bad timing.

Right now I'm stalled at S03E15 (Subject 13). S01 took a bit of time to get going for me, then I had to race through S02 breathlessly - great fun. Now I've run out of gas a bit. Maybe this post and follow-ups will help me get going again.
posted by shortfuse at 9:41 AM on June 11, 2014


Are we mixing first watch and rewatch I the one thread?

This is definitely a rewatch thread; I just happen to be reading it during my first watch.
posted by moira at 9:58 AM on June 11, 2014


One of the things I loved best about Fringe was Olivia Dunham. And not just that she was willign to shoot the motherfucker, but that she did it while being dressed appropriately for her job.

None of these cleavagey tank tops and skin-tight jeans in the office for Agent Dunham. She wore black or blue suits with a button-front shirt every day to work, and she wore low-heeled shoes she could chase people in. Minimal makeup, simple hair. Olivia Dunham is a professional, and she has no time for your shit.

(Also, Anna Torv should have gotten an Emmy nom during the later seasons: she's nearly as much of a chameleon as Tatiana Maslany.)
posted by suelac at 5:23 PM on June 11, 2014 [21 favorites]


I like that the common complaint early on was "Anna Torv's acting is so wooden!" and then you find out for a fact that no, Olivia Dunham is wooden, Anna Torv has got this shit down...
posted by jason_steakums at 5:50 PM on June 11, 2014 [18 favorites]


I like how they reference the technobabble. "They said it was caused by a synthetic chemical, which is like saying rain is caused by a wet chemical."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:26 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


The first season of this show was pretty "eh, I like it cause I like this kind of show but it's nothing great." But sometime by the middle of the second season it found it's level and became its own weird, wonderful thing. I heart Olivia.

Plus I was like within grabbing distance of Jaskia Nicole a week ago.
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 PM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


All of the glyph codes for all seasons
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:46 PM on June 11, 2014 [10 favorites]


My god, I forgot how gruesome that opening scene was
posted by Hoopo at 10:23 AM on June 12, 2014


I really enjoyed how Peter was the snarky audience member, saying how unbelievable everything is and just really going to town. (Though with all the science-y stuff, the part I found less plausible was that agents are required to have their own blood supply. It just sounds both difficult and expensive to have every agent have their own blood taken for just them to use.)

I'm excited by the rewatch, but I'm wondering what the pace is, so that I can try to watch along. Any plans for how often you'll post an episode?
posted by Margalo Epps at 12:36 PM on June 12, 2014


I am open to suggestions.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:37 PM on June 12, 2014


I forgot how much I love Walter. "Just a squirt."

I watched bits and pieces so every time I watched an episode it was in a state of confusion. This is going to be great. It's funny how much is borrowed from Lost (or vice versa?): the music at times, the title card is an inversion of Lost's.

I was surprised to see Astrid. Didn't realise she was there from day 1.
posted by tracicle at 12:37 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd be up for one episode a week -- I don't know if that's too rarely for other people.
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:42 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


1 a week seems reasonable to me, too. That's generally how episodes are released when they air originally.
posted by Hoopo at 3:01 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I put episode 2 up last night. 1 a week is two years to get through the entire series!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:19 PM on June 12, 2014


I would love to have more frequent posts, but may be in the minority.
posted by moira at 9:41 PM on June 12, 2014


Actually I hadn't really considered the 2 year angle. That makes sense. I may not be able to keep up but that's ok cuz I've seen a lot already and it's a rewatch
posted by Hoopo at 11:14 PM on June 12, 2014


I think part of why it ended up cult and not gigantic is exactly as some people have mentioned above that it starts off feeling like a pastiche of X-Files, it's knock-off cousin. Which is completely deliberate, you're supposed to be a little underwhelmed I think. All I know is that is exactly what set me up for being utterly gobsmacked and enchanted at the parallel world reveal. As someone said, it's not Anna that's wooden, it's that Prime Olivia is just the tensest person in existance. I had a terrible crush on emOlivia and hated Fauxlivia, which is all down to how great Anna Torv is.
posted by Iteki at 4:06 AM on June 13, 2014


How about twice a week? It takes one year, but at least I'm not trying to watch one every single day for the next four months.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:36 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or once a week, but 2-3 episodes per thread, if FanFare lets you do that? Personally if I'm watching a show I can never do just one episode in a sitting.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:49 AM on June 13, 2014


When I first watched the pilot, the gratuitous taking-clothes-off scene turned me off, but based on FanFare, I feel like I might have to give it a second chance.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:46 AM on June 13, 2014


Sunday and Wednesday nights? I tend to post them late my time, which will actually be Monday and Thursday mornings for most people.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:19 PM on June 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sounds good to me.
posted by moira at 3:42 PM on June 14, 2014


I just watched Fringe for the first time last year and fell madly in love, especially with Walter. I was so frustrated that I didn't have anyone to talk to about my new love. It's a bit soon for a rewatch but I may do it anyway.
posted by Mavri at 9:10 PM on June 14, 2014


%n: "(Also, Anna Torv should have gotten an Emmy nom during the later seasons: she's nearly as much of a chameleon as Tatiana Maslany.)"

John Noble also clearly deserved an Emmy for his role on the show. It is literally inexplicable that Fringe made it through a 5-season run without winning a single major award. It's easily the most criminally-underrated and underwatched show of the past few years. I have no clue how the show managed to stay afloat with a decent budget for 5 seasons, but I'm sure glad that it did.

The show definitely falters in a few places -- I started to lose interest when the plot started to stall somewhere around the second or third season. However, the last few seasons completely knocked it out of the park -- once the show found its footing and the writers realized that the show was inexplicably immune to cancellation, it got really good.
posted by schmod at 6:25 AM on June 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wow, I forgot how great of an episode this was. Really overwrought, and I'm glad the show found footing after they toned it down in later episodes, but still great.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:52 PM on June 20, 2014


I didn't realise Jean was in the show from day one. Did the lab not smell of dung and how good was Jean's milk really if she never got to go outside and eat nice green grass and where was the calf? How could she produce milk for the strawberry milkshakes? Surely she would need to calf once a year or so for this? Suspicious!

On second view I think John Noble' s accent slips here and there. I think I thought he was supposed to have a mid-Atlantic accent here. I was very surprised, and pleased to learn he was Australian. Double delight when I found out Anna Torv was as well.

Had real trouble seeing Joshua Jackson as bad ass he was supposed to be in pilot, thanks to Dawson's Creek. I know his teddy bear face is supposed to make him a really great con artist, because he doesn't look like one, but this wasn't helped by the fact in this episode Peter is an annoying little smart arse.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 6:25 AM on June 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Totally. I had forgotten just how much of an asshole Peter was in the first episode, throwing around his little sexist "sweethearts" and trying to be a tough guy. Which really didn't work with Joshua Jackson's general sense of being a minor character in Toy Story 2. I'm so glad that the writers got a handle on that really early on, and that the Peter in the show proper is not the Peter of the pilot.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:27 AM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know when I think about it I buy everything else, it all seems perfectly reasonable. Son only person on planet who can visit dad in mental hospital? Virus that dissolves all human flesh? Isolation tank mind meld? Yeah why not. But they lost me on the cow.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Especially the bit where Peter claims, ludicrously, that humans and cows differ genetically by only a couple of lines of DNA. I thought a better take on that line reading would be if there was a prolonged awkward silence afterwards and every character looked at him as though he was completely insane.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:49 AM on June 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm still on the milk issue. Everyone knows cows need to graze outside. Buy New Zealand butter people, it's made with sunshine.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 6:57 AM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


How could she produce milk for the strawberry milkshakes? Surely she would need to calf once a year or so for this? Suspicious!

I'm with you here. I suppose this could count as Not a Plot Hole if you assume that Jean is the descendant of another of Walter's shady '80s genetic experiments. There was probably an episode all cued up somewhere explaining this, but the producers spiked it as overly technical and of interest only to the dairy industry and New Zealanders.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:59 AM on June 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think Peter of the pilot is one of the main reasons I didn't watch past Episode 1 all those years ago. The whining and jerkish behavior don't seem to be a long-term thing, though, so I'm thankful for that.
posted by moira at 9:22 AM on June 21, 2014


Also Jackson's complete inability to sell the jerky Con man aspect and it was quietly dropped.


I always think of him as " Oliva's love interest." cause she's the main character.
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 AM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the DVD commentary they mention Cronenberg as a big influence and there are more than a couple of overt references to his work in the pilot.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:08 PM on June 21, 2014


Also, lens flares!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:20 PM on June 21, 2014


I agree. Makes it hard to take Olivia and John Scott seriously when it's clear Peter is set to be her love interest.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 1:27 AM on June 22, 2014


I thought the double/triple gotcha of: blowing up one of the apparent main characters, and then making him a double agent after you've been rooting for him to get better, and then essentially killing him was pretty great.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:29 AM on June 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sweet, Fringe rewatch! I love this show! I'm still gonna skip the face melting bit in this episode though.
posted by wiskunde at 6:16 PM on June 22, 2014


I just finished this show for the first time and there's so much I love about it. The fact that it consistently passes the Bechdel test is one. It's so clever and interesting and the cameos are brilliant!
I am annoyed at the description, though - "A female FBI agent".
Relevance?
Thank you for posting!
posted by the_royal_we at 6:20 PM on June 23, 2014




I've heard this sentiment before: once Fringe eventually pushed beyond that and became its own thing it became awesome and wonderful.

I think someone, sort of, indicates this might happen at the end of season one. And maybe elsewhere upthread someone says the show really takes off in the middle of the second season.

I'm patient and could watch the whole show and just let that moment come on its own. But I have to also convince my partner who has after 4 episodes levied the X-Files knockoff charge against the show that it will come (and about when in the series). I'm taking suggestions on how to do this so we can participate. This is the second time we have tried. The first died on the vine at the pilot episode. The second attempt got to the fourth episode.
posted by safetyfork at 4:21 AM on June 30, 2014




Excellent, I will use this and hopefully we can join in. Thank you!
posted by safetyfork at 7:35 AM on June 30, 2014


The non-science of Fringe: Pilot

I love the heavy snark in this one.
posted by moira at 2:40 PM on June 30, 2014


I just watched this last night for the first time since completing the series. Aside from a few tonal mis-steps (e.g., badass tough-guy con-man Peter) this already feels, in some ways, like the show through Season 4 and into Season 5. Fittingly enough for the themes of the show, it both evolves away from what it began as, and finds ways to remain true to itself at the same time.

I'm really looking forward to this rewatch -- with the benefit of having seen Fauxlivia and Walternate, it's interesting to watch Anna Torv's and John Noble's acting choices in creating their characters.

So many of the Fringe tropes are here: horrible things happening on public transportation (here a Plane); people leading double lives (John Scott, Peter, Olivia's duplicity around keeping her affair with John a secret), in one odd case literally: the show starts out with a villain who is twin brothers.

Notice how Nina Sharp's artificial arm is a skeleton encased in clear plastic "flesh" -- echoing the flesh-melting event on the plane. This, too, is suggestive of the dual purposes of technology to kill and to save from death. Technology itself leads a double life.

I, too, was surprised to notice Astrid that early on, but also pleased to see she'd been on the show from the beginning. Her own dual role in the show is another great showcase of acting talent. This show's a tour-de-force.

There were a lot of bald men on that plane, but I couldn't tell whether the Observer was among them. I don't wish to make too much of this, but perhaps it is possible to view Broyles as, in some ways, the anti-Observer: a single, impossibly tall, angular bald black man against an army of shorter, rounder bald white men.

I have a theory about Fringe: my recollection has been that the show is filled with references to technology outside of the mainstream, things like 8-track tapes and naugahyde. My theory is that the show we are watching is in fact set in an alternate universe in which those technologies and products are the ones that succeeded in the marketplace, and that Walter's actions at the end of Season 5 call into being the universe which you and I inhabit. I'll be looking for evidence in support of this theory as the rewatch proceeds, although I admit that I didn't notice any real evidence in support of it in this episode.
posted by gauche at 9:36 AM on August 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh, and I really loved whatever building they used as the FBI offices because it's so different from the office I remember in the rest of the show.

I'm sure this is an artifact of it being a Pilot, but I think it would be funny to explore a little bit the conceit that one day, your whole office is changed and the lighting is better because your show got picked up.

Walter's lab felt familiar, though I think it was filmed from different angles than the ones the show eventually settled on. Suppose it's possible I'm just badly remembering the FBI offices.
posted by gauche at 9:40 AM on August 5, 2014


Yeah I used to say Fringe takes place in the universe where The Frontean Times is a legit peer-reviewed journal.
posted by The Whelk at 9:42 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I know I'm late to this but have just decided to see if I can catch up with this re-watch in preparation for S5. So far I'm finding it amazing how knowledge of what happens later makes me fond of them all already. I mean, this is the only time we get to see Olivia looking happy until S3 or so! And John Noble rocks my world.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:45 AM on October 5, 2014


A chance comment by filthy light thief clued me in to the existence of this FanFare.

This premiered when I was in grad school and it was a favourite show of the lunch crowd. Partially because of its X-Files "lineage" and that lots of this if filmed in Vancouver and on campus at UBC, where we were.

Going to give a rewatch a go.
posted by porpoise at 6:07 PM on August 23, 2018


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