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Fringe - 3.09 - Marionette Review by A.D.Harris

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After all that shit that hit that fan last week, with the mega episode that was 'Entrada', I was expecting a very transitional episode as Fringe moved into it's mid season storyline. I'd also expected this to be a bit of a teaser for what was to come; a set up to lure us all to head to Fringe's new Friday Time-slot, which as time goes on grows in confidence amongst Fringe fans. It may, just may, be a good thing.
'Marionette' was exactly what I had expected for a post-world-swapping episode, but it was actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be as well. I really really enjoyed it, and it made me think that the show actually has got a whole lot better at the 'story-of-the-week' episodes that littered season one.
The pre credits snippet was very much how it always is, a gripping intruige into where the world is taking us this week. A man with a paralysing umbrella (Oddjob would be proud) stabs a man getting off a train; the man arriving home and collapsing. The man awakens to find 'Umbrella Man' has chained him to a table, and is calling 911, leaving the man covered in blood. EMT's arrive to discover that the man has no heart, yet still, for 3 minutes, manages to live before he dies.

It was very sinister, and set the tone for a very disturbingly weird case of the week, one which I really enjoyed. When he returned to the station with the coolbox, I thought he was just going to randomly pick another person to umbrella-attack, but it appears he was just catching the train back, heart in hand...
I was delighted that Broyles, albeit briefly, got his moment to talk about his other self, quizzing Olivia on what he was like over there:

OLIVIA: He wasn't that unlike you. He was honorable, committed. He feared for his family, for their future.
BROYLES: So he had children?
OLIVIA: A son and a daughter. And he was very close to his wife.
BROYLES: And they were still married? (quiet. in deep reflection)

It was a scene that was much needed for Broyles, and throughout this episode, as well as the two previous ones, I got the feeling the writers have finally decided it's about time that Lance Reddick was given the material his talents deserve. That being said, disappointingly Nina Sharp was a no show once again; I have never been her biggest fan but in her odd appearances this season she's grown on me. Rather excitingly I asked John Noble about this on his Twitter Session during the episode, to which he replied:
"Nina is an intrigral part of our show. Blair Brown is a brilliant actress."
...which was awesome that he saw my comment, but also cool that perhaps she will be back a bit more frequently in January. At least they mentioned her this week, Astrid saying she has sent over the files from Massive Dynamic. I also always find it pleasing when Bell gets a mention, good to see Walter still thinks about his old friend...
Aside from the story of the week escapades, we had a lot of Olivia/Peter moments in this episode as Peter decided to tell her all about his hanky-panky with traitor Alt-Olivia. I was pleased he decided to come right out about it, I had wondered if it was going to be one of those secrets that we knew for ages before Olivia did so it was refreshing that it was dealt with within the first fifteen minutes. Peter gets some kudos-points; something quite a few fans feel he hasn't been getting over the previous few episodes.
The writers however played the slow burner with Olivia's reaction, first brushing it off... "Peter... it's fine. We're good. Let's go."

...but then over the course of the episode it began to sink in that this woman had used all her things, slept with Peter in her bed and it was stellar acting from Anna Torv again as Olivia began to lose it over what her life had become.

They played the whole storyline right through the episode to perfection, and it didn't feel rushed or too over the top, I was a happy man with that element.
Whilst all this was going on, we got to see what 'Umbrella man' was upto, trying to bring back to life a woman who he had abandoned leading to her suicide. It was all a little confusing at first as there were two 'Fringe-ie Things' going on; the first being that umbrella incident slowed down the 'Heart-man's body degeneration to keep him alive in the hope the EMT's would save him... "Astrid and I isolated traces of a serum in his blood. It functions as a preservative, radically slowing down cell degradation." ...and then the second element was that the 'Umbrella Man' was bringing a woman back to life. When the woman died, she was an organ doner, and so the 'Umbrella Man' was re-collecting all of the pieces, a heart from one, retina's from another etc etc. and piecing her back together again whilst hoping not to kill those he was taking apart. It was very Frankenstein, and very cool and led to such an eerily beautiful, freaky moment when he tied her up like a puppet and made her dance using levers and rope. It was disturbing yet elegant and creepy; John Noble himself described it, "Wasn't it amazing that a scene could be so moving and yet so gross at the same time?"

It was some of the most imaginative filming I've seen on TV, and kind of felt a little like something from 'Silence of the Lambs'. So kudos again there.
The writers decided not to dabble in exactly how 'Umbrella Man' (who's real name was revealed as Roland( managed to [temporarily] bring the girl back to life, I feel this side of the storyline is something to develop in future episodes, heck bringing people back to life is a huge thing, but it was clear it hadn't quite worked and so I was satisfied not knowing all the details at the moment. The girl looked all freaky and very Frankenstein, a bit Zombie and definitely not human. Of course, the Fringe team by this point were onto him, and captured him pretty easily, the girl already dead again when they found her. But all this was leading to the coolest part of the episode, the link to the Olivia/Peter storyline that I had missed. Roland, sitting in front of Olivia saying what we all now saw...

"When I looked into her eyes... It wasn't Amanda. I don't know what I brought back, but I know... it -- it wasn't her." Admittedly, it was a bit easier to spot Franken-girl-stein than Alt-Olivia, but now she had all she needed to confront Bishop Jr. and tell him that she was in dismay that he couldn't see it wasn't her...
"How could you not see that? Now she's everywhere. She's in my house, my job, my bed, and I don't want to wear my clothes anymore, and I don't want to live in my apartment, and I don't want to be with you. She's taken everything."

We're in store for some very awkward Peter/Olivia episodes to come, and Olivia being quite messed up I would think; it's something to look forward to in January. I also did feel that the episode helped me see Peter's perspective more, it was a little annoying to the viewer to be shouting at the TV screen for seven weeks that it clearly wasn't our Olivia. Now I'm seeing what he thought, it's all the more understandable.
Then we got our big cliffhanger...
OBSERVER ALERT Like you missed it :)

...when good old Baldie picked up his cell-phone-device and gave us some ominous things to think about whilst we tuck into our Christmas Turkey (if you celebrate)
"I have arrived. Yes. I am looking at him as we speak. He is still... alive."
Who? Peter would be my guess... but that's a stab in the dark.
So Fringe is still on a roll, someone shouldn't be alive, Observers are still Observing, Walter is still always after a milkshake...
Sounds like everything I love about this show, so I'll be back soon. On Fridays...



Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
Twitter: @AdDHarris
Facebook: Adam D.Harris

All my previous Fringe Reviews and Theories are Availabe here:
3.01 Olivia
3.02 The Box
3.03 The Plateau
3.04 Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?
3.05 Amber 31422
3.06 6995 kHz
3.07 The Abducted
3.08 Entrada
3.09 Marionette

Fringe Theories:
Some Pattern Thoughts (written after Episode 3.04)

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