Since a review of Fringe is an impossibility here at OTB - as most people who regularly watch the show are downloaders and can't take part properly without spoiling the show for everyone else* - I thought I would do something different entirely: a list of my favourite episodes.
My thanks go to a Twitter buddy named Mark, and to fellow blogger Gerard, both of whom got me thinking about my favourite episodes of the brilliant sci-fi series starring Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson and John Noble. Fringe has been appointment viewing for me since it started, and has quite nicely filled the JJ Abrams-sized hole left behind by Lost.
I've limited my list to seven episodes, so that we're not here all day; make sure you share yours in the comments section below. In the meantime, while you think about your picks, here are mine in the order they aired:
1x13 "The Transformation"
My favourite standalone episode features a man turning into a monster that bursts out of an aeroplane bathroom and causes havoc mid-flight. I remember this as one of the first episodes where the show struck me as something special: during one sequence, Olivia finds out that her deceased partner John Scott was involved in a bioterrorist cell responsible for the creation of the monster, so she is forced to enter a sensory-deprivation tank to wander around in his memories, which have somehow been transferred into her brain ... it sounds complicated but, as a fan of the show, I hought it was an epic moment.
This episode started with a building from the parallel universe appearing and fusing with an existing building, which led to an insane scene in which the Fringe Division enter the building and find the inhabitants fused together - most memorably a man fused to a structural beam with a second head coming out of his chest - and ends with Olivia discovering that Peter came from the parallel universe. Sure, we knew it was coming, but it was thrilling to see the truth brought to our screens.
Fringe is a show that loves to mess with the established format - they've done an animated episode and a musical episode, for example. One of the earliest (and best) of these format-twisting episodes was an extended flashback to 1985, complete with its own 80s-style synth version of the theme song, which told the story of how Peter ended up in the wrong universe. A riveting story and a standout performance from John Noble make this one of my favourites.
2x18 "White Tulip"
In the best time-travel episode of Fringe, Peter Weller guest-stars as a time traveller who seeks to stop the death of his fiancée in a car accident. But "White Tulip" was much more than a simple time travel caper: it's also an interesting look at the psyche of Walter Bishop, who spends the episode struggling with how to tell Peter the truth about his accidental kidnapping from the parallel universe, and scared that his son might never forgive him.
3x10 "The Firefly"
One simple reason for loving this one: Christopher Lloyd guest-stars as retired rocker Roscoe Joyce, the lead singer of Walter's favourite band Violet Sedan Chair, in one of the most fun episodes to date.
4x02 "One Night In October"
John Pyper Ferguson guest stars as John McClennan, a forensic psychology professor from the prime universe who is enlisted by the parallel universe Fringe Division to assist with catching their version of John McClennan, a serial killer who has drilled into the skulls of 20 victims and frozen their brains inside their heads. Like much of Season 4 so far, this episode also did a great job delving into the humanity behind some of the creepy tales on Fringe.
4x06 "And Those We've Left Behind"
Fringe does a great job with guest stars, proving it by casting real-life couple Stephen Root and Romy Rosemont together in this episode: Root plays a man who uses his wife's time travel research to go back four years, to a time before she had Alzheimer's disease. Another great example of how the writers have used humanity (in this case, love) and strong guest performers to bolster the story they are trying to tell.
What are your favourite episodes of Fringe so far? Feel free to give us your spoiler-free thoughts on S4 so far, too ...
(*) I'll probably do something after the season finishes on TV2 so we can all take part.