The Wife:

In the pre-season buzz articles about Fringe, I’ve been reading a lot about the show embracing its comparison to The X-Files, and was told to watch for one very explicit reference to the iconic series during the season 2 premiere of Fringe. I’ll tell you what that reference was, in case you didn’t catch it, but I’d argue that there’s a larger structure in place meant to mimic the sci-fi juggernaut that caused many an infatuation with David Duchovny.

As Olivia is missing somewhere in another world (and brought back through the window of the car she was driving by some special Walter radio-tampering), the pressure is being brought down on Broyles’ head by the FBI brass. Like its X-labeled predecessor, the Fringe division will be shut down unless some quantifiable results can be delivered.

Officially, this causes some major hiccups in Peter’s rouge investigation to find out just what happened to Olivia, and why agent in charge Jessup keeps finding bodies with three holes in their soft palates. Fortunately, Jessup, piqued to curiosity by Peter’s refusal to discuss his work at the scene of Olivia’s accident, did a little digging and hacked into the Fringe division’s case files. Despite all the weird shit she just witnessed, she’s more than willing to help Peter out while Olivia lies in a vegetative state.

The good news is that she’s not in that vegetative state for very long and bursts out of it in Peter’s presence, muttering in Greek. She has no idea where she was, but she does remember that she was going somewhere to meet with someone, although she can’t recall if that meeting actually took place or what its contents were if it did.

This week’s MOTW, who hit Olivia’s car and fled the scene of the crime, only to steal another man’s appearance, turns up in a curiosity shop to use one of the mirror-portal typewriters they keep in the back, where he learns that his mission to kill Olivia has not gone according to plan. The mirror-typewriter delivers unto him a new mission: interrogate the target, and kill her. (If anyone can find me one of these mirror-typewriter things, I would like one. Totally beats an Ouija board, am I right?)

But nothing says brand new season like a cow in a birthday hat!

But nothing says "brand new season" like a cow in a birthday hat!

Walter, examining one of the cast-off, water-logged bodies the shape-shifting soldier had to electrocute in order to resemble it, finds the three holes in the roof of the corpse’s mouth and remembers something. Back in the day when he and Belly were producing psychotropic drugs that made Timothy Leary jealous, they put together experiments that would cause a subject’s brain to see the divine. When one such subject was being recorded, she uttered a few key phrases regarding how “the three nails go in the mouth” and how, with their machines, “they can look like anyone.”

Because of this, it takes some clever observation on Peter and Agent Jessup’s part to track down any bodies with holes in their palates and follow anyone who looks like that person. Eventually, the suspect makes his way to the hospital where Olivia is under observation. They get the alert from security just as he steals the appearance of Olivia’s attending nurse. With the floor on lockdown, the nurse interrogates Olivia and, when she runs out of information, attempts to suffocate her just as the team arrives, chasing her down into the bowels of the hospital, where Agent Francis eventually kills her . . . or should I say, until she eventually kills Agent Francis and steals his appearance? I should say that, because that’s what happened.

Peter manages to find the shape-shifting machine in the midst of all of this and, although it is broken, he hands it to Broyles as proof that Fringe division does get results. He instructs Broyles to tell the government that this device will allow them to have an army that can look like anyone and that the only way they’re going to be able to develop this alien technology is if they keep Fringe division alive so Walter can find a way to fix the broken tech.

Myth-arc stuff:

  • For once, Walter’s fixation on foods is actually really crucial. As Peter’s birthday is soon approaching, he plans to make a custard for his son. Peter insists he doesn’t like custard and never has, but Walter corrects him and says that he loved custard as a child. This is obviously a disconnect between the Peter we know, who was stolen from the other side, and the boy Walter lost in that car accident.
  • The Greek words Olivia woke up with were something Peter’s mother said to him before bedtime: Be a better man than your father.
  • Agent Jessup notices that all of the events of the Pattern correspond to passages in the “Book of Revelation.” I roll my eyes a little bit at the thought of exploring this hackneyed trope.

Funnies!

  • Astrid stirring custard over a dead body.
  • Walter wanting to eat said custard with bloody glove hands.
  • Gene wearing a birthday hat.
  • Peter: Walter, will you forget about the custard?
    Walter: I refuse!

And The X-Files reference I promised you:

When Peter questions Agent Jessup’s commitment to this case even after seeing the Fringe case files, she quotes Hamlet to him:

“There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Scully quoted this line to Mulder once, as well. I believe it was during the third season, but my memory (and the internet) fail me. You’ll also see this phrase crop up in reviews of The X-Files, as a basic philosophy to describe Agent Scully’s dedication to science.

The Husband:

And so I shall continue into this second season of Fringe with how I approached most of last season — with haiku!

Shape-shifting is here.
Heroes
, True Blood, and now this.
Mystique would be proud.

In case you forgot
Walter likes sweet confections.
You must taste his pud!

Where is Mr. Spock?
I’ve questions. He has answers.
Stop jumping through time.

Kirk Acevedo
Has survived worse things than death —
Anal rape on Oz.

The Husband:

So what’s been going on the last couple weeks at Mode Magazine? Well, if the first episode in this discussion was any indication, absolutely nothing at all. Taking the rare 100%-personal-story route, UB throws a lot of mush at us with very little to really chew on.

Some of the not-so-great stories:

  • Claire Meade is approaching 60, so she acts out by shoplifting from high-class boutique stores. When Betty tries to stop her, she gets pulled aside by store security and is about to be in big trouble until Claire comes back and fesses up.
  • Betty, in preparation for Claire’s birthday, goes around with a video camera to interview all of Claire’s friends, only to find that she has no true ones.
  • Daniel tries to make Molly forget about her ex-fiancee Connor, but that’s hard when he goes out of his way to find a sweet Tibetan restaurant, only to find out that Molly has been there dozens of times, and the wait staff doesn’t like anybody dating her but Connor. Hilarity. (Not.)
  • Wilhelmina has to look after Connor’s parrot while he is out of town, but the parrot picks up on her speech and begins repeating “I love Connor,” something the emotionally stunted Wilhelmina only mentioned in passing. She doesn’t want to be the first one to say “I love you,” so she momentarily suggests that she kill the bird. This brings us to the only great line of the night:

“But that…birder!” — Marc

And in the only somewhat good story, Betty, with video camera, accidentally leaves the camera on in her house while away and videotapes her father squeezing the asscheeks of his assigned personal nurse, Elena. (I’ll always know Lauren Velez, the actress, as Dr. Gloria, the prison doctor on Oz who Dean Winter was always lusting after, so this storyline has its major awkwardness for me no matter how it goes. If you want to see Velez in a great film, though, I suggest you pick up I Like It Like That immediately.) Upon further investigation, Betty realizes that her father isn’t actually a sexually harassing dog — he and Elena are actually in love. Betty and Hilda won’t have this relationship, not accepting of their father dating anybody, let alone somebody so much younger than him, but when they find that Elena’s intentions are nothing but good, and that Papi has been lonely for years, they finally accept the couple as they are.

The following episode, “There’s No Place Like Mode,” brings the show back into absurd amounts of awesome with a huge bang in a mega-episode of lunacy and heart.

While Daniel insults Molly by trying to give her a high-fashion makeover, and Wilhelmina feels that her personal life with Connor is beginning to affect her professional standing in her industry, Betty gets the best story of the night — as an exercise at YETI, Betty is forced to pair up with a sports writer, and they are to learn about each other’s magazines through and through. This young man, Matt, seems like a perfect fit for Betty, and also a perfect fit for Ugly Betty. He’s not classically handsome, but he’s witty and looks like Josh Groban, and is a great romantic interest for the show. Betty isn’t interested in sports, but when Matt bitches her out for not taking an interest in his work and was pre-judging his industry, she gives in and learns that, just like in her industry, the best stories are the ones about the people within the industry. I’d love to continue seeing Betty’s foray into the sports world and its similarities and differences with fashion, and Matt is a much better dating choice for Betty than perhaps even Henry, who was a little too clingy even when he knew that he was going to have a baby with somebody else.

But what mission does Betty take Matt on during the episode? It’s to get the line of clothes for Fashion Week from the enigmatic German designer Heinrich, whose clothes are made of metal. Confused, Betty and Cristina write a fake press release just to goof around, but when Suzuki St. Pierre accidentally gets a hold of the bizarre parody piece, Heinrich is so amused that he asks Betty to produce his Fashion Week show.

I would love to be at this show, provided nothing cuts my face.

I would love to be at this show, provided nothing cuts my face.

But who gets to go, and who gets Betty’s two extra tickets? At the Suarez house, Hilda is getting a little weirded out by all of the smooching going on between Elena and Papi, especially now that he’s at perfect health for his age and technically doesn’t need a nurse anymore. And Justin doesn’t like them interrupting their movie-watching time.

Justin: I can’t hear what they’re saying.

Papi: Well, it’s either about steppin’ up, or the streets.


Justin, who was to go to Betty’s show with Hilda, decides to give his ticket to Elena instead so she and Hilda can talk, and while they have differences, they bond over their horrible fashion choices from the 80s and 90s and decide that they could be friends after all.

Ahh…but how does Betty’s big show go? Well, one of the metal dresses almost cuts Isaac Mizrahi’s face (Target spokesperson OH NOES!), but otherwise it seems to be going pretty well…until a very pregnant Cristina, who has been helping out backstage, reveals to Betty that she has been in labor all day but didn’t want to say anything, and now there’s not enough time to get to the hospital. Cristina collapses on the runway, and Wilhelmina gets all the metal-adorned models to make a circle around Cristina to give her privacy. Luckily, Elena is capable of delivering the baby and goes to the private circle, and moments later Willy rises up, baby in hand, in a tableau that looks to be a mixture of Brazil, Moulin Rouge! and The Lion King.

So yes, it was all kinds of wacky and messy, but I got a whole lot of Mode shenanigans out of it. Willy has her new heir by a dead man’s seed, Ashley Jensen can settle her story and leave the show as reported, and Betty has a new boy story. The mixture of heartfelt stories and absurd drama rises again, and that’s when UB is at its best.

We’ve got seven episodes left this season. Let’s hope it keeps us fully interested.

The Husband:

Prison Break is an extremely fun show, but sometimes I catch myself getting way more into it than I think the show often deserves. I don’t necessarily know how good of a show it is. The plots make very little sense, the coincidences are too staggering to take seriously, the characters bounce in and out of personalities whenever the story calls for it and even the showrunners and writers seem to constantly write themselves into corners and sometimes fail to ever come out of said corner.

But I dig it. I really, really dig it. I have never had a problem with suspending my disbelief, because I can get into premises quite easily with nary a care. Each movie, each play, each show is allowed to create its own world, even if that world looks a good deal like ours. I’ll never understand Herc over at AICN, who easily accepts the vampires and demons world of Buffy The Vampire Slayer but can’t get over the fact that at the beginning of Prison Break, when Michael Scofield held up a bank just to get sent to prison and thus try to free his brother from death row, he just happens to get sent to the correct prison where his brother is incarcerated instead of the many other prisons in the Chicago area.

Get over it. It’s entertainment. It can do whatever the hell it wants.

Oh, and those of you who have issue with the title of the show itself, how it’s called Prison Break and yet after season 1 they were already broken out of prison, get over that too. It doesn’t matter to me one lick. I don’t get pissed when The Office moves outside of the office set and into other locations, so it really shouldn’t matter that in s2 Michael, Lincoln and the gang are racing across the country to get to a big pile of money, or in s4 that they are working with a Homeland Security agent to recover several missing pieces of a big information hub known as Scylla (which, while a badass name, has seemingly nothing to do with its ancient namesake).

Hell, the show could be called Dingy Ring A Dong Bong Sloops and I wouldn’t really care. (Well, I’d care just a little bit. That’s a sweet-ass name.) In other words, get over it. The show is still the show.

I’m going to be one of the few exceptions to popular opinion, but I thought that s3 of Dingy Ring A Dong Bong Sloops (formerly known as Prison Break) was pretty fucking awesome, and far better than s2. While s2 very slyly worked several disparate storylines as they bounced in and out of each other’s trajectories and upped the stakes, especially in regards to Lincoln’s frame job regarding the death of the Vice President’s brother, as well as Patricia Wettig’s rise to power as the President of the United States, some of the magic of the first season forget to break out with the gang. By the end, though, everything had become so intense that it was almost overwhelming, including the death or capture of at least six major characters.

We aint mopey, okay? You have a full-body tattoo lasered off and you tell me how it feels.

We ain't mopey, okay? You have a full-body tattoo lasered off and you tell me how it feels.

In the highly underrated third season, Michael, T-Bag, Bellick and Mahone end up stuck in a Panamanian prison (why? I was never completely certain), which acted as a sort of tropical Oz (as in that HBO prison show with all the race wars and the buttfucking, not that Judy Garland movie with all the race wars and the buttfucking). In this overheated hellhole, Bellick lost all power he ever had as a prison guard, Mahone nearly lost his soul after unintentionally weaning himself off of his crazy pills, T-Bag nearly became the lord of the prison and Michael…well…Michael has pretty much been the same character for four seasons now. But the political power struggle within the walls of the prison was top-notch thriller television, thanks especially to The Wire’s Robert Wisdom as the villainous Lechero (which sounds like the best villain name ever until you realize it means “milkman”). And the stuff on the outside was just as good, as Lincoln and Sucre battle Susan/Gretchen and her blackmail scheme to get her own man, Whistler, out of the same prison on a very strict deadline. It was a great mini-season, and it further proves the idea that more American television should limit their seasons to 10-13 episodes and then let another show take its spot in their opposite season (i.e. fall/spring and vice versa).

When s4 rolled around this year, however, I really wasn’t into it. The show had listened to the fans more than they listened to their brains and brought back Dr. Sara Tancredi as a love interest for Michael, even though she got her head cut off midway through s3. (The show’s explanation? Kind of lame.) It also decided, after some spectacular and out-of-the-ordinary location shooting for the first three seasons (the majority of the first three seasons were shot in the Chicago and Dallas areas as well as some extra Florida shooting), to finally film the show in and around Los Angeles, thus rendering the show a little bit less special.

I’ll be honest. For about five episodes I was surprised to find myself not having any interest in the team nor their task. While I like Michael Rapaport and still do, I found his Homeland Security agent Donald Self to exist completely outside of the PB universe and felt the actor wasn’t taking it seriously. I also, after years of defending the show’s out-there plot contrivances (as you have seen in this post), was not really accepting T-Bag’s personality shift as he takes on a false identity and begins working for a mysterious company that seems to have actually very little purpose. (How did he get this new identity? He followed the clues in Whistler’s bird book, which I also cannot entirely explain.) And no, I was not feeling the Michael/Sara romance.

But as the season progressed, and Gretchen was basically resurrected from the dead, I found myself once again a victim to the ticking clock thrills of this show, the inane plot twists, the remarkable amount of violence and the completely unbelievable amount of technological knowledge Michael seems to possess. Suddenly I didn’t care that Mahone had gone from a completely fucked-in-the-brain FBI agent and murderer to righteous mercenary, that Bellick had become a good guy, that Lincoln had suddenly grown a brain, and that T-Bag really was ready to become a better person. Frankly, it didn’t matter, because really cool shit was happening onscreen.

I think that’s how I can honestly describe most great episodes of PB – really cool shit happening onscreen. Self’s sudden shift from Homeland Security agent to traitorous dickbag? Cool shit happening onscreen. The team’s final break-in to retrieve the Scylla hub? Cool shit happening onscreen. Michael’s sudden brain disease that went unmentioned until this season? Well…not so cool.

Now that the fall season is done, what will happen next? I know the show is suffering in its ratings, and I feel that it can definitely and organically finish itself off this season, but I damn well want to know what’s going to happen to Michael and his recently-under-surgery brain, his thought-dead mother’s involvement with the mysterious Company, and if Lincoln is ever going to see his son again.

Dingy Ring A Dong Bong Sloops, you make me giggle with your absurdity. Why can’t people understand my love for you? I know Stephen King does as evidenced in an Entertainment Weekly column this year, and he too has a great deal of trouble explaining the show at times. Whatever. A thrill is a thrill, and if some logic is going to be lost to reach that thrill, then I’m all for it.

But please, make Michael just slightly less mopey. Please?