The Wife:

Don’t mistake this as a complaint, but “Night of Desirable Objects” reminded me of a couple of X-Files episodes, hybridized into one. It took a little bit of the Flukeman from Season 2’s “The Host,” a little bit of the Peacock family from Season 4’s famously banned episode “Home,” but it also married that horrible family genetic secret arc and that mutant killer underground arc with two of its own similar conceits from season one: the albino bat boy and the chimera. For a MOTW episode, this was pretty entertaining, though because it’s mostly an MOTW, it doesn’t have a lot of value to the series overall.

Construction workers go missing from a field near the Hughes farm, grabbed from the ground by a shiny, blue-ish claw. Fringe division pokes into these disappearances, allowing Walter to analyze the residue found on the ground at the latest disappearance and discover that it’s a paralytic. On a visit to the Hughes farm, Olivia, who has developed occasional super hearing, hears an additional person breathing despite Dr. Hughes’ insistence that no one else is there. He is alone, because his wife died in childbirth about 20 years ago, and gave up doctoring shortly after that incident. Agent Jessup picks up a bible at the Hughes house and finds a note from the pastor telling him not to blame himself for the death of his wife and child, which leads the team to believe Hughes might have killed his family.

Wow, I’m so glad Jessup got a scene in this episode that’s so crucial to the plot or her character. I have no problem with Jessup’s existence in the series, but why write her in to a case she wasn’t originally part of? That scene with her struck me as very odd and out-of-place. Maybe her arc in this episode was a victim of editing. If so, I’m sure they could have reshot the scene with the Bible featuring, oh, ANYONE ELSE. Peter. Olivia. Evil Agent Francis. Dude, I’d sooner believe that they let Astrid go out in the field than insert Jessup for one lame scene.

Don't mind us, we were just exhuming some caskets!

Don't mind us, we were just exhuming some caskets!

Walter exhumes the bodies, only the baby casket doesn’t contain a body. Something tried to claw its way in or out and has stolen the bones. By examining the remains of the mother, though, Walter learns that she had lupus, and it is therefore a medical impossibility for her to have given birth, as the bodies of expectant women with lupus attack fetuses as though they were diseases. Through this, they realize that Hughes, who is in the process of hanging himself from the fluorescent light in custody, genetically engineered a child that could survive in hostile environments, such as:

Peter: He altered his baby’s DNA to survive its mother’s lupus.

Astrid: That’s sick.

Walter: That’s genius! He’s created the superbaby!

It’s part scorpion, hence the paralytic, and part mole or some such other underground creature. Armed with this knowledge, Olivia and Peter try to find it in its underground lair, where it snatches Olivia and then dies when one of its surface tunnels collapses, sending a police car crashing down atop it. Poor little scorpion mole boy, done in by the advancements of a world he could never be part of.

If there’s one really poignant thing I can say about this MOTW, it’s the Hughes desire for a son is very nicely mirrored in the act of Walter taking V2 Peter from the other side to replace the son he lost. They’re both about men who, at their cores, just really wanted to be fathers. And that scene at the end, where Peter talks about wanting to take his dad fishing as a boy but never could because Walter was always too busy? That broke me heart, especially when Walter invited himself to attend the trip with Peter and his “friend,” not realizing that the story was about him, or that he was invited all along. “You know, Walter,” Peter says, “that might just make the trip.”

Meanwhile, mytharc-wise, Evil Charlie Francis is told by his magical mirror typewriter that he needs to find a way to make Olivia remember the other side, and Nina Sharp sends her to see a “therapist” to talk about her accident and subsequent side effects of visiting the other side. This makes me wonder if Nina’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent bionic arm replacement were a result of her business with the other side. She has a really great speech about her cancer and her body becoming “a foreign thing, a threat” to her that engages with my work and connects very neatly to the origin story of the MOTW. Not Fringe’s best episode, but serviceable, and not without a few great moments.

The Husband:

Maybe it was the Indian food racing through my digestive system last night, but I’m already becoming a little impatient for MOTW episodes that don’t really wow me, preferring as usual to see a mytharc episode while still realizing that too many mytharc episodes in a row would overload the entire show. I just didn’t need to see John Savage being creepy yet again and living in a house that I am pretty damn sure appeared in the second episode of Chris Carter’s failed 1999 show Harsh Realm. (Which I can come close to proving, as Fringe moved its production city from Brooklyn to Vancouver between seasons 1 and 2.)

And now, more haiku.

Charlie Francis has
A kickass magic mirror.
Will it say “redrum”?

If this ep is true
Bowling represents more worlds.
Kingpin
has meaning.

Olivia is
Reliving Smallville, s1
Will she get to fly?

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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 Wife:

We don’t usually do news here, but since I’m trying to decide what shows I can and can’t watch next year (thus, can and can’t cover) because of grad school, I figured I’d help you all out by sharing my handy-dandy season schedules for the major networks here at Children of St. Clare.

I’ve listed everything by hour, as most networks are running hour-long shows these days, so two half-hour shows are listed in the same box with the time the latter show starts in between them. If a show runs longer than one hour, I’ve indicated the length and listed it in the hour in which it starts. Asterisks (*) indicate new shows, and I’ll have some snap judgments on those shows following these graphics:

falllineupMTWRF

And here’s the weekend schedule for the fall, which, as you can see, is largely blank:

FallineupSS

In January, the networks will change to their midseason schedules:

midseasonlineupMTWRF

And here’s the weekend midseason schedule

midseasonlineupSS

Now, on the midseason schedule, you may notice some funny little symbols after the network names. Here are those footnotes:

  • # ABC has not yet announced its midseason lineup. The have, however, three new shows on deck: V, Happy Town and The Deep End, as well as returning shows Lost, Wife Swap, True Beauty, The Bachelor, Better Off Ted and Scrubs. Timeslots all to be determined.
  • + CBS has not yet announced its midseason lineup, but has the following shows for midseason replacements: Miami Trauma*, The Bridge*, Undercover Boss*, Arranged Marriage*, Rules of Engagement, Flashpoint
  • = CW’s midseason debut is Parental Discretion Advised, timeslot to be determined.
  • Additionally, Fox has Hell’s Kitchen scheduled for Summer 2010, and has Kitchen Nightmares on deck to fill holes in the schedule.

Now, for my snap judgments . . .

NBC: While we all know by now how I feel about Jay Leno, I can honestly tell you that the only one of their new shows I will definitely watch is Joel McHale’s comedy pilot Community, joining the NBC Thursday comedy block in 30 Rock‘s spot until it returns at midseason. Community has a good premise (McHale finds his college degree is invalid and must go back to community college to make up the credits), and has both McHale and Chevy Chase, who turned in a good performance as the villain at the end of Chuck season 2. I am overjoyed that Chuck is returning at midseason, as I think a 13-episode run will give us only the most super-concentrated awesomeness Chuck has to offer. I do not need another medical show in my life, so I’m declining Trauma and Michelle Trachtenberg’s nursing show, Mercy. 100 Questions looks so much like Friends that it is entirely out of the question for me. But then there’s Day One, which has a nice pedigree of coming from the people who work on Lost, Heroes and Fringe. It could be awesome, or it could be hokey, but I think it’s the only other promising thing NBC has to offer us.

ABC: I am delighted that ABC has given a permanent slot to Castle, allowing Nathan Fillion to prove he is charming, rakish and shouldn’t be a showkiller! He and Adam Baldwin have broken their own curse! Other than that, though, I am extremely concerned at how unimpressive the new shows debuting for fall seem, compared to the stuff ABC has on deck for midseason. Not a single one of the Wednesday night comedy block shows looks palatable. Hank looks downright abysmal, The Middle looks, well, middling, Modern Family falls flat and Cougar Town is trying way too hard. I might DVR Eastwick because I like Rebecca Romjin and Lindsay Price, but I have no emotional ties to either the previous film or the novel upon which it’s based to grab my immediate attention. I watched a clip from The Forgotten and I can tell you right now that I think it’s going to be the most dour procedural on television, and I certainly don’t need that in my life. I am, however, intrigued by Flash Forward because I like both time travel and Joseph Fiennes. But what sounds really interesting are the midseason shows. The Deep End is about law students and, out of all the ABC clips I watched, it certainly has the most character, pizzazz and joy. It also has Tina Majorino, looking the prettiest she’s ever looked. I will give that a shot when it premeires. I will also give hardcore sci-fi reboot V a shot, as we certainly don’t have any shows on network TV currently dealing with alien invasion, and I’m really jazzed on the trailer for Happy Town, which seems like its going to be a slightly more normal Twin Peaks (in that its a small town mystery), only this time, with Amy Acker!

FOX: I’m wary of a fall edition of SYTYCD, but I do see the benefit of it giving FOX a consistent schedule so that things don’t get shitfucked when Idol rolls around at midseason. Perhaps, if this is a success, going forward we’ll have to find a new totally awesome summer reality competition . . . maybe one for actors? OR MAYBE WE CAN MAKE A TRIPLE THREAT SHOW BECAUSE I WOULD TOTALLY WATCH THAT????? (Please, FOX?!!!!) Fox is actually my favorite of the networks so far, actually. I’m happy to see they’ve renewed Dollhouse and paired Bones with Fringe, which makes for a really rockin’ Thursday. Also excited to see Sons of Tucson with Tyler Labine as it looks pretty funny from the promo.  Human Target looks pretty fun, too. And you best fucking bet I will be watching Glee. The only thing I think I’d really pass on, here, is Past Life, and that’s just because I’m not really interested in seeing a show that solves crimes using past life regression (although one of my favorite X-Files episodes has exactly that conceit). So, rock on, FOX. You are my winner for next season.

CBS: I will be skipping pretty much every new show on CBS this year as they continue to build their police procedural empire. However, I will give a try to the new Monday comedy Accidentally on Purpose, even though it’s based on the memoirs of a film critic I don’t like very much, the Contra Costa Times‘ Mary F. Pols, who can’t seem to see the good in anything at all. The show is set in San Francisco, though Pols lives somewhere in the Walnut Creek area in reality, I assume, and Jenna Elfman plays the fictional version of Pols’ film critic who accidentally gets pregnant by a younger, one-night stand and decides to keep the baby, and it’s daddy. I generally like Jenna Elfman and, of course, adore Grant Show, who will be playing her boss. I will also give Three Rivers a shot, because it stars Moonlight‘s Alex O’Laughlin and its about organ donation, so there’s a chance I could see him repeat at least part of his horrifying performance in Feed, a film in which he kidnaps obese women and feeds them their own fat until they die. (How he would repeat part of that performance, I don’t know, but I’d like to see CBS try.)

CW: Will I watch a show produced by Ashton Kutcher about teenage models called The Beautiful Life? Yes, I will. Will I watch a show about teenage vampires called The Vampire Diaries? Indeed, I would probably watch something like that, as long as it sucked in a good way and not a bad way. Melrose Place? I have even less of a connection to that show than to 90210, so I’m not inclined to watch the reboot — especially since Ashlee Simpson’s on it. But, hey, I might need some mind-numbing crap to counterbalance all my grad school reading, so perhaps. I’ll give Melrose Place a perhaps, a perhaps perhaps, even, if I choose to continue watching 90210, making my Tuesday nights just like 1992. I am, however, surprised that CW axed the Gossip Girl spin-off, as even though I didn’t like the backdoor pilot, I did think the show had potential. I’m also surprised they axed Jason Dohring and Minka Kelly’s legal show, Body Politic, if only because I was hoping both former Moonlight vampires would have jobs come fall, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for Josef Kostan nee Logan Echolls.

So, as the curtain on this TV season falls, you can look forward to me actually writing about Mad Men this summer, as well as many, many articles on SYTYCD. After that, I’m going to have to see what my fall schedule is like and compare it to the above fall schedules to see what I can really watch and what I can, in turn, cover.

I’ll make you guys a chart of all that later.

The Wife:

Ah, the suburbs. I’m not entirely sure why Chuck decided to do its take on the “suburbs are the root of all evil” thread, considering all of the characters in the Chuck-verse live in Burbank, which isn’t exactly L.A. proper. Yes, I enjoyed watching Chuck and Sarah play house, and in fact there were a lot of great moments in this episode and I enjoyed it a great deal, but the fact remains: why should the suburbs be a scary place of homogeny when all the characters in this universe already live in a suburban area and work in a strip mall? There’s no opposition there. It’s not like “Arcadia” on The X-Files when Mulder and Scully, FBI agents who basically live in their offices in the federal building, head to the tract housing development of Arcadia where a garbage monster lurks under the carefully constructed conduct codes and regulations of the housing community. Certainly, both situations allow us to see what it would be like in a ‘shippers paradise, with Mulder insisting that he and Scully masquerade as Rob and Laurie Petrie, while Chuck and Sarah move into a beautiful house complete with well-photoshopped pictures of what their lives could be and a dog. Chuck’s arrival in his new tract home was probably my favorite part of this show, as it was a 2-minute sequence set to The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” Truly, an outstanding moment on this show, as Zachary Levi steps into the kind of life he always imagined he’d have, surrounded by images of a joyous, normal life, a friendly dog and a hot wife who whips up a mean potato salad.

But while there was no real opposition between the suburbs and Chuck’s world, there was still enough drama in Chuck and Sarah playing house to make the trope work for the episode. Instead of trading on the oppositional landscapes, Chuck used this opportunity to once again show us a life Chuck will never have, so long as the Intersect is in his brain. As Mr. and Mrs. Charles Carmichael, he and Sarah host a block party for their new neighbors to find out which of them might be the Fulcrum agent that destroyed the agent formerly assigned to the Meadow Branch suburb. My second favorite moment of this episode? The look of rapture on Chuck’s face when neighbor Andy Richter asks him who the blonde talking to his wife is, and Chuck answers, almost breathlessly: “That’s my wife. That’s Sarah.”

All of the neighbors seem to be squeaky clean, except for Jenny McCarthy, who tries to seduce Chuck. Casey, posing as the cable guy, finds a bug under a tray of brownies and Chuck realizes that the Fulcrum agent they’re looking for is actually ex-CIA . . . and married to cougaress Jenny McCarthy. In order to get close to the former agent’s computer and learn whatever he can about Fulcrum’s operations in Meadow Brach, Chuck must succumb to McCarthy’s wiles and “cheat” on his wife.

McCarthy, the crazy cougar lady, is more than willing to let Chuck into her house and handcuffs him to the bed, although Chuck is a little less willing to cheat on his fake wife, asking McCarthy to rustle up some liquid courage for him so that he can take some time to investigate the household computer. He manages to get the key to the cuffs off the nightstand with his feet, not wanting to follow Casey’s suggestion of breaking his thumbs to squeeze out of cuffs, and follows the incredibly large Internet cable to the computer. Once Chuck types in the password (he guesses “Salamander” because it was the word the previous agent in his position kept saying after he went mad, and there was a little salamander by the computer), he initiates a “test sequence” that appears to brainwash him the way the Intersect did when Bryce sent it to him. Only this series of subliminal images is red, so you know they’re evil. Unlike the prior agent on this job, the images do not make Chuck go mad, but instead the presence of McCarthy’s husband forces Chuck to sneak out of the house in the most embarrassing and conspicuous way possible: by sliding down the roof. In his underwear. Finding that Chuck is gone but that the “test sequence” on the computer is showing up as successful, McCarthy remarks to her husband that they may have found their subject.


Um! I thought I was auditioning for Singled Out! This is not what I signed up for!

Um! I thought I was auditioning for Singled Out! This is not what I signed up for!

Due to this embarrassment, the General throws Chuck off the case, announcing that because of his actions the Carmichaels are getting a divorce. As the neighbors come to Sarah’s side to comfort her in her time of need, Chuck realizes slightly too late that Meadow Branch is a front: the company that build the cul-de-sac is part of Fulcrum and all of the neighbors, including those women now holding Sarah at gunpoint, as terrorists. Wasting no time, Andy Richter tazes Chuck when he arrives at the house to talk to Sarah. They both wake up in an underground laboratory, with Casey cuffed in another room (Richter tazed him in his cable truck before Chuck even arrived), surrounded by their former neighbors in lab coats. Chuck is about to undergo a ludavigo technique version of the test sequence, and McCarthy announces that Fulcrum’s mission is to rebuild the Intersect computer in order to “fight evil.” Just as she tried to seduce him sexually, she now tries to seduce him to work for her. Chuck refuses, but they run the subliminal sequence anyway, donning shades so that their brains do not become fried. Meanwhile, Casey breaks his thumbs to escape from his cuffs. When Chuck is pulled out of the sequence, the Fulcrum agents as him if he wouldn’t mind if they perform the sequence on his wife next, to which he coolly and robotically replies that he doesn’t have a wife. The Fulcrum agents drag Sarah to the chair, and Chuck winks at Casey who has crawled into the control center and has started typing into the computer. Casey pulls some sunglasses down over his eyes, and Chuck tells the Fulcrum agents that before they proceed, he has something to say to Agent Walker. He leans in close, and tells her to close her eyes, cradling her head to his chest as Casey blasts the subliminal sequence that effectively fries the brains of all of the Fulcrum agents – none of whom kept their protective eyewear on between sequences. Dumbasses.

In the Buy More plot, Big Mike has turned into a total terror because his lady handed him divorce papers on Valentine’s Day. Displeased with Big Mike’s management-style now that he’s single, Morgan and the Nerd Herders convince him to put his profile up online to find love again. Emmit Milbarge, sporting a sweet new pompadour for his lady Henrietta, gets in on the action and helps Big Mike lie on his profile. At the end of the episode, Big Mike decides to come clean to his new paramour, wanting her to know that he isn’t a shipping magnate, but that he is, in fact, just the manager of the Buy More. She thinks, however, that he has called her to the store to talk to her about her son, who works there and is, of course, Morgan. So Big Mike is fucking Morgan’s mom. Please exploit this thread for all its worth.

Mommy?

Mommy?

Due to the disaster that was the Meadow Branch mission, the General orders Casey and Sarah to shut down their operation, and as she tells Chuck to give back his fake wedding ring, he realizes that he and Sarah will never move forward, especially now that she has to retreat from him even further. Ellie thought their “housesitting” experiment would be a great way for Chuck and Sarah to see how they’d work if they were on the marriage track like she and Awesome are, but Chuck sadly informs his sister that they’re just never going to get to that point, but that he’s okay with the way they are now. Sarah, however, isn’t, as she hesitates to remove her fake wedding ring when locking up their rented suburban home, even as she watches the dog go back in his crate and each of the photographs of a life where she and Chuck are happy get thrown in the trash — another beautiful moment in a really good episode.

The Husband:

Every once in a while, I turn to my wife and tell her how much I hate tract housing developments: the look, the idea, the shitty homogeny of American life and people’s bizarre acceptance of it. I don’t really want to get into all the specifics, since I’m sure many of you think I’m wrong and have plenty of examples of normal lives lived in such places, in addition to the fact that my opinion – as opinions are – is very subjective and based on my own obsessive need for individuality. To each his own, really.

But this episode of Chuck gives me new fodder. Tract housing developments are evil because they house villainous anti-government terrorist cells. I knew there was something wrong.

Not a great episode, but I like when the show gets all referential, so the final “red sequence” reference to the climax of Raiders Of The Lost Ark was especially awesome. I was hoping for some sweet face-melting, but I’ll take brainwashing in its place.

The Wife:

I noted a couple of things right away about this week‘s episode of Fringe.


1. This was the most X-Files-y cold open yet. It was old school, too. Like a cold open from seasons two and three.
2. As soon as I heard that ill-fated kid listening to The Killers’ new single “Spaceman,” I knew that someone on the Fringe production team finally got some money. This theory was confirmed when, in the very next scene at Olivia’s house, she and her sister and niece are listening to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” really loudly FOR NO GOOD REASON AT ALL. I’m glad you guys have money for incidental music not composed by Michael “The Little Ice Cube” Giacchino, but let’s use it judiciously. A kid listening to The Killers in the background of his scene? Good. That makes sense, because the music is coming from his computer and he’s talking to his friend on the phone over it. That thing with “Single Ladies”? Bad. That’s not how we do incidental music on this show. This is not a show where you can just play a pop song over the scene because you want to.

Musical gripes aside, the cold open set me up for an episode that turned out to be very different in tone than I have previously experienced with Fringe. On the whole, it was a lot . . . lighter than anything else we’ve seen before. I said the cold open reminded me of The X-Files in seasons one and two, but the rest of the episode turned out to be more like a TXF episode from seasons four and five, when the show lightened up on the Syndicate conspiracy and started letting Glenn Morgan and James Wong write as many cool, fanciful MOTW episodes as they wanted. I really didn’t expect Fringe to produce something so very like those Morgan and Wong episodes, but they did. This episode didn’t feel like Fringe at all, but I enjoyed it. But I also don’t know if this sudden change in tone is necessarily a good thing.

In the cold open, a teenager suddenly becomes mesmerized by a series of hypnotic images that pop up on his computer screen. I made a lot of Chuck-related comments about the Intersect until the kid started tearing up uncontrollably and a hand reached out of his computer screen to, uh, melt his brain. It is generally bad when anything reaches out of your computer screen, by the way. Due to the brain liquefaction, Olivia gets called in to investigate and brings the computer’s hard drive back to the lab for Astrid to play with. Slowly, the show is making Astrid into an actual character with helpful skills, and I appreciate that. She’s a linguist with a minor in computer science. I really don’t know what gets hotter than that. As labrats Walter and Astrid work on finding out what happened to the hard drive of both the victim and his computer, another victim turns up at a car dealership. His brain and computer are destroyed in exactly the same way. Astrid is unable to work with the hard drives because they are so corrupted, but she does discover that both computers downloaded a very large file before blowing up.

I'm pretty sure I didn't go to college for this.

I'm pretty sure I didn't go to college for this.

In order to find out what that file is, Peter pays a visit to one of his old criminal friends, a gambler who owns a computer repair shop. For a couple of very rare, shiny gold coins, Peter buys the man’s help. Even he can’t figure out where the “virus” is coming from due to advanced source coding on the file, but he is able to figure out where it’s headed to next: Olivia’s apartment. Olivia is busy getting ultimatums from Harris about taking the case. He’s unhappy that she’s decided to work on something that he feels rightfully belongs to the CDC. Although she can prove that there’s no pathological component at either crime scene, Harris, like Skinner in the first three seasons of The X-Files, gives her twelve hours to solve the case before he takes it away from her. When Peter calls her to tell her that the virus is headed to her apartment, she immediately fears for Rachel and Ella’s safety. While Rachel cooks in the kitchen, Ella picks up a nearby laptop to play Paint-A-Pony, a game I wish I had at work. In the middle of her pony-painting extravaganza, Ella sees the same images we saw in the cold open, but luckily, Aunt Liv comes home before the evil computer hand of doom can stretch its way out of the screen and melt Ella’s brain.

It takes a few minutes for Ella to come out of her hypnotic trance, but a doctor’s visit reveals that she’s absolutely fine. She describes a “weird, scary, glowy hand” coming out of her computer screen, which her mother writes off as a result of making too many visits to Aunt Liv’s house. Has Olivia actually told her sister the kind of cases she works? I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the opposite of what you’re supposed to do when you work on top secret stuff. I can’t even chalk this up to a predilection Olivia might have for the weird and the strange because, as far as we know, she doesn’t. I mean, she’s not Spooky Fox Mulder. She’s just a regular old FBI agent who used to be a lawyer and whose lover was involved in a massive global conspiracy to do weird and strange shit. And I assume that’s all stuff Rachel shouldn’t know.

Olivia thinks that whoever sent the virus was watching the recipients through the computer, a conclusion she draws by noticing that Ella’s computer camera was turned on, even though the little girl doesn’t know how to use it. (That’s hardly evidence. I’m sure Ella is extremely computer-literate, given that she was born after 2000. And, even assuming she doesn’t know how to use the camera function, there are umpteen ways she could have accidentally turned it on.) Peter is willing to buy the fact that someone is killing people with a computer virus, but he is baffled by why someone would do that. The answer to that question doesn’t really become clear until a third victim shows up in Evanston, IL. He turns out to be the stepfather of Luke Dempsey, whose best friend died in the cold open. Luke’s father and the first victim’s father once worked together, until Luke’s father got laid off. Based on this information, Olivia brings Luke in for questioning to get at his father. After telling Luke about his father’s potential crimes, Olivia lets the kid go, hoping that he will lead her right to his father. Being 19, he does.

So off Olivia goes to follow Luke to the warehouse, without any supervision or assistance. She arrives just as Luke is grilling his dad about killing people, and the murder admits that he’s merely trying to leave his mark on the world, in traditional mad scientist jargon. He’s intentionally hurting the loved ones of people who hurt him, although there’s still no word on how the car salesman fits into this at all. When his alarm is triggered, Dempsey sends his son to try to ward off Olivia, but she evades him easily, and then gets ambushed by Dempsey himself. He sent the virus to his own computer when he heard her come in, hoping to trick his would-be assailant into melting her own brain, but Olivia is wise enough to look away. Dempsey, however, holds a gun to his head after confronting Olivia and stares at his row of screens, eventually ending his life by pulling the trigger in a trance-like state.

A disapproving Harris is waiting outside when Peter, who rushed in at the sound of gunfire, and Olivia bring Luke out. Peter can’t understand why Luke would try to protect a murderer, but Olivia simply replies that Luke did it because the murderer in question was his father. This really hits home for Peter, who throughout this episode has been struggling with his urge to protect his father when Mary Beth Piel starts contacting him. Mary Beth plays the mother of the lab assistant, Carla Warren, who died during one of Walter’s experiments 20 years ago. Mary Beth contacts Peter, hoping to talk to Walter about her daughter. Finally, Peter relents and allows MBP to visit the lab and talk to Walter. She comes not with accusations, but only with a desire to remember her daughter. She asks Walter to tell her about Carla, and he goes on to lucidly explain that he remembers Carla’s beautiful smile, and leads MBP off to share their memories of the dead girl. Realizing that Olivia was right all along, he heads over to her house to apologize.

The things that really worked for this episode were the humanizing moments about how Olivia and Peter relate to their families. Both of them are in the position of protector, but the things they need to protect are different. Here, Olivia’s relatives are actually put to good use when their lives – or, at the very least, Ella’s brain – are put at risk by her work. I’m beginning to see this other side to Olivia as natural, although I still maintain my questions from last week about whether or not Rachel was affected by drunk stepdaddy in the same way Olivia was. Peter, on the other hand, is Walter’s legal guardian, and despite his begrudging earlier in the season, he has actually grown to love knowing his father. Mary Beth Piel is a threat to that relationship and Peter can’t handle the thought of losing his father again. I’m into these plots. Fringe really needs these humanizing elements to keep the stories and the characters grounded.

Next time, we should do more experiments!

Next time, we should do more experiments!


But as for the rest of this episode, I think it got a little too light. The policework and the science work in this episode were pretty shoddy, and, I believe, this is the first case in Fringe history that hasn’t had anything to do with one of Walter’s old experiments. (If he knew how to melt brains, I’d be very scared of him. I like wacky Walter better, with his love of car seats that warm your ass and his overwhelming concern with safe sex. I’m really glad that his eccentricities are starting to become running gags.) I also don’t know how I feel about this episode being completely outside The Pattern, either. I can get down with a MOTW, but I thought Fringe was going to have every MOTW be part of The Pattern, like my good friend and favorite Fringe villain so far Joseph Meegar. It just feels weird to have an episode I don’t really have to think about (you know, a no-brainer . . . heh . . . yes, I said that), even though I will always find things with melted brains to be amusing. It’s just such a drastic change in tone that I’m not entirely sure how to handle it.

Don’t get me wrong. I like many of the more fanciful MOTWs from seasons three and four of The X-Files. But I like them when they were on that show, and the MOTWs outweighed the mytharc episodes. I just don’t know if I like them on this show. You know, this show that is not, in fact, The X-Files.

My favorite Walterisms of the night:

  • Upon seeing the liquefied brain, Walter immediately assumes the first victim has really advanced syphillis.
  • “I hope she doesn’t notice the two thousand dollars for baboon seminal fluid I ordered.” –Walter, on Olivia requiring expense reports from the lab

The Husband:

I can’t entirely explain why, but this may be my favorite non-Pattern-related episode of Fringe yet. The villain wasn’t in it enough, but I dug the technological implications, and got a good mix of two of my favorite underseen silly supernatural horror movies – Brainscan and Hideaway, which both just happen to be written by Seven’s Andrew Kevin Walker.

I was also happy to get another unofficial TV reunion of several actors from the glorious HBO social drama The Wire, although none of the actors appeared in the same scene as far as I can remember. There is, of course, Broyles (Lance Reddick played Lt. Daniels), as well as computer hacker Akim (Gbenga Akinnagbe played high-level drug dealer Chris Partlow) and Brian Dempsey (Chris Bauer played Frank Sobotka, the focus of season 2’s dockworkers union scandal). There were so many people on The Wire that I’m surprised I don’t see more of them banded up together on television, but I’m happy enough to simply spy one every once in a while, even if it’s on the flailing Heroes.

The Wife:

How excited was I when Bones revealed that the two female corpses found wrapped in a white sheet, somewhere in the panhandle, were conjoined twins? Oh, man. I think my level of excitement falls somewhere between that of a cat with a new feather toy and a child on Christmas morning. It’s that kind of excitement that you can’t adequately explain to someone. The kind that causes uncontrollable outbursts of the word “Squeeeeeeeeeee!” I love the idea of the circus and narratives about the circus. And I especially love stories about sideshows. And even more than that, I love stories about conjoined twins. (Should any of the graduate programs to which I have applied accept me, I will happily be writing about all of those things for the next several years.) As you may have gleaned from my posts about shows like Fringe and Nip/Tuck, I’m very interested in narratives of the body. Essentially, the idea of decaying bodies being the source of narratives is one of the reasons I like Bones so much. That and David Boreanaz. So to give me an episode of Bones about conjoined twins that also has Emily Deschanel in a skimpy outfit and David Boreanaz wearing a silly mustache? That’s exactly like giving a whole bunch of really awesome feather toys with bells and shiny bits to one very lucky cat.

Because the victims this week were a pair of conjoined twins, the case led straight to the circus. Booth and Bones are all set to question the traveling carnival at which the Van Owen sisters were employed, but Sweets, revealing that his birth mother was a carnie, warns them that the carnies won’t talk to them if they’re gillies, or outsiders to the circus. Circus folk protect their own, viewing those inside the circus as family, a notion which derives from the fact that many circus members ended up there by leaving family situations that were in some way unsatisfactory. To that end, Booth and Bones rent a trailer and go undercover as Buck and Wanda Moosejaw, a couple of Canadian carnies looking to get their knife-throwing act into the traveling show. The “Knives of Death” act was conceived out of Booth’s military skill, despite Brennan’s many, many mentions that, while she did some anthropological research at a circus back when she was in school, she learned to become quite proficient on the highwire. Ringmaster Andy Richter (who, for some reason, I could only imagine as the deranged little lemming he voices in Madagascar) and the show’s 24 Hour Man, Lavalle, agree to let Buck and Wanda in to the show, providing they stick with the Russian gimmick Bones insisted they use for their act. (No sane anthropologist would have agreed to a cowboy-Indian princess act, right? I mean, Russian was the only way to go here.)

I think a lot of people's strange sexual fantasies were fully realized in this episode.

I think a lot of people's strange sexual fantasies were fully realized in this episode.

While at the carnival, they try to get close to the carnies while making their cover look believable (by strategically rocking their trailer back and forth so no one comes a-knockin’). But none of the carnies are willing to hand out information about Jenny and Julie Van Owen. They all stick with the story that the girls had decided to leave and took off, citing a handwritten note they’d left behind. They all seemed to agree that the girls were looking to expand their juggling act, something they might be better able to do at another circus. Outside of their cover, the girls’ mother tells them that Julie and Jenny had been considering separation surgery (which would have been entirely possible given that they were connected at the posterior and did not share any segments of bone or any vital organs), and then they learn that the milder twin, Julie, had been dating the doctor who would have performed the surgery.

Back at the lab, Angela discovers that the handwritten note was a fake, as the handwriting with which the names were signed did not match up to the way the twins stood. They also struggle to find out exactly how the twins were killed, as both girls seem to have an identical fracture on their skulls, but no other bone damage, save for some stress fractures in their feet. Angela and Mr. Nigel-Murray (back to annoy Cam with more useless and marvelous bits of trivia) realize that the girls’ heads had to have been conked together, but with something soft that wouldn’t lead to external tissue damage or other bone damage. Something like, say, clown props. With this new information, Booth and Bones, in full Russian costume for their show that night, start rifling through clown props to find something that could have been the murder weapon. This angers the clowns, especially lead clown The Greg Wilson. One thing you don’t do at a circus is fuck with the clowns. Sometimes, they’re considered lower than the other acts and so they’ve formed their own sub-family. You do not fuck with a clown. They will fuck you up. (Incidentally, I am quite disturbed by clowns. And while my strange fascination with the circus continues to shed more light on the functions of clowns within the circus and circus narratives, I am no less freaked out by them. Perhaps it is because I now know that, in addition to being very scary things with obscured faces, they will also totally fuck me up if I cross them.)

With some intervention from the Ring Master, Buck and Wanda Moosejaw go on to perform their act that evening, watching the clowns from behind the curtain to observe how, with proper force, their props could be used to kill someone. They perform their act with no rehearsal, and a nervous Booth manages to hit every balloon without incident. Adorably, Bones, completely outside of herself at the circus, keeps egging him on, drawing out an inflatable apple for him to pierce off the top of her head and, finally, attaching a rubber nose for him to slice right off her face. He hits every mark perfectly. This scene is both a testament to these partners’ trust in each other, as well as an interesting look at their characters. It’s a rare moment when we see the ever-confident Seeley Booth hesitate, but he does here, knowing that any false move could seriously injure his partner. He barely trusts that the socially retarded scientist will be able to keep still, but in the process discovers that while she may not relate well to people directly, Brennan knows exactly how to play a crowd.

I don’t know if this is something she’s picked up in her studies of anthropology, or just during her time studying the circus, but Bones is a natural showman. She works the crowd with grace and confidence, prancing around in her sexy outfit. As Sweets explains, by its very nature, a knife act has a kind of psychosexual component to it, where the knife is . . . well . . you get the idea. It’s this aspect of the knife act that Brennan plays up the most. She titillates the audience with her body, and teases them, and Booth, with each smaller and smaller object that she begs her partner to slice off of her. The danger, of course, is that he will get too close and end up penetrating her. But the act, while seemingly about penetration, isn’t really about it at all. It’s about the tease of it. This act is a perfect metaphor for Booth and Bones’ relationship. I don’t care if they ever will become partners in another sense. It’s all a knife act. I’m in it for the tease.

I say it again. This woman is hot. Why won't you look at her????

I say it again. This woman is hot. Why won't you look at her????

After their act, the Moosejaws realize that the only person who could swing a clown prop with enough force to kill someone is the show’s strong man, Magnum. They try to question him after the show, but end up getting trapped in a net. Eventually, they come clean to the other carnies, who turn away from them the minute their FBI badges are drawn, reminded Booth and Bones that they’re nothing more than gillies and that they’ll never, ever be accepted there. “You’re not one of us,” Lavalle says as he turns away. That phrase really resonated with me, as the idea of being “one” of the collective circus “us” is very important to the idea of a circus family. In Tod Browning’s Freaks, all of the freaks exclaim this as they sit around their newly freakish chicken-girl creation. This phrase is notably reiterated in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers when Theo and Isa skip through the Lourve with their new American friend, happily chanting “We accept him! One of us! We accept him! One of us!” as this very scene from Freaks is inserted. In a place comprised entirely of people who don’t belong, who have been, as a collective, othered, it’s very important to be accepted into that community. I could go on about facets of the circus that are not accepted as “one of us,” but that would just be a rehash of a paper of mine on the sideshow as community in Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man and The X-Files episode “Humbug.” All you gillies really need to know is that there’s an important and interesting structure for what is and isn’t accepted in the circus community. Outsiders are a definite no-go.

Knowing that their undercover stint is over, Bones isn’t yet ready to leave the circus. She begs Booth to let her try the highwire, at which she was quite proficient once. As she does, the bones in her feet start to hurt and she loses her balance halfway out and falls to the net below. In doing so, she realizes exactly how the twins died. No one killed them; they simply fell off the highwire while trying to improve their act. A set of juggling conjoined twins is cool, but they would be the only conjoined twins in the country who had a highwire act, something they knew would make them a big ticket draw. Unfortunately, as they fell to the net, they hit their skulls together hard enough to cause bleeding in the brain, rendering them brain dead and, shortly thereafter, fully dead.

As the agents are about to leave, Magnum approaches them to tell them that he didn’t kill the girls, but that he did help dispose of the bodies. Everyone at the circus loved them, he explained. And at the circus, you protect your own. In homage to their brief membership at the circus, Bones and Booth tell Magnum that they will get him a good lawyer and that he must be sure to explain that he hid the bodies in the desert and wrapped them in a white sheet as a sign of respect to the girls.

I loved this episode, and I really hope to be able to write about it again soon! (Dear grad schools: Please accept me! One of you! Please accept me! One of you!) This was a wonderful episode to bring us back from the break, and a wonderful reminder of why we love Booth and Bones so much – especially seeing them so far out of their element, in the topsy-turvy world of the Big Top.

The Husband:

As we are now only seeing returning interns trying out the Jeffersonian for the second time (with a big gaping hole where Michael Badalucco should be), I find it somewhat unnecessary to continue rating them, as I have already done so in the first place, and despite a few initial changes in ratings, I rarely have anything new to say about them. I dig Badalucco, I love Joel David Moore, and Michael Terry – especially now that we now of his awesome hockey prowess – seems to perhaps be the frontrunner for regular appearance status.

(It does not bode well that, for about a day, my wife and I could not agree upon whether or not Vincent Nigel-Murray [Ryan Cartwright] even appeared in the U.K.-set season premiere. He, in fact, did not, but he is British, so I can understand the confusion.)

As for this episode, it was very gleeful and fun, even if that did limit much of the drama and science we’ve come to expect from Bones. Both episodes last Thursday, actually, were both very low on really damn good police work and heavier on the let’s-have-Boreanaz-and-Deschanel-just-dick-around goofiness. Which is fine. I just want some giant Gormagon-type mystery soon, and very much desire more of Squintrifficness.

And I miss Zack. Is he done yet feeling responsible for helping the Gormagon? He didn’t actually kill anybody, remember? Get that fool back. Maybe see if he can do his job handcuffed to a railing. That’d be sweet. Not to be confused with John Francis Daley. That’s be Sweets.

The Wife:

Happy Holidays, ya’ll! As I sit at home enjoying my well-preserved end-of-year vacation (watching A Muppet Christmas Carol), I started to look back on the year in TV. Even though the writer’s strike stalled a lot of shows, I think we still got a pretty good year of television in. Sure, there weren’t many pilots appearing this fall and, certainly, a number of good shows fell victim to low-post strike ratings and will soon be leaving us for good, but I’d like to take this time to praise some of my favorite moments of scripted television from 2008.

1. Mad Men 2.7: “The Gold Violin”

The other best of ’08 lists I’ve been reading have been heaping their praise on “Flight 1” and “Meditations on an Emergency,” season two’s opening and closing episodes, respectively, but “The Gold Violin” is definitely my favorite episode from season two. This episode was the most magical, literary hour of television all year, utilizing the surprisingly talented Ken Cosgrove’s unpublished short story “The Gold Violin” as a framing device for all of the characters. The violin itself is “perfect in every way, except it can’t make music,” and I think that’s an apt metaphor for many of the things that happen in this episode. Kitty and Sal’s marriage is perfect in every way. They’re best friends. They get along grand, but Sal doesn’t love her romantically and he never will. (Because he is a gay man with a beard, in case you were confused.) Don Draper’s marriage appears perfect in every way, only it is absolutely not working. And every symbol of power and status he achieves somehow becomes imperfect, like the brand new Caddy Betty Draper throws up in when she finds out that Don had been cheating on her with Bobby Barrett. There’s Joan, who is beautiful, curvy, smart and powerful – the perfect woman for a rapidly changing world, except she doesn’t have love and sees the new model of the secretary as a threat to her power and status, especially when that girl endears herself to Joan’s ex.

This is one of Dyna Moes Mad Men illustrations, spawned from a Christmas card she created for cast member Rich Somner. Click through this to visit her Flicker page where you can buy this and other nifty Mad Men prints.

This is one of Dyna Moe's Mad Men illustrations, spawned from a Christmas card she created for cast member Rich Somner. Click through this to visit her Flicker page where you can buy this and other nifty Mad Men prints.

Ken Cosgrove, to me, seems to be the opposite of this. He’s so imperfect. So unthinking, and yet, he’s the only person at Sterling Cooper who’s actually accepted for his artistic endeavors outside of S-C. (Sal’s not making any money as an artist. Paul Kinsey can’t get published and he’s actually a real writer, constantly being shown up by the office sales buffoon whose main job seems to be to get women for clients.) Ken gets what he wants by not actually wanting anything or being powerful at all. I love this episode; it’s about shattering the image of the American dream, and it shows us those shattered dreams beautifully. The writing here reminds me a bit of O. Henry and Fitzgerald, and I could watch it for its subtlety and intellect more than any other Mad Men episode. Watch it again and I think you’ll start to appreciate the perfection that is this episode.

2. Lost 4.5: “The Constant”

Best episode of Lost. Ever. Further playing off the show’s intense mythology built upon pre-existing literary and philosophical texts, this episode takes Desmond David Hume and turns him into Billy Pilgrim, making him unstuck in time. And what’s the only thing we have to hold onto when we come unstuck in time? Love. There is no greater Lost moment than when Des makes his call to Penny at the end of this episode, realizing that it is she who is his constant, the one thing that kept him alive on his Odyssean journey to find her that got him trapped on Lost island with the other castaways. That moment is revelatory, breathtaking and heartbreaking all at once.

3. How I Met Your Mother 4.7: “Not a Father’s Day”

Drunk Baby Lily. That’s all I have to say. This is Alyson Hannigan’s finest comedic work on this show to date in an episode that proves the almighty power of a tiny baby sock.

4. Gossip Girl 2.3: “The Dark Night”

I had to pick this one, because it’s the episode that turned me into a Gossip Girl fan. It’s rare to see a teen soap have such beautiful production design and so many well composed shots, but I have to give complete artistic props to the Gossip Girl team for creating the gorgeous lighting in Blair’s bedroom for the scene in which Chuck seduces her in the dark. The image of him kissing her neck in her yellow Phillip Lim dress reminds me of early 19th century portraiture, but I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than the way it’s achieved on GG. Blair and Chuck forevah.

To quote Paris Hilton, thats hot.

To quote Paris Hilton, that's hot.

5. Pushing Daisies 2.3: “Bad Habits”

This episode certainly doesn’t have the whimsy and color and fun that so many episodes have. And Chuck was in a nun’s outfit the whole time, so there weren’t any fun costumes. But, this was the first episode where Olive got to be a part of the mystery and the location of the mystery forced alive again Chuck to have a small existential crisis about her post-existence. When she sits in the church next to Ned and quietly utters, “I am a person with no past and no future because of what I am,” my heart broke a little bit. Sometimes, Pushing Daisies makes me cry for sweetness, like how I can’t get through the popcorn tossing scene in Tim Burton’s Big Fish (or even think about it) without welling up in tears, but this episode, Pushing Daises made me cry because I realized how sad life must be to be alive again just at the moment Chuck did. This was a beautiful, thematic episode that belongs right next to the better episodes of Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me in the Bryan Fuller canon.

6. Lipstick Jungle 2.8: “Chapter 15: Sisterhood of the Traveling Prada”

Unlike Sex & the City, the ladies of LJ are best when they’re taken out of their element. At Christine Ebersole’s health spa in upstate New York, Wendy takes time to contemplate her recent devastating firing from Parador Pictures and figure out just how to get back in the movie-making saddle, Victory finds out the hard way about Joe’s almost-proposal and finally stands up to her friends about their overprotective nature before deciding that she needs to make amends with Joe and Nico wonders what it would be like to buy the spa and retire from big city publishing altogether. Being outside the city allows each of the ladies to realize something about themselves: Wendy finds her drive again; Victory realizes that she loves Joe, exclaiming to the stars the rallying cry that she would have said yes; and Nico realizes that she and Kirby really are at different places in their lives. For all the joy and self-discovery and female friendship, there is no better moment on this episode or the series as a whole as when Victory, hoping to make amends with Joe and ride home with him to Manhattan, gets handed an envelope with the papers to return her business to her and is left on the side of the road to watch Joe’s limo pull away without her. Thank God, Nico and Wendy stole Joe’s scotch. Free, expensive scotch is necessary after a moment like that.

7. Fringe 1.8: “The Equation”

This was the first in a string of truly great episodes leading up to the winter break, and I chose it for this list because I found it to be not only important story-wise, but also very atmospheric in its storytelling. I loved everything with Joanne Ostler and her underground music lair full of VR equipment, all of which lent a very X-Filesish atmosphere to the episode. But the best part of this episode, hands down, is Walter’s voluntary trip back to the loony bin to get information out of Dashell Kim. Walter risks his life and his mental health to help the cause, and you can see him die a little bit inside, radiating fear, when he enters the doors of St. Claire’s. John Noble’s best performance to date is this episode, showing that the odd root-beer loving mad scientist is all too human inside.

8. House 4.14/4.15: “House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart”

Not only were these episode’s cool from an aesthetic point of view, they were also a great two-part arc in which an amnesia-stricken House must try to figure out the missing person he was riding the bus with when it crashed. When that person turns out to be Amber, Wilson’s girlfriend, the new team races to save her, only to find that she had been taking too many painkillers and cold medications prior to the crash which weakened her to the point where she couldn’t be saved. For a minor character, Amber a.k.a. Cutthroat Bitch was a major force on house. Anne Dudek imbued this role with so much power that the loss of her from the House universe was devastating. I cried, and House is not a show that demands any emotional attention from me. (Damn your puppy dog face, Bobby Sean, for forcing tears out of me!)

9. 30 Rock 2.14: “Sandwich Day”

This episode set up Jack Donaghey’s downfall, establishing a great character arc of him in the coming episodes, as well as lots of Will Arnett. Also, nobody cheats Liz Lemon out of a teamster sandwich. Nobody.

10. Chuck 2.7: “Chuck vs. the Fat Lady”

Lots of fun puzzles, lots of fun bonding between Chuck and Jill and lots of disappointment at the episode’s end when we realize that Jill has been playing Chuck all along and that the poor dude will never get to be happy. Chuck’s such a likable guy, and it’s a shame that he will seemingly never be able to have a normal life again. Also, Casey can hit a high C. That’s just a good fact to know.

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