All About Olivia
There was many a time in my life when the week was scheduled around certain television shows. It’s gone from M*A*S*H to Family Ties to ‘Must See TV’ to The Sopranos. It was about that time I stopped with the scheduling of couch time thanks to better cable programming, continuous loop reruns (Law and Order anyone?) and on demand programming. I don’t carve time out of my week to stop and watch a show because I don’t HAVE to, I can pretty much catch whatever I want whenever I want it. Oh instant gratification, how we love thee even if you are killing us from the inside out. These days the real trick isn’t seeing a show when its on, it’s not exposing yourself to spoilers before you have a chance to view it.
On very rare occasions will I actually endeavor to catch a show upon it’s initial airing. Fringe is one of them. I totally planned my week around the Season 3 premiere. I freely admit it, I’m addicted.
Folks faster on the keyboard than I am have already done fantastic jobs of detailing the play by play of the episode, so rather than reinvent the wheel shaped synopsis I’ll just link to it. I really shouldn’t have to say this but lest I incur the ire of the internet.. Warning! Here be pirates and spoilers! (Ok, maybe not pirates, but definitely spoilers. )
So, what is Fringe all about Alfie? Well, its simply really: It’s all about an FBI department in Boston under the supervision of Homeland Security called “Fringe Division”. Or, a formerly-institutionalized scientist, his son and a long haired blonde chick walk into a bar (or field, or alternate universe or what have you) to investigate weird crimes that may be part of ‘The Pattern’ and a company called Massive Dynamics. See? Simple, right? Ok so no, not really. Just google it and you’ll a zillion hits worth of reading material to get you all caught up on the zany adorable antics of Walter, what the ‘Pattern’ may or may not be and why ‘The Observer’ is such a big deal.
I want to talk about why I will actually take time out of my day to watch: Olivia. Take one part Ripley, one part Leia, one part Scully and a big ole whallop of Clarice and you start to get part of what makes Olivia tick. (Actually if you take all the movies/series of these characters and smoosh them together you get a bit of Fringe as well). She’s attractive and alluring but not unapproachable, smart, intuitive, questioning, curious with a heavy dose of cautious pessimism, strong, has a history that might crush a weaker creature but always manages to maintain her sense of justice and rational thinking even in the face of danger and ‘out there’ theories. She’s a chick quite worthy of a run on sentence.
I loved that Ripley could kick an Alien’s ass and still be tender enough to play surrogate mom. Olivia dotes on her neice, even after a long hard day at the paranormal office. Leia took control of situations and made things happen even as she fell in love with a rogue. Olivia takes little flak from Broyles yet gets her job done as she took her sweet time falling for Peter. Scully was ever skeptical and used science as her way of explaining the unexplainable all while being able to go toe to toe with Mulder in the never ending quip competition. Olivia has a dry humor but never strays far from always being professional and exacting in her job. Clarice was willing to face her own fears in the hopes of saving just one from the horrible fates she’d experienced. Olivia does much the same, enduring voluntarily confronting her betrayer/lost love, her past and even her own sanity for answers.
Olivia Dunham is a mash up of so many great female characters, yet never feels like a cookie cutter heroine. She remains wholly herself even as she shares many of the traits of the ladies we’ve loved from series past. You can look to the other characters gain some insight into why she does the things she does, but you can’t predict how she will react to whatever the newest conundrum facing her.
And it’s about to get alot more interesting. My main cause for concern for this series was that it was going to go the way of the X-Files shark jumping. Fringe borrows heavily from X in that it has both an overall arch (The Pattern vs The Mythology) that allowed alot of wiggle room for stand alone episodes that had nothing to do with the bigger picture. It was awesome while it lasted, but nothing is forever. I was worried that Fringe would suffer the same fate, and maybe it still will. But not for a bit.
Thanks to some clever plot lines, there’s now more Olivia to love. There’s 2 of her. Neither is in the right place. Both believe theirs is the just cause.
Walter may be the comedic relief and ultimate reason behind it all, Peter may be one of the show’s many hearts, whether Massive Dynamic and The Pattern are good or evil remains to be seen, but in the end:
It’s all about Olivia.
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