Fringe—Season 1

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Promising start

A bit too episodic in storylines

fringe-season-1-title-card-episode-guide-list-reviewFBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) finds herself pulled into a world of science and horror after the death of her partner and lover John Scott (Mark Bishop).  Assigned to the Fringe division which studies extreme science, Olivia finds herself babysitting an insane professor named Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his genius (but con-artist) son Peter (Joshua Jackson) as they track down a rash of scientific attacks.  With a company called Massive Dynamic’s involvement and their mysterious and unseen owner William Bell as potential suspects, Olivia finds her own past might tie into the unfolding mystery of “the Pattern”.

Fringe—Season 1 aired from September 9, 2008 to May 12, 2009 on the FOX network.  The series was produced by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and came hot off of the successes of Alias and Lost.  The show faced more criticism than the previous series and struggled to find an audience.  The pilot episode received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series.


Hey, a little help here!

I watched the first episode of Fringe when it aired…and wasn’t that impressed.  The series felt like a watered down version of The X-Files with less interesting cases.  As the series aired, I would hear little rumblings of things going in the show and a growing audience.  Once Fringe ended, I decided to give it a second shot.  Though the first season does have some problems, it was worth checking out.

Fringe really is a lot like The X-Files, Smallville, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer in that it has the same problems with the first season that all those series had.  The first season has a lot of “Creature of the Week” episodes or in Fringe’s case “Scientific Horror of the Week”.  Most of the episodes present a crazy death of some sort, the Fringe team called in, and the discovery that it has ties to Walter’s work.  It isn’t until the final episodes of the season where the real meat of the series starts to take hold.


This does not bode well for Peter…

Though it tries to present it as a shock, Fringe deals with alternate realities and the ideas that sometimes those realities bleed into our reality.  The show’s early episodes slyly introduce this, but the series real the turns the corner in the penultimate episode where it is essentially all put on the table.  It is a bit odd that everyone accepts this idea so readily, but it does put the show on the right direction and sets up a solid concept for the second season.

The cast of the show also is rather bland.  John Noble plays the scene stealer as Walter Bishop, but the writers try too hard to shock with Walter’s lack of sensitivity, and you can almost predict his crazy remarks by the end of the season.  The season primarily deals with Anna Torv’s character and her path to prove she isn’t crazy, but it is obvious that Joshua Jackson’s character is being set up for a more important role in coming seasons.  I particularly like the underplayed fourth member of the group in Astrid Farnsworth played by Jasika Nicole and her relationship with Walter Bishop and hope that the relationship gets a chance to grow.


So plop down on the couch, pull up a cow, grab your Chinese, and binge on Fringe!

Visually the show is quite slick and stylish with the locations physically hanging in the sky over the scenes.  The mad scientist aspect of the story doesn’t lend to as many fun creatures, but the series does still manage some special effect scene shocks with monsters in “The Transformation” and “Unleashed”, but more scientific horrors in “Ability” and “Safe”…I hope they find a way to work in more monster episodes while exploring the parallel world.

Fringe is complete now at four regular length season and a short fifth season.  I do recommend getting back to this series if you only caught an episode here and there.  It does have some fun aspects and I’m looking forward to seeing where it really goes after this season.  Fringe may never have found the fans that it needed to really flourish, but I think its fan base will continue to grow.

Fringe—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:



1.1       Pilot Airdate:  09/09/08

A man injects himself with something on a plane and everyone onboard the plane dies. Special FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and her partner John Scott (Mark Bishop) (who she is secretly dating) are called in to investigate the plane when it lands by remote. When Olivia and John investigate a storage unit tied to the flight, John is exposed to the chemical and left dying.  Olivia finds herself tracks down an insane scientist named Walter Bishop (John Noble) who might have connection to the flight, but first Olivia must get to his son Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) in Iraq.  Peter and Olivia search for answers to save John and find ties to the mega-company called Massive Dynamics with its study of fringe science. When Olivia is alerted to a pattern in mysterious events, a new career could be on the horizon.


“The Same Old Story”

1.2       The Same Old Story Airdate:  09/16/08

Olivia, Peter, and Walter are officially on-board as investigators for the Department of Homeland Security after John’s death and the study of the Pattern begins.  A dancer’s mysterious delivery at a hospital has the team called in by Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) when a baby is born, ages, and dies within an hour.  With ties to one of her old cases, Olivia sets out to find the killer, but also finds a job offer from Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) of Massive Dynamics.  Walter reveals a mystery surrounding Peter’s birth.


“The Ghost Network”

1.3       The Ghost Network Airdate:  09/23/08

A man named Roy McComb (Zak Orth) tells a priest that he has visions from God and predicts the release of an unknown gas on a public bus. Peter finds himself being tracked due to his return to the United States with his past coming back to haunt him. When Peter, Walter, and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) are able to recreate the encasing gas, the trail of evidence leads to Massive Dynamics. When the FBI tracks down Roy, they uncover that Roy has predicted disasters around the world and the truth could be linked to Walter’s old research.


“The Arrival”

1.4       The Arrival Airdate:  09/30/08

A construction site is rocked by an explosion and a strange man called the Observer (Michael Cerveris) watches it all.  Peter tries to deal with his father’s insanity and a connection between Walter and the Observer is revealed as the team is called into the explosion.  With a strange device found at the construction site and another device having been found before, the Observer could hold the keys to the Pattern that has been rumored to exist.  Olivia finds herself visited by a friend who shouldn’t exist.


“Power Hungry”

1.5       Power Hungry Airdate:  10/14/08

A delivery man named Joseph Meegar (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) displays a strange electrical power when he accidentally kills a number of his coworkers with a falling elevator.  As Olivia continues to be haunted by Scott, the hunt for Meegar is on and the source of his new hidden powers is revealed.


“The Cure”

1.6       The Cure Airdate:  10/21/08

A woman left at a diner by men in containment suits ends up killing all the diners before dying herself, and Olivia, Walter, and Peter are called in to investigate.  When the woman’s ties to a rare disease are revealed, another the kidnapping of another woman named Claire (Marjan Neshat) could mean that terrorists are planning on turning her into a weapon.  Olivia reveals a secret of her past to Peter and reveals she’s still haunted by it.


“In Which We Meet Mr. Jones”

1.7       In Which We Meet Mr. Jones Airdate:  11/11/08

Agent Mitchel Loeb (Chance Kelly) is hospitalized after a mission and a genetically engineered parasite is shown to be constricting his heart.  With time running out on Loeb’s life, the source of the parasite must be found and it could mean tapping into the mind of a dead man…but Loeb and his wife could also be hiding secrets.  A meeting with David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) reveals a secret organization named ZFT which deals in trafficking fringe science.


“The Equation”

1.8       The Equation Airdate:  11/18/08

A child music protégé named Ben Stockston (Charlie Tahan) is taken by a mysterious woman (Gillian Jacobs), and Olivia, Peter, and Walter learn that it might have ties to one of the men Walter was with in the asylum that was obsessed with an equation.  With a risky move to reenter the asylum to question the man, Walter finds himself trapped in asylum, and Peter learns getting him out might be difficult when he has a confrontation with the head of the asylum (William Sadler).  As Ben is held by the woman and subjected to experiments, another ally surfaces.


“The Dreamscape”

1.9       The Dreamscape Airdate:  11/25/08

A Massive Dynamic employee named Mark Young (Ptolemy Slucum) kills himself after being attacked by butterflies with razor wings leading to another investigation of the company by Olivia, Walter, and Peter.  With John leading Olivia through the investigation, Olivia continues to question her sanity and is forced into another session with the sensory deprivation tank to find the link between Young and John…leading to a memory of their first date.  Peter’s friend Tess (Susan Misner) learns Peter is back in Boston…along with Peter’s enemies.



1.10     Safe Airdate:  12/02/08

A bank robbery which leaves one of the robbers fused into the wall has Olivia experiencing memories that belong to John Scott and not her.  When Walter realizes that the safety deposit boxes stolen belong to him, the contents of the boxes come into question as well as the robbers next target.  Meanwhile, David Robert Jones is preparing for an unexpected jailbreak and also has Olivia in his targets.



1.11     Bound Airdate:  01/20/09

Olivia manages to escape her kidnappers only to find herself under investigation by Sanford Harris (Michael Gaston) who she tried to put away on assault charges.  Olivia tries to balance her investigation with the arrival of her sister Rachel (Ari Graynor) and her niece…as they are forced to move in with her.  When an epidemiologist is killed in front of his class by a giant germ, Olivia, Peter, and Walter might learn who has been manipulating them.


“The No Brainer”

1.12     The No-Brainer Airdate:  01/27/09

A computer virus that liquefies brains targets a teenager, a used car salesman, and a day-trader in Illinois.  As Olivia, Peter, and Walter search for the origin of the virus, Olivia finds her own niece might be in danger and Sanford Harris is continuing to dog her actions.  Peter learns that the mother of the girl killed in his father’s experiment wants to see his father and worries it could push him over the edge.


“The Transformation”

1.13     The Transformation Airdate:  02/03/09

A man transforms into a monster on a plane, and the team realizes that a dangerous mutative virus has been released.  Forced to return to the sensory deprivation tank to glean more information from John, Olivia finds crossing the barrier between memories and conversation is possible.  A major deal for the biological weapon is about to go down, and Olivia must decide if she trusts John once and for all.



1.14     Ability Airdate:  02/10/09

David Robert Jones escapes prison in a shocking way…teleportation.  Armed with a killer chemical which causes flesh to grow out of control to kill the victim, Jones is looking to recruit Olivia in his prediction of a war between parallel worlds.  As Walter finds a book on the potential threat of the parallel worlds, Olivia learns that a drug tied to Massive Dynamics could relate to her own past.


“Inner Child”

1.15     Inner Child Airdate:  04/07/09

A mysterious boy (Spencer List) found in the sealed tunnels below a construction site seems to demonstrate psychic abilities as Olivia sets out to find a serial killer called the Artist (Jeremy Shamos) who has started killing again.



1.16     Unleashed Airdate:  04/14/09

When animal rights activists break into to a lab, they unleash a genetic horror, and Olivia’s partner Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) finds himself the victim of an attack.  The search is on for the beast which has the ability to lay eggs in its victims, and Walter finds he might be responsible for its creation.


“Bad Dreams”

1.17     Bad Dreams Airdate:  04/21/09

Olivia begins having dreams of killing random people but finds that her dreams are reality.  When she finds ties to a mysterious man who was sighted at all the crime scenes, Olivia is about to discover more secrets of her past.



1.18     Midnight Airdate:  04/28/09

A woman named Valerie Boone (Trieste Dunn) is infected with an enhanced strain of syphallis which forces her to kill to survive.  The Fringe team’s investigation into the deaths leads to Dr. Nicholas Boone (Jefferson Mays) whose works for ZFT could provide the clues they’ve needed to find the source of the biological attacks.  With their most solid lead on  ZFT yet, Walter must work with Boone to find a cure while Olivia and Peter hunt down Valerie.


“The Road Not Taken”

1.19     The Road Not Taken Airdate:  05/05/09

As Olivia and the Fringe team moves in on Massive Dynamics, a woman spontaneously combusts drawing more connections…and sending Olivia into a possible parallel world where two women died.  Searching the parallel world for answers, Olivia finds more ties to her past and discovers a traitor in the midst.


“There’s More Than One of Everything”

1.20     There’s More Than One of Everything Airdate:  05/12/09

Parallel worlds exist, and Walter and William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) experiments found them.  Nina is the target of an assassination attempt by David Robert Jones who is trying to breach the dimensions.  Walter searches for clues to his past in dealing with the parallel word and hides a secret that he’s kept for decades.


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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