After back to back high paced episodes what better way is there to slow things down a bit than a show about a puppeteering, organ thieving, reanimator? It may not be a typical bread and butter fringe event, but "Marionette" it's a decent case for Olivia to get her feet wet as she returns to Fringe Division.
It comes as no surprise that Olivia is already back to work and in the field. Since Olivia was never much for sitting on the side lines she meets with Broyles to return to active duty. After Olivia and Broyles debrief each other about what's been happening since the switch, and a little convincing, Broyles agrees to reinstate her. Just in time for the newest fringe event of a mysterious, and oddly compassionate, organ thieve. Who, strangely enough, can keep his victims alive long after he has removed some of their vital organs. Walter soon figures out that this thieve is only stealing organs from particular transplant patients, in hopes to piece back together a specific person and reanimate them. During the investigation Peter decides to tell Olivia everything; ruining that welcome home feeling.
I've got to hand it to the writers on Fringe for not wasting anytime and getting to the obvious issues. Most TV shows would drag out the story-line of should he or shouldn't he tell her the truth for at least a couple of episodes, but not for Peter and Olivia. If the writer were to hold out for a couple of episodes it would undoubtedly blow up in Peter's face and destroy whatever romantic relationship the two could ever have together. But, unfortunately for Peter, his immediate honesty whines up giving him the same results. If Fringe is using this juicy plot device already, of Olivia feeling betrayed by Peter, it must mean the show runners have plenty of story arcs to get through and can't waste any time (just my guess). Either way Peter was right by saying him telling Olivia 'would fundamental change their relationship'.
The fact is, like most average fringe event episodes, "Marionette's" main function was to address important character issues like Peter's intimate relationship with Bolivia to Olivia (you still following me). From Peter's apologetic confession at the beginning of the episode, to Olivia ultimately rejecting it at the end, both were executed extremely well. If I were to highlight the best example of this it would be the great direction in the scene where Peter tells Olivia everything and at that moment the camera remains fixed on her face. At first Torv's facial expression was of Olivia having that teenage-crush look on her face when she looked at Peter. Focused on Torv's reaction, and without any cutting back and forth between her and Jackson, as Peter explains everything was a great way for the audience feel the character's pain as she is taken by surprise. This was obviously a conscious decision on the director's part and it really helped set the theme for the rest of the episode.
As for the reanimator story-line I had higher expectations but it was still an acceptable fringe event for the week. This modern day Frankenstein, oddly enough, had compassion for his victims; always apologizing to them and even tried to keep them from dying in some cases. One part that didn't seem to work for me was the scene where the reanimator plays puppet master with the girl he is trying to bring back to life. I understand that the girl use to be a ballerina when she was alive but the scene goes on for a little too long and was pretty damn creepy. Another scene that was surprising was after the reanimator removes the restaurant owner's eyes being pretty gruesome, especially for TV, as it looked (pun not intended) like something out of a horror movie.
All and all for "Marionette" being the last episode before the Christmas break, and last in it's Thursday night time-slot, it didn't leave audiences with that cliff hanger feeling like in previous episodes. They don't leave audiences completely empty handed though as at the end of the episode, when the observer is made clear, he leaves the audience with an ominous message of a coming fate of either Walter or Peter. If that's not enough to tie you over till Fringe returns (on Friday nights starting January 21) according to John Noble's twitter account Christopher Lloyd has already finished filming the next upcoming episode. A time travelling Doc Brown would fit perfectly into an episode of Fringe, but I don't think Walter's station wagon can get up to 88 mph so Lloyd will have to bring his own ride.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.