Ever heard the expression 'kids should been seen not heard'. Well for poor Eugene he wasn't either and it's his own pigments, not his parents, to blame for his inconspicuousness. Fringe puts their spin on the invisible man lore in this "Fall Finale" episode.
This week's Fringe episode, "Wallflower", has the team looking into a possible ghost sighting/killing when a man is attacked by an unseen force. Not only is the victim murdered by a phantom attacker but the poor sap has his youth drained from him, making him look like a senior citizen. With the lack of ectoplasm the Fringe division takes their version of a practical approach and starts an invisible man hunt rather than strap on a Proton Pack. Peter however doesn't tag along for this latest case, as he spends his time going over blue-prints of 'the machine' and going to the grocery shopping with an FBI agent chaperone.
I'm sorry to say this might have been one of Fringe's weakest episodes to date. Certainly for this season so far. Though they used a completely new concept (for Fringe that is) for this week's fringe event it had that feel of a repeat in a certain way. Like it had already been done before and done better even. As per usual Fringe made the science behind Eugene's invisible skin pigments all sound like a legitimate condition. Even the part where he drains other people's pigment, to the point of death, just to be visible made sense. Those good technical aspects aside the execution of it including into the half decent story they came up with for Eugene seemed to just fall short at ever turn. The whole effect and reveal was done great but because Eugene as a character gets little to none screen time there are no moments to make the audience even begin to care about him. Making the climax just appear mute at best.
The most confusing parts of "Wallflower" were the shifts in direction from last week's episode. After a Peter heavy episode a week ago Jackson's presences gets reduce to a blip on the screen with probably only three screens. All which are extremely short. The only thing that changes for Peter is Broyles finally decided to give him clearance to have a copy of the machine Peter used to make the bridge on Liberty Island. As for the other odd shift in this episode Lincoln all of a sudden seems to have feelings for Olivia. An odd change for this version of a main universe Lincoln considering his demeanour so far during this new time-line this season has been the complete opposite. He even so goes so far as asks Peter for tips on Olivia during one of Jackson's few scenes.
"Wallflower" will be the last Fringe episode for the year, as new episodes won't be airing until after the holidays in the New Year. Not sure if this is because of production reasons on Fringe's end or that FOX is just tweaking their schedule once again to put on more singing competitions and calling them 'reality TV'. In any case Fringe will just have the bulk of their fourth season in 2012. Just because FOX marketed "Wallflower" here as a Fall Finale it doesn't change the season's length as they will still be delivering all 22 episodes for this season. I was a little scared when I first heard that so breathe easy Fringe fans. Personally I don't think Fringe's show-runners really knew that this episode was going to be their last before a long break given the cliff hanger at the end of the episode. Don't get me wrong I fascinated to see what kind of sinister plots this version of Nina is up to. It just felt like it all came out of the blue though. Or I could wrong and Nina was just pissed that Olivia was giving her too much sass earlier. Nina might be a little more dark side in this current time-line, explaining her and Walter's rift a little more, so Massive Dynamic's skeleton closet might be explored a little more in coming shows.
Whatever the case enjoy the holiday's Fringe fans. Fringe will return January 13, 2011.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.