Fringe: Power Hungry

Fringe, FOX, Tuesdays 9/8c

Episode: “Power Hungry” (Season 1, Episode 5)

Synopsis: Fringe blasted back onto your TV screen this week with its cracked-out science and haphazard overarching story! In the opening moments of “Power Hungry,” we happen upon one “Joseph Meegar,” a man with electro-magnetic powers that manifest themselves at the wrong time. He’s out of control, and Agent Dunham (Anna Torv) and the Bishops are the only ones who can stop him. On top of that, Dunham keeps seeing her ambiguously traitorous ex-boyfriend, John Scott, when no one else can. Did I mention that John Scott died four episodes ago? Yeah, that’s how this show rolls.

Review: Arguably the most lo-fi episode of Fringe yet, “Power Hungry” cannot be called a change of pace, because the word “pace” implies that the show is progressing at a set speed with similar installments, and the last few episodes have been surprisingly dissimilar to the first few. It looks like J.J. Abrams and his crew are making good on their promises to add variety to the show, and change the “pace” every step of the way. In this episode, the writers flex their surprisingly impressive literary muscles as they focus primarily on characterization.

Fringe is supposed to be a drop-in show, meaning that anyone can drop-in on any episode and still have an enjoyable experience without being confused by continuity (unlike, say, Lost), and it’s certainly true that the average viewer could have had a good time following the experience of this week’s misunderstood, manipulated villain and his mentally meek mishaps as he accidentally kills his mom, crushes his crush and maims his boss (this is cable, right?)… But the heart of this episode was in Olivia’s struggle with the memory of her ex-boyfriend.

Using Fringe science as a character-device rather than a plot-device for perhaps the first time, the writers excellently decide to bring back the mental communication experiment seen in the first episode, or rather, to expand on it. Apparently, the experiment had unfortunate side effects and, long story short, parts of John Scott still exist in Olivia’s brain. Olivia begins to have waking dreams where he appears from thin air and swears that he loves her and has always loved her. Making a common jilted lover’s fantasy a reality for Dunham, the writers gracefully illustrate the torment involved after losing a loved one using hypothetical science as a palette.

As far as the rest of the story, the episode draws an interesting parallel between Meegar’s confused guinea pig character and his dismay at his lack of control over his life and the excessive control exerted upon Dunham by her FBI superiors.

While perhaps it was not the most all-around entertaining episode of the lot (not a single CG explosion!), it was certainly the most exciting installment when it came to character development and story progression.

A Few Curiosities:

  • What do you make of Walter’s theory of humanity as six billion unique systems of electrical signals? It creeps me out to think that we are just electrical impulses scampering across the brain.
  • I liked the slow start in the first scene. You can tell they worked hard to get you attached to Meegar.

Up Next Week: A cure for a rare disease makes patients radioactive. Walter obsesses about cotton candy. Peter strikes a deal with Nina.

For more coverage of your favorite shows, check out the Control Freaks Archive.

Did you watch Fringe this week? If so, feel free to discuss below.


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