One of the major differences between Bones and Fringe (discounting the obvious ones), is that when J. J. Abrams has a Big Deal episode to do, he delivers like no other. This season premiere is absolutely no exception. I was waaaaay psyched for this, mostly because it's only been a few days since I saw the epic Season One finale. And I was not disappointed by the results.
Within the first three minutes, the unexplained, unscriped, intense weirdness already had me bouncing up and down (figuratively, not literally, I hesitantly admit) because I knew this was just the beginning of excellent things. Then the grossness set it - a guy smashing in his own face? Not quite as good as the melting jaw from the pilot episode, but still greatly enjoyable. I was already consciously appreciating the way Fringe channels the good ol' days of The X-Files, and then THE TV IN THE LIVING ROOM OF THAT FIRST SCENE WAS SHOWING ACTUAL X-FILES FOOTAGE. IT WAS LIKE PARANORMAL GEEK HEAVEN. The best part was, that was only the beginning and things just kept on getting better.
Most shows, having the main character explode through a windshield from the inside of a car from another universe would be the highlight. But with Fringe, oh no. Then it turns out that said main character is braindead and set to be Terri Schiavo-ed (which is obviously a lie, but intense nonetheless). Then it turns out she's being targeted by a shapeshifting supersoldier from another universe. Then it turns out said supersoldier communicates with his otherwordly command unit via typewriter and mirror. THEN the intensity just keeps on building to the not-quite-explosive-but-definitely-satisfying climactic battle scene. And all this is punctuated by drama about Olivia Dunham's memory loss, angst over the Fringe division possibly being shut down, and the introduction of a new major player.
This last bit was not quite as delightful as the rest, although I definitely stopped hating her by the end of the episode (the Hamlet quote helped a lot). If Meghan Markle sticks around for the rest of the season, I'm not going to complain. She fits in, and her introduction wasn't horribly weighed down by an effort to make her immediately interesting. Mostly I'm just vexed that Kirk Acevedo has indeed been fired from Fringe (actual reason unknown by me, although I've heard rumors it was financial). There's still hope he'll be back every once in awhile, though, so I'm just going to cross my fingers and hope for that.
I mark this premiere as a success. Not because it wrapped up last season and got the show back on its normal track, but because it really works as a link between this season and the last, introducing new storylines and leaving some questions unanswered. Three cheers for continuity. Four for writer and director of this episode, Akiva Goldsman. I didn't know his name before, but I will certainly remember it from this day forward (check this dude's track record, it is pretty magnificent).
Final note: I HATE THAT THE NEXT EPISODE IS STILL SIX DAYS AWAY. GAH!
(This review is also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)