The most frustrating part of that is I’m not really sure why.
The show doesn’t deal with paranormal — or it says it doesn’t. It deals with what it calls “fringe science” — a psychobabble, pseudo-technical way of explaining what often looks like paranormal and supernatural events as the work of mad scientists — literally. Dr. Walter Bishop was locked up in a mental institution for 17 years, and most of the villians and events the Fringe Division of the FBI have to deal with are the outcome of his earlier experiments in the seventies and eighties, when he was really pushing the envelope. Now he’s trying to defeat the bad guys with a sketchy memory and even shakier sanity.
He’s helped by his son, Peter, who starts off wildly reluctant to even be in the same room with him, and FBI agent Olivia Dunham, who uses Peter’s shady past as leverage to keep him in Boston, to control his father once she springs him from the institution.
That’s the basis for the beginning of the series. Surprisingly, it’s one of those shows that sounds hugely unlikely and out there, but it has a high degree of humanity and emotional content in it. And it doesn’t stay with the weird-experiment-of-the-week format for long. By Season 2, there are alternative universes, time slips, dopplegangers, and storylines that are absorbing and complex. This is not a series you can afford to start watching mid-season, or even mid-series. You’ll be instantly lost.
Right out of the gate, I could see that Peter and Olivia were being lined up as a potential romantic pair. Even Peter’s father, Walter, was making broad hints about how Peter should ask Olivia out – couched in his colourful idioms. So right away my interest was piqued, because Peter (played by Joshua Jackson) is ever-so-easy on the eyes and his character is a sort-of reformed bad boy. Hard to resist.
I figured the producers and writers would do what every series has done time out of mind: toyed with the audience. Teased and dangled hope as they let the pair dance around each other endlessly, a la NCIS, which has managed to keep the potential romance bereft of even a decent kiss for six years…but is finally starting to piss off fans with the lack of romantic progress.
NCIS, on the other hand, has managed to supply the odd one or two almost combustible pulse pause moments, here and there.
Fringe is an oddity, which is why I can’t figure out why I like it so damned much. It hasn’t done anything to order.
Peter and Olivia got together as a couple somewhere toward the end of the second season (I think — I watched all four seasons in a seriously compressed period of time — they ran together a lot). There was no big sweeping romantic moment. No daring rescue or whole episode devoted to will they/won’t they. Yes, there were issues holding them back — well, mostly Olivia — but she worked it out, and they got together in a quietly sweet moment when she took Peter upstairs…run closing credits.
So this “Pulse pause” post is actually a bit of a misnomer, because there really hasn’t been any in their relationship. Yet I can’t stop watching the goddamn show because the pair of them are compulsive viewing. And I think, ultimately, it’s because their romance is so, well, adult. They’re two grown-ups, having a grown-up relationship. Everyone around them naturally assumed they’d get together. Everyone likes the idea. Everyone was thrilled when they finally committed to each other. No one came gunning for one of them, bleeding with rectal envy.
Yes, they have problems from time to time. They’re still sorting out crap that rears up from their pasts, and neither of their lives is a bowl of cherries, but they love each other, and they keep battling to stay together, to stay alive. Considering the multi-universes and mega-potent bad guys running around this series, trying to melt down the Earth on a regular basis, or shoving one or other of them into another time, place or dimension, they have to work their dogs off just to be together.
So every clinch and every kiss is a precious one.
It’s such a nice change to see what happens after the “I love you” and see something hopeful and positive. And really good looking. [sigh]