Through the first two seasons of "Fringe", I frequently wondered if Anna Torv might be the weak link in the show's core ensemble. However, this season, she's been the key reason to watch, and never was that more evident than in Thursday's episode, "Marionette."
In the previous episode, "our" Olivia returned to her original universe, after having been brainwashed into thinking she was Fauxlivia in the other-verse. Meanwhile, Fauxlivia escaped back home, having spent the last two months infiltrating the FBI in the original universe and maintaining an intimate relationship with Peter.
Olivia was trying to put on a strong façade, acting like what had happened to her and what had gone on between Fauxlivia and Peter in her absence didn't bother her, but it was clear that wasn't the case, and Torv handled the character's internal strife with outstanding nuance. The scene where Olivia had a minor freakout in her apartment, tearing the clothes out of her closet and ripping the sheets off her bed, could have devolved into cliché, but Torv rose above that.
As the episode went on, it became harder and harder for Olivia to mask her true feelings. When she snapped at Peter in the scene where they were going over the patient files, it was an external sign that things weren't going quite as smoothly as she wanted them too. Then, it all boiled over after the resolution of the A plot, with Olivia finally admitting to Peter that what went on between him and Fauxlivia hurt her. "She's taken everything," she said. Really selling the scene was the way Peter just sat there. He's always had the answers, always had something to say, but here, he just had nothing, and Joshua Jackson sold the quiet despair of his character just as well as Torv sold the frustrated emotion of hers.
As for the A plot, it involved a doctor stealing donated organs from patients so he could put them back in their original body -- a ballerina he'd fallen in love with. The juxtaposition of having the doctor be willing to do anything, even defy the laws of science, to be with the woman he loved with Peter's casual acceptance of Fauxlivia was handled with a nice touch. But mostly the A plot was just creepy, in a good horror movie kind of way. When the doctor had re-assembled the girl and had her hooked up to a series of pulleys like a life-sized marionette, I honestly thought I was going to vomit, it was so horrifying. So, hey, let's watch it again, and all have nightmares together!
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.