Fringe Update: Episode Review of “Arrival” [UPDATE: Gets Full Season Order]

The fourth episode of the new genre show Fringe, from Star Trek film makers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, JJ Abrams and Bryan Burk, is aptly named, “Arrival” as this may be the one where the show truly ‘arrived’ with its own voice. We have a review and an update on the latest ratings and Fringe news below.



Review – Fringe episode 4 – "Arrival"
The fourth episode of Fringe "Arrival" may be the one where people went from like the show, to loving it, especially for genre fans. With a tight script written by JJ Abrams and showrunner Jeff Pinker, the episode was full of intrigue, mystery, action, and yet still had time for character moments.    

The mythology of the show took a big leap in this pivotal episode, introducing a new mysterious character called ‘The Observer’ who has been showing at ‘Pattern’ related events for decades, but appears to have a tailor from around 1960. Even more intriguing is that Walter knows this guy and even took some time out to have a root bear float with him. The show also seems to be dipping its toe deeper into genre territory with both the Observer and the episode’s maguffin (the mysterious tunneling thing called ‘The Beacon’) having a lot of possible alien tendencies. There was also a new bad guy who has some sort of ‘ray gun’ and a nasty mind reading torture machine that involves electrodes shoved into victims noses…ouch. Of course with Abrams this is all ‘Mystery Box’ territory where we really have no idea what is going on, but that is all the point.

Expect to see more of no-eyebrows guy

As for the characters, this show was also pivotal. As noted in previous reviews, the character of Peter seemed to not have anything to do. In this episode that issue was faced head on and he actually tried to leave until he saw for himself how big the whole ‘Pattern’ thing was and by the end he was on board and even got his own shiny new laminate badge. Also the character of Walter became a lot more serious in this episode, allaying fears that his mad scientist thing could move into parody. And Anna Torv’s Olivia continues to be haunted by her former lover (and supposed to be dead) John Scott (Mark Valley), and by haunting…I mean literally haunting…like phantom phone calls and showing up at her apartment. Is he really there? Who knows, but it all adds up in the growing mystery that is Fringe.

All in all this episode was certainly the best of the post-premiere shows and everything from the music to the acting seems to be truly finding its own voice. 

Fringe science of the week:

  • Lots of mind reading
  • Subterranean sound-wave torpedo (the Beacon)

Walter line of the week:
[apologizing to Astrid for injecting her with a sedative against her will]
"If it would help you feel a sense of retribution, I would tell you to inject me too, but I would most likely enjoy it."

Walter knows what it is…but he isn’t talking

Ratings – Fringe helps FOX win youth demo
In its third week out FOX’s Fringe increased its overall viewers to come in around 10 million, which puts it in third place for all viewers, but winning both key 18-49 and 18-34 Demographics. Along with the lead-in show House, FOX won the demos for the night. Fringe is also doing well on the DVR, with its premiere ranking as the number one ‘time shifted’ show for the second week of September. Fringe also has the ‘honor’ of being the 10th most pirated show on BitTorrent. FOX’s overall ratings for the year are up and according to media analyst Magna Global this ‘was helped largely’ by Fringe

Quick Fringe links

Watch episode and extras online
If you missed it, you can watch the show online at, in HD. Plus Fox has a full recap and also a bonus feature of ‘Walter’s lab notes.’ More at the official site.

[CLICK to watch FRINGE online]

UPDATE: Fox orders full season
Variety is reporting that Fox as ordered ‘the back nine’ which is industry talk for ‘the rest of the season’ or nine additional episodes of Fringe. Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly tells TV Week:

We’re having a blast working on this show with this great team of producers. The series has really taken off creatively, and it’s exciting to see that the audience is responding. We believe this is the first full season of many years to come.

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Denise de Arman
October 1, 2008 3:50 pm

I am getting into Fringe; however, Anna Torv is not ringing my bell. Her one and only facial expression seems to be eyebrow frowns. Carrying the weight of the show as she is, she needs to harden up to be Homeland Security material.

October 1, 2008 3:51 pm

Fringe airs for the first time in the UK this Friday. Looking forward to it very much indeed.

October 1, 2008 3:57 pm

I enjoyed last night’s episode, especially Howie Mandel’s older brother introduced as “The Observer”. I hope he’s a semi-frequent flyer on the show.
I do dislike a trend that’s developing however. It seems that every weeks mystery has been worked on, developed by or is based on Walter’s past work for the goverment. Let’s see something that Walter’s NOT seen before please.

October 1, 2008 4:03 pm

Episode 4 was a good, solid mythology episode. It was never overwritten, like all the other episodes with their awkwardly crude dialogue or embarrassing exposition… plus the acting for ep.4 seemed to come up a notch. Nice work, JJ (despite the unnecessary torture scenes).

Problem for me is that I’m not sure why I should keep watching the show. Right now it’s mainly because I want to see what the people in charge of Star Trek are doing. But that isn’t a good enough reason. It’s a new show, it has to have its own merits. I shouldn’t be watching it because of Lost’s merits, or because of my curiosity about Star Trek!

So are the stories in Fringe thought provoking? No, their frenzied and incomplete ideas basically disappear when the credits roll. Are the characters ones I will miss if I don’t visit them each week? No, I’m only just now beginning to accept that Peter isn’t an actor. Is there something within the four corners of this show that makes anything happening, whether its in the mythology or in the science-of-the-week, something important to me? No.

Something’s missing guys. That fact that your names are on it is a good place to start. But give us more, please. Soon.

October 1, 2008 4:21 pm

Is this still on?

Chris P Neudel
October 1, 2008 4:24 pm

This show reeks of the other Star-Trek’s producers recent Sci- Flop, “Threshold”.

October 1, 2008 4:28 pm

Yeah, I hate these X Files knock off type shows.

October 1, 2008 4:36 pm

The Observer is very similar to all the 1960s and 70s literature on The Men In Black (most UNLIKE the movie MiB and MiB II) – I am pretty sure on this episode, while at the hospital at the end, they said that the shooter (mysterious man in the Mike from the Monkeys Hat) was named Jim Mosely, the name of a real UFO and MiB researcher. Mosely is something of a true skeptic, not a negativist and not a true-believer. He is not sold on any one theory of UFOs and would say there is a possibility that UFOs are all terrestrial fringe science. He has a magazine called “Saucer Smear” which as titled I think tells a lot about his views. Perhaps there is something here that the writers are drawing on?

October 1, 2008 4:46 pm

I LIKE the show.

October 1, 2008 4:54 pm


Fringe is NOTHING like Threshold. For one thing, it’s interesting!

October 1, 2008 5:14 pm

‘Twould be funny for JJ to get permission from BB to introduce in guest roles some of the characters from Threshold. And Lost.

In due course. After all, perhaps Fringe is on the fringe of many other genre shows… And a meta-show would be a unique twist for Fringe to take.

October 1, 2008 5:17 pm

I’m starting to feel concerned for the Star Trek project, these new shows and the movie “Eagle Eye” are lack luster, the characters don’t connect for me; so will this carry on to the Capt. chair? Hope Not!

October 1, 2008 5:20 pm

If this is an “X-Files knockoff” I’m finding it more watchable and interesting than the original source material.

montreal paul
October 1, 2008 5:29 pm

Wow.. the episodes get better and better. love this show. Last night’s was fascinating. The more I see from the Trek guy’s, the more I feel that Trek is in great hands. They love Sci-Fi and they love Trek.. how can it not go well!

Keep up the great work guys!

October 1, 2008 5:31 pm

It may not be a fav among some here, but I like it and find it far more watchable than 80% of the shows currently on American TV.

“The Biggest Loser” I know some people have benefited from the show, I still consider it akin to a carnival side-show.

“Dr. Phil” can’t solve his own problems

I won’t go on…

October 1, 2008 6:00 pm

@12. Tog: Thank you… I’ve been saying this for weeks.

@5. Enterprise: Yeah, why is this still on? And why do we keep seeing reviews for it on TrekMovie?

October 1, 2008 6:02 pm

Hmm…I gave up on the show after Ep 3. Maybe I should give it one more chance.

Capt. Fred
October 1, 2008 6:04 pm

#15 – Exactly. I find Fringe more interesting than any other show on right now.

“Lost” – it has a good title. I was lost watching just one episode.
“Heroes” – too weird…
“American Idol” – AGGGHH! WHY WON’T IT END!!??
“One Tree Hill” – what’s the point? It’s just another show about highschool kids with problems.
“Hannah Montana” – die… please die.

There’s tons more…

October 1, 2008 6:06 pm
#8 YES! Throughout the whole UFO mythology, they describe the MiB as a person or persons just like the Observer!…As soon as I saw him, I shouted out MEN IN BLACK, to which my son looked at me and said he looked nothing like the Will Smith movies depiction of the MiB. We had a nice discussion on the whole UFO witness description of Men In Black they encountered, how they acted, how they looked, usually bald, no eyebrows, dressed immaculately in clothing that looked out of date but neatly pressed and brand new. How they spoke in monotones and did not act like normal people, how they were almost robotic and did things that witnesses later described as if someone was trying to act human but were not really sure on what that was supposed to be. Fringe nearly nailed it with how the Observer acted and how he ate, what he ate on his sandwich and how he drank the glass of water in one gulp and wrote in a cryptic language while observing through things that looked old tech but were really high tech items. I hope they keep this character and show more of the classic MiB descriptions from UFO mythology. I do get the whole X-File vibe from this show, but having enjoyed that and having Orci’s cousin in my house on a regular basis and who implored us to watch this creation of his cousin, it is starting to grow on me like a… Read more »
October 1, 2008 6:28 pm

I still think the first episode was the best, the rest are ho hum, but last nights was better, you could see it in the writting. I have got used to shows that have an arc, like Lost, BSG (Best show on TV in Years) among others. Non Eposodic shows dont hook me for the next week, Fringe does a little, but I have a feeling its going to be leading to something big, and there will be an overall arc, its going to take a while.

I just hope it doesnt turn into the monster, nasty virus, killer gaget etc. of the week.

But I will watch this over American Idol, reality shows anyday, like they say, “the masses are for the asses”

October 1, 2008 7:57 pm

It started off good, but quickly became convoluted. Keep the black Head of Operations guy, the MiB guy, 86 the rest of the cast. Get fresh blood in. Heck, do a MiB series instead.

October 1, 2008 8:14 pm

Maybe I’m living in the past, but I like the whole syndication feel to Fringe.

As with shows like Las Vegas, Numb3rs and CSI, I don’t feel like I need to know much backstory before watching and enjoying an episode. Unlike the three shows I mentioned earlier, I actually do look forward to each new episode and plan to watch it religiously.

I believe Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman are more than aware when they have the leeway to try new things (as with Fringe), and when they have to bring their mainstream A-game (as they did with Cloverfield and Transformers respectively). My confidence in them remains strong.

October 1, 2008 9:37 pm

Yawn…wow JJ, that’s really neat. How about a pic of the Enterprise or a new trailer. Nighty night zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

October 1, 2008 10:07 pm

Goodnight Daxyday , I will come over and we can watch fring..zzzzzzzzz Together ….

October 1, 2008 10:30 pm

So the guys responsible for Eagle Eye are writing Trek? Now Im extremely worried…

October 1, 2008 11:03 pm

#23 and #24

It look like love in air.

October 1, 2008 11:08 pm

Fringe isn’t holding me the way I hoped it would. I sincerely wanted to like this show, but it does nothing for me. I missed last night’s episode because I actually forgot it was on. I have two major complaints about the show, and they both involve fundamental aspects of the show:
1. I can’t buy the “fringe science” as remotely plausible; it just sounds too made up. Others have mentioned here before that the show would benefit from a science advisor, and I would agree.
2. I don’t know if it’s the actress or the way the character is written, but Olivia Dunham is easily the least interesting character on the show. She’s not bad, but just uninteresting, as if she were remarkably unremarkable.

October 1, 2008 11:23 pm

I like this show. This was the best one yet. Looks like Fringe might be hitting its stride early. Lots of mythology, and people watch JJ Abrams shows for the mythology (and the characters). The observer reminded me of Rod Serling, or Uatu the Watcher from Marvel Comics. As for the beacon, I have a feeling it doesn’t really matter what it is at the end of the day. And that’s just fine. Walter is a hoot. He’s as fun to watch as Michael Emmerson on Lost.

October 1, 2008 11:41 pm

Because I am interested in the new Star Trek movie, I tuned into Fringe to see what the same team has created, and for me, it is very watchable, and interesting enough to tivo each week.. it definitely has the x-file feel but also different.. that is my hope and their hope for the new Star Trek, a little bit of history and the flavor of the original with a lot of newness..

October 2, 2008 12:05 am

Yep, great, wonderful .. so when are we going to see the first Star Trek trailer?

October 2, 2008 1:06 am

WHAT? This piece of garbage gets a full season while BSG struggles on the Sci Fi Channel gasping for breath each year?

October 2, 2008 4:23 am

What about the damned Star Trek trailler we’re itching to see?

star trackie
October 2, 2008 5:16 am

Great episode . I just wish writers, in general, wouldn’t plant little seeds unless they have a firm committment to produce enough episodes to let the seeds grow. Way too often the idea is there, carefully buried and planned to slowly unravel as the series progresses, only to get canceled leaving all the questions posed so far, forever unanswered. That’s the danger of long story arcs in episodic television and one of the reasons I prefer stand alone stories. But this episode really was good.

October 2, 2008 5:39 am

The episodes keep getting better and better. The pilot was pretty good, the second was . . . well, I kept watching because the pilot was so good. The third one was noticably better, and this fourth one was really compelling. Peter Bishop continues to struggle to have well-written lines, and I agree that Olivia Dunham still needs more to do than furrow her eybrows and look attractive. But Walter’s character is just so appealing, Broyles is so commanding, and the Nina Stark Massive Dynamics cyborg chick is so creepy that it makes me want to watch more to see what they’ll do next. Keeping the mythology on the light side is a good idea. Otherwise you end up like Lost (and BSG, sorry guys) which is now drowning in its own mythology.

October 2, 2008 5:49 am

I never got into X-Files myself, but I’m enjoying Fringe. I think it’s starting slowly, but it’s nice to be able to watch a show with some resolution each week that still has something else to look forward to. At least now we know there’ll be a full season.

I’m very curious though as to why many here seem to feel the show is boring. I see complaints about Olivia, but after the trauma she’s been through, I think it will take time before we see her open up.

As far as the science, well it’s supposed to be on the edge of plausibility, I think. Isn’t that what the “fringe” is? Sort of like, throw it out there and see what sticks. I mean, if you want real solid science, there are plenty of other shows on PBS for that.

Anyway, I like it and I’m looking forward to watching the story unfold.

October 2, 2008 6:23 am

18- “hannah montana- die…please die.”

made me laugh out loud- more than the american dad iepisode i was half watching at the time.

As for Fringe i like it but walter being responsible for every episodes mystery is going is getting annoying- it might be a part of the big picture but they might want to retink that.

Joe Schmoe
October 2, 2008 6:59 am

I watched the premiere and it was OK. I have taped the rest since, but haven’t been compelled to watch them yet.

So I guess that means that I WANT to want it, but I’m not getting enough vibes out there to feel that I MUST watch it.

ensign joe
October 2, 2008 7:03 am

Hmmmm I think the problems with the science wouldn’t be such a problem if the show didn’t come off as realistic.. Trek, Dr. Who, much scifi is chock full of far-fetched tech.. Setting Fringe in the present day hurts the cred of the tech even though it shouldn’t matter as its clearly fiction and who says they need to adhere to reality..

Dr. Image
October 2, 2008 7:17 am

The show just does not cut it for me.
Just because it’s from JJ &Co. doesn’t mean it’s automatically some kind of classic. Same went for Berman & Braga’s Trek.
Face it: The emperor has no clothes- this time anyhow.

October 2, 2008 7:17 am

CHRISTMAS GUYS! The trailer is coming at Christmas.

Get over it and your selves.

It will come out when it comes out and not before. Cripes. Leave the compalining and moaning to the Trek topics for goodness sake.

Fringe is a good show and improves with each episode. (See? I can stay on topic).

October 2, 2008 7:57 am

I thought the new trailer was supposed to be out already what gives??? The movie wrapped already so C”mON!!!!!!!

October 2, 2008 8:35 am

okay….show of hands…how many of you, after watching this show, go to your window and look outside to see if you can see the large words showing your location?

mebbe it’s just me, but don’t you wish they showed someone running into them or maybe a car or bus crashing into the large words showing the location?

October 2, 2008 9:17 am

#42 – I don’t about you, but there are big words floating all over the place when I’m driving around town. Yesterday, I saw “Urgent Care, 7:45 PM” then this morning I saw “Medical Center, Wyoming, MI” it was freaky.

October 2, 2008 9:28 am

#37 what is this “tape” you speak of?

October 2, 2008 9:45 am

#40 – I’m with you. I want to see the trailer too, but there are other things in life to enjoy in while we wait. What’s the point of going into threads that are not even about Star Trek and complaining about the Trailer? Just be patient for another month or two.

October 2, 2008 9:57 am

you won’t have to wait till X-mas

October 2, 2008 9:57 am

to see things, that is

October 2, 2008 10:17 am
#31—I don’t know anything about BSG (I’ve never seen it), but so far, ‘Fringe’ has alot of people watching. 10 million is alot of viewers for the 4th episode. Obviously, you do not have to like everything that’s on, but a “piece of garbage”? That seems a bit harsh. I’m curious as to what you feel is a good show? I don’t have alot of network shows on my TiVo season pass, but here’s the short list: ‘Lost’-NBC ‘Heroes’-NBC ‘Fringe’-FOX That’s about it for the “network” shows… I do have some other regular series I record on TiVo outside of the major networks: ‘Entourage’-HBO ‘True Blood’-HBO ‘The Tudors’-Showtime My wife also put ‘Weeds’-Showtime, ‘Smallville’-WB, and ‘Friday Night Lights’-101Network (formerly on NBC), all of which I find watchable at least, on our “Season Pass” list. The rest of what I watch/TiVo is either sports, The History Channel, Biography, one of the Discovery Channels, or any of the consistently well done productions from HBO Films. We’re busy people, so we rarely watch television on the schedule of the networks. Other than sports, nearly everything is on TiVo, and watched at our convenience. We haven’t watched the latest episode yet, but I like ‘Fringe’, and I think it gets better every episode. Apparently, so does a growing viewing audience…I can see it not being someone else’s “cup of tea”, but “garbage”? It seems to me that there is a whole lot worse on, and I would reserve the term “garbage” for the dozens… Read more »
Arthur Simone
October 2, 2008 10:29 am

Sorry, but this site is about Trek or Fringe? I’m confused…

October 2, 2008 10:37 am

#49—-I’ll assume that you are not just being sarcastic.

It is also about Trek-related material, including some of the work that past and present Trek actors, writers, producers, directors, etc. are doing.

Obviously, ‘Fringe’ is full of people on board who are working/have worked on the current Star Trek movie— including its writers, director, and executive producer.

I think that makes it relevant enough…