Fringe ‘Subject 13’, Smallville ‘Fortune’, Spartacus: Gods of the Area ‘The Bitter End’

Fringe took us back to 1985 (complete with fab retro opening credits) and a look at the young Peter and Olivia, younger Walter, Walternate and wives. Last we saw of this time, Walter brought Peter back to heal him from that Sci Fi McGuffin the incurable genetic disease that killed his Peter.  That episode featured the wonderful Orla Brady as Elizabeth, Walter’s wife and Peter’s mother. The instant she laid eyes on the other Peter, we knew Walter wasn’t going to be sending him back any time soon.

However, this episode opens with Peter clearly unhappy about not being in his own world and Walter’s experiments on the Cortexifan children – including Subject 13, Olivia Dunham – trying to find a way to get back to the other world. Our impression of Walter’s experiments is that they were little short of torture on the children, yet in this episode young Walter is determined, but relatively kind. I was pleasantly surprised that he actually stuck up for Olivia and sort of threatened her step father. However, how can he not have  remembered her in later years, even in his lobotomised state?

Young Olivia is able to cross over thanks to a beating at the hands of her abusive step father (hey, there’s a storyline they promised to return to and never have!) She starts drawing blimps and Walter tries some experiments in fear to get her to cross over once again. In a great twist, the moment she does manage it is when she goes to beg Walter not to send her home to her step-father, only for the big twist to be in that moment she HAD crossed over and given her sketchbook of her and Peter playing in the field of white tulips to Walternate, revealing to him where his lost son is.

Of course, the meeting of Peter and Olivia as youngsters was a big thing for the episode and the two young actors playing them were very good, especially the young Olivia. It was also yet more proof that the initial idea of Walternate as a big baddie is not quite as simple as that. We see him almost destroyed by the loss of his son and the marriage to Elizabeth pretty rocky. Indeed, our universe’s Walter and Elizabeth aren’t that much better off. Poor Elizabeth, beautifully played by Orla Brady once again, tries to make Peter happy, with seemingly little help from her brilliant but emotionally detached husband.

Personally I missed the grown ups a bit. Only John Noble as Walter appeared from the regular cast, and was as usual, excellent. As a one off and to give us some backstory, this as engrossing stuff, but I will be glad to se the team all back next time.

It seems this is the week to get drunk! First Glee ‘Blame it on the Alcohol’, and now Smallville has the gang all getting drunk on Satanna’s spiked champagne in a fun episode (weird title though…Fortune?) Lois and Clark are having their bachelor/ette parties – although neither are pretty well endowed with friends – just three each? Lois can only count Chloe and erm…Tess as her pals? Really?

Anyway, next thing you know, Clark wakes up wearing a wedding ring and worried he might have drunk-married Chloe! All the Chlark fans go wild! Meanwhile Lois and Oliver wake up on a railway track to discover Lois has lost her engagement ring (‘my sparkly ball and chain’) and she is not ringing Clark until she recovers it. Emil and Tess seem to be posing as Elvis and Priscilla and Lois and Ollie end up dressing up as showgirls for some weird reason.

Sometimes Smallville gets bogged down in comic book intrigue, which pretty much bores me. This sort of wacky but rather daft adventure is fun and frothy, although not especially outstanding. However, there were some particularly fun moments. Clark super speeding into a wall as he is hung over (snigger), Lois playing Indiana Jones in a casino trying to get her ring back only to have it kicked around in a big brawl as she crawls after it – very Raiders of the Lost Ark. Totally gratuitous, but Justin Hartley in drag as a showgirls was a giggle. Would have been just too weird for Clark, but playboy Ollie pulls it off.

Much more serious – indeed not a laugh to be seen – was the final part of the 6 episode Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

SPOILER ALERT

Just to mention that, as much to my surprise and delight, Gannicus lives!! The star gladiator of this mini series was appealingly played by Dustin Clare and I was pretty confident he would be struck down at some point in this episode. A pleasant surprise then that this most bloody and cruel show gave us a happy ending as Gannicus is given his freedom.The inevitable death of the dastardly Tullius happened – and inventively, he is almost knifed to death before being bricked up into the walls of the new arena while still hanging on to life. Nasty!

Lucy Lawless has managed (through clever lighting and make up perhaps) to look a good 5 years younger in this mini series than she did last year. Interestingly, the harsh light returned as we saw a much less soft Lucretia emerge in this episode. The red wig – her Gaia tribute – appeared, but it was in her face we saw the change. For much of this series she has been giggly and almost gentle looking. After being the one responsible for the deaths of Titus, Melitta and be extension this week’s murder of Tullis, I am guessing the blood on her hands has taken away that softness.

After a few sex soaked episodes (still recovering from the orgy!) this one was almost nudity free, but heavy on the bloodshed, including some especially brutal killings in the arena. That final ripping off of a jaw..yuk!!! Is the bloodshed and graphic sex necessary? By Jupiter’s cock it is!! (as Batiatus would say – although I am still not quite so sure.) On the whole, I’ve enjoyed this prequel series a lot.