This week’s Fringe episode features an electrifying premise, but its mad science is for the birds.

Title: “Power Hungry”

Cast and Crew

Anna Dorv as Olivia Dunham
Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop
John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop
Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Joseph Meeger
Lance Reddick as Philip Broyles
Max Baker as Fischer
Mary Louise Burke as Flora Meeger
Mark Valley as John Scott
Jaskika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth

Synopsis

Electrical and mechanical accidents occur whenever a meek, insecure man feels emotionally upset, and these often have fatal results. The distraught man flees, and the Fringe Force tries to locate him before he causes even more serious damage. Their only hope lies with (of course) really wonky science.

Meanwhile, Olivia continues to six it upTM with her former partner, and this leads her to a startling discovery in (of course) a place that no sane person would enter without back-up.

Last episode’s MiB makes a fleeting appearance.

High Point

Once again, the guest-stars steal the show. The episode has the kind of premise that marked Scully and Mulder‘s better outings, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach gives an impressive performance as a man trapped in a hell he cannot flee. The episode had my attention whenever it focused on Meeger and his tragic tale.

Low Points

…Unfortunately, the regular characters had to come along and mar a decent episode. They’re simply not interesting enough (not even Dr. Bishop, whose polymathic expertise and impossible deductions start to grate). The schizophrenic disconnect between the show’s serious aspects and its comic-book stylings has never been more evident. This week’s fringe science flew away with the episode’s credibility—- though it was nice to see a Van de Graaff Generator at work in Bishop’s mad lab.

The Scores

Originality: 3 out of 6. A derivative plot may become more original when you throw utterly ridiculous pseudo-science at it, but it does not become a better story.

Effects: 6/6 The effects have not been overdone, and they work very well.

Story: 4/6. See my “High” and “Low” points. In addition, Dunham and the Bishops solve mysteries far too easily, and with little satisfaction for the audience. I understand that we’re watching chapters in a longer piece, but we should have some sense of development in each story, growing from the story and the characters’ interactions.

Acting: 4/6 I found the various guest-stars compelling. I wish I felt as strongly about the main cast. I’m also wondering if Astrid has a personality.

Production: 6/6

Emotional response: 3/6. The inconsistency of this episode astonishes me. I simply cannot take the main characters seriously. However, I wanted to know more about the guest-stars.

Overall: 4/6. As a comic-book-influenced show, Fringe, sadly, has become more interesting than the current season of Heroes.

“Power Hungry” receives thirty out of forty-two.