A Short Story About Love

Last updated
"A Short Story About Love"
Fringe episode
Episode no.Season 4
Episode 15
Directed by J.H. Wyman
Written byJ.H. Wyman
Graham Roland
Production code3X7015
Original air dateMarch 23, 2012
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
 Previous
"The End of All Things"
Next 
"Nothing As It Seems"
Fringe (season 4)
List of Fringe episodes

"A Short Story About Love" is the fifteenth episode of the fourth season of the Fox science-fiction drama television series Fringe , and the series' 80th episode overall. The series follows members of a Federal Bureau of Investigation "Fringe Division" team based in Boston, Massachusetts that uses "fringe" science and FBI investigative techniques to investigate a series of unexplained, often ghastly occurrences, which are related to mysteries surrounding a parallel universe. "A Short Story About Love" centered on a scientist extracting the pheromones of his victims, all male spouses, and using the resulting substances as a perfume to get close to their wives. While the Fringe team investigates, Peter learns more about the Observer September.

Contents

It was co-written by executive producer J.H. Wyman and co-producer Graham Roland. Wyman also directed, making the episode his directional debut. He sought to write a story that had love as a central motivation, and described it as "an episode that's really close to me." Guest stars featured in the episode included Michael Massee as the villain Anson Carr, Ona Grauer as Dianna Sutter, and Michael Cerveris as September.

First airing on March 23, 2012 in the United States, "A Short Story About Love" was watched by an estimated 2.87 million viewers, a decrease from the previous episode. It received mixed to positive reviews from television critics; the villain attracted mixed reviews, and most praised the revelations surrounding a beacon that was last shown in a first season episode. In 2013, it landed on several lists detailing the best Fringe episodes of the series.

Plot

The Fringe division tracks down a series of deaths of wives shortly after the passing of their respective husbands. Discovering traces of the husbands' DNA on the bodies of the wives, Walter Bishop (John Noble) suspects that the killer is using pheromones taken from the husbands to get close to the wives, using the substances as a perfume. Further identifying castoreum within the pheromone mix, they identify the murderer as Anson Carr (Michael Massee), a former and disgruntled employee of a perfume company afflicted with a rare skin disease. They arrive at Carr's home to find another husband, already dead, in a dehydration chamber, and race to protect his wife, Dianna (Ona Grauer). When no attack comes at the wife, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) realizes that her husband may have been having an affair, and races to the mistress' home, stopping Carr before he can kill her. As he is taken away, he admits he was trying to discover what love was, scientifically, so that he could reproduce it and allow the entire world to share in it.

During the investigation, Olivia finds that the memories she is gaining from Peter Bishop's (Joshua Jackson) original timeline are overriding her original memories. Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) becomes concerned and suggests that Olivia talk to Walter to help reverse the memory loss. During the case, in talking with the latest victim's wife, Olivia realizes that she is truly in love with Peter. After the conclusion of the case, she admits to Nina that she will let the memory alterations continue, even if this means she will forget the times she spent with Nina during her childhood.

Simultaneous to these events, Peter has attempted to flee to New York City and points beyond to stay away from Olivia, fearing that staying near her would further erode her original memories. Walter calls him back, identifying that the Observer September (Michael Cerveris) had implanted something in Peter's eye during the events of the previous episode. The small disc reveals a nearby address, where Peter finds a stash of September's Observer equipment, including a GPS-like device that leads him to a strange pod (as shown previously in "The Arrival"). Peter is ultimately able to activate the pod, where September appears. September states the pod acts as a beacon, allowing him to return after the other Observers hid the universe from him. In response to Peter's questions about trying to return to his own timeline, September states that Peter is actually home; he was never truly erased from time as his love for his friends, and their love for him brought him back. September soon vanishes, and the pod buries itself in the ground. The episode closes as Peter and Olivia rejoin each other with a passionate kiss.

Production

"To us, Jeff and I, it's kind of like a perfect version of what a Fringe show is because it has a great terrifying element to it which is very 'fringy.' On the other hand it has this incredible love story aspect and things that people are going to be really, really excited for, we believe, as far as the relationships in the show. So it was an honor to do it and it was just incredible. It turned out really well. We love it. It was just an incredible experience."

J.H. Wyman on writing and directing the episode [1]

"A Short Story About Love" was co-written by executive producer J.H. Wyman and co-producer Graham Roland. [2] Wyman stated that the episode had "scary" and "romantic" themes, and as the title indicated, was "all about motivation. Love is a great motivator, for good and evil." [3] He and fellow executive producer Jeff Pinkner believed the episode was "kind of like a perfect version of what a Fringe show is," because it depicted "fringy" elements in the form of killings while using love and relationships as central plot drivers. [1] Wyman added that it was a "culmination of what I could describe as — it’s a direction where we’ve been heading and I think the fans will be really happy and satisfied." [3]

Co-showrunner Wyman also served as episode director, marking his television directorial debut. [4] He noted his love of the experience, as it permitted him to grow closer with the series' actors and "actually work with them on a level that [he hadn't] before and really get down there with them." [1] Wyman was originally supposed to direct several episodes the previous year and earlier in the season, but found he was too busy. He explained, "Then an episode was coming up that we were thinking about writing and I really felt close to it. The opportunity came up where somebody had fallen out and I felt that this is the perfect time because everything was completely under control. It allowed me to go and do it. It's an episode that's really close to me. It's about love and it's about all the great things that we talk about on Fringe." [1]

The episode featured the directional debut of executive producer J.H. Wyman. J. H. Wyman by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
The episode featured the directional debut of executive producer J.H. Wyman.

Actor Joshua Jackson was pleased that Wyman directed, as he found it nice to have "somebody who's in the writer's room day-in and day-out and knows the show so intimately, come in and jump behind the camera and are just a font of information." [5] Seth Gabel was also happy with Wyman's direction, as the two were able to discuss themes in the script as well as how Wyman planned to shoot certain scenes. Gabel remarked that the director "wanted to do this fun thing that actually related to Lincoln's feelings about Olivia and how they were changing based on everything that's been happening. We played so many things that weren't in the script, that were between the lines in just looks, and he told me how he was gonna shoot it so I could really play with what the character was thinking and know that it would actually be seen in the end, and not end up on the cutting room floor because it wasn't in the script." [5]

Guest actor Michael Massee appeared as Anson Carr, the episode's villain. Wyman believed that the character was "terrifying" and "definitely one of the most frightening bad guys we’ve had." [3] Other guest stars included Michael Cerveris as September and Ona Grauer as Dianna Sutter. [2] The episode featured two pieces of music: "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane and "The Friends of Mr Cairo" by Jon & Vangelis. [6]

Reception

Ratings

"A Short Story About Love" was first broadcast on March 23, 2012 in the United States on the Fox network after a month hiatus. An estimated 2.87 million viewers watched the episode, [7] marking a decrease in viewership from the previous episode. [8] "A Short Story About Love" earned a ratings share of 0.9/3 among adults aged 18 to 49, meaning that it was seen by 0.9 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 3 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of broadcast. Among total viewers it placed in third for the night and second among adults. [7]

Reviews

The episode received mixed to positive reviews from television critics. IGN's Ramsey Isler rated "A Short Story About Love" with 8.5 out of 10, an indication of a "great" episode. While he criticized the episode's "mystery-of-the-week" for detracting from the episode's other storylines, Isler thought it improved when it began depicting Walter's investigation of September. Other stated highlights of the episode included Noble's performance and the reappearance of the beacon from an early first season episode, the latter of which he noted, "Fans have been wondering for years what that damn thing was and how it played into the story." [9] Isler concluded by observing that the story became "a little sappy" but was useful in "neatly" resolving the "'is he or isn't he?' drama that marked this season and set up the show to move onto the bigger task of crafting what could be the end of everything Fringe." [9] Andrew Hanson of the Los Angeles Times was pleased that little was revealed of the villain's backstory, but believed the episode really improved once it focused on Peter exploring September's apartment. Like Isler, Hanson was happy to see the beacon again, explaining that he "love[s] any time Fringe reaches back to the crazy science of Season One." [10]

"For the first 40 minutes, this episode was well-crafted but not particularly remarkable, but then that capsule spiraled out of the earth and made everything so much better."

 IGN's Ramsey Isler [9]

Writing for The A.V. Club , Noel Murray gave the episode a B. He had an issue with the episode "reducing 'love' to an abstraction, for the sake of making it into a plot-driver," but noted that "at least 'A Short Story About Love' confines those wince-inducing reductions to a couple of short scenes, and in service of propelling this season’s 'displaced Peter' arc to a place that it needs to be." [6] SFX 's Dave Bradley was more critical of the episode, opining that the love premise failed to "completely satisfy, at least not on a rational level" and that the "orange" universe explanation felt like "hand-waving, a cheeky attempt to untangle the series’ continuum without any further universe-hopping." [4] Bradley also noted that the plot surrounding the villain, a "mad scientist MacGuffin," seemed rushed and the script and direction "jarringly unsubtle", but that the episode featured good performances with "great details in every scene". [4]

Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly named "A Short Story About Love" the fifteenth best episode of the series, explaining "The timeline reboot of season 4 frustrated some fans, but the premise yielded several truly cool capture-the-imagination ideas that made for provocative drama, most notably Fringe's most romantic hour... The fact that the episode also featured one of the show's seediest creepazoids — a serial killer who murdered men for their pheromones so he could make a perfume that allowed him to seduce their grieving female significant others — was a bonus. Icky, but bonus." [11] Cory Barker of TV.com named the episode the 17th best of the series, saying, "Fringe has never been afraid of coming up with intimate, emotionally based—and sometimes very hokey—resolutions for its grand plots. Whatever you think about the choices the writers made in Season 4, it's hard to deny the emotional wallop this episode delivered." [12]

Related Research Articles

Olivia Dunham fictional character in the television series Fringe

Olivia Dunham is a fictional character and the main protagonist from the science fiction television series Fringe, which aired on the Fox Broadcasting Company in the United States from 2008 to 2013. The character was created by series' co-creator J. J. Abrams, and is portrayed by actress Anna Torv. Olivia is the series' protagonist, and was introduced as an FBI Special Agent, working for a multi-agency task force of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security called the Fringe Division, dealing with supernatural events that are linked to experimental occurrences. Having grown up with an abusive stepfather, Olivia struggles with the unexpected changes in her life, following her encounter with mentally unstable scientist Walter Bishop, and his son and an eventual love interest for her, Peter Bishop.

The Arrival (<i>Fringe</i>) 4th episode of the first season of Fringe

"The Arrival" is the fourth episode of the first season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe. The episode was written by the series co-creator and executive producer J. J. Abrams and executive producer and show runner Jeff Pinkner. Paul A. Edwards directed it.

"There's More Than One of Everything" is the finale of the first season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe. The finale followed David Robert Jones' attempts to open a doorway to the parallel universe, while the Fringe team tries to stop him. It ends with FBI agent Olivia Dunham discovering a startling secret about Massive Dynamic founder William Bell.

Peter (<i>Fringe</i> episode) 16th episode of the second season of Fringe

"Peter" is the 16th episode of the second season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe, and the 36th episode overall.

Brown Betty (<i>Fringe</i>) 20th episode of the second season of Fringe

"Brown Betty" is the 20th episode of the second season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe, and is the only one of the series performed as a musical. The episode was written by co-showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J. H. Wyman, and consulting producer Akiva Goldsman. It was directed by filmmaker Seith Mann. As the episode begins with Peter's continued disappearance, Walter consoles himself by smoking a strain of marijuana called "Brown Betty." Most of the episode is then told from his drug-addled perspective, in which Olivia is a 1940s noir detective and Peter is a conman who ran away with Walter's glass heart.

"The Road Not Taken" is the nineteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe. It centers on the death of a young woman, who spontaneously combusts in the middle of a street. The Fringe team's investigation leads them to learn more about the drug trials Olivia experienced as a child, as well as other revelations.

Lincoln Lee is a fictional character on the Fox television series Fringe (2008-2013). Lincoln first appeared in the season two finale on May 13, 2010. He is portrayed by actor Seth Gabel.

August (<i>Fringe</i> episode) 8th episode of the second season of Fringe

"August" is the eighth episode of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe's second season. The episode was co-written by J. H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner, and directed by Dennis Smith. The episode marked the first prominent appearance of more than one Observer, and follows the events that occur when one of them saves a girl from boarding a soon-to-be crashing plane. It featured two new guest stars, Peter Woodward and Eugene Lipinski.

Immortality (<i>Fringe</i>) 13th episode of the third season of Fringe

"Immortality" is the 13th episode of the third season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe, and the 56th episode overall. In the episode, the Fringe Division of the parallel universe investigates a series of deaths caused by flesh-eating "skelter beetles", unleashed by a mad scientist. Abutbul, Seth Gabel, Kirk Acevedo, Philip Winchester, Ryan McDonald, and Joan Chen appeared as guest stars.

"Subject 13" is the 15th episode of the third season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe, and the 58th episode overall. Inspired by fan reaction to the show's previous flashback episode, "Peter", "Subject 13" occurs 25 years before the show's current timeline, in 1985 a few months after "Peter". The episode, with scenes set in both the prime and the parallel universe, explores Walter and Elizabeth Bishop's attempts to return Peter to the parallel universe using the Cortexiphan-induced abilities of young Olivia Dunham, while Walternate in the parallel universe struggles to deal with the kidnapping of his son.

Bloodline (<i>Fringe</i>) 18th episode of the third season of Fringe

"Bloodline" is the eighteenth episode of the third season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe, and the 61st episode overall. The storyline follows the pregnant Olivia Dunham of the parallel universe ("Fauxlivia") as she experiences a kidnapping and acceleration of her pregnancy; meanwhile, her fellow Fringe agents Lincoln Lee and Charlie Francis attempt to locate her.

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (<i>Fringe</i>) 19th episode of the third season of Fringe

"Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" is the 19th episode of the third season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe, and the 62nd episode overall. The narrative followed the Fringe team's attempts to extract William Bell from Olivia's brain by entering her mind with the help of LSD.

The Day We Died 22nd episode of the third season of Fringe

"The Day We Died" is the third season finale of the Fox science fiction drama television series Fringe. It is the season's 22nd episode and the series' 65th episode overall. The finale follows the aftermath of Peter Bishop entering and activating the doomsday device, events which took place in the previous episode. He finds himself 15 years in the future; though the device has destroyed the parallel universe, his universe is nevertheless gradually disintegrating. Peter comes to realize the background of the doomsday device and wakes up in 2011. After getting the two universes to agree to work together, he inexplicably disappears.

Neither Here nor There (<i>Fringe</i>) 1st episode of the fourth season of Fringe

"Neither Here nor There" is the fourth season premiere of the Fox science fiction drama television series Fringe. The episode depicts the aftermath of the third season finale in which Peter Bishop disappears from his timeline. In the new, altered timeline, Olivia Dunham is joined by FBI agent Lincoln Lee after the latter's partner is murdered. The two work to investigate his death, which revolves around shape-shifting technology.

"The End of All Things" is the fourteenth episode of the fourth season of the American science-fiction drama television series Fringe, and the series' 79th episode overall. In the episode, the fringe team investigates Olivia's disappearance, ultimately tracing back to David Robert Jones.

"Letters of Transit" is the nineteenth episode of the fourth season of the Fox science-fiction drama television series, Fringe, and the series' 84th episode overall. It is set in the future, where the Observers have taken control of human society. In 2036, two FBI agents fight to free their world of the Observers by finding the amber-encased bodies of the original Fringe team. The episode's premise is subsequently built upon as the key setting of the show's fifth and final season.

<i>Fringe</i> (season 5) season of television series

The fifth and final season of the American Fox science fiction television series Fringe premiered on September 28, 2012, and concluded on January 18, 2013. The series is produced by Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. The show was officially renewed for a 13-episode fifth season on April 26, 2012. The fifth season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1 on May 7, 2013.

Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11 1st episode of the fifth season of Fringe

"Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11" is the first episode of the fifth season of the American Fox science-fiction/drama television series Fringe, and the show's 88th episode overall. The episode premiered in the United States on September 28, 2012.

"An Origin Story" is the fifth episode of the fifth season of the Fox science-fiction/drama television series Fringe, and the 92nd episode overall.

An Enemy of Fate 13th episode of the fifth season of Fringe

"An Enemy of Fate" is the series finale of the American Fox science fiction/drama television series Fringe. It is episode 13 of season 5 and the 100th episode overall. It aired, along with the penultimate episode, "Liberty", in the United States on January 18, 2013. The final two episodes were simulcast in the UK and Ireland on Sky1 and in Spain in Canal+.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Wax, Alyse (2012-03-24). "'Fringe' Producers Pinkner and Wyman On Tonight's Major Episode - And Future Plans". Fearnet . Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  2. 1 2 J.H. Wyman (director and writer), Graham Roland (writer) (2012-03-23). "A Short Story About Love". Fringe. Season 4. Episode 15. Fox.
  3. 1 2 3 Roffman, Marisa (2012-03-02). "FRINGE: J.H. Wyman Teases 'A Short Story About Love'". Give Me My Remote. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  4. 1 2 3 Bradley, Dave (2012-03-28). "Fringe "A Short Story About Love" REVIEW". SFX . Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  5. 1 2 Prudom, Laura (2012-03-23). "'Fringe': Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv And More On Season 5 And 'Most Disturbing Episode' Yet (VIDEO)". The Huffington Post . Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  6. 1 2 Murray, Noel (2012-03-23). "A Short Story About Love". The A.V. Club . Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  7. 1 2 Kondolojy, Amanda (2012-03-26). "Friday Final TV Ratings: Final NCAA Game Ratings; No Adjustments for 'Fringe', 'Nikita' or 'Supernatural'". TV by the Numbers . Retrieved 2013-05-14.
  8. Ng, Philiana (2012-02-25). "TV Ratings: 'Fringe' Improves, 'Shark Tank' Matches High". The Hollywood Reporter . Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  9. 1 2 3 Isler, Ramsey (2013-03-24). "Fringe: "A Short Story About Love" Review". IGN . Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  10. Hanson, Andrew (2012-03-24). "'Fringe' recap: the Smell of Love". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  11. Jensen, Jeff (2013-01-18). "'Fringe': 19 Best Episodes". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2013-01-19.
  12. Barker, Cory (2013-01-18). "Looking Back at Fringe's Five Seasons: The Top 20 Episodes". TV.com . Retrieved 2013-01-25.