Finally, 10 episodes into the season, the new status quo is starting to take shape. And you know what? I kinda like it. More details after the jump.

Sorry this took so long to write up, but Chuck’s series finale last night left me an emotional wreck, and I couldn’t find the presence of mind to write about Fringe. Heck, I watched this episode last night for the sole purpose of stopping my brain from buzzing so that I could get some sleep. I’m still having trouble concentrating, and I’m starting to realize how much Chuck has impacted me. It was never my favourite show, but more than any other series, it affected me on a deep, visceral level, and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

It’s no surprise that I feel similarly about Fringe. I’ve come to embrace the silly pseudoscience, the myriad plot holes, and the clunky dialogue because something about this show appeals to my gut. It’s an ineffable feeling, and it sometimes causes me to react to the show in ways that are, let’s say, less than rational. The logical part of my brain knows that “Forced Perspective” was a middling episode of Fringe with hackneyed dialogue, a trite plot, and a wooden teen actress at its centre. But the rest of my brain doesn’t care. The rest of my brain loved this episode. I suspect that seeing Chuck end has made me cling more fiercely to the shows I love that are still on the air. However, I can’t make up feelings. I’m not going to pretend that this wasn’t the episode that gave me the most pure enjoyment of any episode this season.

Let’s be clear: if “Forced Perspective” had been a bad episode, then no amount of irrational, overly sentimental goodwill would have prevented me from writing a scathing review. But “Forced Perspective” was generally a good one. In fact, for the first time this season, Fringe felt comfortable in its own skin. In many ways, “Forced Perspective” was a back-to-basics episode. It involved a standalone case of the week, but one that thematically echoed some of the show’s ongoing plot lines. But more importantly, this was the first time this season that all the characters felt familiar. This was our Olivia, our Walter, our Broyles, our Astrid, and our Peter – never mind the fact that I don’t believe the FBI would employ a Fringe event as a consultant and give him free rein – working together to solve a case. Just like old times.

And just like old times, I found myself drawn in by this week’s case, thin as it was. Fate vs. free will is a debate as old as time itself, but I liked “Forced Perspective’s” spin on it. Emily believed that the events in her visions could not be prevented, while Olivia, stubborn as she is, refused to accept them and instead worked hard to stop them from coming to fruition. But here’s the thing: Fringe didn’t actually pick a side in the fate vs. free will debate. Emily believed in fate, and it turned out to be true for her as she calmly accepted her death, while Olivia didn’t believe in fate, and fate turned out not to be true for her as she prevented dozens from dying in a suicide bombing. Instead, Fringe seems to have been saying, “Fate is what you make of it.” That’s a message I can get behind.

And if that’s what Olivia believes, then it’s all the better for her, because what the Observer said about her death doesn’t have to be true. She has the power to stop it. The Observers might have more complete knowledge than her, but they can’t account for unforeseen variables. So I think Olivia’s going to be fine…or at least she will be when she discovers that Nina is evil in this timeline.

That’s about all I have to say about “Forced Perspective.” If this is the new status quo and Fringe can feel this comfortable and familiar for the rest of the season, then it’s going to be a very fun journey.