Bad Dreams

Out of everything I read to do with The Girlfriend Experience, the one thing that everyone including me could agree on about the film was that it was somewhat amusing and shocking that the guys who wrote it also wrote Ocean's Thirteen. Roger Ebert mused that they must have been standing around waiting for something better to do. Granted there's a reason that it's "One for the money, two for the show," and not visa versa. I'm fine with considering David Lean and Brian Koppelman to be auteurs in need of rent money rather than hacks hit by lightning.

Akiva Goldsman, well the jury's out on that one. Ever since finishing Dollhouse, I've been carefully following TV writers because I've come to appreciate the fact that more than just pop juggernauts JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon work on their brain children. The opening credits of Fringe season one, episode 14 (Bad Dreams) spat a vaguely familiar name as the writing credit so I scurried off to the IMDB to find out who Akiva Goldsman is. Apparently a man whose entirel body of work I loathe and have made a great deal of noise about. He's done some truly souless hack work in his time including both Dan Brown adaptations as well as the Shoemacher Batman films, some of my most hated films of all time. I was almost expecting his writing credits to include Twilight, but definitely not A Beautiful Mind or Cinderella Man.

So I watched Bad Dreams not with something I'd call apprehension, because up until that point the series had been very consistant in tone and writing, but more along the lines of morbid curiosity. The writing on Fringe is absurdly better than Alias after all, even if it isn't anywhere near Dollhouse. So, enter my surprise as Goldsman- who also directed Bad Dreams- turned in the most compelling and thrilling episode of the series to date. While there was one bit of lurid voyeurism where we get a convenient excuse to have Olivia- bathed in Lynchian neon light- become transfixed with an incredibly bored stripper and share the most tentative, diplomatic kiss I've ever seen, that was the only actual low point for the episode.

While Bad Dreams is ostensibly an Olivia centric episode that pushes her to her psychological breaking point (without mentioning John Scott, which scores Goldsman huge points); Goldsman's script shines brightest in his characterization of Walter, simultaneously exploiting his position as being the comedic relief and building on the pathos of his involvement in the ZTE manifesto.

JJ Abrams must have seen something in Goldsman that no one else has until now, because Bad Dreams isn't just the best episode of the series so far; it's also one of the most critical plot wise, with deftly handled fresh revelations about the conspiracy. Damn good work for the guy who assassinated the Batman franchise, even if there was a really lame pseudo girl on girl scene. Maybe Fox made him do it. I know they make people put motorcycles in things.


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