Fringe has just reached season 3, and for a show designed not to require linear viewing, there is much to take in. The season premiere takes us to a parallel world where Eric Stoltz starred in Back to the Future.

If you haven't dedicated yourself to FRINGE, but are sort of thinking about coming around to it now that your precious LOST is over, there are some things you need to know. Easiest way to understand what kind of Fringe episode you are about to be seeing is to take a look at the intro themes:

A. The Classic Theme


This means you are probably going to have an episode about a Sasquatch that a group of people think they see right before they die because they've been drugged by some underground science mafia. There is a chance this isn't a self contained snoozer and ties in with something bigger, but don't hold your breath

B. The Red Theme


You're going to Zepplinland! Your going to need to know buzz concepts like "Walternate" - The Head of National Security in the parallel universe (AKA "over there"). Walternate is the parallel universe version of Walter Bishop, one of the show's 3 protagonists. Also Pacey from Dawson's Creek is Walternate's son (OK, they don't call him Pacey, he's Peter... Peter Bishop), but was raised by the Walter from our world. The premiere of Season 3 was a Red Theme episode. That also means Manhattan is spelled Manhatan, and Eric Stoltz beat out Michael J. Fox for the role of Marty Mcfly.

C. The Retro Theme


Oh shit, is it 1985 again? Hell yes it is! There is nothing like spying on your parallel universe self using a VHS and a cassette tape version of Elvis Costello's King of America. So far there has only been one of these "flashback" episodes, but Fringe fans are hoping for more.

So that's probably not enough to make the show all that clear to the unseasoned viewer, but there is no time to wade through more particulars. I mean we're talking about a show where an aging Leonard Nimoy is running around stealing parts of a guys brain while either his wife or his sister is having sex with a divorced man that you can't decide if you remember from The Wire or OZ. He gives Olivia (the main character I haven't even MENTIONED yet) all of her orders, and she tries to follow them as she thinks back to her childhood where she was drugged by scientists in Miami Florida. Did I mention most of her orders have something to do with bald alien men that move through time? See. I have to digress here.

Basically the quick way to get into this show is load up an episode of Dawson's Creek, the movie Altered States, and the first season of the X-Files, play them all at once for about 2 hours on your computer's desktop, and then just go ahead and make time for the third season of Fringe.

At the end of Season 2 (very VERY end):
The Olivia Dunham from our universe was left "over there," while the Olivia from their universe came to our side. Turns out the Olivia that came from their side knows she's infiltrated our world without anyone suspecting her.

Last night's episode:
The whole episode follows OUR Olivia Dunham "over there" as she escapes the Statue of Liberty's psychiatric ward, but not before Walternate has injected some memory juice into her arm.

The bulk of the episode follows Olivia's taking a hostage in a cab driver with a family. As the episode goes on more and more of alternate Olivia's memories start coming back to her, and she just might believe she is the other Olivia Dunham, especially at the end of the episode when she meets alternate Olivia's mother, that really gets the adreni

Walter and Peter and alternate Olivia show up for a little bit at the end. Looks like our defense department is just as douchey as theirs.

Oooh, did you notice that whole "Why fix something that's broken" metaphor? Looks like we are going to be doing some team redefining. Could get good, as long as somebody gives the boys (and Astrid) some real airtime next week.