So Fringe made it to season 2, surviving the knife that ended The Sarah Connor Chronicles and almost took down Dollhouse. It premiered tonight, bringing up our favorite cast: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson and the ever quirky John Noble.

Call me a cynic, but the first thing I noticed is that Fox TV has done away with the experimental abbreviated commercial breaks. No more will you see (apparantly) “Fringe will return in 30 (or 60) seconds.” Nope, standard commercial breaks just like every other show out there now.

BTW, there will be spoilers mentioned below and in the comments left by visitors.

Beyond that nitpick (I watch it DVR’d anyway and skip commercials) Fringe wasted no time coming back with a bang. After the weak Warehouse 13 substitute to tide us over, it was great to have some actual intense and exciting semi-sci-fi drama to watch once again.

The episode opened right after a car accident in New York City, giving us the sense of being thrust into something mid-stream. A nefarious fellow leaves the scene of the accident and within minutes we are re-introduced to why I can’t watch this show with my 13 year old daughter – guy sticks a device with what looks like three finishing nails in a victim’s mouth, breaks the bones in his own face and then connects HIS mouth to the other end of the device and his skull reshapes to duplicate the victim’s face.

Not pretty.

Agent Dunham seems to have vanished from the scene of the accident but moments later she materializes out of thin air, rocketing through the windshield of the SUV she was driving. Apparent terminal brain damage, but she soon wakes up severly shaken and not remembering what happened to her nor where she’s been.

Meanwhile that pesky U.S. government is in the process of shutting down the organization due to tons of spent money and no results that they can discern.

We also have a new junior agent on the scene – it remains to be seen whether she will become a regular on the show or not. She just jumps right into the groove of things (a bit too easily, it seemed to me) and starts helping out our group, who is now (at least temporarily) cut off from FBI resources.

We see the mysterious shape changing agent communicate with someone on the “other side,” presumably in that alternate universe we saw briefly at the very end of the season one finale. He’s failed in his mission to kill Dunham as instructed. He finds her (well, by the time he finds her he’s not really a “he” any more) and discovers she has no memory of something crucial that is hidden somewhere. He fails AGAIN in his attempt to kill her and is apparently killed himself. Ah, but at the very end of the episode it’s revealed that he has duplicated himself as agent Charlie Francis (played by Kirk Acevedo, who reportedly will be leaving the series this season).

Overall I enjoyed this season premiere and am looking forward to upcoming episodes. One nitpick I did have was that it didn’t seem like at the end the agent had enough time to turn into Charlie, and with the closing scene where the doppleganger disposes of the real Charlie’s body, where the heck did he stash it in the very brief amount of time he had. It seemed like less than a minute passed between the time that shots were fired and Peter Bishop showed up.

If I’m missing something here, feel free to point it out below – but overall, I’m happy Fringe is back!