Fringe continues to deliver this week with a solid episode and an ending that’s sure to have us all salivating until next Friday.
Let’s break it down…
Last week our hearts went a pitter-patter when Olivia (Anna Torv) planted a wet one on Peter (Joshua Jackson) giving us hope that this Olivia was indeed Peter’s Olivia. This week’s episode began with a bit of a cop-out when Olivia confessed she didn’t know why she kissed Peter and she was a little embarrassed for doing it. I’ll admit I was a bit peeved that we had just been teased with last week’s ending and concerned we would get more of this “is she (our Olivia) or isn’t she” dragged out over the course of more episodes. Thankfully, my fears we quickly quashed 15 minutes later when Olivia tells Peter that she indeed remembers everything. Now we don’t get a definitive answer by episode’s end of whether or not this Olivia is indeed our Olivia, but this Olivia has all the memories of her relationship with Peter, and I must admit, it was nice to see these two back together.
And this is what I appreciate about Fringe – it has the formulaic conventions that are so easily as interpreted as “tired’ on other shows, but manages to reinvent them so that we’re not turned off as an audience. I just can’t seem to rag on Fringe – I might have my qualms about certain elements, but the pace of the show makes it almost impossible to focus on the negative.
So let’s discuss the “case-of-the-week” that was tacked on so that the Olivia narrative didn’t take front and centre (why this decision was made, I’m not entirely sure…but I digress).
The Fringe team is called into investigate how a young man Sean (Harrison Thomas) – voluntarily committed in a mental institution for schizophrenia – is able to recount a murder in real-time when he wasn’t physically present. It turns out that Sean is one of 200 individuals conceived by in vitro fertilization whose DNA was tinkered with by fertility doctor Owen Frank (John Aylward). The science is a bit glossed-over, but essentially Dr. Frank, using his own seed (vanity, vanity!), was attempting to create a “better human being.” Several members of the group develop telepathic ties to one another: “bee-like” tendencies” to protect their “hive” which leads them to kill whoever comes close to exposing them. Sean is connected because he can hear all of the voices of his brethren in his head.
Needless to say, there wasn’t much development in the case of the week – Dr. Frank all but spilled his guts to Peter and Olivia once asked (Convenient, eh?) Once the hive-peeps kill Dr. Frank, their connection to Sean is seemingly severed, leaving him able to live out a normal life without any voices in his head. This doesn’t make any sense at all (or perhaps I just missed the explanation), but in true Fringe form, we don’t really care because the episode ends in a jaw-dropping conclusion that lobotomizes any issues we had with the “B-narrative” (pun intended!)
So what happens? After the case is “solved,” Olivia propositions Peter on the car ride home, reminding him that they always celebrate the end of a case by doing the horizontal mambo. Gotta hand it to the writers and Anna Torv – something so salacious for prime time is portrayed as completely innocent and adorable. And thus, Peter finally succumbs (only after rightly confessing fears that he doesn’t want to betray his Olivia by doing the nasty with another Olivia as he did last season). He admits that when he looks at this Olivia he knows that it’s his Olivia.
They share a sweet kiss and Olivia visits the ladies room at the gas station. We cross-cut to Walter (John Noble), Lincoln (Seth Gabel) and Nina (Blair Brown) over at Massive Dynamic’s vault where the remaining cortexiphan has supposedly been under lock and key (in a vault that only Nina’s hand can open). After running Olivia’s tests, Walter found irrefutable traces of the drug in her system and angrily confronts Nina with this revelation. Upon entering the vault, they find out the cortexiphan is indeed gone, and replaced by a substitute liquid. The plot thickens and Lincoln and Walter clearly suspect Nina (rightly so). Cut back to Peter as he looks for Olivia, who hasn’t returned from the ladies room – but alas she’s disappeared. The episode ends with an inebriated Olivia bound to a chair in an unknown room, with (some version) of Nina Sharp, tied up across from her. Cut to black.
Whaaaa? Immediate questions:
- Where exactly is the tied-up Olivia? Possibilities include: Alt-ville, an unknown location in Reboot-ville or is she in another “ville” altogether? Perhaps Peter’s original timeline?
- Which Olivia is this? Could the Olivia that we’ve been following around all season be a shapeshifter? This would tie nicely into September’s (Michael Cerveris) observation that Olivia must die – meaning Olivia the shapeshifter must die. (Side Note: I can’t help but think this has ties to Doctor Who’s “The Flesh” from last season. I won’t provide a link or an explanation here for fear of spoilers – because you really need to watch the last season of Doctor Who if you haven’t – but Whovians will know what I’m talking about…)
- Which Nina is this? Obvious answer is that it is the real reboot-Nina, but could it be Alt-Nina? Original / Pre-reboot Nina? And who the heck is the Faux-Nina that’s currently with Walter and Lincoln? The obvious answer is a shapeshifter, but you know, I don’t like the obvious explanations. If it is a shapeshifter, then she likely would have made a run for it, but she seemed as genuinely puzzled as the other two. I can’t help but think of Nina’s hand. Remember pre-reboot Nina lost her hand in one of the dimensional portals? Since it was very obviously shown to us that the vault couldn’t be opened without Nina’s handprint, could the missing hand somehow play into this? Think about how many Ninas we need to consider: the Nina that is in the chair with Olivia (real-Nina?), the Nina that was doping Olivia (likely Faux-Nina), the Nina that was behind the computer talking to the shapeshifters and working with David Robert Jones (Jarred Harris). Are the latter two the same Nina? Could double-hand or single-hand Nina be the key distinguisher? Is your head spinning yet – because mine certainly is!
A lot of questions raised in a 30-second vignette. Gotta hand it to Fringe – I don’t even care about the sloppiness left behind with the case of the week, I just want to know what the heck is going on with that ending!
- I do wish there was a way that Olivia could be together with Lincoln, but the way things were shaping up this episode that didn’t seem likely. But did you notice Lincoln’s desire to protect Olivia coming out in full force during this eppy? Swoon. I’m hoping (fruitlessly) that there are two Olivias out there – that way everyone can be happy!
- Astrid (Jasika Nicole) had some really touching moments with patient Sean, which is totally in line with her altruistic character. It would be interesting to see if we’ll ever see another side of Astrid that isn’t so perfectly sweet.
So what did you think, Fringe fans? Do you think the case of the week was just a distraction from the main Olivia narrative, or was it an attempt to find roots in the familiar? What theories do you have bubbling up after seeing that ending? Let us know in the comments section!