A generally quiet episode this week, Fringe takes some time to lay the groundwork for the season finale. We spend most of our time on ‘the other side’ this week, as we get the return of Jared Harris’ smooth and diabolically evil David Robert Jones, as well as some serious face time with Lance Reddick (playing Tight T-shirt (TTS) Broyles) – much to my delight.
Let’s take a close look after the jump.
As I said, narrative-wise this episode is really about putting some plot points in motion and checking off some boxes before we move into the last four episodes of the season (Based on the preview for next week, I’m thinking that they’re going to be pretty explosive). This week is all about flushing out the mole in ‘the other side’s’ Fringe division. We’ve known for a few weeks that it’s been TTS Broyles who has been feeding evil bowl-cut Nina (Blair Brown) and David Robert Jones info from the inside – but the biggest question to be answered is whether or not TTS is a hapless shapeshifter. Is he mindlessly following his master, or if there was another reason behind his betrayal? It turns out to be the latter (no shapeshifters in sight this week). Turns out TTS has gone over to the dark side because Jones has given him some sort of magic drug that allows his young son, Christopher (Curtis Harris) to live. (The life-threatening condition are effects from when Christopher was kidnapped by The Candyman in 3×7 – ‘The Abducted’)
TTS’ actions in this episode remind me of his pre-reboot sacrifice that allowed Olivia (Anna Torv) to return safely to her world after she was kidnapped and brainwashed by the other-siders last season. Though I’m happy to have TTS Broyles, I think it would be more interesting if he had turned out to be less noble than regular Broyles, or his Alt. predecessor who bit it before the reboot. I guess so far all the alternate versions of our protagonists have been intrinsically similar when it comes to core values (even if they began much more sinister than they currently are now). Despite this, I always melt a little bit when we see Reddick flex his muscles as an actor. He truly is capable as the stern leader that he needs to be as Colonel, but he’s also totally believable as devout father and loving husband.
I especially appreciated his exchanged with Walter (John Noble) who’s over on the other side this week to help out with the (insignificant) case of the week. Lingering in TTS’ office, Walter apologizes for traveling between universes to save a then, little Peter (Joshua Jackson) which has now made it easy for Jones to do the same and unleash his evil plots. Not much is said between the two, but we can almost buy that sacrificing all of humanity is understandable when it’s in service of a father saving his child.
Just as Seth Gabel carried last week’s episode as Lincoln Lee, this week it is Reddick’s, Harris’ and Noble’s time to shine. As mentioned, Reddick plays a gamut of emotions but still is decidedly Broyles; Harris is as delicious as ever as the charming yet malevolent Jones; and Noble continues to be on point with every single line delivery. When Walter initially crosses over, his distain* for Faux-livia is hilariously apparent, giving what I think is the best line of the night when he first sees her:
Ah my escort is here. And by escort I mean prostitute.
*I’ve mentioned it in passing in other recaps, but I still don’t understand why Walter is angry at Faux-livia post-reboot. Although we know that Olivia/Faux-livia still switched places (despite Peter’s absence), it’s never been clear why. I should simply accept that Faux did something equally as bad when impersonating Olivia on our side, but it irks me that this hasn’t been explained more definitively.
Eventually, Faux and Walter do end up bonding once Walter becomes accustomed to working with the othersiders. Although he made some headway with Faux-livia a few eppys ago, I do like the fact that he hasn’t entirely forgiven her for her betrayal. (i.e. If Olivia was still brainwashed and kidnapped as she was pre-reboot, I would hope that someone was still peeved at the othersiders for it.)
Turning the focus to plot, we learn that the fringe events this week are merely the experiments of Jones in order to collect some data. Once TTS Broyles decides not to help Jones and turn himself in to the “good guys” (forfeiting his tight t-shirt for a prison jumper!), Walter deduces that Jones’ master plan is to collapse both worlds. Turns out Jones is trying to find a common frequency between the two – likely recreating the universe pre big bang (Maybe?). It’s unclear; we just know that Jones isn’t playing favourites since he wants to destroy both sides equally. I didn’t think this was as significant a reveal as it should have been, but I appreciated that the episode opted to showcase some stellar acting by focusing on Broyles this week, as well as seeding ideas to get us ready for finale time.
- Olivia continues to cluelessly twist the knife in Lincoln’s heart. After likely spending quite a bit of time on the other side, she doesn’t even ask about him, instead asking how Faux-livia is doing post Capt. Lee’s death. And she leaves him with the parting words “Take care of Walter,” further showing her complete un-interest in him, even as a friend.
- I appreciated the continuity of the show with regard to Walter’s fears about crossing over. Remember that at the beginning of the season he was a clinical agoraphobic.
- More Walter love: his smirk while doting over Peter and Olivia’s rekindled romance is categorically adorable.
- Just when you thought the sight of Walter in Faux-livia’s sequin-accented, silk robe was the icing on the cake – he tops that look by donning her fish-apron while making scrambled eggs. Priceless.
- Alt. Astrid’s (Jasika Nicole) weird behaviour started to really get to me in this episode. Ever wonder why she never looks anyone in the eyes and doesn’t even come out of her robotic address? I know a lot of fans think she has Asperberger’s, but is it possible that she’s really a first-generation, prototype cyborg or something? Am I the only one who starting thinking that her infantilization is too distracting to be incidental?
- Kudos also to Anna Torv. I love that she gets to play both Olivias – both very distinct yet sharing subtle similarities. When they do start to emulate one another, it’s richly complementary rather than hokey.
- Fringe teaches us one thing this week: if you ever want to get past a security check point- just run on through. All the guard will say is ‘Hey! You haven’t been cleared!” but will do nothing to stop you.
So what did you think of this week’s episode Fringe fans? Were you happy at the level of exposition we got this week in favour of more character development? What do you think of Alt. Astrid? Do you think I’m way out to lunch about her? Sound off in our comments section!