Fringe: Jacksonville

“This is what William Bell warned me about.”

When two worlds collide, pairs of objects are smooshed together. And because every action has an equal and opposite reaction, if an object comes from over-there to over-here, another object has to go from over-here to over-there. Because of the laws of narrative balance, that object will be similar to the first object: a building for a building.

Because of the laws of plot, we must go to Florida, the only place where Olivia can re-subject herself to Walter’s tests, try to remember stuff from her childhood, and generally up the ante on the past colliding with the present. The Jacksonville trip was odd, and reminded me of the hunt for the old books in last week’s episode: a chunk of time in the middle of the episode that didn’t really lead to much except characters getting angry at one another. And us being reminded that Olivia’s childhood nickname was Olive, which is cute.

Collision is our Theme of the Week. That poor single guy collided with his married self, although I don’t understand how it was that he existed in the alterna-verse of Manhatan and in this one: it takes so many chance happenings to create a specific being, how could one person exist in both worlds when so many things are so different? Oh, well. Let’s leave that aside, as it just doesn’t make sense and probably never will.

Olivia’s childhood experiences collided with her adult experience of maturation, and she was finally able to see the ‘glimmer’ of the worlds interacting with one another. (Was this ability the point of the trials that Walter conducted, or a happy byproduct?) Olivia claimed that she wasn’t scared of anything, but what she’s really scared of is failure. She has somehow decided that the fate of the world rests on her shoulders: is it because she has those latent mental powers? The ability to see the ‘glimmer’? Her FBI training? She’s never seemed to feel responsible for the world before—or did I miss something?

She certainly has something to be responsible for now: she saw the glimmer surrounding Peter and knows he is not of this world (this reminded me, as I’ve said of another Fringe episode, of Buffy’s ‘No Place Like Home’). Her knowledge of Peter’s alterna-origins will almost certainly affect whether or not drinks turns into smoochies.

And what about those smoochies? While I think Peter chose the worst possible time to hit on her, and while it felt a bit sudden (despite the year and a half of waiting), I’m as much a fan of the possibilities of their coupling as Walter is. They’re definitely well-suited: Peter helps Olivia see the angles she hasn’t considered, and she is more open with him than with anyone else we’ve seen. Olivia tempers Peter’s anger, and does a decent job of keeping him on the straight and narrow (although the responsibility of taking care of Walter has played a big part in that, too). This is the good kind of collision: two people coming together and making each other stronger. A partnership. A team. A sexy team.

But that kind of sexy partnership can’t exist without honesty, so Olivia is faced with the quandary of what to do about her knowledge. As Broyles says, sometimes the only choices are bad ones. And is the glimmer-ability something she can turn off and on? Because having sex with a glowy person sounds really creepy. Like having a nightlight and a lover all wrapped into one.

This episode smooshed together some decent plot developments with some decent character developments. We learned a few things about the alterna-verse: they don’t have coffee, they might drive double-decker cars (is that even safe?), the 9/11 terrorist attacks hit the Pentagon and the White House. We learned a bit more about Walter’s experiments on Olivia, but not an overwhelming amount. But all of this mythology—what does it add up to? The worlds aren’t colliding by themselves, right? That guy Newton made them collide by setting up a temporary doorway: should we be worried that this is the beginning of the storm, or is it just a one-time event?

I find myself more curious about what will happen to our heroes. What will Olivia do? Will she and Peter become a couple? Giving someone tragic news then acting as their shoulder to cry on is certainly one time-tested seduction strategy, although a rather manipulative one. Will Peter and Olivia put their inevitably-undying love on hold so he can deal with this craziness? Will he abandon Walter and the Fringe Division to work his issues out, then come back to Olivia drunk, confused, and in need of some lovin’?

We have to wait until April to find out: Fringe is on hiatus. I hope our next episode answers some of these questions, and I suspect it will.

The Good:

• Walter: “That’s fantastic! I’ve never won anything before.”

• Peter: “First times are always sloppy.” That sounds dirty, right?

• Peter: “Walter, you were conducting drug trials on children. Don’t make it sound like charity work.”

• Olivia: “Now what? Should we find some more kids to scare?”

• Joshua Jackson looks better. I’m glad he’s gotten over his flu.

• Lab guy: “Yeah, yeah. Raiders of the Lost Ark. The idol and the bag of sand.”
Peter: “Not the metaphor I would have chosen. But, yeah.”

• Broyles: “There are times when the only choices you have left are bad ones.”

• Peter: “In fact, it would be my preference if you could be some place else all together.”

The Bad:

• The alterna-verse has a coffee shortage. I’m so grateful that I live in this reality.

• The experiment school in Jacksonville had a white blackboard and black chalk.

• The bad guy’s name is Newton. I don’t think I noticed that until this episode.

• Walter seemed to know that 9/11 would be different over there. But he was in St. Claire’s in 2001, so how would he know? Does this relate to his (still) un-addressed journey with the Observer at the end of Season One?

Probably Just Some Byproduct of Global Warming:

• Y’know. Like earthquakes.

• “A quantum tectonic event.”

• I don’t understand how such high-minded sciency stuff can be so dependent on Olivia re-gaining her traumatic childhood memories. Is it because people are the variables?

• An unscheduled controlled demolition? What a hilarious cover story. It reminded me of “Gas leak. PCP.” on Buffy.

• Olivia’s eye-opening shot, especially when segued into her looking straight up into a cluster of narrow trees, was very, very Lost. This whole episode was very Lost. I’m resistant to over-thinking the postmodern significance of a chain of empty alterna-signifiers in J.J. Abrams-created shows, so I’m just going to ask that we keep Lost information out of the Fringe comments, and vice versa, so we don’t ruin anything for anyone.

3.7 out of four all-expenses-paid trips to NYC.

[Edited to add: I posted a comment in this thread that could possibly, maybe, a tiny bit, be construed as a spoiler, although I left it open-ended as to what on earth I meant. I don't think it is a spoiler, but I've been having second thoughts, so read at your peril if you are spoilerphobic.]

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


WhyMe said...

Funny, as always.

The science guy in me must say that I think that two object colliding into one, would lead to an explosion - nuclear or otherwise. Two objects that suddenly occupy the same space should maintain the same density, and therefore must rapidly expand. i.e. boom. Or go nuclear boom, like an hydrogen bomb, when helium is turned into hydrogen.

In any case, I loved this episode, especially that they focused finally on the characters, and used the pseudo-science as a background.

Always nice to read your reviews.

Gustavo Brunetti said...

Hi, Josie

I was very satisfied by this episode. After almost a season complaining how the episodes were forgettable, it's good to see one where the events change something definitely. And move the master plot forward. Let more come!

But you know what's just hit me? Whatever happened to that catholic policewoman from S2E1? There was no more mention of her. And it sure seemed like she'd play some important part this season. Have the PTB decided that she wasn't worth it and dropped her? Have they forgotten her? Or worse, have they focused on her only for the sake of it. And I liked her. I want to know what happened.

Loved your review, by the way.

Josie K said...

So I've tried to reply to you both a billion times, but sometimes blogger just hates me.

WhyMe: That's an extremely good point. And is that how you create anti-matter?

Gustavo: I know the answer to your question from spoiler websites. Let me just say that it will be answered.

By the way, Fringe has been ranked a "Safe Bet" for renewal by Ausiello. Hooray!

WhyMe said...

So, I asked a friend who is into Elementary particle physics. Yes - I am that committed, and No, that's not the way. You can't (as far as I know) create antiparticles on a scale larger then singular Elementary particles (electrons, protons, neutrons).

What I meant by explosion comes from my field - atomic physics - and conservation of matter. If some matter constructing a table has a specific volume, that volume - i.e. the space the table is taking - is determined by the relations between these molecules. Therefore, increase the amount of matter very very fast - increase the amount of volume very very fast.

And there is always the nuclear reaction - this can happen if you "slam" two atomic neculai one at another hard enough - or if two neculai just happen to appear one within the other.

Still a grate episode though. And someone needs to write to the show producers and tell them to hire a physicist or chemist - I promise we are really cheap. Or preferably, focus on the story, not the pseudo science.

Cesar said...

Hum, so Pryzbylewski (yes, I had to look up the spelling) was never married in this universe and probably never (mis)fired a gun. :)

Speaking of similar realities, why does every inter-dimensional event seem to happen only between Fringe world and Wherever-Bell-is world? Are they the closest ones? (since every choice made creates a different universe wouldn't there be a lot of ones in-between by now?) And since everything moved must be replaced, who disappeared so Peter could come here?

As for 9/11, Walter found blueprints for the new Pentagon and possibly more papers.

Gus Brunetti said...

Cesar, is this your first time watching Fringe? If it is, brace yourself, because next episode is probably the best in the series so far, and after that they've never done a bad episode again. No more Johari Windows.

Oh, that's for Bille, when she gets to this point, too.

Cesar said...

Yes, it is :) I watched the first 4 or 5 as they aired but didn't enjoy it so much (even now that I'm watching episodes back to back I'm bothered by the great number of standalones). I learned major spoilers of the end of the first season and heard some vague comments on season 3, which got me back to watching it.

It's good to hear that about the bad episodes.

Btw, the comments for 2.16 seem to be disabled.

Billie Doux said...

The comment function for 2.16 has been re-enabled. Thanks, Cesar. I bet I turned it off because we were getting some nasty spam for awhile there.

Billie Doux said...

I finally got to this episode and I thought it was excellent. Even though I absolutely knew that the final scene would be Olivia seeing Peter glowing.

And thanks, Gus.

Billie Doux said...

Oops, another comment. Every time they talk about Olivia coming from Jacksonville, it bothers me. Her accent is pretty good, but she just doesn't sound American. And obviously, in this episode, I thought about that more than usual.

Jess Lynde said...

So, the two Prez's all smooshed together is gonna be the new image that haunts my nightmares. And I was so delighted to see Jim True Frost when this episode started!

I thought this was a fantastic episode. I know the need for and the timing of the trip to Jacksonville was a little wonky, as you note, Josie, but I loved the places it took Olivia and Walter. It's always interesting to see Walter struggle to justify the things he did, to others and himself. And Olivia's righteous anger about Walter having abused children in such a manner was something to behold! Almost as powerful as the crestfallen and horrified look on her face after seeing glowy Peter. Powerful stuff.